From Alison Hewitt’s article in the Pasadena Star-News:
Doug Johnson, a fellow at the Rose Institute for State and Local Government at Claremont McKenna College, said punishment was the likelier of two explanations for the move.
“It’s a question of whether, are they punishing him, which is probable, or is there some early supporter of Bass who she wanted to appoint there?” Johnson said.
Though Portantino remains on the Assembly’s Higher Education Committee, his demotion means a loss of influence, Johnson said. But the effect for the San Gabriel Valley is murkier, he added.
“This is a vital time for schools, and school districts across the state are all going to be struggling, so it certainly would have been nice to have the chairman be a local,” Johnson said. “But over Speaker NuÃ±ez’s term, he’s really consolidated power in the speaker’s office, so the chairmen don’t have the powers they once had. But it’s still better to be a chairman than to not be a chairman.”