By Melissa Caen

SACRAMENTO (KPIX 5) — State senator Josh Newman, from Orange County, voted for the new gas tax and now voters might throw him out of office.

State lawmakers are close to sealing a budget deal.

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But first, Senate Democrats are trying to help out a freshman colleague who is facing a potential recall election back home.

The recall attempt revolves around opposition to the new gas tax.

Sen. Josh Newman (D-Fullerton) said, “I have literally hundreds of people in my district who have come to us and said, ‘hey I became aware that this petition I thought I was signing to repeal the gas tax is actually not that. It’s to repeal you, Senator Newman.’”

State Senator Josh Newman from Orange County voted for the new gas tax and now  voters might throw him out of office.

To force a recall elections more than 60,000 signatures are required.

Newman says the people gathering signatures are lying.

Newman said, “And they’ve asked about how did they get their name removed and it is not clear under the current legislation.”

It’s already a misdemeanor to lie to people when gathering signatures, but he says that’s not enforced.

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Luckily for him,  the Senate passed a new bill, SB 96, and it allows people who sign recall petitions to take back their signatures.

And it’s retroactive, which strikes bay area republican assemblywoman Catharine Baker as very convenient.

Asm. Catharine Baker, (R-Dublin) said, “It does basically say we want to protect one person from one process, that has been the process that applies to everyone else, we want to make a special exception here and we want to do it halfway through the process.”

Baker says it’s just the kind of thing that makes voters cynical.

Baker said, “It’s nothing short of an abuse of power. And it’s exactly the kind of manipulation of our goverment that frustrates voters.

Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De Leon says it’s about protecting the voters from unscrupulous signature-gatherers.

“Sometimes they’ll say anything to get your signature because all they’re concerned about is getting paid,” he said.

And he says using those signatures to mount recall votes is a power grab.

“We think this is just a cynical attempt that undermines the democratic process and the voters,” he said.

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Lawmakers used a little trick to speed up the process of passing SB-96, they attached some money to the bill and voila, it became part of Thursday’s agenda. No committee necessary.