State Senator John Laird Introduces Gender Neutral Legislation Addressing Archaic References to the CHP Commissioner

SACRAMENTO – Today, State Senator John Laird (D- Santa Cruz) introduced SB 272 that updates archaic gender specific pronouns referencing the California Highway Patrol (CHP) Commissioner. These outdated pronouns have been in statute for over sixty years, and do not reflect the department’s current leadership.

“While California leads on efforts to promote diversity, equity, and equality, our laws have not kept pace,” stated State Senator Laird. “It’s time we change archaic references within state law that are future forward and adequately represent those who dedicate themselves to our state. I commend our CHP Commissioner for the efforts that have been made to ensure the safety of those working in the State Capitol during the recent months, and it is time we remove outdated references that do not properly acknowledge Commissioner Ray’s leadership and dedication to our state.”

On October 20, 2020, Governor Newsom announced the retirement of CHP Commissioner Warren Stanley, following nearly four decades of service at the agency. To fill this void, Governor Newsom appointed then-Deputy Commissioner Amanda Ray to serve as CHP Commissioner. This historic appointment makes Commissioner Ray the first woman and second African American to lead the agency in its 91-year history. Despite efforts to promote diversity and inclusivity within the state, male-dominant pronouns remain predominant within California law. For example, within the Vehicle Code pronouns referencing the CHP Commissioner are male dominant, even though CHP Commissioner Amanda Ray leads the agency.

Commissioner Ray’s distinguished career within the agency and appointment to the highest rank should not be lost in the systematic misogyny of aged code sections. Instead, the pronoun references to the CHP Commissioner should be inclusive to reflect the current and future leaders of the agency and values of California.