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gaines.JPGRepublican Assemblywoman Beth Gaines of Rocklin got more than she bargained for when she wrote an amendment this week to a budget trailer bill on mental health services.

Gaines asked that the word "underserved" be changed to "undeserved" in language that calls for a program designed to prevent mental illness from becoming severe and disabling. The program in Senate Bill 77 would emphasize improving timely access to services for underserved populations.

Democratic lawmakers huddled on the Assembly floor for several minutes Friday before they broke to ambush Gaines in a floor debate. They voted to prevent her from discussing other amendments she proposed to the mental health bill, but asked her to read the portion on the one-word change.

Then the Democrats took turns voicing their objections.

Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield, D-Woodland Hills, called the amendment "patently offensive."

Republicans came to Gaines' defense, arguing that the language was a bill-drafting error.

Speaker John A. Pérez of Los Angeles disagreed, pointing out that Gaines initially stood behind the amendment when forced to read it on the floor.

Gaines ultimately asked members to vote against her amendment. Lawmakers obliged.

Photo: Assemblywoman Beth Gaines, R-Rocklin, in a 2011 file photo. The Sacramento Bee / Autumn Payne


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