Capitol Beat – The Bills That Don’t Make Headlines

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

On May 16, both the Senate and Assembly Appropriations Committees held their suspense hearings where all bills with an annual fiscal impact of $150,000 or more were voted on to determine their fate moving forward. Suspense bills are considered after the governor’s state budget revision has been submitted following the April 15 tax filings so that the committees have a better sense of available revenue. The goal of the committees is to provide sound, responsible and affordable fiscal policy, but there are often more political issues at play when the members cast their votes.

We are pleased to report that our sponsored use-of-force legislation, SB 230 by Senator Anna Caballero, was passed through suspense unanimously. Regarding AB 392 by Assemblymember Shirley Weber, we are continuing to work with stakeholders in an attempt to reach an outcome that all parties can agree upon; however, our number one priority is the safety of our officers and the community in which we serve.

In addition to PORAC’s sponsored bills and the actively supported and opposed bills lobbied by Aaron Read & Associates, it is important that we also report on the numerous other pieces of introduced legislation that do not typically get the press or attention of PORAC LE News. These are bills that would be either directly harmful to PORAC members or would have a negative impact on the work of law enforcement. Fortunately, the following measures were successfully defeated and were held in the suspense committees, meaning they are dead for the year:

AB 277 by Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D–Sacramento) would have allowed parolees to earn reintegration credits that could have significantly shortened the amount of time they spend supervised in the community.

The bill only excluded sex offenders, which would mean that every other type of parolee is eligible for reintegration credits, including serious and violent offenders. Individuals convicted of murder, which resulted in lifetime parole, would be able to apply reintegration credits to advance the date of their discharge hearing. We do not believe there would be any public benefit in having those individuals unsupervised in the community sooner than they would be under existing law.

AB 688 by Assemblymember Kansen Chu (D–San Jose) relates to storage of firearms in vehicles. Current law requires a person, when leaving a handgun in an unattended vehicle, to lock the handgun in the vehicle’s trunk, lock the handgun in a locked container and place the container out of plain view, lock the handgun in a locked container that is permanently affixed to the vehicle’s interior and not in plain view, or to lock the handgun in a locked toolbox or utility box. This bill would have made these requirements applicable to all firearms and would additionally require the firearm to be secured to the vehicle’s frame using a steel cable lock or chain and padlock, or in a locked container that is secured using a steel cable lock or chain and padlock or that is permanently affixed to the vehicle, as specified.

AB 1332 by Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D–Alameda), titled the “Sanctuary State Contracting and Investment Act,” was introduced as a reaction to President Trump’s executive order for immigration enforcement and border security. This bill would have significantly limited or effectively eliminated the ability for state and local agencies to cost-effectively contract for a variety of public services and mandate an untold amount of investment restrictions — forcing agencies to divest from viable sources of stable revenue and create new avenues of costly and protracted civil and criminal litigation. The primary purpose of public agency procurement is to provide vital services to the public. AB 1332 would have crippled this purpose by vastly escalating the time and cost to contract certain services, inviting litigation and creating insurmountable operational and financial challenges — all the while systematically undermining the retirement security of the retired public sector throughout California.

SB 516 by Senator Nancy Skinner (D–Berkeley) would have required gang enhancements to be tried separately from other criminal charges. This bill could have had serious implications on a jury’s ability to consider the motive for the crime(s) committed. Witness intimidation, criminal threats, drive-by shootings and other crimes can only be explained in the context of street gang culture; however, SB 516 would have hindered the prosecution’s ability to connect gang activity to the criminal charges. Furthermore, this bill would have increased the workload of the courts, which could result in higher administrative costs, further prolonging the judicial process.

Below are a few bills that PORAC is continuing to fight as they move through the legislature:

AB 516 by Assemblymember David Chiu (D–San Francisco) would allow drivers to park vehicles in excess of 72 hours anywhere in the state without repercussions. Storage of those vehicles would take up parking spaces for paying customers and would impact retail and restaurant activity in downtown areas. Sales receipts would decline, as would property values. That would result in fewer tax dollars to both the city and the state that could be used to provide meaningful social services for the very people the legislation attempts to assist.

The bill unfairly treats those who comply with laws regarding vehicle registration and the parking of vehicles. This proposed legislation would give the same rights to people who flaunt the law as to those who obey the laws and register their vehicles in a timely fashion. If a vehicle’s owner cannot afford to pay their vehicle registration, then perhaps a more equitable solution would be to allow them to enter into a payment plan with the DMV that would give them a conditional vehicle registration. If a vehicle’s owner has five or more past-due parking citations and can prove a financial hardship, Assemblymember Lackey’s previous bill, AB 503, provides that vehicle’s owner with a means to enter into a payment plan in order to pay off his or her citations. Perhaps language could be added that would codify that a vehicle that has an active and current payment plan under AB 503 would be ineligible for impound.

AB 1215 by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D–San Francisco) would prohibit a law enforcement agency or law enforcement official from installing, activating or using any biometric surveillance system in connection with an officer camera or data collected by an officer camera. The bill would authorize a person to bring an action for equitable or declaratory relief against a law enforcement agency or official who violates that prohibition.

PORAC members use facial recognition to identify criminals, often in situations where we know that a possible threat could occur in a crowd or on video that has been captured for the purpose of searching for that dangerous criminal. Assemblymember Ting claims that the need for this bill is based on the numerous wrongful identifications that have occurred due to this technology. We would submit that the number of dangerous crimes that have been thwarted by use of this technology completely justifies its continued use.

For an updated list of PORAC’s sponsored and active legislation, go to www.porac.org/advocacy/legislation-overview. Please note this is not a full list of PORAC’s positioned bills. This list contains the bills PORAC has vetted and voted on as the highest level of priority this legislative session.