A successful farmer and rancher, Senator Jim Nielsen grew up on a small farm in the San Joaquin Valley and graduated from Fresno State with a Bachelor's degree in Agricultural Business. After college, Jim worked as a ranch foreman and operated the family cattle, field and row-crop ranch. He later founded a company that utilized rice hulls and rice straw for fuel.
Elected to the State Senate in January 2013, Senator Nielsen proudly represents the citizens of Butte, Colusa, Glenn, Placer, Sacramento, Sutter, Tehama and Yuba counties. He serves as Chair of the Senate Republican Caucus, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs and Vice Chair of the Senate Budget & Fiscal Review. He serves as a member of the Senate Committees on Appropriations and Health.
Nielsen was originally elected to the State Senate in 1978 and served as Republican Leader from 1983 to 1987. In 1990, he was appointed chairman of the California Board of Prison Terms, where he served until 2007. He was elected in November 2008 to represent the North State's 2nd Assembly District in the State Legislature.
A strong fiscal conservative and expert on fiscal policy, Nielsen was named the lead Republican on state budget issues. From his position as Caucus Whip of the Senate Republican Caucus, Nielsen spearheaded the opposition to liberal tax increases, and rallied conservatives in favor of fiscal responsibility, smaller government and an improved business climate to provide good jobs for the people of California.
The Senator’s extensive record of leadership and public service makes him one of California's most recognized advocates for reducing the size and scope of government. Nielsen has proposed hundreds of specific reforms to reform state government regulations and reduce out-of-control state spending. He authored legislation to reform California's welfare system and reduce welfare fraud and co-authored California's landmark Victims Bill of Rights and Marsy's Law.
Senator Nielsen is also a leader when it comes to protecting and strengthening private property rights in California. He is the Founder of the California Alliance to Protect Private Property Rights that is currently at the forefront of the effort to limit governments' ability to seize private property through eminent domain. The Senator is also working side-by-side with farmers and ranchers in the Klamath Basin to fight efforts by overzealous government bureaucrats to steal their historic water rights and authored a law to protect 'area-of-origin' water rights in California.
The Senator has written and spoken extensively on California public policy, his commentaries have appeared in major newspapers across California. He is also a frequent guest on local and national radio and television programs. Various taxpayer organizations and small business advocates have honored Senator Nielsen for his leadership on state budget issues and for his unrelenting fight against profligate government spending.
Jim and Marilyn Nielsen live in Gerber, California. He has two daughters, three sons and three grandchildren.