Capitol Alert

After losing authorship, Connie Leyva gets final word on her bill

Sen. Connie Leyva, D-Chino, talks with Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg, at the Capitol on Aug. 18, 2016.
Sen. Connie Leyva, D-Chino, talks with Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg, at the Capitol on Aug. 18, 2016. The Associated Press

Sometimes lawmakers turn their attention to undercutting rivals in the other house – and sometimes they circle the wagons for one of their own.

On Friday, the state Senate rallied around Sen. Connie Leyva, D-Chino, who suffered a series of stinging legislative losses in the Assembly Appropriations Committee earlier this month, including having her name stripped from one of her bills.

When Senate Bill 1167, mandating heat regulations for indoor work environments, came up for a vote, its new author, Sen. Tony Mendoza, D-Artesia, stepped aside to let Leyva present.

“With all due courtesy and respect, this bill truly belongs to my colleague and seatmate, Sen. Connie Leyva, and I will defer my time to her,” Mendoza said.

A joke by Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon at the California Roast in June hinted that the switch was political retribution: Leyva has endorsed the opponent of Assemblywoman Cheryl Brown, D-San Bernardino, who’s locked in a tight reelection fight in a district that overlaps part of Leyva’s. Among hundreds of bills to come up in the appropriations committee that day, Leyva’s was the only one to be taken from its author.

Senators from both sides of the aisle came to Leyva’s defense on Friday.

When Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, rose up to speak in favor of the bill, he added that “I stand in very strong support of the original author.”

“There’s no need for that kind of game-playing.” he said. “To play games like this degrade the entire institution.”

Senate Republican Leader Jean Fuller, who did not vote for SB 1167, still spoke out against the Assembly’s action.

“This is totally unprofessional. We should not support it,” she said. “I’m more than appalled.”

Mendoza then stepped aside again to let Leyva have the final word. She thanked her fellow senators. Then as the house voted to passed the bill, she walked over to give Leno and Fuller a hug.

Alexei Koseff: 916-321-5236, @akoseff