In a recent report card on legislative rookies compiled by a Sacramento political magazine, Assemblywoman Sheila Kuehl was ranked first among Democrats. She is "regarded as the brightest member of the freshman class, if not the entire Assembly, and also one of the hardest working," said the California Journal.
This month, Kuehl will be honored by the State Bar's Conference of Delegates, where she served on the executive committee for three years, as the 1996 Legislator of the Year.
Since she was elected to represent West Los Angeles, including Santa Monica and Woodland Hills, in the Assembly, Kuehl has either authored or lobbied for bills supported by the Conference of Delegates, an elected body of California attorneys which proposes legislation. In addition, she lobbied fiercely to protect the State Bar from legislative assaults during the past year.
She carried AB 2474, awaiting Gov. Pete Wilson's signature late last month, requiring that a parent or guardian's assault record be considered in determining the best interests of a child in adoption and custody matters.
The bill was prompted in part by a conference resolution adopted last year.
Kuehl also carried a battered woman syndrome measure, supported by the conference, which failed.
A civil rights attorney who co-founded the California Women's Law Center in Los Angeles, Kuehl, 55, first achieved fame as Zelda Gilroy, the brainy teenager on "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis," a television comedy which aired from 1959 to 1963.
She graduated from UCLA and was admitted to the bar in 1979 after receiving her law degree from Harvard.
She has taught gender law and employment discrimination courses at Loyola and UCLA law schools and trains judges, prosecutors and law enforcement officers on domestic violence issues.
When elected to the Assembly two years ago, she became the first openly gay or lesbian member of the legislature.
The Conference of Delegates has honored individual legislators since 1987 for their efforts on behalf of the conference and the State Bar to make significant changes in California law.
Previous recipients include Sens. Robert Presley, Milton Marks and Diane Watson and Assembly members Jackie Speier and Phillip Isenberg.