Measure to withhold pay from suspended legislators misses 2014 ballot

Leland Yee, Ron Calderon
State Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, left, speaks on a bill, while his seat mate Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, (far right) works at his desk at the Capitol in January before they were both suspended with pay.
(Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

Amid criticism over three state Senators continuing to collect salaries as they serve suspensions, a ballot measure that would allow lawmakers to suspend colleagues without pay has missed the deadline for the 2014 ballot.

The Assembly has not acted to place State Constitutional Amendment 17 on the Nov. 4 statewide ballot and so its author, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), is having to look at an alternative, according to spokesman Rhys Williams.

“The window has closed to get SCA-17 on the November ballot, but the Senator wishes for the bill to be considered before the end of session,” Williams said Monday. “That would put the constitutional amendment on the June 2016 ballot.”

 The ballot measure was proposed by Steinberg in response to controversy over the paid suspensions of Democratic Sens. Leland Yee of San Francisco, Ronald S. Calderon of Montebello and Roderick Wright who represents a district centered on Inglewood.


Wright was found guilty of eight felonies, including voter fraud and perjury for lying about living in his senate district. Yee and Calderon have been indicted by federal grand juries on public corruption charges, including acceptance of payments for official actions.

When the Senate suspended the three lawmakers indefinitely in March, Steinberg said the state Constitution did not allow the Legislature to withhold the salaries of suspended lawmakers.

“If the circumstances are serious enough that a member should lose legislative privileges, the house should be empowered to suspend that person’s salary as well,” Steinberg said at the time.

Twitter: @mcgreevy99