California Lawmakers Move Closer to Approving Referendum on Stripping Pay from Suspended Senators

Future suspended California state senators won't be receiving a paycheck while they deal with various legal matters. A new initiative by lawmakers hopes to lift the dark cloud of corruption over all lawmakers in Sacramento – the result of three Democratic lawmakers currently either charged with crimes or awaiting sentencing after being convicted of them.

A new California constitutional amendment that would strip suspended lawmakers of their pay is a step closer to going before voters as a referendum in November after it passed an Assembly hearing on Monday. The amendment, which is being called SCA17, was written in response to the recent legal troubles of three California state senators, and the inability of the state legislature to suspend their salaries.

Under current rules, the state Senate and Assembly can’t take a suspended lawmakers’ salary away, because of a state constitutional amendment. Roderick Wright, Ron Calderon and Leland Yee were suspended on March 28 after all three refused to step down from their positions.

Wright was convicted of eight counts of perjury and voter fraud in January after his 2010 grand jury indictment. His sentencing was delayed in March and again in May. His current sentencing date is July 21.

Calderon and his brother, former Assemblyman Tom Calderon, were indicted on Feb. 21. Ron Calderon was charged with accepting $100,000 in bribes, trips and no-show jobs for his children in exchange for allegedly pushing legislation to benefit a hospital engaged in billing fraud and participating in a film industry tax scheme that turned out to be an FBI sting. He has pled not guilty.

Former secretary of state candidate and current state senator Leland Yee was arrested on March 26 and charged for allegedly taking part in an international gun-running operation, taking campaign contributions to push legislation, and for various corruption charges.

Yee is the most familiar to GamePolitics readers for his 2005 California law that sought to ban the sale of violent video games to minors. That law ended up going before the Supreme Court (Brown v. EMA) where it was ultimately struck down as unconstitutional.

SCA17 has passed the state Senate, and will be scheduled for a floor vote in the Assembly. If it passes, the measure would then move on to voters on a future ballot – most likely in November.

Source: CBS Sacramento

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