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Looks like controversial legislation on how to fund California courts has been put on ice in the Senate.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg told reporters today not to expect to see action on the legislation, Assembly Bill 1208, any time soon. The measure passed the Assembly on Monday.

"The Senate has no near-term plans to refer that bill," Steinberg said, adding "It's a long year and a long session."

The bill, which would give trial court judges more power in spending decisions currently controlled by the state Judicial Council, which is led by Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, was the subject of intense debate in the state Assembly this week. It cleared the lower house by a vote of 41-23 on Monday.

The bill, which is backed by a splinter group called the Alliance of California Judges and a union that represents court employees, is opposed by Cantil-Sakauye and 44 of the 58 presiding judges of the county courts.

Steinberg didn't address opposition or the merits of the bill today, but instead signaled he was irked by a comment made by the bill's author Assemblyman Chuck Calderon, D-Whittier, on the floor this week.

"I know Chuck Calderon's big comment about why he didn't fix the bill in the Assembly and instead (sent) it to the Senate was something to the effect of 'If I had it my way, we'd eliminate the Senate,'" the Sacramento Democrat said. "Not that I took any note of that."

Assembly OKs bill to give local courts more power over spending


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