About Jim Battin
Jim Battin brings to the California State Senate a deep concern for family, dedication to community service and a commitment to a strong economy. Those principles are reflected not only in his legislative agenda - which focuses on protecting children and families, creating jobs and helping lift people out of poverty - but also in his life.
Jim was born and raised in Billings, Montana. Growing up in the Big Sky country gave him an appreciation and respect for nature and the wilderness. All throughout his youth, Jim was an avid sportsman - backpacking, fishing and hunting regularly.
However, being the son of five-term Congressman and then U.S. District Court Judge James F. Battin, Jim spent his early years in Washington, D.C., where he was introduced to politics at a very young age. Jim often played in then-Congressman Gerald Ford's yard, and knew Bob Dole as one of his father's congressional freshman classmates.
In 1969, Jim's father was appointed to the federal bench, becoming the very first appointment of President Nixon's administration, and eventually became the longest serving judge in the nation - serving 27 years as the Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court in Montana. Jim's father passed away in 1996, and in his honor, the Federal Courthouse in Billings, Montana, has been renamed the James F. Battin U.S. District Courthouse.
When Jim was just six years old, he accompanied his father to brunch at the White House, where he met President Richard Nixon.
"There I stood, looking up at the President of the United States as he stood talking to my father, shaking the hand of a six-year-old the entire time‚ it seemed like forever," Jim remembers. "That's an incredible experience at any age."
Jim is proud to follow in his late father's footsteps.
Jim was raised to understand and appreciate the value of a good education. In high school he competed on the school's debate team - ranking third in the state his junior year and winning the state championship his senior year, qualifying him for the National Championship, which he competed in.
"Debating was a great experience - it taught me to think fast, and argue smart," said Jim. "I have found that it comes in very handy in the State Legislature."
Jim later attended the University of Oregon, where he earned a degree in Psychology. It was during his college years that he met and later married his wife Mary.
Jim and Mary moved to Riverside County in 1985, where they are raising their three children: Christopher, Bailey, and Kelsey.
Before running for office in the Legislature, Jim worked as a television executive for 10 years with KMIR-TV, the NBC television affiliate in Palm Desert.
During this time Jim also began his long "career" as a community volunteer, most notably as the driving force behind 'Bringing Home the Holidays', the largest food donation program in the Coachella Valley at the time. He also became a board member of Martha's Kitchen, a meal-distribution program for those in need, and participated in the Youth Education Motivation Program, where business people share with students their "secrets of success in the world of work." Jim also has been active in Junior Achievement, working with his wife to instill the entrepreneurial spirit in elementary school children.
"Giving something back to the community has always been important to me - it's a value my parents instilled in me at a young age," said Jim. "Volunteerism is uniquely American and will always be a part of my life."
Jim was elected to the State Assembly in 1994 and to the Senate in 2000 with broad bi-partisan support. He ran on a platform that included government reform and accountability - issues he holds near and dear to his heart.
"My father always said, 'Your value in public service is measured by your integrity,'" Jim recalls. "I've always tried to live by this principle, and I expect government to do the same."
In 1994, Jim was named Caucus Whip for the new Republican majority in the Assembly. The next year he became the Majority Caucus Chairman, and served within the leadership ranks of his caucus. As Caucus Chair, Jim directed Republican policy strategy, floor operations, managed the caucus and kept members informed about legislation. In the Senate, Jim served as the Vice-Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, served as Vice-Chair of the Senate Rules Committee and now is the Vice-Chair of the Senate Elections, Reapportionment and Constitutional Amendments Committee.
As a Senator, Jim is working to create jobs for Californians by streamlining government regulations and reducing the high tax burden that makes it difficult for California businesses to remain competitive.
Throughout his legislative career, Jim has fought to defend Proposition 13, support tax cuts for individuals, families and businesses while never voting for higher taxes.
Jim understands that high energy costs hurt both a family's budget and our state's economy. When gas prices climbed to record levels, Jim was the first to ask the State to allow federal-reformulated gasoline into California to increase the fuel supply and push down costs. When power outages hit the state and energy costs shot up, Jim played a key role in crafting long term solutions to our energy supply. He remains an advocate for affordable energy to ensure his desert constituents do not pay a disproportionate amount for energy use.
Battin has also been a force behind reforming our criminal justice system - to keep our schools, neighborhoods and families safe. After ten years of pushing for an internet directory of registered sex offenders and child molesters, Jim was pleased to see his efforts come to fruition in 2004. With the Online Megan's Law database, parents and concerned citizens can easily find those sexual predators in their communities who may endanger women or children. More can be done though, and Jim is pushing to add other categories of criminals, like child pornographers, to the database.
"Sexual predators inflict a lifetime of pain and turmoil on their victims," Battin said. "And I'm committed to do whatever I can to keep child molesters off our streets and away from our families."
That's why Jim wrote the law that prohibits convicted child molesters from being paroled near elementary schools. And it's why he partnered with Protect.org and authored SB 33 – the Circle of Trust Bill - that ensured that the state's incest loophole is closed and that family members who molest children are treated under the law the same as other predators.
Jim is not only working to make our families and neighborhoods safer, but also to restore educational excellence in our classrooms. That's why he authored legislation to expand California's class size reduction program into the 7th and 8th grades. "Our children have a better chance to excel in school with more individualized attention - that's just common sense," said Battin.
Jim also has been instrumental in getting more resources to local schools. He helped bring $4 million in ADA "equalization" funds to local schools and $600,000 for a community college library. He even received the "Golden Apple Award" from a local school district for his work on behalf of "small school" funding.
Jim Battin has proven that one person can make a difference. He's helped to improve our schools and make our communities better, safer and more prosperous, but more can be done. Senator Jim Battin continues to help make California a better place to live, work and raise a family.