Politics & Government

California reform: Speaker bans lobbyists from texting legislators

SACRAMENTO — John A. Perez became California's new Assembly Speaker on Monday with plans to open up the budget process and limit text messaging on the Assembly floor.

The Los Angeles Democrat followed his swearing-in as the 68th Assembly Speaker by announcing that:

• -- Two Republicans will be appointed committee chairs as a signal of bipartisanship.

• -- Text messages from lobbyists to lawmakers will be prohibited on the Assembly's floor or in its committees.

• -- Budget hearings and deliberations will be broadcast on the Web and, when possible, on television. Budget information will be posted on the Internet.

• -- Public hearings will be held statewide so that "every-day Californians have the opportunity to look us in the eye and tell us how our budget proposals will affect their lives."

The new Assembly Speaker was given several standing ovations by a packed house that included Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, state Treasurer Bill Lockyer, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and former legislative leaders Willie Brown and John Burton.

Pérez said job creation will be a top priority.

"Our number one focus must be to get Californians working again. Our economic woes and budget deficits will not be fixed until the job market recovers, the unemployment rate falls, and the spirit of entrepreneurship is restored across our state."

Pérez reiterated a promise that the budget "will not be written behind closed doors in Big 5 meetings" with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders.

Read the full story at sacbee.com