Fed up with Democratic Speaker Willie Brown's reluctance to fill a vacancy on a key crime committee, Assembly Republicans on Monday challenged Brown--and lost. So starting Thursday, they and their Democratic counterparts will report to work one hour earlier.
The GOP members were angry that a Republican vacancy on the Public Safety Committee has gone unfilled since January, causing a freeze on various anti-crime bills that they hold dear.
Brown insisted he has not been dragging his feet and said he has recruited several GOP members to fill the vacancy, but they do not seem eager because of the committee's heavy workload.
On Monday the Republicans tried but failed to withdraw four anti-crime bills from the committee for showdown votes on the Assembly floor.
The Speaker, maintaining that such "silly motions cannot pass," handed down his punishment: Starting Thursday, the Assembly will convene at 8 a.m.
The Assembly's early-morning schedule will continue, Brown made clear, until the Republicans stop their effort.
Citing crime statistics, Assemblyman Ray Haynes (R-Murrieta) said, "While the state of California burns, this body fiddles."
The GOP wants Assemblyman Larry Bowler (R-Elk Grove) to fill the vacancy. But Bowler has been one of Brown's loudest critics.