Two more local lawmakers named to reform panel

Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles, this afternoon announced that Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi, D-Castro Valley, and Assemblyman Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, will be among the 10 members of her chamber (eight Democrats and two Republicans) serving on the Joint Select Committee on Reform.

Bass and state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, are forming the panel with the goals of making the Legislature more transparent and effective and making state government more efficient and customer friendly. Steinberg announced his appointments last week, including state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, as co-chairman and state Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, as a member.

Hill issued a statement saying he’s “eager to answer the call of our constituents for a more efficient and transparent government. I’m confident this group will lead the way to a more productive government with thorough analysis of potential reforms.”

Bass said her appointees “are ready to hit the ground running on reforms. I look forward to the Committee’s recommendations as they work throughout the coming weeks to produce a roadmap to help California work better.”

According to last week’s news release announcing the committee’s formation, the panel will be tasked with:

    – Giving Californians more value for their tax dollars by making government more efficient and accountable.
    – Prioritizing key issues, so government makes the tough decisions and only turns to the voters when absolutely necessary.
    – Cutting through the gridlock caused by outmoded rules and undue partisanship.
    – Making government more transparent and accessible from around the state.
    – Diminishing the influence of special interests.
    – Making government more customer-friendly.
    – Creating a process that encourages decisions that reflect long-term thinking, not short-term band-aids.

The Public Policy Institute of California found in July that only 17 percent of California adults, 14 percent of registered voters and 10 percent of likely voters it had surveyed approved of the way the state Legislature is handling it’s job, and I’m willing to bet the last two months haven’t brought any significant improvement. Re-instilling faith in our state lawmakers won’t be easy or quick; here’s hoping these and other appointees are up to the task, and that the task itself isn’t inherently impossible.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.