State Sen. Angelique Ashby and other newly elected women legislators are applauded in the Senate chambers of the California State Capitol on Dec. 5, 2022. Photo by Martin do Nascimento, CalMatters

(CALMATTERS) – The Sacramento Press Club hosted a “Meet the Rookies” event on Thursday, introducing five newly elected lawmakers and one former Assemblymember who returned to the Capitol as a state senator. 

In attendance were Assemblymembers Republican Josh Hoover from Folsom and Democrats Blanca Pacheco from Downey, Esmerelda Soria from Merced, and Rick Zbur from Los Angeles, as well as state Sens. Angelique Ashby, a Sacramento Democrat, and Roger Niello, a Fair Oaks Republican.

The legislators touched on some big issues they’re tasked with tackling this session:

  • Oil windfall profits penalties: Panelists disagreed over Gov. Newsom’s call for a special session investigating the oil industry’s alleged price gouging on gas. While Zbur applauded the governor’s focus on the issue, Niello said Newsom’s motive was political. 
  • Allowing legislative staff to unionize: Many acknowledged that the Legislature’s offices are understaffed and that staff pay disparities exist. Hoover, however, had “mixed emotions” about Assemblywoman’s Tina McKinnor’s renewed efforts to unionize staffers, noting that he didn’t fully support the bill.
  • A commitment to bipartisanship: Democrats still vastly outnumber Republicans in the Legislature, but a few Assemblymembers were quick to point out their membership in the new bipartisan CA Problem Solvers Caucus. Among the bills with  bipartisan support: Ashby’s bill for debt-free college for foster youth and Pacheco’s bill about proper use of accent marks on State Registrar records.