Ricardo Lara took office as California Insurance Commissioner at a ceremony in Sacramento on Monday, January 7, pledging to help Californians recover from wildfires while defeating the threat of climate change.
Commissioner Lara is the eighth Insurance Commissioner of California since voters created the position in 1988.
Commissioner Lara is the first openly LGBTQ+ person to be elected to statewide office in California. U.S. Judge Vaughn R. Walker administered the oath of office. Judge Walker wrote the decision in Perry v. Schwarzenegger in 2010, overturning Proposition 8 and allowing marriage equality in California.
"California's Department of Insurance is the largest state consumer protection agency in America," said Commissioner Lara. "We are the Department of Fair Deals, the Department of Fresh Starts, the Department of Rebuilding Your Home, the Department of Protecting your Investment, and the Department of the Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow. In short, we are the Department of Hope, and we have never been more important."
He pledged to protect the victims of wildfires and other disasters, defend all Californians from the threat of climate change and insurance scams, and promote innovation and technology.
"Our seniors, people living in poverty, and immigrant communities are targets of con artists and scams. Our entrepreneurs face economic uncertainty. Millions of us live one emergency room visit away from financial ruin. We cannot deny that with climate change, California faces a threat like never before," said Commissioner Lara.
Commissioner Lara announced the creation of a Deputy Commissioner of Climate and Sustainability, a first for the department, to work with environmental and industry leaders on innovative solutions to the risk of climate change.
"To the insurance industry - I ask you to join me in this fight against extreme disasters linked to climate change. We need bold action to ensure our communities adapt and are resilient to this new reality," said Commissioner Lara. "There is no other industry that has the necessary expertise to ensure that California is prepared to mitigate and reduce risk to our communities and environment. Our planet can't wait. I am ready, and I hope you are too."
Commissioner Lara took the oath of office on a facsimile of California's first Constitution from 1849 in its original Spanish translation. For California's first 30 years as a state, all laws were translated into Spanish, starting with the Constitution. As the son of two immigrant parents from Mexico, Commissioner Lara grew up in a bilingual house and has been a champion for multilingual learning.
Commissioner Lara was first elected to the California State Legislature in 2010 and represented the 33rd Senate District from 2012 to 2018.
As Senator, he won healthcare for more than 250,000 California children and introduced universal healthcare legislation.
Commissioner Lara said he would work with the new administration of Governor Gavin Newsom to expand access to health care.
"To Governor Newsom - I am excited to be your partner in expanding affordable healthcare for every Californian," said Commissioner Lara. "There is nothing we cannot achieve with our new common agenda. We stand ready for your California4All vision."
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