Capitol Beat – The Introduction of Senate Bill 230

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

Over the last few years, “use of force” has become a familiar term in the halls of the Capitol. While law enforcement is all too familiar with the devastating realities of use of force in your everyday lives, legislators and stakeholders are now becoming a more involved part of the discussion. The introduction of Assemblymembers Shirley Weber and Kevin McCarty’s AB 931 in 2018 was the start of a new conversation on use of force in the state of California — a conversation that we will likely see for many years to come. AB 931 was amended near the end of 2018 to change the law regarding serious use of force. PORAC, along with most law enforcement organizations, worked quickly and diligently. We had no choice but to play defense, and AB 931 was held in the Senate. However, for the past six months, California law enforcement has been developing legislation to address the concerns of the author and sponsors of AB 931.

Law enforcement’s new legislation, SB 230 — authored by Senator Anna Caballero (D–Salinas) and co-authored by Senators Bob Archuleta (D–Pico Rivera), Bill Dodd (D–Napa), Cathleen Galgiani (D–Stockton), Steve Glazer (D–Orinda), Jerry Hill (D–San Mateo) and Assemblymembers Jim Cooper (D–Elk Grove), Jim Frazier (D–Discovery Bay), Adam Gray (D–Merced), Tim Grayson (D–Concord), Evan Low (D–Campbell), Patrick O’Donnell (D–Long Beach), Sharon Quirk-Silva (D–Fullerton), James Ramos (D–Highland), Robert Rivas (D–Hollister), Freddie Rodriguez (D–Pomona), Blanca Rubio (D–Baldwin Park) and Rudy Salas (D–Bakersfield) — would establish requirements for departments to adopt use-of-force policies and participate in training that includes comprehensive and clear guidance relating to use of force. When there is a conversation in our state’s Capitol that will directly impact the safety and security of our officers on the street, PORAC cannot simply oppose, we must use our experience and knowledge to present our own alternative solutions. Our solutions have been thoughtfully crafted by law enforcement leaders and attorneys to best protect the citizens of this state and our peace officers against the threats of unreasonable and dangerous bills such as AB 931.  Our intent in introducing SB 230 is to take proactive steps toward improving public trust and ensuring our officers can continue protecting all Californians.

Unfortunately, a day after PORAC’s press call introducing our new bill, Assemblymember Weber (D-San Diego) held a press conference introducing AB 392, a resurrected version of AB 931. PORAC has serious concerns with AB 392; including, the violation of an officer’s constitutional right to self-defense. Defeating this bill and ensuring the success of SB 230 will be our top priority this year.

To continue protecting our communities and our peace officers, we hope that SB 230 will build upon existing efforts focused on improving outcomes during law enforcement officers’ involvement in serious use-of-force incidents. It is also critically important for law enforcement to come together to better inform the public and our legislators on the realities of deadly use-of-force situations.

What SB 230 does:

  • Amends California law, Penal Code 196, governing an officer’s engagement with a fleeing felon to reflect the standards set by the U.S. Supreme Court in Graham v. Connor and Tennessee v. Garner. Penal Code 196 has not been updated since 1872, so it was time for it to reflect the current court cases referenced above.
  • Requires every agency to include provisions in their use-of-force policy that provide guidelines on the utilization of de-escalation tactics, rendering medical aid, an officer’s duty to intercede when observing excessive use of force by another officer, interacting with vulnerable populations, such as the mentally ill and homeless, reporting requirements and more.
  • Standardizes California law enforcement’s use-of-force training to ensure each course covers critical topics, including but not limited to de-escalation, rendering medical aid, and the legal standards for use of force.

By the time you read this, over 1,000 bills will have been introduced this legislative session. By the bill deadline of February 22, there will be around 2,000 more. We anticipate more bills relating to law enforcement this year than ever before.

PORAC stands as a unified political force in Sacramento. Each year, PORAC leadership, along with ARA, listen closely to the officers at every level of experience to guide our decisions at the Capitol.  As this legislative session ramps up, we will be calling on our officers at the local level more than ever. Our membership is full of knowledgeable and experienced officers who understand more than anyone else the reality of life as a law enforcement officer. It would be irresponsible to not use the most important tool we have at our disposal — our members. We also recognize the critical importance of working closely with stakeholders from every demographic in creating an environment where communities trust the officers who work to keep their streets safe. We are in this together.

 

Capitol Beat – California’s 40th Governor and His Budget

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

It was a busy start of the year for our newly elected governor, Gavin Newsom. On Sunday, January 6, he hosted a family day at the California Railroad Museum in Old Sacramento and an evening concert benefiting those impacted by the California wildfires. The following day, he and his family took center stage at his inauguration ceremony, and just three days later, Newsom unveiled his first budget as governor of California.

