California court reorganization bill hits snag in state Senate
Although it squeaked by in the Assembly this week, controversial legislation to revamp budget decisions for state courts has been shelved for the immediate future in the Senate.
"The Senate has no near-term plans to refer that bill to committee'' for action, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) told reporters Wednesday. "It’s a long year and a long session."
California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye opposes the legislation by Assemblyman Charles Calderon (D-Whittier) that would shift key budget decisions away from the state Judicial Council she heads to local trial courts. A group called the Alliance of California Judges supports AB 1208 to address its complaints that money is being misspent by the statewide court bureaucracy with the result that some courtrooms have been closed.
The chief justice said after the Assembly vote Monday: "Our focus now turns to the Senate...''
Calderon did not help his cause in the Senate when he responded to a request during the Assembly floor debate to fix problems in the bill before it is sent to the upper house. "If it was up to me I’d eliminate the Senate altogether," Calderon said.
Steinberg repeated that quote while talking about his decision to put the bill on hold.
"Not that I took any notice of that," he quipped.
-- Patrick McGreevy, reporting from Sacramento
Photo: California Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), shown in center during last year's budget crisis, indicated Wednesday he is in no hurry to take up a controversial court bill. Credit: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press