Paul Byrne was born in San Diego, California, in 1910. His family moved to Chico where he attended public school. He attended the University of California at Berkeley and graduated from Chico State College. During World War II he served in the United States Marines.
Paul was first elected to the State Senate in 1950. He was re-elected in 1954 and 1958, and was a candidate for re-election at the time of his death August 28, 1962. He was a member of the Education, Finance, Business and Commerce, Insurance and Financial Institutions, and Labor Committees. He chaired the Senate Standing Committee on Agriculture and the Senate Permanent Fact Finding (interim) Committee on Agriculture. He carried important legislation in the broad field of agriculture; was co-author of the enabling legislation for the Feather River Project; sponsored much education legislation and many proposals affecting the State's senior citizens and veterans.
He was always a friend of California agriculture and of the livestock industry. In 1957 he authored the legislation establishing the California Beef Council and the law placing all livestock remedies under the control of the Department of Agriculture. During the 1959 session he authored legislation authorizing the tabulation of meat entering California through the inspection stations. Each session carried many bills affecting the State Livestock Health Committee, Produce Dealers Act, humane slaughter, hide and brand, plant quarantine, and other subjects of interest specific to the livestock industry.
When not occupied with legislative matters, Senator Byrne was engaged in the insurance business, serving Butte County. He was very active in community and county affairs. He was a strong advocate of farmers working through their voluntary farm organizations. He worked closely with and was responsive to the Agricultural Council of California, the California Cattlemen's Association, the Farm Bureau, the State Grange, and other agricultural commodity groups.