The proposed $209 billion “California for All” budget includes a $144 billion General Fund (a 4% increase over the $138 billion spending plan former Governor Jerry Brown signed in June), and predicts a $21.4 billion surplus from robust tax collections and slower growth of state health-care costs. It’s the largest projected surplus since 2000, according to state finance officials. The 2019–20 budget increases funding for public schools and health-care programs. It also includes significant one-time spending to combat the state’s homelessness issue and prepare for future natural disasters.

The governor kicked off his press conference by saying, “I know it’s rote and cliché to say it’s a reflection of our values, but it is a reflection of our values.” He continued, “It is demonstrable that these dollars attach to real people and real people’s lives.” Newsom appears to be taking a page from Brown’s budget playbook, which targets as much new spending as possible toward one-time expenditures that don’t carry a long-term cost; 86% of his spending is for one-time efforts.

The above statement, coupled with his decisive victory in November, seems to imply that the governor views his victory as a clear mandate to pursue a capacious agenda that will focus efforts on young children and poor families while continuing to pay down debt and increase the state’s Rainy Day Fund.

Here are some highlights from Newsom’s proposed budget:

  • A nearly $2 billion plan to support low-income children, with much of the money earmarked for construction of child-care facilities and kindergarten classrooms
  • A $1 billion “working families’ tax credit,” more than double the size of the state’s existing tax break for low-income workers
  • Expansion of tax-break eligibility to those who earn up to $15 an hour, estimated by the administration to add up to 400,000 additional families
  • Request that lawmakers increase monthly welfare assistance grants under the state’s CalWORKS program
  • Bolstering of efforts to help ease California’s housing and homelessness crises, with $500 million to be set aside to help local governments build shelters and add services to help the homeless
  • $4.8 billion in optional payments to the state’s primary pension funds, CalPERS and CalSTRS, both of which have significant unfunded liabilities. The additional money from the state could help them reduce the rates they charge to schools and local governments.
  • Tax credits for working families. Newsom wants to double California’s earned-income tax credit and offer it to hundreds of thousands of more households. He’d also increase the value of CalWORKS grants for low-income families.
  • $1.3 billion for projects that spur housing development, including tax credits for developers building housing for low- and moderate-income families
  • Waiving state-mandated environmental reviews for housing projects that would help homeless Californians
  • A proposed $1.4 billion for higher education, the bulk of which, about $400 million, would go to the community college system with the goal of making tuition free for two years
  • An investment of $500 million in infrastructure to provide more child care and $750 million for kindergarten programs

The budget continues to build additional reserves beyond the $13.5 billion currently set aside in the Budget Stabilization Account (commonly called the Rainy Day Fund). A recent opinion by the Legislative Counsel concluded that supplemental payments made in prior years do not count toward calculating the 10% of General Fund tax revenues target set in the Constitution. Consistent with this opinion, the budget continues to make required deposits in the Rainy Day Fund.

Budget Impact on Public Safety: POST

In 2014–15, funding for the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) began decreasing significantly, driven by a decline in criminal fine and fee revenues, which were its primary funding source. In response, POST has been forced to significantly scale back its support for local law enforcement training. For example, it has reduced or eliminated reimbursement payments for local law enforcement agencies to attend training courses. In addition, POST has also postponed updating curricula that it believes need revisions to reflect current best practices.

The governor’s budget includes $14.9 million from the General Fund to restore POST to its historical budget level prior to the decline in fine and fee revenues. This funding will allow POST to restore many of the program cuts it was forced to make in recent years. It will also be used to implement new training curricula and update existing ones so that courses reflect current best practices in areas such as verbal communication and listening skills, cultural awareness and diversity, de-escalation techniques, and engagement with individuals suffering from mental health or homelessness issues. In addition, the budget includes $20 million from the General Fund to make permanent a one-time augmentation included in the 2018 Budget Act for training on use of force, de-escalation and engaging with individuals experiencing a mental health crisis.

The Budget Cycle

Newsom’s proposed budget sets the stage for the next phase of the state’s ongoing budget development cycle for the 2019–20 fiscal year, which begins on July 1. This will include further discussions with the administration, legislative hearings, meetings with legislators and their staff, updated state revenue numbers in April, a May revision of the governor’s proposed budget, and then an intensive period of legislative activity to pass a balanced budget by the June 15 constitutional deadline. Lastly, the “Big Three” (governor, speaker and pro tem) will meet to finalize the budget. PORAC’s hope is that the increased funds to POST in the governor’s budget remain, so that POST receives the necessary funding for critical training.

