Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) was elected with overwhelming support in November 2012 to represent the Southeast Los Angeles County cities of the 33rd Senate District. Raised in a blue collar immigrant household, Ricardo knows first-hand the challenges facing working families and is committed to improving the quality of life for all Californians.
Ricardo is one of the most influential members of the State Senate, chairing the powerful Appropriations Committee and serving as a member of the Energy, Utilities and Communications, Governance and Finance, Governmental Organization, and Banking and Financial Institutions committees.
An advocate for the environment, Ricardo created the California Clean Bus, Truck and Freight Program to encourage clean energy while investing in good jobs and authored legislation to create a state plan to address short-lived climate pollutants such as diesel soot, which are known to cause climate warming and negatively impact public health.
A champion for educational equity, civil rights and immigrant rights, Ricardo champions legislation that improves the quality of life for vulnerable communities. He has authored several first-in-the nation laws that recognize and invest in immigrant communities such as the California DREAM Loan Program, which helps undocumented students apply for loans to complete their higher education goals. Supporting California’s entrepreneurial spirit, Ricardo’s bill to update and expand access to professional licensing rules, regardless of immigration status, will stimulate local economies and create jobs.
Working his way through college as a teacher’s assistant in an English immersion classroom, Ricardo believes that multilingual education in schools is important to giving California students the competitive economic and educational edge. That’s why he authored the California Ed.G.E., or Education for a Global Economy Initiative, which will ask voters to revisit the state’s English-only instruction mandate in public schools on the 2016 ballot.
Under his leadership as Chair of the Latino Caucus, the legislature passed AB60 to allow undocumented Californians to obtain driver’s licenses. In the summer of 2014, he organized a fact-finding delegation to visit the Central American unaccompanied minors being held in Ventura County and was instrumental in securing $3 million to be directed toward non-profit organizations providing legal representation to these children.
Ricardo's record in public service has been recognized at the local, state and national levels. President Barack Obama awarded him a “Champion of Change” at the White House and The Los Angeles Times named Ricardo the “Point man in the push for immigrant rights” in California. Upon winning his election in 2012, he made history by becoming the first openly gay person of color elected to the California Senate.
Ricardo earned his B.A. in Journalism and Spanish with a minor in Chicano Studies from San Diego State University.