Richard Floyd, a crusty, chain-smoking former assemblyman best known for carrying the legislation requiring motorcyclists to wear helmets, died at his Sacramento area home Thursday evening. He was 80.
Floyd was a long-time aide to Sen. Ralph Dills, D-Gardena, when he struck out on his own in 1980, winning an Assembly seat centered in the heart of Dills' south Los Angeles County Senate district and serving for 12 years.
Floyd's first Assembly stint -- much of its as chairman of the committee that handled horse racing, gambling and liquor legislation -- ended when he lost a primary to a Democratic challenger in 1992 after the district's boundaries were changed. But he returned to the Assembly four years later when the seat reopened, only to be bounced out again by term limits in 2000. Floyd ran for the state Senate that year, but lost in another Democratic primary battle.
As described by the California Political Almanac in 1990, "Floyd is easily the loudest, most profane member of the Legislature -- and proud of it. Not a last-night-of-the-session has gone by without Floyd bellowing a profanity at one of his Republican colleagues. During Gov. George Deukmejian's state of the state addresses, Floyd can usually be spotted tossing paper airplanes and making comments to anyone within earshot."
Floyd's motorcycle helmet bill survived strenuous opposition from two-wheel enthusiasts, who, in full leathers, often packed the Capitol. But Floyd, a combat veteran of the Korean War, was equally bellicose in his advocacy of the legislation and saw its enactment.
Friends said that Floyd's death followed a years-long bout with diabetes.
"I was deeply saddened to learn of the death of my friend, former Assemblymember Dick Floyd," Assembly Speaker John A. PÃ©rez said in a statement. "He was one of the legendary figures of California politics, and the respect he commanded among his colleagues and constituents was unquestioned. He was an outspoken -- sometimes notoriously so -- advocate for those Californians whose voices are not always heard in government. Mr. Floyd was a passionate defender of all Californians, and I will truly miss him."
Long-divorced, Floyd is survived by two daughters, Lorene and Rikki. Services are pending.
PHOTO CREDIT: Assemblyman Richard Floyd responds during a state budget debate to arguments that new taxes on the rich would send them moving out of state, June 13, 1991. Dick Schmidt / Sacramento Bee file, 1991