With legislators already proposing more than $40 billion in new spending, it will be interesting to see if the new governor continues to invoke Brown’s warning to save for the economic downturn that he believed was always right around the corner — or will Newsom succumb to the pressures from the Legislature to increase spending on their priorities as well?

Capitol Beat – New Legislature, New Era

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

As we head into the new year, it is important to remember that PORAC will continue to be on the forefront of all matters of public safety. The current political and social climate has law enforcement playing defense on legislative issues; however, it is critical we work with policymakers and stakeholders to share our message, introduce sponsored legislation and work to reach common ground. This year, we are continuing our efforts on the critical use-of-force issue that was presented last year in Assembly Bill 931 (which was successfully defeated). PORAC, along with Aaron Read & Associates (ARA), is currently attending use-of-force meetings hosted by the Senate leader Toni Atkins, along with the California Police Chiefs, some stakeholders and other legislative members. In addition, PORAC is dealing with issues our members face every day on the streets. Specifically, PORAC is discussing possible reforms to behavioral health (i.e. 5150 reform), homelessness and its effect on law enforcement, drug abuse and gang violence. All work in these areas would be part of the state budget written by the governor and approved by the Legislature. We will keep you informed of all of PORAC’s priorities as we begin the first year of a two-year session.

A New Legislative Era

A new Legislature is in place. On December 3, all 80 Assemblymembers and 40 senators were sworn into office by Attorney General Xavier Becerra and California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye. Both the Assembly and the Senate voted to keep the previous leader of each house; Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and Senate Pro Tem Toni Atkins. Of the 120 legislators sworn into office, 13 are joining the Legislature for the first time; eight in the Assembly and five in the Senate. In addition, there are four former assemblymembers who were elected to the Senate, one of whom just left the Assembly and three who have been on the bench for a while.

With the Democrats having a supermajority in both the Assembly and Senate, law enforcement will have challenges ahead, but PORAC continues to work with members of each house to inform and educate them on important matters of public safety.

In addition to the swearing-in on December 3, 176 bills were also introduced that first day. All new bills must sit for 30 days before they are heard in committee when the Legislature returns January 7.

Over the next few months, ARA will provide a brief introduction to some of our newest freshman legislators. Below are three freshman senators who have taken their seats as California leaders:

Melissa Hurtado (D)

Senate District 14 – Hanford

Melissa Hurtado grew up in the San Joaquin Valley. As the daughter of immigrant parents and the first in her family to graduate from college, Hurtado knows firsthand what it means to achieve the American dream. As a healthcare advocate, Hurtado works to protect Medicare, Medi-Cal and health insurance for children through Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). She will continue to champion access to healthcare, including universal healthcare coverage for everyone.

In Hurtado’s work for the Fresno Teachers Association, she helped ensure that teachers had the resources to provide children with the best education possible. As a councilmember, she supported the Clean Dream Act to protect DACA students and provide pathways to citizenship.

As a community organizer for public employees, Hurtado helped lead the fight for good wages, healthcare coverage and retirement security. On the Sanger City Council, she saved and created high-wage jobs, balanced the budget and built a reserve, all without raising taxes. Hurtado will work to bring new businesses and industry to the Valley and diversify the local economy.

Brian Jones (R)

Senate District 38 – Alpine

With deep roots in the district, Brian Jones is eager to continue the tradition of bringing conservative leadership to the 38th Senate District. Since he was first elected to office in 2002, Jones has worked for common-sense policies to reduce the size of government, protect constitutional rights and bring reform to Sacramento.

As an elected Santee Councilmember, Jones put conservative ideas into practice. He and his colleagues cut red tape, outsourced city services, maintained low taxes and built multimillion-dollar budget reserves. As a result, Santee enjoyed the best business climate, most efficient government and lowest pension obligations in the region. The city also now boasts low crime, fantastic parks and recreation services, thriving businesses and a family-friendly atmosphere.

Frustrated by Sacramento’s red tape, bureaucracy and endless meddling in local issues, Jones decided to run for State Assembly. He was elected in November 2010.

Jones brought his conservative vision to Sacramento, where he served as a critical voice for reforming state government, lowering taxes, reducing the influence of labor unions and improving California’s business climate.

Susan Rubio (D)

Senate District 22 – West Covina

Susan Rubio was born in Juarez, Mexico, and is the daughter of immigrant parents. Rubio’s upbringing and personal family experiences taught her the importance of hard work and determination.

