Former Assemblyman Alberto Torrico has been named to the state's Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board -- a panel consisting wholly of former lawmakers, each earning a $128,109 annual salary -- by Assembly Speaker John Perez.

Torrico, 41, of Newark, was a labor lawyer before serving in the Assembly; he placed second in last year's Democratic primary for state attorney general, and was termed out of the Assembly at year's end.

"I'm honored that the speaker has asked me to serve," Torrico said Thursday, noting that his background in labor law should serve him well in the post. He said it's "very important work," especially at a time when the state's unemployment rate is so high.

Perez spokeswoman Shannon Murphy said Perez "believes Mr. Torrico is more than qualified for this post" and "will be a beneficial addition to the board."

The board's administrative law judges hear first-level appeals of the Employment Development Department's determinations on unemployment and disability benefit claims; those judges' rulings can then be appealed to board members, who have authority to affirm, reverse or modify the rulings.

Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger last month named two termed-out Republican lawmakers -- senators Dennis Hollingsworth and Roy Ashburn -- to the board. Former state senator and 2010 Alameda County supervisorial candidate Liz Figueroa just finished her term on the board.


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