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Steve Boilard, Executive Director, Center for California Studies

There’s a sense of anticipation and energy in Sacramento, as the 92nd California Legislature kicks off its two-year session. It promises to be an interesting session for several reasons: The Democrats now hold a two-thirds supermajority in both chambers, enabling the passage of tax increases and urgency measures without Republican support. The Legislature’s work will also be more visible to the public, with November’s Proposition 54 requiring bills to be in print for at least three days prior to a vote, and requiring public access to video recordings of all public hearings. California’s Legislature also will likely be at odds with a Republican-held White House and Congress, with expected conflicts over immigration, environmental regulation, and other policies.

I’m optimistic about 2017. Notwithstanding the campaigns at the federal level, I feel California’s state political races, by and large, were issues-focused and contemplative. And this positively affects whom we select to represent us. In my experience, California’s legislators and legislative staff across both parties share a genuine commitment to our state, and more often than not are able to work together in service to all Californians. I also believe California’s executive branch is marked by a high degree of professionalism and a focus on the state’s long-term interests. What’s more, Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye has placed considerable emphasis on civic participation and education, which strengthens our democratic system.

My point is the people of California’s government are unusually dedicated, professional, and public-minded. And we at the Center for California Studies strive daily to renew and strengthen that corps of state public professionals. Our flagship Capital Fellows Programs have now trained over 2,000 individuals to serve California in various capacities. Some of them achieve high-profile positions. Just last month, Kristin Olsen (Senate Fellow 1996-97), the former Assembly Republican Leader and current Stanislaus County Supervisor, became vice-chair of the California Republican party, and Xavier Becerra (Senate Fellow 1980-81) was appointed by Jerry Brown to serve as California’s Attorney General. (For those of you interested in jump-starting a career in California public service, applications for our Capital Fellows Programs are now open.)

I hope you’ll continue to engage with us in the various ways that the Center for California Studies works to strengthen California’s democracy. Please subscribe to this blog to keep up to date in 2017. And, as always, we’re happy to get your feedback and suggestions at calstudies@csus.edu.

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