Capitol Beat – The Suspense…

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

“Suspense” means something different in legislation. The Senate and Assembly appropriations committees hold hearings on their “suspense” bills toward the end of every session. These are the bills that have expenditure in them over a certain dollar amount designated by each committee. Truthfully, the financial threshold can change depending on the controversial nature of the bill. That list of bills is then taken up all at once, and each bill is either passed or failed based on whether the committee feels that it is an appropriate expenditure of state dollars. 

This year, many of the “active” bills we have been working on have been detrimental to public safety or the law enforcement profession. After the September 1 suspense hearings, we can report that two egregious bills that PORAC was working to stop were held in committee — effectively killing them for the year, and likely for good. The first, AB 284 by Assembly Member McCarty (D-Sacramento) and sponsored by the attorney general, would have allowed the AG to review any case related to officer-involved shootings or serious uses of force from 2015 to 2016, with the intent of making recommendations to  departments regarding investigations, training or policies and procedures. The second, SB 21 by Senator Hill (D-San Mateo), would have required all agencies to hold public hearings regarding the use of surveillance technology or equipment. Each agency would have to report to its city council or board of supervisors for approval prior to purchasing surveillance equipment or technology.

PORAC’s sponsored bill, AB 1428 by Assembly Member Low (D-Campbell), was also held by the Senate Appropriations Committee. AB 1428 was PORAC’s attempt to be proactive in the area of transparency, as it relates to officer-involved shootings, serious uses of force and citizens’ complaints. The bill was opposed by some law enforcement management groups, as well as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the California Newspaper Publishers Association. Although the bill was held in committee, we feel that PORAC clearly showed that we are again at the forefront in the area of transparency, just as we have been in the past with other sensitive areas, such as the use of body-worn cameras and changes to the California Public Records Act (CPRA). If the Legislature chooses not to move forward with changes in these areas, even though PORAC is willing to work with them on such changes, there is little we can do about it. As the leading voice for law enforcement in California, PORAC has never shied away from difficult or controversial issues. 

Below is the list of PORAC’s actively supported and opposed bills that were on suspense in the Appropriations Committee in each house. Keep in mind that even though a bill PORAC actively opposes may have passed out of committee on September 1, that does not mean we won’t continue the fight against the bill or work to amend it favorably.

  • AB 284 by Assembly Member McCarty (D-Sacramento), Department of Justice: officer-involved shootings — report. Actively opposed by PORAC, this bill was held.
  • AB 512 by Assembly Member Rodriguez (D-Pomona), Public employees’ retirement: safety members — industrial. Actively supported by PORAC, this bill passed.
  • AB 1028 by Assembly Member Bocanegra (D-San Fernando), Workers’ compensation. Sponsored by PORAC, this bill was held.
  • AB 1116 by Assembly Member Grayson (D-Concord), Peer Support and Crisis Referral Services Act. Actively supported by PORAC, this bill passed.
  • AB 1408 by Assembly Member Calderon (D-Whittier), Crimes: supervised release. Actively supported by PORAC, this bill passed.
  • AB 1428 by Assembly Member Low (D-Campbell), Peace officers: transparency. Sponsored by PORAC, this bill was held.
  • AB 1595 by Assembly Member Gallagher (R-Nicolaus), Theft: burglary — natural or manmade disasters. Sponsored by PORAC, this bill was held.
  • SB 21 by Senator Hill (D-San Mateo), Law enforcement agencies: surveillance — policies. Actively opposed by PORAC, this bill was held.
  • SB 54 by Senator de León (D-Los Angeles), Law enforcement: sharing data. Actively opposed by PORAC, this bill passed.
  • SB 687 by Senator Skinner (D-Berkeley), Health facilities: emergency services — Attorney General. Actively supported by PORAC, this bill passed.

End of Session

On Friday, September 15, the Legislature adjourned the first half of the 2017–2018 legislative session. Governor Brown has until midnight on October 15 to sign or veto the multitude of bills that have just been sent to him. If he does not take action on a bill, it automatically becomes law without his signature. As usual, both houses of the Legislature saved the most hotly debated bills for the last weeks of session, with the most controversial being voted on last. Over the next few weeks, Governor Brown has some significant issues to ponder, including issues that will directly affect PORAC membership.

In next month’s Capitol Beat, we will provide a recap of PORAC’s priority legislation and bills that have or will become law in California.