Capitol Beat – The California Climate

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

For four years now, we have talked about how drastically the pendulum has swung from California’s “tough on crime” stance of the 1980s and ’90s to the current position of releasing violent criminals, full officer transparency, increased use of body cameras and the intent to prosecute officers and send them to prison. But nothing speaks more to that swing than the high-profile election of Chesa Boudin, the new district attorney in the City and County of San Francisco.

Boudin is the son of former members of the domestic terrorist group Weather Underground. His parents were convicted of felony murder when they were part of a robbery that killed two police officers and a security guard when Boudin was just 14 months old. Subsequently, Boudin was raised by former leaders of the Weather Underground and later went on to study law at Yale University. A former deputy public defender, Boudin stands behind a campaign promising to eliminate first-time offense misdemeanor DUIs and replace them with diversion programs. This program, first implemented by former DA Gascón and then eliminated once the interim district attorney was appointed, is just one of many of Boudin’s progressive plans to reform the criminal justice system of San Francisco.

It was a tightly contested race between Boudin and Suzy Loftus, the current interim district attorney appointed by Mayor London Breed after George Gascón resigned from the position to run for Los Angeles district attorney. This move by Mayor Breed appeared to be an effort to give Loftus the advantage of incumbency. In fact, the majority of the San Francisco establishment endorsed Loftus, including Governor Gavin Newsom, State Senator Scott Wiener and U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris. Boudin’s grassroots campaign gained endorsements from Bernie Sanders, Black Lives Matter and other social justice groups, in addition to a few other San Francisco elected officials, including a local supervisor who led a “F*** the POA!” chant at Boudin’s election night festivities. Ultimately, Boudin’s campaign proved a greater influence over the voters of San Francisco.

The issue for law enforcement is clear. Throughout the country, progressive candidates for the office of the district attorney are being elected with a promise of extensive reforms to the criminal justice system. In California alone, we now have Boudin’s progressive predecessor, Gascón, running for district attorney in L.A. against Jackie Lacey, a moderate Democrat known for her tough-on-crime position. If their promises are kept, DAs like Boudin and Gascón will eliminate prosecution for certain crimes, including DUIs, drug offenses, soliciting sex and gang enhancements. These reforms are dangerous, not only to our officers but to the safety and wellbeing of our communities.

Looking Ahead

The legislature returns to begin the second year of a two-year session on January 6, 2020. All the bills that did not make it to the governor’s desk this year will continue during the second year from where they left off. In addition, new bills will be introduced in the second year, and the deadline to go to Legislative Counsel with new bill requests is likely late January. The final deadline for the introduction of bills is February 21. After that, the new bills have to sit in print for 30 days before they can be heard. Next year, we will have a combination of bills left over from this year, as well as new bills introduced in 2020. Lastly, the governor will unveil his proposed 2019-20 budget on or before January 10. He has already signaled through press comments that he believes there is a slowdown in the economy headed our way.

Thank You

We would like to take a minute to thank each one of you for your hard work this year. To say this year has been difficult would be an understatement. Between the increasing dangers officers are facing on the streets, the critically important issues we fought for and against, the legislative battles we waged and the vital discussions we’ve had with leaders and policymakers, 2019 was one for the record books. We are proud to be a part of your law enforcement family and we look forward to another successful year as your advocates.

Happy holidays!

As always, please do not hesitate to contact the team at Aaron Read & Associates if you have any legislative questions or concerns. They can be reached at (916) 448-3444, or you can email Aaron Read (aread@aaronread.com), Randy Perry (rperry@aaronread.com) or Michele Cervone (mcervone@aaronread.com).