Inside the mad scramble in the California Capitol to come to UC Berkeley’s rescue

March 16, 2022

Little ever happens quickly in the California Legislature. And few bills of consequence ever pass unanimously.That changed Monday when, to the good fortune of thousands of future UC Berkeley students, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill three days after it was introduced and then unanimously approved by the Legislature.

The reasons for the rare fast action: Legislators faced a hard, looming deadline for UC Berkeley to send out letters of acceptance. The Legislature’s actions could affect the ability of students to get what one legislator called a “life-altering” education at a top university. And lawmakers saw that the change could help students across California, not just Berkeley.

When was the last time that state Senate Pro Tem Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, saw the Legislature move this swiftly and unanimously on something?

“I’m speechless, which is unusual,” Atkins told The Chronicle.

Atkins credited Berkeley state Sen. Nancy Skinner for her “laser focus” while quarterbacking the measure to passage. But Skinner’s work on the solution didn’t start on Friday, when the bill was introduced. It began in earnest behind the scenes nearly two weeks ago.

 

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