SACRAMENTO — Looking stiff and weak but tan from lying "by the pool," ailing Assemblywoman Sunny Mojonnier was helped into the Assembly chambers Wednesday in a dramatic but unsuccessful effort to break a deadlock over a bill to place a state prison in Los Angeles County.
Mojonnier, an Encinitas Republican who has been recuperating from surgery at her home near the Capitol for a month, voted in favor of the bill, which is needed before two nearly completed prisons in Otay Mesa and Stockton can open.
"I just came out to do what I had to do, and now I'm going back home," Mojonnier told reporters after she left the chambers. She said she made the trek at the request of Assembly Republican Leaders Pat Nolan of Glendale and Gerald Felando of San Pedro as well as Assemblyman Larry Stirling (R-San Diego), who was rounding up votes for the measure on the floor.
The bill failed on a vote of 51-19, falling three votes short of the two-thirds majority needed for passage. Proponents were given permission to have the measure reconsidered and said they would do so, perhaps as soon as today. An aide to Mojonnier said she would return today to cast her vote again if needed.
Mojonnier, whose visit to the Capitol on Wednesday was her first since she underwent a hysterectomy June 12, said in an interview Tuesday that she is under doctor's orders to go out no more than two hours a week.
The closest Mojonnier had come to the Capitol since her surgery was last week when she was driven to the legislators' garage in the Capitol basement to pick up some paper work. Mojonnier said the excursion left her weak and sore and convinced her that she could not return to work regularly until after the Legislature's four-week summer recess, which begins Friday.
"I feel like a prisoner in my home," she said. "It's driving me crazy."
Mojonnier, 44, has been staying at her home in a Sacramento suburb a few miles south of the Capitol rather than in Encinitas because her San Diego County residence has two levels and stairs, which she is unable to negotiate.
Mojonnier said she has been "lying around in the sun by the pool" in Sacramento, where temperatures for much of the summer have hovered near or above 100 degrees.
The lawmaker had her home telephone rigged so that she could listen to legislative debates as the Assembly and Senate moved toward Friday's self-imposed deadline for committee approval of bills that appropriate money.
Though several state senators have agreed to argue for Mojonnier's bills in Senate committees as a courtesy, three of her measures were put over by committees until August, when Mojonnier is expected to return. At that time, Mojonnier will have to obtain a waiver of the rules if those bills are to be enacted this year.
Mojonnier has eight other bills that have been approved by the Senate in her absence via the "consent calendar," which is used for unopposed measures.