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California Lawmakers Return To Capitol For New Year

  

California lawmakers return to work Wednesday for what promises to be a busy January.

In addition to introducing hundreds of new bills, kicking off the committee hearings, floor debates and negotiations to pass them, lawmakers will begin the process of confirming a new attorney general. Gov. Jerry Brown has selected Congressman Xavier Becerra to replace Kamala Harris, who’s now a U.S. Senator.

Democratic leaders will also pursue their own policy priorities.

“Chief and perhaps most immediate is transportation and infrastructure,” Senate leader Kevin de León said last month.

Democrats want to raise the gas tax to fund repairs and upgrades for failing roads—a deal that’s eluded them for years. Lawmakers also want new funding for affordable housing, which fell apart in negotiations with the governor last session.

Brown must introduce his spending priorities early next week, setting off months of haggling over the state budget. But with the incoming Trump Administration, it’s unclear how California’s liberal leaders will interact with a conservative federal government.