Senator Patricia “Pat” Bates represents 1 million people living in South Orange and North San Diego Counties in the California Legislature. She has represented the 36th Senate District since December 2014 and works to ensure a high quality of life for all Californians, protect taxpayer rights, and restore fiscal responsibility to state government.
She was born in Long Beach and earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Occidental College in Los Angeles. She took a job after graduation as a social worker for the County of Los Angeles, where she helped some of its most vulnerable residents get back on their feet.
As a social worker, she appreciated the important role that government has in protecting public safety and health, but also saw its limitations. She believes government must not rob people of their self-esteem and initiative.
Bates left work to focus on raising her two young children in what was then unincorporated Laguna Niguel. She got involved in politics when she and a group of concerned neighbors asked the Orange County Board of Supervisors to make traffic safety improvements after a car struck and killed a child.
She served as the unofficial leader of a group of women who counted cars and collected other data to convince supervisors to add lights and crosswalks. Some dismissed Bates and her group as “housewives with calculators.” However, Bates and her group persisted and won traffic improvements.
Laguna Niguel’s First Mayor
Determined to improve her community’s public services, Bates helped turn Laguna Niguel into an incorporated city in 1989 and won a seat on its first city council, earning election as the first mayor. She served four terms as mayor and was a city councilmember until 1998.
From 1998 to 2004, Bates served as a California State Assemblymember. She served as vice chair of the Appropriations and Health Committees, and as founding chair of the Republican Women’s Caucus. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed her to serve on his California Performance Review Commission to provide recommendations on reforming state government.
In 2006, Bates became the fourth woman to win election to the Orange County Board of Supervisors. She served from 2007 to 2014 and worked to protect taxpayers and improve the county’s fiscal outlook; create business friendly policies to attract jobs; maintain high levels of public safety; shorten the timeline for delivery of transportation projects; implement pension reforms; and protect the environment.
In the Senate, Bates continues to champion taxpayers by defending Proposition 13 (which limits property tax increases) from efforts to gut it and opposing unnecessary tax and fee increases.
She has authored several measures to make every community safer. They include SB 722 (2015) to crack down on sex offenders who willfully remove or disable their tracking devices; SB 1323 (2016) to enhance criminal penalties for illegal distributors of fentanyl; and SB 1283 (2016) to address the growing concern over the proliferation of sober living homes in residential neighborhoods.
In partnership with San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan, she authored SB 1109 (2018) that became law. SB 1109 informs Californians, especially young people, about the risks of prescription opioids. She also successfully authored “Brandon’s Law” (SB 434, 2021) to protect people seeking addiction treatment from false advertising and marketing services.
Elected to serve all her constituents, Bates works across party lines to advance common goals. For example, she jointly authored SB 1007 in 2018 with Democratic Senator Robert Hertzberg to lower the cost of building needed medical facilities that serve veterans and military personnel afflicted with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and related conditions.
Protecting the environment in a fiscally responsible manner is one of Bates’ priorities. She supported measures to address ocean acidification (AB 2139, 2016); integrate scientific data concerning the impact of climate change into state infrastructure engineering (AB 2800, 2016); reinforce opposition to new oil leases near the coast (SR 35, 2017 and SR 73, 2018); and require plastic beverage bottles to contain 50 percent recycled plastic by 2030 (AB 793, 2020). She also authored SJR 23 (2016) urging Congress to move San Onofre’s nuclear waste to a safer location.
Bates serves as the Senate Republican Leader Emeritus, where she works with Senate leadership to help run the institution effectively. She served as the Senate Republican Leader from 2017 to 2019, becoming only the second woman to lead a party caucus in the Senate’s history. As Leader, she worked with Senate President pro Tem Toni Atkins to improve the process to report sexual harassment and hold offenders accountable.
Bates lives in Laguna Niguel with her husband John, an accomplished architect. They are proud to have two children and four grandchildren.