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Boland Tries to Salvage Secession Bill


SACRAMENTO — Assemblywoman Paula L. Boland moved to resurrect the San Fernando Valley secession issue in the state Legislature on Wednesday by making a key concession that would give voters throughout Los Angeles a say in whether the city should be divided.

Boland's last-ditch effort to revive the issue in the final days of the legislative session follows the narrow defeat of her own secession bill in the state Senate last week.

The final vote on the bill was 19 to 18 in favor, two votes shy of the 21 needed for passage.

She said last week's vote was close enough to merit a compromise, something she had refused to do in the past. "The Valley is strong enough that at least it would have a chance to secede if it wanted to," Boland said.

On Wednesday, the Republican from Granada Hills filed secession-related amendments to a Senate measure that awaits a vote of the Assembly later this week.

The Assembly was continuing in session late Wednesday night, but had not yet considered Boland's amendments.

Boland's amendments include the provisions of her original bill, which would remove the City Council's veto power over attempts to secede from Los Angeles, plus a "dual-majority" citywide vote.

The dual-majority stipulation means that before secession could occur, the majority of Valley voters would have to agree to it as would the majority of voters throughout the city.

Under the original measure, only Valley residents would have had the right to vote on secession.

The city government's most potent argument against the original bill was the lack of a citywide vote. Now Boland has removed that key criticism.

But Boland has continued to ignore a demand from Senate President Pro Tem Bill Lockyer (D-Hayward) for a statewide commission to examine the fiscal and environmental impacts of Valley secession. Because of that, a powerful opponent of her measure remains standing in its path.

The Senate bill to which the secession amendments were added is sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Rob Hurtt (R-Garden Grove), who gave Boland the go-ahead to use it as a vehicle. Its subject matter is state agency records.

If the bill moves ahead, it will get a new sponsor, Sen. Ross Johnson (R-Irvine), who argued forcefully for Boland's original bill last week. If the amendments are approved by the Assembly, the full bill would be back for an Assembly vote as soon as Friday. It must then return to the Senate for concurrence.

But many obstacles stand in the way.

Most importantly, the two-year legislative session is set to end Saturday and must by law draw to a close this weekend. And while anything can happen in the marathon sessions that mark the Legislature's final days, opponents of the bill are not letting down their guard.

Boland also faces two problems in the Democrat-controlled Senate. One is partisan politics. She is running for the state Senate from the Glendale-Burbank area, and Democrats have characterized her secession efforts as nothing more than an electoral ploy.

Her other problem is the powerful Lockyer, with whom Boland has locked horns on the secession issue.

Lockyer said he would not support the bill unless Boland agreed to a $1.2-million, state-funded blue-ribbon commission to study the effect of Valley secession as well as how state law pertains to questions of incorporation and secession.

Additionally, other key Los Angeles-area legislators remain committed to defeating any effort by Boland that would divide Los Angeles.

Finally, Boland's defeated bill is still in play in the Senate and could be taken up for a reconsideration vote, although there is no sign that the outcome would change from last week.

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