State Sen. Toni Atkins Poised for Senate Pro Tem Office

California Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins in an interview with Conan Nolan in 2015. KNBC

After having served for nearly two years as speaker of the state Assembly, State Sen. Toni Atkins (D-39th District) is set to become president pro tem of the state Senate.

Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon (D-24th District), who has held the post since October 2014, announced the Democratic caucus’ transition of leadership Thursday.

“Today, I am humbled by the trust my colleagues have placed in me,” Atkins said in a statement. “I intend to earn that trust every day by working tirelessly and inclusively to keep California a place of opportunity for everyone.”

Atkins, 55, was Assembly speaker from May, 2014 to March, 2016, during which time she co-authored a $7.5 billion water bond approved both by the legislature and voters.

Her communications director, David Rolland, told NBC 7 the formal election will be held in January, before the start of the two-year session.

Atkins will be the 51st president pro tem since the Senate was established in 1849, and the first woman to serve in the office, as well as the first lesbian.

The president pro tem chairs the Senate’s Rules Committee and directs the policy agenda, appointment of committee members, and the confirmation of gubernatorial appointees.

Since November 1970, seven straight Democrats have held the position.