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. Senator Nielsen serves as Vice Chair of the Standing Committees on Budget & Fiscal Review, Elections & Constitutional Amendments and Health. He is a member of the Senate Standing Committees on Governmental Organization, Governance & Finance and Veterans Affairs. Senator Nielsen also serves on the Joint Legislative Budget Committee and the Joint Committee on Rules.
Given his extensive experience, Senator Nielsen is a Commissioner on the Little Hoover Commission, an independent state oversight agency whose mission is to investigate state government operations and policy.
Senator Nielsen was originally elected to the State Senate in 1978 and served as Republican Leader from 1983 to 1987. In 1992, 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 Second Assembly District in the State Legislature.
A strong fiscal conservative and expert on fiscal policy, Senator Nielsen was named the lead Republican on state budget issues. Senator Nielsen helped write Proposition 2 to create a Rainy Day Fund for fiscal emergencies. He spearheaded the opposition to 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. Senator Nielsen has proposed hundreds of specific policies 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 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. He helped secure funding for Proposition 1 that provides funding for Sites Reservoir in Colusa County.
Senator Nielsen has been a tireless advocate for the North State as it recovers from a series of deadly and catastrophic wildfires, including the Camp Fire, the deadliest and most destructive, fire in state history and the aftermath of the Oroville Spillway failure. Senator Nielsen created the Oroville Dam Citizens Advisory Commission, a public forum to discuss matters relating to the Dam and the continued operations of the State Water Project.
From meeting with evacuees in area shelters to pointed one-on-one meetings with local, state, and federal leaders, Senator Nielsen has been front and center representing constituents. He sponsored legislation and advocated for resources to help the Town of Paradise remove debris and rebuild.
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. 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 Tehama, California. He has two daughters, three sons and three grandchildren.