Capitol Beat – 2019 Wrap-Up

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

On September 13, the Legislature adjourned the first half of the 2019–2020 session. Governor Newsom had until midnight on October 13 to sign or veto the multitude of bills that were sent to him. If he did not take action on a bill, it automatically became law without his signature.

This year, 3,033 bills were introduced, of which 1,169 have been chaptered (signed by the governor) and 172 were vetoed. The remaining 1,692 bills are either inactive, dead, made into two-year bills or are resolutions that, by law, do not have to go to the governor. If a bill was made into a two-year bill, it means the measure is taken out of consideration during the first year of a regular session with the intent of taking it up again during the second year.

PORAC monitored over 250 bills this year and took a position on nearly 100, with three sponsored bills, two co-sponsored bills, 13 active support bills, eight active oppose bills, 16 oppose bills and 54 support bills.

This legislative year has proved to be one of the most challenging in the history of PORAC. SB 230 by Senator Caballero and AB 392 by Assemblymember Weber were our top priorities as we worked to ensure they put the safety of our members and our communities first. As a result of the work put in by PORAC leadership and the involvement of legislative leadership, informed and thoughtful amendments were made to SB 230 and AB 392 that created a unified solution.

Our job did not stop at use of force. PORAC was on the front lines of fighting many other bills that would negatively impact the daily lives of our members. We are happy to report that PORAC successfully stopped significant bills from reaching the governor this year. Below are a few that PORAC either opposed or actively opposed, all of which have been made into two-year bills that will be eligible in January.

AB 516 by Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco)

AB 516 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.

AB 516 unfairly treats those who comply with laws regarding vehicle registration and parking of vehicles. This proposed legislation would give the same rights to people who flout the law as 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.

AB 516 may be a well-intentioned bill that attempts to address the financial impacts of some categories of towing, but it actually creates unwarranted incentives for lawbreakers that will result in negative impacts on the broader community.

AB 1185 by Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento)

This bill would authorize a county to establish a sheriff oversight board, either by the action of the board of supervisors or through a vote of county residents. It would authorize a sheriff oversight board to issue a subpoena or subpoena duces tecum when deemed necessary to investigate a matter within the jurisdiction of the board. Finally, it would authorize a county to establish an office of the inspector general to assist the board with its supervisorial duties.

PORAC believes this bill is unnecessary because many jurisdictions already have civilian oversight over the office of the sheriff without the need for this measure. In addition, our state sheriffs are already overseen or monitored in some way by the California Department of Justice, Board of State and Community Corrections, and county grand juries. Furthermore, this bill will put unnecessary pressure on county boards of supervisors to create an oversight system even if they feel one is not warranted.

AB 1555 by Assemblymember Todd Gloria (D-San Diego)

This bill would require any law enforcement agency that operates encrypted police radio communications to provide access to the encrypted communications to a duly authorized representative of any news service, newspaper, or radio or television station or network, upon request. By imposing new duties on local law enforcement agencies, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program.

Encrypted communication is vital for surveillance, confidential informants, undercover operations, tactical communications and more. Allowing the media and public access to encrypted channels could jeopardize investigations as well as the safety of the public and our officers. PORAC recommends that this bill be amended to create a public safety/media protocol for sharing information so that the media and public get the information they need to report on incidents without jeopardizing investigations, while also allowing for privacy of all people law enforcement comes in contact with.

ACA 12 by Assemblymember Marc Levine (D-San Francisco)

This measure would amend the California Constitution to prohibit the death penalty from being imposed as a punishment for any violation of law. In 2016, California citizens voted “no” on Prop 62 to repeal the death penalty and “yes” on Prop 66 to keep the death penalty, while making some necessary fixes. Those fixes include ways to save California taxpayers millions of dollars every year, assure due process protections for those sentenced to death and promote justice for murder victims and their families. ACA 12 undermines the public’s 2016 vote.

PORAC believes the most egregious crimes deserve the worst punishment. At some point, we have to say that we will not house, clothe and feed those who have murdered, raped and tortured.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact the team at Aaron Read & Associates at (916) 448-3444 if you have any legislative questions or concerns.