Musical Chairs

Today Senate Pro Tem Steinberg announced the committee chairs.

We are pleased to note that Senator Elaine Alquist (D-Santa Clara) will become chair of Senate Health Committee. Senator Alquist has worked with Health Access and other consumer groups on a long list of health care bills and we also know her well from her more recent service as chair of the Senate Budget Subcommittee that handles the health budget. As an author of various measures, Senator Alquist has been a dogged proponent of her bills, willing to work hard for her own measures. She is conscientious and careful as well as a very hard worker. Senator Sheila Kuehl noted to me that Alquist always came to committee prepared—a feat made even more impressive by the fact that Alquist sat through Senate Education on Wednesday mornings and then went into Senate Health in the afternoon, sometimes with only a 5 or 10 minute break between the two committees.

Senator Christine Kehoe will chair Senate Appropriations and Senator Denise Ducheny will continue as chair of Senate Budget. We do not yet know budget subcommittee chairs in the Senate.

As someone who remembers 1976 when Rose Ann Vuich became the first woman ever elected to the California State Senate, it gives me special pleasure to note not only that there are so many women Senators in key positions but also that it is no longer remarkable that it is so.

In the Assembly, appointments have not yet been made official but we note that consistent with earlier announcements by the Speaker, Dave Jones (D-Sacramento) has moved into the Assembly Health Committee office and is expected to be announced as the chair of the Assembly Health Committee. Dave Jones worked hard on a number of health care measures last year, including his own rate regulation measure as well as helping Sen. Steinberg by doing very hard work to get votes on the Assembly floor for SB1522 (Steinberg), the Health Access sponsored measure to standardize individual health insurance products. Jones is a thoughtful legislator who has served on Assembly Health Committee for several years now, a virtual lifetime in the current Assembly. He was kind enough to keynote our recent 20th Anniversary event, along Sen. Steinberg. (see picture.)

We face a very tough budget year and we still await the appointments of the budget subcommittee chairs as well as the committee members but it is good to know that the chairs of both policy committees will have the interests of health consumers at heart.

Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.
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