Black lawmakers gain leadership posts in state Senate

By Antonio Ray Harvey 

Contributing Writer

SACRAMENTO — Three days after state Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg, was sworn in as the 49th president pro tem of the California State Senate, he appointed California Legislative Black Caucus members, Sen. Steven Bradford, D-Inglewood, and Sen. Lola Smallwood-Cuevas, D-Los Angeles, to leadership positions.

McGuire reassigned Braford to chair the Senate Standing Committee on Energy, Utilities and Communications. He will be responsible for oversight of — and evaluating legislation related to — utilities, energy companies, alternative energy development and conservation, and communications development and technology.

McGuire appointed Smallwood-Cuevas to lead the Labor, Public Employment and Retirement Committee (formerly the Labor and Industrial Relations Committee). Smallwood-Cuevas and five other committee members are responsible for oversight, legislation and state activities related to labor, industrial safety, unemployment, workers’ compensation and insurance, and state and local public agency collective bargaining.

Bills concerning state and local non-school public employees, noncertificated and classified public school employees, public retirement systems, public employees’ compensation and employment benefits, including retirement and health care, and state Social Security administration are all within the committee’s purview.

Smallwood-Cuevas called McGuire “the hardest working man in the California State Senate.”

At some point during the current legislative session, McGuire will have to weigh in on a reparations bill Bradford has introduced, Senate Bill 490, that proposes the establishment of a new state agency called the California American Freedman Affairs Agency.

A recommendation by the California Reparations Task Force, the new agency would be responsible for administering the reparations process for Black Californians and determining eligibility under the lineage-based structure set up by the state’s reparations task force.

“I look forward to advancing our shared mission of serving all Californians,” Bradford posted Feb. 5 on the social media platform X. “You have some expensive shoes to fill, but I know you have all the talent and wisdom (along w/my full support) to make great things happen.”

McGuire says he is confident that his leadership team will focus on consensus building and making decisions in the best interest of Californians across the state.

“My core belief is this: The highest calling in life is to help others,” he said. “To fight for those who can’t fight for themselves. And to work together — no matter your party affiliation — because working together is the only way to make progress stick,” he said after he took the oath of office.

“California has always been the light of hope for America — the beacon of progress — and along with the Assembly and governor, we will continue to fight for all of us, always together, always forward,” he added.

Antonio Ray Harvey is a reporter for California Black Media.