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GOP move to expel senator fails to gain traction

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- A Republican resolution seeking to expel from the California Legislature a Democratic state senator convicted of perjury and voter fraud is essentially dead, lawmakers said Wednesday after the issue failed to make a committee agenda.

Democrats, the majority party, sent the resolution to the Senate Rules Committee two weeks ago after three Republican lawmakers tried to bring it up on the Senate floor.

Democratic Sen. Rod Wright took a voluntary leave of absence last month after his conviction for lying about his legal residence in Los Angeles County. But Sen. Steve Knight of Palmdale and two other Republicans, Sens. Joel Anderson of Alpine and Andy Vidak of Hanford, introduced the resolution asking that he be expelled.

Knight, a member of the Rules Committee, sent a letter last week to Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, asking that the resolution be discussed during Wednesday's committee hearing. It was not included on the agenda, and Steinberg said it's being held in the committee. That means it cannot face a vote or be sent to the full Senate for consideration.

Knight said after the committee hearing that he had discussed the resolution privately with Steinberg, who is chairman of the Senate Rules Committee.

“I said, `The ball's in your court. You're not going to agendize it,”' Knight said outside the committee's hearing room.

He said he would not try to bring up the resolution again, adding, “We're just expecting them to do what's right.”

On Monday, Senate Minority Leader Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar, offered two additional resolutions on the Senate floor, one seeking to suspend Wright and the other seeking to suspend Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, who also took an indefinite leave of absence last month after he was indicted on federal corruption charges alleging he took bribes in exchange for legislative favors.

Calderon pleaded not guilty, and Wright has said he will fight his conviction before he is sentenced May 16.

Both of those resolutions also were sent to the Rules Committee.

“We're moving on,” Steinberg said after Wednesday's hearing. “We've dealt with this now three or four times on the floor. ... We're not going to spend any more time, more precious legislative time on these issues that have been hashed and rehashed.”

He reiterated that neither Wright nor Calderon will return to the Senate unless they are cleared of criminal charges.

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