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Steinberg, the Senate leader, wants to present the salary issue to voters with SCA17, a constitutional amendment that would allow lawmakers to withhold pay from suspended lawmakers in order to avoid expelling members who are presumed innocent until found guilty.

Others say lawmakers are inherently conflicted when it comes to addressing wrongdoing among their ranks.

Sen. Richard Roth, D-Riverside, who leads a Senate ethics commission tasked with internal investigations, is floating the idea of an ethics ombudsman to handle complaints.

Secretary of state candidates Derek Cressman, a Democrat, and Pete Peterson, a Republican, say a new or existing independent commission should make recommendations to the Assembly and Senate about the pay and punishment for lawmakers accused of corruption.

Good-government reformers say the bigger picture behind the ethics turmoil is the need for politicians to raise campaign money for re-election or when seeking higher office.

"Oftentimes what we'll see is sort of reactionary legislation to a particular scandal of the day," said Sarah Swanbeck, policy and legislative affairs advocate at Common Cause, where Cressman worked before embarking on his run for secretary of state.

Improving transparency has emerged as a top issue in the now-magnified race for secretary of state, which included Yee as a leading candidate until his arrest.

Padilla, who has emerged as the Democratic front-runner after Yee dropped out, is calling for a ban on fundraising during the last 100 days of a legislative session and a week after it ends with SB1101. His opponents say his proposal falls short and call for a total fundraising blackout during the session, which Padilla says is too restrictive given the length of the nine-month session and the potential for court challenges.

"If you were to take all the reform proposals out of the Legislature and put them in one place, they would add up to almost one complete fig leaf," said Dan Schnur, a former Republican strategist and Fair Political Practices Commission chairman who is running for secretary of state as an independent.

He said he would use the position as a bully pulpit to call for more ethics reforms and increased funding for enforcement.

Whatever the fate of this year's bills, Gary Winuk, California's chief ethics watchdog at the Fair Political Practice Commission, said questions about what behavior is legal and ethical are perennial.

"It's constantly a game, if you will, to try and balance the people who do want to follow the law versus the people who try and exploit the loopholes," he said.

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Associated Press writer Don Thompson contributed to this report.