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When you studied "how a bill becomes law" back in high school civics class, chances are no one ever mentioned this...

This afternoon security agents were stationed at the doors of the California state Senate with instructions to stop anyone from the Assembly who attempted to bring over a specific bill from the other house. A sign on the door read: "Anyone wishing to put bills across the desk must check in with the sergeant of arms."

A sergeant posted at the door said his instructions were to look for one particular bill SB 9, by Thousand Oaks Republican Sen. Tom McClintock, and to not allow it to reach the Senate desk.

If all this sounds unusual or extreme, it is. Here's the background: McClintock, seeking to block scheduled pension increases for certain state workers from taking effect, announced he would amend a bill on an entirely different subject that had passed the Senate and was awaiting action in the Assembly. Going along, Assemblyman Tony Strickland, R-Moorpark, placed the amendments in McClintock's bill a process those in the Capitol call "gut and amend," which means to take one bill and morph it into something else entirely.

Assembly Democrats, perhaps because they didn't want to take up the sensitive issue of revoking promised pension increases to a state employee union, asserted the bill had been improperly amended and tried to ship it back over the Senate on Monday without taking any action on it. The Senate sent it back, saying there was nothing it could legally do with the bill until the Assembly acted on the amendments that had been added in that chamber.

The sergeants were stationed at the door today to prevent another passing of the hot potato.

Expect the issue to come to a head on Thursday when the Assembly meets again.

95 percent accurate
Over the last 25 presidential elections, Ventura County voters have backed the winner 24 times, or over 95 percent of the time. It is one of only a handful of counties in the nation that has been such a predictable bellwether.
about Timm Herdt
Timm Herdt
The Ventura County Star's Sacramento Bureau Chief Timm Herdt on state issues and politics from Sacramento to Ventura County. He can be contacted at