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In a final flare of end-of-session drama, Assembly Republicans led the defeat of a last-minute labor-inspired cleanup bill related to legislation passed earlier in the evening to hasten the building of a new arena in downtown Sacramento.

Assembly Bill 852 surfaced late on Thursday evening, after both houses had passed Sen. Darrell Steinberg's SB 743 to streamline the construction of a new arena for the Sacramento Kings. AB 852 was cast as a minor cleanup bill, making just a small change to the arena bill by further restricting which projects could be exempted from some environmental review.

It was requested by labor unions, Steinberg said, who feared that other businesses would get in on the streamlined environmental review procedures intended for the arena.

"The concern from labor was that Wal Mart and the big box stores could potentially take advantage of that part of (SB) 743 to get an exemption," he said.

The bill got out of the Senate with little debate but Republicans in the Assembly implored their colleagues to reject a measure they lambasted for being pushed through at the last minute.

"It seems disingenuous to bring this bill when we just voted on one," said Republican Minority Leader Connie Conway, R-Tulare, adding that "no one likes to feel they've been deceived, and I'm telling you that's how I feel right now."

Assemblyman Dan Logue, R-Marysville, was even more vehement in his denunciation, saying he had "never been as ashamed of this place as I am now."

The bill garnered only 26 "yes" votes in the 80-member house, falling far short of what it needed to pass. Afterward, the bill's author, Sacramento Democrat Roger Dickinson, said the cleanup bill didn't significantly alter main arena legislation, so its defeat was not a big deal.

"The core and the substance of what we did earlier tonight is undisturbed," Dickinson said.

Steinberg also said the defeat of the companion bill would have no impact on the construction of the Sacramento arena.

Bee reporter Laurel Rosenhall contributed to this report.

PHOTO: Assemblywoman Connie Conway urged colleagues to vote down the bill. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua.


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