New Session Amid COVID

On December 7th, the organizational session for the State Assembly’s 2021-2022 convened in Sacramento. But this year, things looked a lot different than normal.  Though a few bills were introduced, the Speaker and other Assembly officers were sworn in, and resolutions related to operating the House were adopted, the event was not held at the State Capitol building as usual.

Because of COVID restrictions, the new session began at Golden 1 Center, the first time since 1907 that the organizational session was held at someplace other than the Capitol.   All members entering the Golden 1 Center were tested for COVID. Masks were worn and social distancing observed.  No guests or family members allowed.  Typically, the day before, the Governor welcomes all members at a reception, but this year the restrictions in place prevent that. 

Historic milestones include the swearing-in of Alex T. Lee, who at 25 is the youngest legislator since the 1930s, and the continuing service of Steven Choi, who became the oldest freshman Assemblyman since the end of WWII when he was elected in 2016.

Because of the remote location of the ceremonies, all votes were voice votes, the first time that’s happened since the 1930s. This year marks the first time the Assembly Republican Caucus has grown in a presidential election year since 1984, and the number of women in the caucus is also increasing from two last session to five this session. And for real trivia buffs, Assemblymembers Thurston Smith and Chris Ward became the first two German-born legislators to join the Assembly since John D. Siebe and Christian Went in 1880.

Our new session begins in earnest on January 4th and I’m eager to begin what’s going to be a very significant year for California.