48. Melanie Moreno
As staff director of the Senate Health Committee, Melanie Moreno has a hand in pretty much any health bill that lands in the Senate. Health care is always a huge issue in the Legislature, and lawmakers have long relied on her attention to the little details to get bills right. That sway was less evident when Richard Pan, a pediatrician, was chairing the Committee, but then every chair isn’t an actual medical doctor. Current committee chair Sen. Susan Talamantes Eggman is far more dependent on Moreno’s ability to get into the weeds on health-related bills. It’s a big deal, too, because Talamantes Eggman is leading the way on one of the biggest health reforms in years: updating the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act, which has set the boundaries for more than a half century on institutionalizing our fellow Californians suffering from severe mental health disorders. Eggman is also carrying the legislation on the governor’s proposed realignment of mental health services, an effort some have likened to trying to build the plane while it’s already in the air. If so, Moreno is one heck of a co-pilot.