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Secession Bill Fends Off Challenge

Legislation: Assembly hearing planned today. Move allows measure to be voted on this year.

September 11, 1997|NANCY HILL-HOLTZMAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SACRAMENTO — The Valley secession bill survived yet another crisis Wednesday--the threatened collapse of the deal that ensures the measure can be voted on this year.

After several frantic hours, the deal was put back together by the bill's coauthor, Assemblyman Bob Hertzberg (D-Sherman Oaks), and a last-minute policy hearing on the measure is scheduled for this morning.

"We're still alive," Hertzberg exulted.

The bill's sponsors and the chairman of the Assembly policy committee had expected to hold a hearing Wednesday, but a delay in getting the measure from the Senate made it ineligible to be heard before today.

If the committee approves of the Senate's changes to the bill--extending it to apply statewide--the measure will be eligible for an Assembly floor vote Friday, the last day it could be passed this year.

When it was last in the Assembly, the measure--which would remove the City Council's veto power over secession--applied only to Los Angeles.

During an Assembly floor session Wednesday evening, Hertzberg and co-sponsor Assemblyman Tom McClintock (R-Northridge) also won assurances that sending the bill to the committee would not expose it to any other procedural obstacles.

"The people of the San Fernando Valley will not understand at this late date a procedural move to delay the bill when it passed [the Assembly] the first time 74 to 1," Hertzberg said in an interview after the session.

Initially, the request for a hearing by the chairman of the Assembly Local Government Committee, Assemblyman Michael Sweeney (D-Hayward), was not expected to kill the bill.

Even though the deadline to hold such hearings is past, waivers can be granted and Sweeney said the hearing could be held quickly.

But by midday Wednesday, with no progress made toward setting a hearing, Hertzberg got wind that something was afoot.

Hertzberg said there was talk of delaying the committee hearing until next January or, alternately, sending the bill to a joint committee of the two houses that would not convene until 1998.

In the late afternoon, Hertzberg held an intense discussion with Assembly Speaker Cruz Bustamante (D-Fresno) at the front of the chamber. Then Sweeney was brought into the huddle.

When it ended, the hearing was on again.

Sweeney later denied that he opposed holding a hearing this week.

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