Assemblyman Issac Bryan has been very busy since being sworn into office following his win in the May race for the 54th District seat. That seat, which represents a large swath of LA County, including Culver City, Ladera Heights, Exposition Park, South LA and parts of Inglewood, had been vacated by Sydney Kamlager, who had taken then-Sen. Holly Mitchell’s seat.
On interim recess, Bryan was home from Sacramento and last week touched base with his constituents during a virtual town hall meeting.
“I haven’t seen most of you since the election,” he said to the more than 100 zoom attendees. “On one hand, it’s really sad, but on the other hand, it means I’ve been working.”
Bryan arrived in Sacramento at the end of what is called “house of origin week,” the final week to keep bills in the state house of representatives. He had no staff, so he and his assistant had four days to read up on and vote on 300 bills.
Additionally, Bryan actually introduced his bill that week. AB 1043 defining “afforadable rents,” was recently signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom.
“My first law,” Byran beamed with pride, noting he was proud to be part of a legislative year that saw a budget surplus of more than $75 billion.
“These are the kind of numbers that blow your mind,” he said. “But in the state of California, it’s never enough … there are millions of us.”
Bryan is proud of “The 54th,” particularly as he promised Newsom the district’s support.
“District 54 voted 85 percent ‘no’ on the recall,” he said. “We set a tone. We showed up in the recall. The governor’s leadership has stood up in one of the toughest economic times in our history.”
Bryan mentioned the passing of several other bills, including one by his predecessor, which limits the use of gang enhancements; and the Omnibus bill, which establishes a new framework to evaluate pregnancies and their related deaths. It expands access to doulas and midwives and was pushed by Black Women for Wellness, which was named the nonprofit of the year in the 54th Assembly District.
While serving on the human services; the appropriates; the communications and conveyance; and governmental organizations committees, Bryan caught the attention of the majority whip. He is now also the assistant majority whip.
“Which means I walk around and I go whip votes on different bills,” he said. “I actually had a lot of fun doing it. Changing the policy of California … that is a feeling. I had no idea how gratifying it would feel.”
The assemblymember is especially proud of SB2, which he co-sponsored. It aims to increase accountability for law enforcement officers who commit serious misconduct and illegally violate a person’s civil rights.
“That bill was introduced the year George Floyd was murdered,” Byran said. “It got off the assembly floor and onto the governor’s desk and he signed it. “I’m really, really proud of that one.”
There were some tough losses, Bryan admits. One bill, which would have created a 4-year sunset for convictions for those formerly incarcerated of minor offences, needed 41 votes, but didn’t quite make it.
“Records prevent folks from getting housing, employment… we have an outrageous recidivism rate,” Bryan said. “That bill will be back in January. The fact that it did not make it through tells me how much fighting we’ve got to do.”
He explained why he abstained from voting on pay raises for the California Correctional Peace Officers (CCPOA), which was a budget trailer bill.
“I’m all for supporting labor,” Bryan said, noting that the state pours more money into the correctional system than the UC campuses. “I wasn’t just going to rubber stamp on a half billion dollars a year.”
The assemblymember plans to tackle several issues during the next legislative session, including transition aged youth; homelessness; expanding broadband; affordable rents; childcare; reproductive justice; and alternatives to incarceration.
“We have to think of the prison to school pipeline instead of the school to prison pipeline,” Bryan said as he concluded his comments. “We hit the ground running and I hope we’ve made you proud so far.”