Rubio is the product of public schools. She worked as a bookkeeper doing payroll and taxes for a private company while putting herself through college. She attended Azusa Pacific University, where she earned a master’s degree in education and multiple subject teaching credential. After graduating, she began her 17-year teaching career and was most recently a fourth-grade teacher with the Monrovia Unified School District.

Rubio was elected to represent the City of Baldwin Park as the city clerk, where she focused on providing transparency and protecting democracy for residents. In 2009, Rubio was entrusted to be the next councilmember, where she helped balance the city budget during the recession and protected vital programs. Rubio also has a long record of volunteerism and partnership with local nonprofits, providing mentorships and college scholarships for local students.

It’s important for our PORAC members to be familiar with the senators and assemblymembers who represent their district. The relationship between law enforcement and our policymakers is becoming increasingly important and every contact made with our state leaders benefits the good of us all. To learn who represents the district in which you live, please go to findyourrep.legislature.ca.gov.

 The PORAC/ARA Team

On June 1, 1997, Aaron Read & Associates was given the great honor of becoming PORAC’s advocates. As the highly anticipated legislative session moves into full swing, we have never been more prepared or more excited to be a part of the PORAC team. No one can fully know or understand what the next two years will bring, but we do know that the invaluable leadership at PORAC, along with the combined experience of our team at Aaron Read & Associates, will continue to lead the way, ensuring the safety and security of law enforcement throughout all of California. 

Capitol Beat – Unpacking the Midterm Elections

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

The dust is still settling on the midterm election and the results are mixed. Democrats took control of the House of Representatives, as expected, but did not pick up enough seats in the Senate, where Republicans expanded their majority. At the time of this writing, some closely watched races still remain too close to call. 

At the state level, it is going to take weeks for all the votes to be tallied and, in some instances, it might take even longer before a winner is declared in some of the closer races. However, here are some numbers we know so far:

  • Total spending for all federal and state elections in California this year exceeded $1 billion for the first time.
  • Propositions 8 and 10 were among the most expensive in state history, topping $100 million in total fundraising.
  • Never before have women held more than two of California’s statewide constitutional offices at the same time. But the midterm results changed that. Eleni Kounalakis and Fiona Ma, both Democrats, won their respective races for lieutenant governor and state treasurer. Both will join State Controller Betty Yee, a fellow Democrat, who was reelected. Including California’s two U.S. senators and the chief justice of California’s Supreme Court, a majority of women now hold some of the most powerful offices in California. 
  • This year, 78% of the 16.7 million registered voters in the state were sent a vote-by-mail ballot, according to statistics from the California secretary of state and Political Data, a statewide voter data company. It will be a while before we know the full turnout and breakdown of those who chose to vote by mail, but the tally seems likely to surpass the 61% of voters who voted absentee in November 2014.

Election Results

Statewide Races

Governor: There were no surprises in the race for California governor. Gavin Newsom was heavily favored to replace Jerry Brown, and he did, defeating Republican Candidate John Cox with 19% of votes.

Lieutenant Governor: Eleni Kounalakis defeated state Senator Ed Hernandez to claim the lieutenant governor office.

Attorney General: No surprise here, Attorney General Xavier Becerra handily defeated Republican retired Judge Steven Bailey. As you may recall, Governor Brown appointed Becerra to the office following Kamala Harris’ election to the U.S. Senate two years ago.

Insurance Commissioner: Initially, State Senator Ricardo Lara held a narrow lead over independent Steve Poizner in their race to succeed Dave Jones as state insurance commissioner. Lara has now declared victory. As you may recall, Poizner was a Republican when he held the job from 2007 to 2011, and when he ran unsuccessfully for the California State Assembly, losing to Ira Ruskin. 

Superintendent of Public Instruction: In another race too close to call, Marshall Tuck is leading Assembly Member Tony Thurmond in their contest for state superintendent of public instruction. Tuck and his supporters raised more than $35 million, compared with the $15 million raised by donors to support Thurmond. As of this writing, Thurmond is ahead of Tuck by more than 76,000 votes.

Controller: State Controller Betty Yee won re-election, defeating Republican Konstantinos Roditis. Yee will keep her position overseeing state finances.

Treasurer: Former Assembly Member and Board of Equalization member Fiona Ma will succeed John Chiang as state treasurer. Fiona Ma defeated Republican Greg Conlon, an accountant and former chairman of the Public Utilities Commission.

Secretary of State: Incumbent Alex Padilla was easily re-elected, defeating Republican attorney Mark Meuser.

State Senate and State Assembly: Depending on the outcome in a handful of too-close-to-call Assembly races, Democrats could win as many as 59 of the 80 seats in the Assembly.

