Capitol Beat – End-of-Session Report

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

On Friday, August 31, the Legislature adjourned the final half of its 2017–18 session. Governor Brown has until midnight on September 30 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.

This last year, there were huge attacks on law enforcement. We were on the defensive far more than we were able to play offense. The shining light was that we were able to stop AB 931 (Weber) in the Senate Rules Committee. However, we have been asked to work on the issues over the next several months, because there is no doubt Assembly Member Weber will be back with another bill. We have made it clear that there is no way we can ever accept a bill that changes the use-of-force standard from reasonable to necessary. We have offered up other suggestions for policy changes, but those have so far been rejected by Weber and her sponsors, the ACLU, Black Lives Matter, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and the First Amendment Coalition.

Below is an update on PORAC’s priority bills that have made it to the governor’s desk this legislative session, along with a summary of the measures. By the time you read this, the outcome of all enrolled bills will be known. We will provide a more detailed analysis of the year’s activities at PORAC’s Annual Conference in November.

Enrolled to Governor

There are nine bills enrolled to the governor; six of those are bills that PORAC actively opposes. Eight are on the governor’s desk and he’s already signed the ninth, SB 10. PORAC is requesting the governor to veto all of our actively opposed bills.

AB 186 by Assembly Member Susan Eggman (D-Stockton), Controlled substances: safer drug consumption program — Active Oppose. This bill would, until January 1, 2022, authorize the City and County of San Francisco to approve entities to operate overdose prevention programs for adults that satisfy specified requirements, including a hygienic space supervised by health care professionals where people who use drugs can consume pre-obtained drugs, sterile consumption supplies and access to referrals to substance use disorder treatment. The bill would require any entity operating a program under its provisions to provide an annual report to the City and County, as specified. Since PORAC took an Active Oppose position on this bill, it has been amended to apply only to the City and County of San Francisco.

AB 748 by Assembly Member Philip Ting (D-San Francisco), Disclosure of video and audio recordings: peace officers — Active Oppose. AB 748 requires disclosure, with several tolling provisions and restrictions, of audio or video recordings when an officer discharges a firearm at a person or where the use of force by an officer results in death or great bodily injury. This measure was amended to allow agencies up to a year before they had to release the footage. However, the agency must give reasons for the delay in release every 45 days.

AB 1749 by Assembly Member Tom Daly (D-Anaheim), Workers’ compensation: off-duty peace officer — Co-Sponsor. Unlike most jobs, law enforcement is uniquely trained on how to react to attacks on the public. AB 1749 would ensure that California’s workers’ compensation system covers peace officers who acted outside of state boundaries and were injured, regardless of their injuries. This legislation was sponsored as a result of the Las Vegas mass shooting, in which several California peace officers were injured.

AB 3131 by Assembly Member Todd Gloria (D-San Diego), Law enforcement agencies: military equipment — funding and acquisition — Active Oppose. Originally, this bill would have required law enforcement agencies to obtain approval of the applicable governing body, by adoption of a military equipment impact statement and a military equipment use policy, by ordinance at a regular meeting held pursuant to specified open meeting laws, prior to taking certain actions relating to the funding, acquisition or use of military equipment. AB 3131 was recently amended to remove the required approval process. The bill now only requires agencies to report military equipment purchased from the federal government and use policies relating to the equipment.

SB 1086 by Senator Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), Workers’ compensation: firefighters and peace officers — Co-Sponsor. This bill removes the sunset on the extended statute of limitations provided for certain injuries for families applying for the workers’ compensation death benefit. It is the continuation of an effort by PORAC and the California Professional Firefighters (CPF) to extend the cancer presumption two years ago.

SB 1195 by Senator Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge), PORAC Insurance & Benefits: health plans — Sponsor. This bill would authorize PORAC’s Insurance and Benefits Trust to offer different health benefit plan designs with varying premiums in different areas of the state. It would prohibit the trustees of these health benefit plan trusts from using geographic regions that are different from the geographic regions established by the board for the regional premiums authorized for contracting agencies, except as specified.

SB 1393 by Senator Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles), Judicial discretion over five-year enhancement for serious felonies — Active Oppose. Current law requires the court, when imposing a sentence for a serious felony, in addition and consecutive to the term imposed for that serious felony, to impose a five-year enhancement for each prior conviction of a serious felony. Existing law generally authorizes a judge, in the interests of justice, to order an action dismissed, but precludes a judge from striking any prior serious felony conviction in connection with imposition of the five-year enhancement. This bill would delete the restriction prohibiting a judge from striking a prior serious felony conviction in connection with imposition of the five-year enhancement described above and would make conforming changes.

SB 1421 by Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), Criminal procedure and sentencing — Active Oppose. SB 1421 was the measure calling for the release of certain parts of an investigation involving uses of force causing death or great bodily injury, or the discharge of a firearm at a person. An additional section required the same disclosure for a complaint where, after final adjudication, it has been sustained against the officer for force resulting in death or GBI, dishonesty or sexual crimes by that officer.

Signed by Governor

SB 10 by Senator Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys), Cashless bail — Active Oppose.

This bill effectively eliminates commercial bail in California and redirects all pretrial and supervisory duties to county probation departments. The measure also sets up a pretrial system of release based on the type of crimes leading to the arrest. The new system created by SB 10 goes into effect October 1, 2019. This bill was heavily amended in the Assembly, so it may not be as bad as it was in its original form. We also defeated AB 42 (Bonta) last year, which was a parallel bill to SB 10.