By Kaitlyn Schallhorn at the OC Register
The first year of school can be intimidating, exciting, a new beginning. For freshman legislators, it’s no different.
They’ve got to learn to navigate a new city, a Capitol complex under construction and the ins and outs of a new legislative process. They’re working with colleagues from vastly different parts of the state and balancing the priorities of their party’s leadership with those of their constituents.
With the first year under their belts, we heard from four new legislators — Sens. Catherine Blakespear and Lola Smallwood-Cuevas and Assemblymembers Diane Dixon and Greg Wallis — about what they learned, the topics they’re beginning to champion, what they’ve discovered about Sacramento and more.
Assemblymember Diane Dixon, R-Newport Beach, spent time on the Newport Beach City Council before her election to the Assembly. Her district, the 72nd, includes coastal Orange County communities, from Seal Beach down to Laguna Beach, extending inland just a bit to cover Laguna Woods and Lake Forest.
On what she learned during her first year in the legislature: Coming from local government, Dixon says she is used to seeing more, or different, public participation in the legislative process.
People can participate, she said, through direct communication or letter-writing, and that is recorded and attached as part of a bill’s information. But during hearings, she said, there’s not much debate and discussion.
“There’s very little contact with constituents or people during the legislative process; it’s just the way it’s structured,” said Dixon.
On dealing with a supermajority: Democrats hold a strong majority in both houses of the legislature — not to mention the executive branch — and Dixon says that means a lack of debate and negotiation for bills.
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