California State Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego), along with her new and returning Senate colleagues, convened the 2021-22 legislative session on Monday, Dec. 7, with Atkins stating the Senate would continue to focus on COVID-19 prevention and response, economic relief and recovery, and chronic challenges facing California that have been made worse by the pandemic.
In order to follow public health directives, Monday’s meeting was an abbreviated version of the constitutionally-required organizational session that included the swearing-in of new Senators, the election of Senate officers, and the opening of the Senate Desk for senators to introduce new legislation. The Senate limited ceremony and did not allow guests on the Senate Floor to comply with county health directives.
“This year, Californians will see their Senate continue to tackle California’s challenges head on—from maximizing our pandemic response—including helping Californians struggling to get by—to helping our economy recover and grow, to increasing housing production and reducing inequities that plague our systems of justice and education,” Atkins said. “It is a great responsibility and a great honor to serve the people of California in difficult times. I know the California State Senate will be up to the job.”
This year’s organizational session, which streamed online, was modified to include several COVID-19 safety protocols, including health screenings, mandatory masks, physical distancing, and air filtration in the Senate chamber. The ceremony will be replicated so families can participate once the threat of the pandemic lifts.
“While our constituents are skipping weddings, graduations, and funerals, and while we all make necessary alterations to our holiday celebrations, my colleagues and I humbly passed on the pomp and circumstance that typically accompanies the start of a new session, and limited our business to the bare bones of getting our work done. Our focus today was to get business done so that we can all safely return in January to continue to work on the pressing issues facing California,” Atkins said on Monday.
In addition to introducing priority legislation, 17 senators were sworn in during session, including new and re-elected members, and three will be sworn in at a later time. Together, the Senators re-elected Erika Contreras to serve as the Secretary of the Senate, elected Cara Jenkins to serve as the Legislative Counsel, and elected Katrina Rodriguez to serve as the Chief Sergeant.
The Senate will reconvene Monday, Jan. 4, 2021.
Toni G. Atkins is President pro Tempore of the California Senate. Having previously served as Speaker of the California Assembly, she began her tenure in the Senate in 2016. As Senator for District 39, she represents the cities of San Diego, Coronado, Del Mar and Solana Beach. Website of President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins: www.senate.ca.gov/Atkins