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State Senate to vote on suspending three lawmakers accused of crimes

State Senate to vote on suspending three lawmakers accused of crimes
California state Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco), right, on Wednesday leaves the San Francisco Federal Building in San Francisco after posting $500,000 bail. (Ben Margot / Associated Press)

SACRAMENTO --  The state Senate on Friday is expected to consider a vote to suspend Democratic state Sens. Leland Yee, Roderick Wright and Ronald Calderon from office with pay, two days after Yee was charged by federal authorities with conspiracy to traffic in firearms without a license and accepting campaign funds in exchange for political favors.

Calderon and Wright had previously taken voluntary leaves of absences to fight separate criminal cases, but Steinberg said all three lawmakers accused of wrongdoing should be treated the same.

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Yee, 65, had ignored demands to resign from Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), who warned after Wednesday's arrest that if Yee refused to quit he would face a suspension vote over allegations Steinberg  said were "appalling" and cast
a cloud over the Legislature.

The state Constitution does not allow the Senate to withhold pay from a suspended lawmaker, so Yee and the others will continue to draw their $95,291 annual salary.

However, the state Senate also may consider putting a constitutional amendment before voters that would allow the withholding of pay when lawmakers are suspended in the future, according to his spokesman, Rhys Williams.

[For the record, 10:05 a.m. PDT, March 28: An earlier version of this post said the state Senate voted to put a constitutional amendment before voters that would allow the withholding of pay when lawmakers are suspended in the future. That vote has not occurred.]

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