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Last-minute bill to protect lawmakers from charges of living outside their districts

September 7, 2011 |  3:08 pm

A year after a California lawmaker was indicted on charges of lying about where he lived when he ran for the state Legislature, a last-minute bill has been introduced to strengthen protections for legislators against such felony accusations.

The measure, AB 1413 by Assemblyman Paul Fong (D-Sunnyvale), had its first hearing set Wednesday, only two days before the Legislature is set to adjourn for the year.

Last year, Sen. Rod Wright (D-Inglewood) was indicted on eight felony counts, including perjury and voter fraud. The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office alleges that Wright has lived in Baldwin Hills since 2000, which is not in his 25th Senate District. State law requires lawmakers to live in the district they represent. Wright is fighting the case. His office also did not immediately return a call for comment. It’s not clear whether the legislation would help his cause.

Days ago, the noncontroversial old contents of AB 1413 were deleted entirely, and replaced with the new language. A Republican Caucus analysis of the previous measure (which deleted an outdated provision in the elections code) warned members that the bill appeared to be one of the “prime vehicles for end-of-session gut-and-amend shenanigans.”

Fong’s office did not immediately return a call for comment.

The new language would bolster the provision in state law that presumes a lawmaker lives where they say they live and register to vote –- “notwithstanding any evidence or circumstance other than the affidavit of [voter] registration.”

-- Shane Goldmacher in Sacramento

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