Speaker's Role

To better understand what the Speaker of the Assembly does, it’s important to look at his or her powers and responsibilities; and for whom he or she works.

The Speaker's powers and duties

The Speaker is the highest ranking officer of the Assembly, and is elected by the Assembly Members usually at the beginning of each two-year legislative session. The Speaker or his or her designee presides over Floor Session.

The Speaker is charged with the overall management and supervision of the Assembly. She or he appoints members to all committees and subcommittees of the Assembly, allocates funds, staffing, and other resources for the effective operation of the House, and establishes committee schedules. The Speaker’s powers and duties are established by the Assembly Rules Committee.

Who does the Speaker work for?

The Speaker of the California Assembly, in effect, is responsible to three separate constituencies. First are the people in the Speaker’s Assembly District; second, the people of the entire state, as a Speaker is a statewide political figure and leader, and, finally, to the membership of the Assembly who have elected him or her to the position of leadership. In addition, the Speaker is the liaison between the Assembly and the major leaders of the state and the federal administration in Washington.

To fulfill these obligations, it is necessary that the Speaker maintain a staff of wide and varied talents and backgrounds. The staff, with clerical support, consists of consultants with expertise in areas of concern to all Californians, e.g., agriculture, labor, education, health care, etc., who are charged with everything from research to aiding Members of the Legislature in their issue areas. They must brief the Speaker and prepare resource material for the many occasions when she or he addresses various groups and citizens throughout the state. The Speaker’s office also has a staff person who acts as a liaison with the media. In addition, the Speaker’s staff provide outreach services to help Assembly Members keep their constituents informed of legislative efforts, and involved in the legislative process.