Capitol Beat – Law Enforcement Plays Defense Against Bad Bills

Aaron Read and Randy Perry
Legislative Advocates
Aaron Read & Associates, LLC

PORAC is tracking a total of 262 bills so far this legislative session. If passed, many of these bills will have a positive impact on law enforcement. However, we still have some tough opponents. Although PORAC is proactively sponsoring and supporting legislation, we also have a high success rate in opposing harmful bills. You may recall PORAC’s successful fight against last year’s SB 1286 (Senator Mark Leno, D-San Francisco), which would have opened up an officer’s personnel and investigative files  as well as their disciplinary hearings to the public. Below is a list of bills that PORAC is actively opposing this year.

AB 284 by Assembly Member Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) requires that the Department of Justice establish a pilot program creating an independent review unit, to be known as the Statewide Officer-Involved Shooting Investigation Team, to investigate officer-involved shootings. The unit would consist of three teams located in three regions of the state. The bill would require the unit, upon request from a local law enforcement agency or the district attorney, to investigate and gather facts in officer-involved shootings and prepare and submit a written report that will be posted on the DOJ’s website.

PORAC believes that the best way to win back the public’s trust is to bring them into the process and educate them as to how the investigations are done and the regulations and laws that are utilized, and by publishing the findings when the legal process is completed. Officer-involved shootings are currently investigated by the officer’s agency and the district attorney’s office. Having a third agency do the same investigation is unwarranted and a waste of taxpayer dollars.

As we have seen across the country, even if four or five agencies do an investigation into an officer-involved shooting, if the findings of each agency aren’t what the public wants or was expecting, the anger and mistrust remains.

AB 342 by Assembly Member David Chiu (D-San Francisco) would create a five-year pilot program within the cities of San Francisco and San Jose to test the use of an automated speed enforcement (ASE) system. It would create an automated, robotic system of issuing tickets to speeding cars on numerous city streets in San Francisco and San Jose. Although this is only a pilot program in two cities, this is only the beginning. If this were to pass, other cities and counties would attempt to do the same thing. The way the bill is currently written, the citation would be issued to the registered owner rather than the driver. It is a $100 civil fine; no points will be assessed, which means it is a nonmoving violation. In addition, tickets are issued for 10 miles per hour or more over the limit; however, there is no penalty increase. If you are 10 or 30 miles per hour over the limit, the fine is still the same. There is also no limit to the number of tickets one can receive.

AB 342 is a license to speed. It is doubtful that officers will be deployed on streets where cameras are used, so drivers who may be under the influence of alcohol or drugs will skate. The sponsors cite that there are 140 jurisdictions in the United States that use ASE; however, there are somewhere between 20,000 and 30,000 cities, counties and municipalities in the United States. At most, 1% of them use ASE, and perhaps even as little as half that. In other words, 99% or more of the jurisdictions in the country choose not to use ASE.

AB 1174 by Assembly Member Matthew Harper (R-Huntington Beach) establishes California as a “right to work” state, which prohibits a person from requiring an employee, as a condition of obtaining or continuing employment, to contribute financial support to a labor organization as specified.

“Right to work” is a deceiving slogan designed to trick people into believing that it protects a workers’ right to a job; however, it does not. AB 1174 does not assure a workers’ job, does not protect a worker against employer bias or retaliation, and undermines living wages and fair benefits.

Moorlach’s Proposed Pension Bills a Serious Concern

Senator John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa) has introduced a set of bills to address what he calls a “failing fiscal infrastructure.” These bills could have a serious impact on law enforcement. The entire public safety community has joined forces to actively oppose these damaging measures. Here is a breakdown.

SB 32 would establish the California Public Employees’ Pension Reform Act (PEPRA) of 2017. The reforms enacted in 2012 were designed to bolster the long-term health of California’s public pension system, and they are doing exactly that. Their effects will be measured over the lifetime of thousands of police officers, firefighters, engineers, scientists, teachers, bus drivers and others whose labor provides the state’s public services. It is projected that these changes will reduce collective retirement benefits by about $55 million; however, after only four years, critics believe a negative judgement can be rendered.

SB 454 would make reforms to retired state employee medical health care programs by requiring the annual Other Post-Employment Benefits (OPEB) cost to be 100% funded; eliminate the OPEB 50/50 cost-share split between the state and its employees; require 100% of the benefit be paid by the state; and require all state employees to use the 80/80 formula for basic health benefit plan premiums.

SB 681 would allow local jurisdictions to leave their contracts with CalPERS for their employees’ retirement plans without being excessively charged or penalized.

SCA 8 would give the Legislature and public pensions systems the ability to adjust to retirement benefit formulas on a prospective basis without impacting any benefits earned.

SCA 10 would prohibit public employers from increasing retirement benefits for their employees without two-thirds voter approval in their local jurisdiction.