Assemblyman Randy Voepel speaks during an Assembly session in 2017. / Photo courtesy of Assemblyman Randy Voepel’s office
Assemblyman Randy Voepel speaks during an Assembly session in 2017. / Photo courtesy of Assemblyman Randy Voepel’s office

This post originally appeared in the July 2 Sacramento Report. Subscribe to the Sacramento Report here

Assemblyman Randy Voepel is set to mark a less-than-desirable milestone for the year: None of his bills will pass through the Legislature.

Voepel introduced 13 bills this year, but none successfully passed the Assembly and onto the state Senate.

Voepel’s chief of staff, Gail Ramer, said there were multiple reasons why none of Voepel’s bills will pass this year.

For one, various subcommittees within the Assembly turned some of Voepel’s bills into two-year measures. That means those measures could still advance next year, in the second half of the current legislative session.

Second, Ramer blamed a decision made in 2019 by Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon to give all committee chairs the power to refuse to hear a bill in committee. She said the move meant some of Voepel’s bills never received a hearing.

Bills to allow electronic monitoring of patients in elder care facilities, and a bill related to funding school lunches, were among those that never received a hearing in committee.

“When a committee chair denies any bill a public hearing, they’re not only dismissing constituents’ only opportunity to voice their support, but they’re also denying the ability for debate,” Ramer said in a statement.

Thad Kousser, political science chair at the University of California, San Diego, agreed the rule change likely contributed to Voepel’s inability to pass a single bill this session.

“It’s rare, but not unprecedented,” he said of a lawmaker not advancing any measures. “We may see more and more of these members of the minority party not getting their bills to advance simply because they just don’t even get a chance to have that hearing and a vote.”

Aside from taking issue with the specifics of Voepel’s bills, it’s also possible lawmakers weren’t eager to collaborate with him. Voepel drew an enormous amount of criticism for his initial response to the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, in which he appeared to side with the rioters. He later clarified that he didn’t “condone or support the violence and lawlessness that took place.” A group of elected officials and national security experts, asked the Legislature to expel Voepel.

Other Republican members of San Diego’s state delegation, including Sens. Brian Jones and Pat Bates, and Assemblywoman Marie Waldron, each still have several measures alive in the Legislature.

Roemer said that in the absence of bills advancing in the Senate, Voepel’s office has been focused on helping constituents obtain unemployment benefits and working through problems with those claims.

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