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Democratic Sen. Pat Wiggins, who has raised eyebrows with occasional outbursts at the Capitol, is taking a partial leave from the Legislature to attend to an undisclosed medical condition.

"Senator Wiggins will be here to cast the important votes as the session proceeds," Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg said Wednesday. "But other than that, she needs some time to deal with some medical issues. So that's what she is doing."

Steinberg declined to elaborate on her medical condition.

The Senate Rules Committee voted unanimously Wednesday to remove the Santa Rosa legislator from the Senate Local Government, Senate Veterans Affairs and Joint Legislative Audit committees, and to remove her as chairwoman -- but not as a member -- of the Joint Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture.

Steinberg said the decision to remove Wiggins from Senate standing committees was a mutual one.

Today's action will leave Wiggins with no standing committee assignments, although she remains on five select committees, which meet rarely. Though Wiggins will not routinely attend Senate floor sessions, or cast votes on most bills, she will retain the office and qualify for full pay while working at home.

David Miller, Wiggins' spokesman, said that constituents will continue to be served from her five district offices. Wiggins' wide-ranging district stretches from Solano to Humboldt counties.

"At doctors' orders, she's primarily going to be working from home, and she'll travel to Sacramento for floor sessions on an as-needed basis," Miller said.

Wiggins occasionally has displayed erratic behavior preceded by little or no provocation.

She interrupted a Senate committee hearing last month by screaming and racing toward committee staffers who apparently had failed to fill a water canister that she found empty after the hearing's lunch break.

Two years ago, Wiggins swore at a minister testifying in a committee on global warming, exclaiming, "Excuse me, but I think your arguments are bull-----."

Wiggins announced last August that she would not run for a second four-year Senate term this year.

Miller declined to discuss the nature of Wiggins' medical condition Wednesday or to comment on whether it contributed to her outbursts.

Wiggins' aides previously have said that her medical condition can make her irritable but does not affect her ability to hold office.

Doctors concluded that reducing Wiggins' workload stress is warranted now because of the condition itself and the medication she is taking, Miller said.

Wiggins does not intend to resign from office before her first term ends in December.

"She plans to serve out the remainder of her term," Miller said.


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