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Sen. Ron Calderon is replacing fellow Democratic Sen. Juan Vargas on a newly created joint conference committee on legislation to tackle mortgage and foreclosure issues.

Democratic leaders moved to create the committee after opposition from banking and business groups threatened to derail a package of bills backed by Attorney General Kamala Harris. The six-member conference committee will consist of two Democrats and one Republican from each house.

The membership change, which must be approved by the Senate Rules Committee, occurred just a week after procedural moves to create the committee.

Mark Hedlund, a spokesman for Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, said Vargas "told the pro tem that he was going to respectfully decline to be on the conference committee to attend to other legislative duties."

Vargas' chief of staff did not respond to a request for comment. The San Diego Democrat, who was expected to be a no vote on Harris' bills, is also running for an open congressional seat this year.

Calderon's chief of staff, Rocky Rushing, said his boss' experience chairing a committee that governs banking and finance issues makes the Montebello Democrat a good fit for the post.

"He's legislated in this area, so he's had a keen interest in the foreclosure crisis and he has expertise in that area as well, based on his experience as banking chair," Rushing said.

Also serving on the committee are Sens. Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa, and Sam Blakeslee, R-San Luis Obispo, as well as Assembly members Mike Eng, D-Monterey Park, Mike Feuer, D-Los Angeles, and Donald Wagner, R-Irvine.

Stalled mortgage bills headed for joint conference committee
Senate GOP cries foul over procedural move on mortgage bills


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