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Karen Bass, CA's Newest Speaker of the State Assembly

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Assemblywoman Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles, second from right, being sworn in by her predecessor, Assemblyman Fabian Nunez, of Los Angeles, left, as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger applauds during ceremonies at the Capitol in Sacramento. Second from left is Bass' stepdaughter Yvette Lechuga who held the bible used in the swearing in. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Today, Karen Bass, a local representative, was sworn in as the Speaker of the California State Assembly. She is the first African American woman to hold the job. The job of speaker is to be the leader of the California State Assembly, controlling every committee assignment (which rep sits on transportation, public safety, etc) and has a great deal of sway in regards to which legislation moves forward or not. Sacramento Bee's Capitol Alert says the job is "considered by many to be second only to the governor in power and prestige in California government."

Her first job? The state's budget crisis. The state is "a giant in crisis," she said. "Bass announced that she had asked former governors Pete Wilson and Gray Davis to help set up a bipartisan commission to study overhauling the state's tax structure. The panel will be asked to come up with recommendations 'to identify more consistent sources of revenue,' Bass said" in the LA Times. On Wednesday, Gov. Schwarzenegger will release a plan to combat the budget shortfall that could be up to $20 billion.

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For the last ten years, state representatives from Los Angeles have dominated the role of Speaker of the Assembly, including Mayor Villaraigosa, LA City Councilman, Herb Wesson, and Anaheim Mayor Curt Pringle.

As an Assemblymember, Bass represents Westwood, West Los Angeles, Ladera Heights, Palms, Culver City, South Carthay, Miracle Mile, Country Club Park, Baldwin Hills, Hyde Park, Windsor Hills, Leimart Park, Century City, Beverlywood, South Carthay.