Dean R. Florez Edit Profile
He graduated from Shafter High School, attended Bakersfield College, and earned his Bachelor's degree in Political Science from UCLA, where he was Student Body President.
He was first elected to the California State Assembly in 1998 and served two terms. His mostly rural district stretches across 300 miles anchored by the city of Bakersfield in the south and the city of Fresno at its northern tip. On December 1, 2008, he was named Senate Majority Leader by incoming Senate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento).
On April 3, 2009, Florez announced that he would be a candidate for the Democratic nomination for Lt. Governor. He currently heads up the 20 Million Minds Foundation, seeking to drive down the rapidly growing cost of a college education by making electronic textbooks widely available. The grandson of farm laborers, Florez spent his early years in the Colonia outside of the city of Shafter, in Kern County.
After graduation, he worked in the Legislature as a legislative and budget consultant. He then went on to receive his MBA from Harvard Business School. Florez has legislated in areas of clean air, farm worker safety, high-speed rail, and government accountability.
He has served as Chairman of numerous committees with jurisdiction over food and agriculture. Water, parks and wildlife. Banking, commerce and international trade.
And government oversight. Florez sponsored SB 700, which required farms, for the first time ever, to comply with provisions of the Federal Clean Air Act. Other legislation phases out the age-old practice of burning agricultural waste while taking into consideration the needs of farmers to find an alternative disposal method by giving biomass facilities added incentive to take farm waste over urban construction debris.
Florez also worked to establish a Tsunami Warning System in the wake of the Thai tsunamis that devastated tourism in that area. Florez has also gone against the importation and application of sewage sludge in his District and has fought against proposed mega-dumps and super-dairies. Florez has brought to the forefront of discussion how rural California is often used as the dumping ground for California’s waste and societal problems through laws, regulations, and common practice.
Florez has also worked on farm worker safety. California was the first state to ban wooden bench seating on farm worker vans and require front–facing seating with seat belts. He helped develop an enforcement program focused on California's rural roads that is now being modeled for national legislation.
Most recently, The Chronicle for Higher Education has cited Florez's efforts to investigate whether publicly funded schools in California are complying with Federal Title IX requirements to provide equal opportunities for male and female students in athletics and education. Following a $5.85 million sex discrimination verdict against California State University, Fresno, Florez prodded the Senate to create the Senate Select Committee on Gender Discrimination and Title IX Implementation, which he chaired. Florez, who represented one of the largest districts in the state, switched to a hybrid vehicle in an effort to save taxpayers money on gas.
In the end, he was the only legislator who chose to reimburse the state for the cost of driving throughout his district (Associated Press, 09-25-08: "Gas cards give CA lawmakers a free ride").
Married Elsa Florez; children: Sean, Faith.