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Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez announced a spate of leadership and policy committee changes Wednesday, less than a month before the Legislature adjourns its regular session for the year.

Mike Gatto, D-Los Angeles, will assume the chairmanship of the powerful Assembly Appropriations Committee beginning Friday, shortly before the panel decides the fate of scores of Senate bills.

Other key changes in committee chairmanships, all involving Democrats, include these:

Joan Buchanan of Alamo taking control of the Education Committee;
Das Williams of Santa Barbara, Higher Education;
Felipe Fuentes of Los Angeles, Revenue and Taxation;
Bob Wieckowski of Fremont, Judiciary;
Rich Gordon of Menlo Park, Business, Professions and Consumer Protection;
Michael Allen of Santa Rosa, Public Employees, Retirement and Social Security;
• and Ben Hueso of San Diego, Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee.

All changes in Assembly committee chairs will take effect Friday, including two involving Sacramento Democrats: Roger Dickinson will lead the Banking and Finance Committee, while Richard Pan will assume the gavel of the Health Committee.

John Vigna, Pérez's spokesman, said the changes are being made now to give members time to adjust to the positions before the start of a new two-year legislative session next January.

"There's no hard-and-fast rule," Vigna said of the timing. "I think the speaker wanted to give the new chairs the opportunity to get their feet wet a little bet and to start researching the policy issues."

Several Assembly members said privately that they knew of no controversy sparking the committee changes. Several changes replaced members who will be termed out or leaving the Assembly this year. Policy committees, except for the Appropriations Committee, largely have completed their duties for the current year.

Pérez also announced several changes in his leadership team, effective Sept. 1, after the chamber has adjourned for 2012.

Toni Atkins of San Diego will become majority floor leader, replacing Charles Calderon of Montebello, who will be termed out in December.

Nora Campos of San Jose will be speaker pro tempore; Allen will be assistant majority floor leader; Fiona Ma of San Francisco, assistant speaker pro tempore; Roger Hernández of West Covina, majority whip; and Calderon, assistant majority whip.

Four Democrats will retain their current leadership posts: Mike Feuer of Los Angeles, majority policy leader; Wilmer Amina Carter of Rialto, assistant majority policy leader; Jerry Hill of San Mateo, Democratic Caucus chair; and Nancy Skinner of Berkeley, Rules Committee chair.


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