Capitol Alert

Your legislator might not have to live anywhere near you

A Los Angeles County jury convicted former state Sen. Rod Wright of eight counts of perjury and voter fraud. Wright’s successor, state Sen. Steve Bradford, D-Gardena, is the author of legislation that would have changed candidate residency rules in a way that would have kept Wright and others on the right side of the law.
A Los Angeles County jury convicted former state Sen. Rod Wright of eight counts of perjury and voter fraud. Wright’s successor, state Sen. Steve Bradford, D-Gardena, is the author of legislation that would have changed candidate residency rules in a way that would have kept Wright and others on the right side of the law. Associated Press file

What if you lived in Redding and your state lawmaker lived hundreds of miles away in sunny San Diego?

That would be possible under the latest version of a Southern California lawmaker’s bill that would loosen existing residency requirements for legislative candidates.

For years, the Legislature has grappled with varying interpretations of the current law, which essentially requires lawmakers to live in the district they represent. Multiple legislators have faced allegations that they were more than bending that rule. The issue ended the political career of former state Sen. Rod Wright after a Los Angeles County jury convicted him of lying about where he lived when he ran for the state Senate in 2008.

Earlier this year, Wright’s successor, state Sen. Steven Bradford, introduced Senate Bill 163, which would let candidates live in one place in the state and register to vote and seek office elsewhere – as long as they “hold property, whether by lease or by title” in the district.

Recent amendments to SB 163 instead would presume that a person lived where they were registered to vote. That would allow them to register to vote and run for office in one place and live in another, although that route would likely create political problems.

Bradford, though, said he is not happy with the change, saying it would make the rules for legislative candidates too similar to those for congressional candidates, who only have to live and be registered to vote in California to run for a seat anywhere in the state.

Bradford, D-Gardena, continues to work on the bill and left open the possibility that it could become a two-year effort. The deadline for non-fiscal bills to pass their first committees is May 12.

“Everyone agrees this is a problem that needs to be fixed,” he said.

SD-35 
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