California Legislature Recognizes Science and Technology Policy Fellows

August 17, 2012 | ,   | Contact: M. Daniel DeCillis

Speaker of the Assembly John Pérez recognizing (left to right) Matt Holland, Stephen Francis, Dharia McGrew, and Erika Bustamante. Not pictured: Mandy Arens.

The 2011-2012 group of California Science and Technology Policy Fellows has received acknowledgments from both the Assembly and the Senate, marking the program’s third year of success.

“As policy makers, our most urgent priority is to create the kind of twenty-first century jobs that will restore health to California’s economy,” said Speaker of the Assembly John Pérez on August 9 in the Assembly floor session. “An integral part of that effort will be ensuring that every California student has a firm grounding in science, and an opportunity to attend one of our world-class universities, so they can receive the training and knowledge they need to bring new innovations and technologies to our economy. The science fellows are an essential part of that effort, to bring together scientific and policy minds together in the furtherance of that goal.”

First established in 2009, the California Science and Technology Policy Fellowship program places up to ten scientists in yearlong appointments in the California state legislature. The program is designed to enable fellows to work hands-on with policymakers in addressing complex scientific and technical issues. Modeled on a longstanding program run by AAAS in Congress and modified for the unique nature of the California Legislature, the California S&T Policy Fellowship remains the only state-level program of its kind today.

(Left to right) Larry Baskett, Ben Rubin, Alena Pribyl, and Rebecca Newhouse with Senator Joe Simitian. Not pictured: Le Ondra Clark.

This past year, Policy Fellows were appointed to work with numerous committees, including Assembly committees on Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee and Environmental Safety and Toxicology, and the Senate committees on Business, Professions and Economic Development, Natural Resources and Water, and Health.

“I can tell you, having worked closely with Ms Newhouse on the Senate Environmental Quality Committee, she has been a tremendous asset to the Senate and to our committee in particular, where she drafted and analyzed several amendments for bills that came before our committee in a wide range of subject areas,” said Senator Joe Simitian, in recognizing Policy Fellow Rebecca Newhouse on the Senate floor on August 16. “Colleagues, this is why we bring Policy fellows to the Senate.”

Senator Ed Hernandez offered similar remarks about Policy Fellow Ben Rubin, who worked with the Senate Health Committee.

“Ben has been an incredible asset,” said Senator Hernandez. “He wants to make a difference in public policy. I want to thank him for allowing me to spend some time with him this year in the Senate Health Committee.”

The current class of Policy Fellows, which serves until the end of October, is the third to be recognized by the Legislature for its positive contributions to the Assembly and Senate. The 2012-2013 group of Fellows has already been selected and will begin intensive ‘boot-camp’ training in November of this year; the application period for the 2013-2014 program will begin in December.

“Each of these men and women have brought a vital body of knowledge and experience, and have shared with us their insights on crucial policy issues ranging from energy to agriculture,” said Speaker Pérez. “We’ve had the privilege to host these fellows, and on behalf of all of us, I’d like to thank them for their service to the people of California.”

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