Maybe This Will Cheer You Up: Assembly Creates Happiness Committee

Former Speaker Anthony Rendon says it will ‘compel us to rethink how, and why, we create policy.’
Maybe This Will Cheer You Up: Assembly Creates Happiness Committee
Farmworkers and their supporters gather outside the office of Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Paramount, after the Assembly failed to vote on a farmworker overtime bill in Sacramento, Calif., on Aug. 25, 2016. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
Jill McLaughlin

The California Assembly has created the Select Committee on Happiness and Public Policy to focus on what makes people happy.

Assemblyman Anthony Rendon, a former long-term Assembly speaker, will chair the committee, he announced Feb. 28.

After seven years, Mr. Rendon left his speaker post at the end of June 2023 and is not running for re-election, but is serving the remainder of his term, which ends Dec. 2.

“Happiness is a critically under-studied issue in the Assembly, one that has the potential to compel us to rethink how, and why, we create policy in the first place,” Mr. Rendon, who represents California’s central coast between Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area, said in a press release Wednesday.

The committee was created by Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas at Mr. Rendon’s request, his spokeswoman told The Epoch Times.

The committee will allow legislators to hear from experts on the causes and impacts of happiness, how government plays a role, and what policy solutions the Assembly should consider, Mr. Rendon added.

“Instead of treating happiness as a byproduct of policymaking, we have the opportunity to treat it as the goal of policymaking, one as worthy of focus as the other pressing issues facing California,” he said.

Mr. Rendon brought up the idea to create a happiness committee in an interview with Politico last October, saying he felt people didn’t take happiness seriously as a policy issue. No one talks about happiness and what makes people happy and why, he told the news organization.

As he sees it, happiness is existential, according to Politico.

“There’s no point in giving people housing if they’re not happy,” he said.

He also floated the idea of an abbreviated work week to increase the happiness index, and making policy decisions around issues like public transportation to improve isolation and social connections.

Other Assemblymembers assigned to the committee include eight Democrats and two Republicans.

The first informational hearing for the happiness committee is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. March 12.

A 2023 study by WalletHub, a personal finance company, ranked California the seventh-happiest state in the U.S. The study weighed emotional and physical well-being, and work and community environments to determine each state’s rank.

Jill McLaughlin is an award-winning journalist covering politics, environment, and statewide issues. She has been a reporter and editor for newspapers in Oregon, Nevada, and New Mexico. Jill was born in Yosemite National Park and enjoys the majestic outdoors, traveling, golfing, and hiking.
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