In 2014, California State Senator Ben Allen was overwhelmingly elected to represent the 26th Senate District, which consists of the Westside and coastal South Bay communities of Los Angeles County, stretching from Pacific Palisades to the Palos Verdes Peninsula and from Venice to Hollywood.
Ben serves as chair of the Senate Elections and Constitutional Amendments Committee as well as the legislature's Joint Committee on the Arts. He is a member of the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee, the Budget Subcommittee on Education, the Natural Resources and Water Committee, the Transportation and Housing Committee, and the Veterans Affairs Committee. He is vice chair of the Select Committee on Defense and Aerospace, and serves on the select committees on California-Mexico Cooperation, Passenger Rail, Ports and Goods Movement, Refugio Oil Spill, and AB 32 and Climate Change Implementation.
In his first year in the Senate, Ben was active in a number of bold legislative initiatives. He
coauthored the Senate’s climate change legislation, the most aggressive in the country, which requires California to generate 50% of its energy from renewable sources, and double energy efficiency in buildings, by 2030. He authored several other bills that were signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown, including:
- SB 277 (Pan/Allen), the groundbreaking bill to boost vaccination rates among schoolchildren.
- SB 637, a landmark measure regulating a hazardous form of mining that has polluted many of our state’s rivers for decades.
- SB 386, to protect veterans from pension scams.
- SB 613, improving the diagnosis, treatment and care for persons with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia by updating physician guidelines.
- SB 452, fixing the implementation of Common Core science standards.
- SB 439, to increase voter turnout by authorizing voting in the two weeks preceding an election at conveniently located vote centers.
Ben received the Freshman Legislator of the Year award from the California School Boards Association, and was named Legislator of the Year by the County Superintendents’ Educational Services Association and the Alzheimer’s Association.
Ben is leading the effort for a major electoral reform that will increase voter turnout and civic participation (SB 450), which has been touted by the Los Angeles Times editorial page. His other legislative priorities include teacher recruitment, increasing public transit funding, promoting alternative energy, toxic waste reduction, and drought relief.
Ben is a former board member, and former Board President, of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District. On the School Board, he was a leader on issues of environmental sustainability, financial accountability, and community engagement. While President, he helped shepherd through a successful $385 million bond measure, which upgraded District facilities using cutting-edge environmental best practices and created good new local jobs. He helped lead the District’s negotiations with the City of Santa Monica that increased and stabilized City funding for the schools, and he supported efforts to ensure that the District provides all students with high-quality educational opportunities regardless of their background or means.
He was a member of the executive board of the Los Angeles County School Trustees Association, and he was Chair of L.A. County’s Committee on School District Organization. He led the successful launch of the Los Angeles Spark Program, a non-profit organization that connects at-risk middle school students with apprenticeships; and he currently serves on Spark’s Los Angeles advisory board.
While in law school, he served as a voting member of the University of California Board of Regents, and was a judicial clerk with the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. As an attorney, he worked for the law firm of Richardson & Patel LLP, and previously as a litigator with Bryan Cave LLP.
Prior to his law career, Ben worked for the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI), and then as communications director for Congressman Jose Serrano (D-NY). He is now a senior fellow with the international human rights organization Humanity in Action, a member of the Pacific Council on International Policy, and a graduate of the Jewish Federation's New Leaders Project. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Harvard University, where he graduated magna cum laude in History; a Master of Philosophy degree from the University of Cambridge, and a Juris Doctorate from UC Berkeley. He is fluent in Spanish.
For three years prior to his election to the Senate, he was a lecturer at UCLA’s Law School, where he taught education law and policy.