On October 22, the Bedrosian Center receives a visit from one of the state’s most influential lawmakers as part of the Leading from the West conversation series. California Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez will talk about the most important policy issues facing California, review the California Legislature’s busy year of legislation, and share lessons learned from California politics in the era of the Democratic supermajority.
Since 2012, Pérez has represented the 53rd district in the California State Assembly (before district restructuring in 2012, he represented the 46th district), and in 2010, he was elected the Speaker of the Assembly, an title that was also held by his first cousin, Antonio Villaraigosa. Pérez is also the first openly gay state legislative speaker in California history, and one of the first gay elected officials in the country to hold that post. (Gordon D. Fox, speaker of the Rhode Island House of Representatives, was also elected in 2010.)
Pérez hopes to break new ground again next year, when vies to become the first openly gay politician, and the second Latino, in 136 years elected to statewide office in California. Last week, Pérez announced that he would run for state controller in 2014, when his time in the California Assembly expires due to term limits. The Controller is California’s financial regulator, supervising $100 billion worth of expenditures for the ninth largest economy in the world.
As Speaker of the Assembly, Pérez has reaped the benefits of a democratic supermajority in California Legislature. He has helped pass three on-time state budgets in a row, an accomplishment that hadn’t occurred in California in almost 30 years. In the Assembly, Pérez has set an agenda to address the diverse range of issues facing the country’s most populous state. Among the legislative highlights of a productive 2013: expanding access to health care in wake of the Affordable Care Act, providing resources to deal with the critical housing needs of military veterans, working to improve the state’s business climate while creating expansive economic development efforts, addressing affordability concerns in higher education with the passage of the Middle Class Scholarship legislation, and the development of a program for driver’s licenses for immigrants in absence of national comprehensive national immigration reform.