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New Lawmakers Get Adjusted in Capitol

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Aired 4/19/09

The state's $28 billion budget deficit didn't dampen lawmakers' enthusiasm for their first day on the job.  More than three dozen new legislators were sworn in to office yesterday and most of them are brand new to the Capitol.  Jenny O'Mara reports.

Lawmakers arrived at the Capitol all dressed up, with families wielding cameras for the big moment…

Being a brand new lawmaker is kind of like being a freshman in high school. You get lost sometimes. Just ask GOP Assemblyman Curt Hagman.

Hagman: "Still trying to find my way around-trying to find this room-room 112-and my phone doesn't work."

He's not the only one, Democratic Assemblyman Bill Monning admits to some confusion too.

Monning: "It is a challenge just finding your way around this very complex building."

And then there are some with a case of the butterflies. Republican Assemblywoman Connie Conway.

Conway: "Exciting on one hand but certainly no one in the state of California is not aware of what this new session brings and the crisis that we face financially."

To tackle that crisis-new lawmakers are getting briefed on everything including the current budget situation.

But despite the tests that lie ahead, the new members' enthusiasm was infectious.  Assembly Speaker Karen Bass:

Bass: "All the new energy, all the bright eyes, all of the hopefulness, and I didn't want to put too much of a damper on it, and I tried to in my comments be realistic without being so negative.

Usually lawmakers get to adjourn until January. But this year Bass says new lawmakers may get to start in early.  She may call them back within a few weeks to vote on a budget plan.  That is if legislative leaders can reach some kind of deal.

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