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Dean Raymond Florez (born April 5 1963 in Shafter, Californiamarker) is a California State Senator. He has represented the 16th District since 2002. He was reelected to a second term on November 7 2006. Florez was born and raised in the Central Valleymarker. 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 Bakersfieldmarker in the south and the city of Fresnomarker 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 Lt. Governor of the State of California.

Early Life and Education

The grandson of farm laborers, Florez spent his early years in the Colonia outside of the city of Shafter, in Kern Countymarker. He graduated from Shafter High School, attended Bakersfield College and earned his bachelor's degree in Political Science from UCLAmarker, where he also served as the first Latino student body president. He went on to receive his MBA from Harvard Business Schoolmarker. Prior to attending Harvard, he worked in the Legislature as a legislative and budget consultant.

Legislation

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 agriculture; water, parks and wildlife; banking, commerce and international trade; and government oversight. He currently chairs the Senate Committee on Governmental Organization which addresses issues relating to gaming, alcohol policy, government services and state emergencies.

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 hoped establishing an actual warning would protect the people of his district in the Central Valley of California from suffering a similar fate.

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. Florez helped the effort which required seatbelts and front–facing seating on farm worker transportation vehicles and developed 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 or not 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 CSU Fresno, Florez prodded the Senate to create the Senate Select Committee on Gender Discrimination and Title IX Implementation, which he now chairs.

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