State Sen. Jerry Hill tapped to chair enviro panel

California Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg has nominated state Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, to chair the Senate Committee on Environmental Quality.

The nomination – to fill the vacancy created by the abrupt resignation of former chairman Michael Rubio, D-Shafter – will be considered Thursday by the Senate Rules Committee.

“During this legislative session, we will tackle multiple pressing policies of major consequence to California’s environment and the quality of life that makes California attractive, competitive, and pioneering,” Steinberg, D-Sacramento, said in a news release. “The Senate’s Environmental Quality Committee will lead the discussion on strengthening the California Environmental Quality Act, on water quality, and on hazardous waste. This heavy agenda promises two momentous years for California’s nationally-renowned leadership on environmental policy.”

Steinberg said Hill’s 13th State Senate District, with both a long stretch of Pacific coastline and a significant chunk of Silicon Valley, “embodies the confluence of economic growth and outstanding natural beauty.

“He is well-positioned to appreciate the complexities of this challenge, and well-versed in the false dichotomy that pitches business against the environment,” Steinberg said. “California has led, and will continue to lead the nation in smart, environmentally sustainable economic growth.”

Hill said he’s honored by Steinberg’s nomination “and I look forward to working collaboratively with him and all of the Environmental Quality Committee stakeholders to protect the environment while ensuring that our laws are aligned with California’s 21st century economy.”


State Senator resigns, takes job with Chevron

Cue the feeding frenzy: A California State Senate seat just became available.

State Sen. Michael Rubio, D-Shafter, announced today he’s resigning effective immediately and has accepted a job as manager of California government affairs for San Ramon-based oil giant Chevron Corp.

“As many of you know, a little over a year ago I decided not to run for the United States Congress to meet the needs of my growing family,” Rubio said in a statement issued today. “My time serving since then has been a blessing, but it has also been a challenge. I have missed too many family dinners, bedtime stories and parent-teacher conferences. My wife and I have been blessed with two beautiful daughters, from whom we have learned a great deal.”

“Our youngest child, who has special needs, has given me great perspective as to life’s priorities and our eldest has reminded me that the most critical decisions are made at home and not under the Capitol dome,” he continued. “I have realized that my current professional path has left little opportunity to be home for those who are most important to me, which is why I am making a change.”

Rubio said his job with Chevron means working for a respected company “with deep roots in Kern County near the very oil fields where I was born. I am truly grateful for the rare opportunity to serve and the support I have been given. Thank you to everyone who made it possible. In my absence, Senate staff will remain in the district and Capitol offices to respond to the needs of residents of the 16th State Senate District – as they have always done.”

Rubio was elected to the 16th District in November 2010, representing all or portions of Fresno, Kern, Kings and Tulare Counties; at 35, he has been the state Senate’s youngest member. Earlier, he was a Kern County supervisor.