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Assembly Devolves Into ‘Undeserving’ Partisan Sniping Over Gaines Typo

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SACRAMENTO (AP) – Tensions between Democratic and Republican lawmakers over the state spending plan spilled onto the floor of the Assembly Friday in a testy exchange that began with a typo in an amendment to a budget bill.

Assemblywoman Beth Gaines, R-Rocklin, attempted to introduce amendments to a budget trailer bill on health care spending that she said would have specified that girls under the age of 16 need parental consent for an abortion.

Democrats, who have large majorities in the Assembly and Senate, refused to let her speak on the issue. Instead, they focused on what Gaines said was a typographical error in some parts of the document.

The typo changed the phrase “underserved Californians” to “undeserved Californians.”

Democrats stood on the Assembly floor to call Gaines callous and inconsiderate for calling needy Californians “undeserving” of mental health services. Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield, D-Woodland Hills, called her amendment “patently offensive.”

Gaines and other Republicans said it was an honest typo, partly caused by the last-minute nature of the budget voting, which is controlled by Democrats.

Democratic lawmakers also were likely displaying their frustration with their Republican colleagues, who refused to waive a constitutional rule requiring that budget bills be in print for 24 hours before they come to the floor for a vote.

The failure to waive that rule means the Legislature will have to reconvene on Saturday to finishing voting on trailer bills, which enact certain aspects of the budget.

It’s virtually the only leverage the GOP has in the budget debate because Democrats can now pass the spending plan with a simple majority vote. Republicans complained repeatedly Friday about having been shut out of the budget process and not having any time to read the bills before they came to the floor.

Democrats used a rare procedural move to halt debate on most of Gaines’ amendments, which were unlikely to receive majority support, anyway. That left only the typo up for discussion.

That one amendment was put up for a floor vote but failed with no votes in support, including Gaines herself.

“It was a clerical error, and they shut me down on the first three amendments and left the clerical error and stopped me every time I tried to approach the reason for my amendments,” Gaines said afterward.

Assembly Minority Leader Connie Conway, R-Tulare, called it a “petty point.”

“Let her read her amendments. It’s not that hard,” Conway said later. “When we wait ’til the last minute to do this stuff, it’s not in print, everyone gets pretty testy and nerves get frayed. As a woman, I felt that was unnecessarily ganging up on Mrs. Gaines.”

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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