On Monday, state legislators returned to the California Capitol to welcome in their new colleagues, introduce the first set of bills, and officially vote for the next Assembly Speaker.

What You Need To Know

  • The California Legislature welcomed in largest first-year class in 10 years

  • Assemblymembers Pilar Shiavo and Josh Hoover beat incumbents, flipped seats for their parties

  • Legislators voted for Assemblyman Robert Rivas to be the next Speaker

  • The special session on gas prices aims to create price gauging penalties for oil companies

The California Legislature brought in its largest first-year class of lawmakers in 10 years, as the state began the 2022-2023 Legislative Session.

One of the first-year lawmakers, Assembly member Pilar Shiavo (D-Chatsworth) flipped a seat in the Santa Clarita Valley from Red to Blue in a tightly contested race against Republican Suzette Valladares, who served one term in the legislature.

“It was a roller coaster. We were down 8,000 votes on election night and we were able to kind of crawl our way back up every day and get past the finish line, which was amazing,” Shiavo said.

Shiavo was sworn into office with her daughter by her side. She says being a mom will help shape her policymaking.

“When you have a child and you think about their future and how it’s going to impact them, it certainly brings more meaning to the work that you do and makes it a lot more personal.” Shiavo said.

Shiavo spent 20 years working in the labor sector, with 13 years spent in the California Nurses Association.

“I want to work on all those things I’ve been working on for 20 years — fighting for good jobs, things that help people stay in their and put food on the table, put their kids through school,” Shiavo noted.

She said growing up, her family struggled to get the right health care they needed. Her father is a cancer survivor and veteran, who was able to get treatment through the VA, which saved his life.

“I don’t think anyone should worry about going bankrupt or whether or not they can afford to call an ambulance when they need it. Issues of making sure people have health care when they need it is really important and something I want to work a lot on,” Shiavo said.

On the other side of the aisle, Republican Josh Hoover (R-Folsom) flipped a seat in one of the closest races in the state. He will replace incumbent Ken Cooley, who had been in office since 2014. Hoover will represent suburban areas of Sacramento County.

“It was very exciting. Honestly, I’m still taking it all in. My opponent called me a week ago, and we had a very great conversation. He was very gracious, and he congratulated me on my victory and shared some words of wisdom and I think we had a very peaceful transfer of power,” Hoover said.

Though he’s a first-year lawmaker, Hoover is no stranger to working in the Capitol, having worked there for 11 years. Most recently, as Kevin Kiley’s Chief of Staff. Kiley left the state legislature to work in Congress.

“I think it definitely gives me a head start in some aspects, but there’s still a lot to learn. It’s very different being an actual legislator and there’s a lot of new relationships that you need to build with other members of the legislature and that’s what I plan to do,” Hoover said.

Hoover, a father of three, says improving public schools and enhancing public safety are his top priorities.

“We saw them really struggling during the pandemic with distance learning and when you see that as a parent close up, you really want to get involved and help change it and that’s one of the main drivers for me,” Hoover said.

Hoover says he is going to introduce legislation to allow students from underperforming schools to freely transfer to other schools. He is also introducing a bill that will prohibit homeless encampments within 500 feet of a school campus.

“It’s so important that parents feel safe sending their kid to school, that kids feel safe walking to school and those are some of the first bills that we’ll be introducing,” Hoover said.

The lawmakers didn’t just spend the day welcoming new members. They also cast votes to decide important matters. Most notably, the Assembly Speakership going forward.

After months of political maneuvering, Robert Rivas was officially voted the next Assembly Speaker, succeeding Anthony Rendon, who’s held the position since 2016. Rivas will take over as Speaker after June 30.

Another important vote was to convene the special session on the high gas prices. Gov. Gavin Newsom has been calling for the special session since October.

“These guys have been gaming the system for decades, they’ve been taking advantage of you for decades and it’s gotta end so we’re hoping this doesn’t happen in the future and so we want to put a cap on their margins. We want them to make extraordinary profits. I’m not opposed to profits. They just can’t take advantage of people.” Newsom said.

The special session will be centered on creating a cap on how much profit oil refineries can make to prevent price gauging. If oil companies exceed the proposed margin, they will face a civil penalty administered by the California Energy Commission. Both the maximum for the cap on profits and the civil penalty need to be decided on by the legislature.

The legislature will reconvene on Wednesday, Jan. 4.

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