State Sen. Pat Wiggins was removed from several more committee posts Wednesday and no longer is working in her district or in Sacramento, except on an as-needed basis, according to her staff.
The developments are the latest indications of the 69-year-old senator's failing health, further fueling speculation that she is suffering a serious mental decline that has included several troubling outbursts in public settings.
Wiggins has refused to publicly address her health but on March 2 informed Senate Pro-Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, in a private meeting that she has no plans to step down. Her term ends Dec. 1.
But since that meeting, Wiggins' staff said doctors advised the senator to reduce her workload further, so that her only job duties are attending occasional Senate floor sessions when her vote is needed.
"For now, she will concentrate on working from home but will travel to Sacramento for floor sessions on an as-needed basis," said David Miller, the senator's press secretary.
On Wednesday, Wiggins lost her seats on the influential Local Government and Veterans Affairs committees, a particular blow for the senator who has championed those causes.
She also was removed from the Joint Legislative Audit Committee, a month after the senator's outburst at a Feb. 17 hearing of that bipartisan group drew renewed attention to her health problems.
At that hearing, Wiggins, enraged about an unfilled water canister, interrupted the proceedings by yelling repeatedly. At one point she charged toward committee staff members, before another state senator and a Wiggins aide intervened.
The senator has rebuffed numerous media requests to talk publicly about her illness. Her staff and supporters argue that she is due some measure of privacy despite her public role.
Steinberg, who does not have the authority to unilaterally remove Wiggins but brings influence to bear on Senate business in his role as pro-tem, again suggested through a spokeswoman on Wednesday that the decisions about Wiggins' work performance are being left to her.
"Per Sen. Wiggins' request to attend to personal medical issues, we needed to replace her on policy committees to ensure the work of Legislature gets done during this busy committee time," spokeswoman Alicia Trost said.
<NO1><NO>Wiggins will continue to receive her annual salary of $95,291, health benefits and a per diem of about $142 a day when she does legislative work.
Wiggins was planning to run for a second four-year Senate term before announcing in August that she would not seek re-election. The decision followed media accounts of her outbursts and odd behavior over the past 1 1/2 years and concerns raised about her mental stability.
Earlier this year, Wiggins gave up six committee posts, more than any other senator.
Two weeks ago, the senator's staff said her work duties going forward would be limited to committee hearings and Senate floor sessions.
But now Wiggins has for the most part given up committee work as well. The Senate Rules Committee, which Steinberg chairs, re-shuffled her assignments on Wednesday.
Wiggins was removed as chairwoman of the Joint Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture but still retains her seat. She also retains posts on four select committees that meet sporadically and address issues ranging from the state's wine industry to earthquake preparedness.