>>”Democrat’s faith in Bonta appears evident in at least two committee posts”
ASSEMBLY | East Bay Assemblymembers Nancy Skinner and Bob Wieckowski could be big players in the Legislature this year, if the committee assignments handed down by Speaker John Perez is any indication.

Oakland’s freshman Assemblyman Rob Bonta may also be pegged by the speaker as one of the large incoming class of legislator’s top prospects. Bonta was one of nine newcomers to snag committee leadership positions. The East Bay’s other new Assemblyman Bill Quirk was named to five committees, including a seat on the Rules Committee.

In addition to being named the chair of the Rules Committee last month, Skinner will also sit on four other committees, including business, professions and consumer protection; natural resources; public safety and utilities and commerce.

Wieckowski, already one of the Assembly’s up-and-comers, gained chairmanship of the highly-sought after Judiciary Committee. The Fremont assemblyman also received three other important appointments to the health, insurance and public employees, retirement and social security committees.

The Democratic Party’s faith in Bonta appears evident in at least two committee posts which could potentially propel him higher in the order of leadership in Sacramento. In addition to the chair of the Public Employees, Retirement and Social Security Committee, Bonta will sit on the health and transportation.

With the East Bay’s mechanism for health care and the future of San Leandro Hospital and St. Rose Hospital in doubt, his voice on the Health Committee will be welcomed by local officials. Local transportation advocates, depressed by the narrow loss of Measure B1 last November, will likely buzz Bonta for help in acquiring legislation for a second try in 2014.

In fact, former Union City Mayor Mark Green, who led the Alameda County Transportation Commission’s charge for reupping Measure B, said last month, he already impressed upon Bonta the need for another stab at generating precious transportation dollars for the region’s aging infrastructure. Bonta also received assignments on the Banking and Finance Committee and Elections and Redistricting Committee.

Quirk’s status among Assembly leaders, at least, for now, is unclear. Of the five committee assignments he received, just one appears tailored to his strengths or regional needs of his Hayward constituency. As a former scientist and strong proponent of the Russell City Energy Center on the Hayward shoreline, a natural gas-fired power plant, his assignment to the Utilities and Commerce Committee may come in handy. Quirk recently questioned whether adding clean energy to the state’s power grid is a sensible idea. Quirk also grabbed seats on the agriculture, appropriations, public safety and rules committees. Interestingly, Quirk shares three assignments with Skinner and none with Wieckowski of which he is closely aligned, if not, geographically in the south county.

On a disappointing note, none of the East Bay’s contingent were assigned to the Budget Committee. With the future of the East Bay’s three professional sports franchises in doubt, the region was also shut out of the sports and entertainment committee.

Banking and finance
Elections and redistricting
Public employees, retirement and social security, chair

Public safety
Utilities and commerce

Judiciary, chair
Public employees, retirement and social security

Business, professions and consumer protection
Natural resources
Public safety
Rules, chair
Utilities and commerce

NOTE: A correction was made to this article to better reflect Quirk’s statements last month on renewable energy and the state’s power grid.