Calif. Senate will vote to suspend 3 Democrats

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The Democratically controlled California Senate will vote on whether to suspend three Democrats who face criminal charges, after the latest lawmaker to be hauled into court refused to step down, its president said Friday.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg told reporters that he planned to act after Sen. Leland Yee of San Francisco was indicted this week on federal charges that included accepting bribes and coordinating an international gun-running operation.

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Senate spokesman Rhys Williams said Steinberg also will move to suspend Democratic senators Ron Calderon and Rod Wright, both from the Los Angeles area. Calderon also faces federal corruption charges, while Wright was convicted of voter fraud and perjury.

All three will retain their pay even if suspended, but Steinberg also plans to seek a constitutional amendment on Friday that will deny pay to suspended lawmakers. The state Constitution currently says lawmakers can lose their pay only if they are expelled or resign.

Steinberg said Yee has refused to resign or take a leave in advance of Friday’s Senate session, as he had requested. Even if Yee had sought to take a voluntary leave, ‘‘It doesn’t matter,’’ Steinberg said. The Senate plans to suspend Yee, he said, and can do so on a majority vote.

Calderon and Wright previously took leaves of absence, which also let them keep their pay.

The suspensions would officially drop Senate Democrats below the rare two-thirds majority they won in the last election, a supermajority that allowed them to act in all matters without needing support from Republicans in the 40-member chamber.

Republican lawmakers had repeatedly moved to suspend Wright and Calderon, arguing that the Senate should take an official position sanctioning the lawmakers. GOP lawmakers feared they could rescind their leaves and return to the Senate at any time.

The latest move came days after federal authorities arrested Yee as part of a broader corruption probe centered on San Francisco’s Chinatown district. Yee is charged with corruption and firearms trafficking.