Democrats in the Assembly and the Senate are on the verge of winning a two-thirds supermajority, their third supermajority since 2012. Why is this important? The state Constitution requires a two-thirds vote in both houses to raise taxes and put measures on the statewide ballot. It also takes a two-thirds vote to pass bills with urgency clauses thereby allowing them to take effect immediately. If the supermajority is reached, Republican votes will not be required.

Senate Races

Democratic Assembly Member Anna Caballero defeated Republican Rob Poythress in their contest to succeed outgoing Republican Senator Anthony Cannella in the 12th Senate District. The district encompasses Salinas Valley and a swath of the Central Valley between Modesto and Fresno.

Farther south, Democratic challenger Melissa Hurtado widened her lead over incumbent Republican Senator Andy Vidak and claimed victory in the 14th Senate District.

Picking up these seats gives Democrats 28 seats in the Senate and restores the supermajority they lost in June when voters recalled Josh Newman.

Assembly Races

Democrats already hold a supermajority in the 80-seat Assembly. Currently, there are 57 Democrats and 20 Republicans; however, those numbers will change depending on the outcome of three races that are still close to call.

Republicans had hoped to flip seats held by Assembly Members Sabrina Cervantes (60th Assembly District) and Rudy Salas (32nd Assembly District). At the time of this writing, Assembly Member Cervantes and Republican challenger Bill Essayli are separated by fewer than 950 votes, and Salas defeated challenger Republican Justin Mendes with a more-than-6,000-vote lead.

In the 38th Assembly District, Democratic challenger Christy Smith is in the lead by more than 1,700 votes. Lastly, the 16th Assembly District race is still too close to call with Republican incumbent Catherine Baker leading by only 339 votes.

Ballot Measures

Proposition 1: $4 billion for affordable housing programs — PASSED

Proposition 2: $2 billion for housing aimed at people with mental illnesses who are homeless or are on the brink of homelessness. Funding for the measure would come from the “millionaires tax” that voters approved in 2004 for mental health services. — PASSED

Proposition 3: $8 billion for water-related infrastructure and environmental projects — FAILED

Proposition 4: $1.5 billion for children’s hospitals — PASSED

Proposition 5: Property tax break to residents over age 55 — FAILED

Proposition 6: Gas tax repeal — FAILED

Proposition 7: Gives state lawmakers the authority to change daylight saving time if federal law allows them to do so — PASSED

Proposition 8: Regulates kidney dialysis treatment charges — FAILED

Proposition 10: Repeal Costa-Hawkins rent control measure — FAILED

Proposition 11: On-call breaks for ambulance employees — FAILED

Proposition 12: Requires that ranchers raise only cage-free hens by 2022, and establishes new living space requirements for calves and pigs. — PASSED

Looking Ahead

Over the past decades, law enforcement has been dealt the responsibility of handling many of society’s problems, such as drug abuse, homelessness, mental health issues, gang violence and consequences of our growing number of at-risk youth (e.g., truancy, petty theft and other crimes). Even with that immense responsibility, officers have been given very little training in these areas and, yet, are expected to face these issues without making any mistakes.

Now with certain legislators introducing bills that would make officers criminally liable for some of those mistakes, it brings into question why or should law enforcement be handling these societal ills? Because of this, PORAC is working with other law enforcement organizations, as well as professionals and stakeholders in each of these areas, to analyze these questions. We look forward to sharing with PORAC our findings and proposed solutions to the critical issues we are facing in California.

Capitol Beat – Recap of Governor Brown’s Bill Activity

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

As previously reported, the 2017–18 legislative session officially adjourned August 31.  Governor Jerry Brown had until September 30 to sign or veto each of the bills that came across his desk. He signed 1,016 and vetoed 201. His 16.5% veto rate is a new high for his 16-year tenure. He set a historic low in 1982, when he vetoed 30 bills, just 1.8%.

Below is a summary of 2018 gubernatorial bill actions, Governor Brown’s final set of signatures and vetoes.

The total number of bills acted upon was 1,217.

The total number of bills signed was 1,016, or 83.5%.

  • 65% of the signed bills were Assembly bills.
  • 79% of the Assembly bills signed were authored by Democrats.
  • 14% of the Assembly bills signed were authored by Republicans.
  • 7% of the Assembly bills signed were committee bills.
  • 35% of the signed bills were Senate bills.
  • 77% of the Senate bills signed were authored by Democrats.
  • 13% of the Senate bills signed were authored by Republicans.
  • 10% of the Senate bills signed were committee bills.

The total number of bills vetoed was 201, or 16.5%.

  • 74% of the vetoed bills were Assembly bills.
  • 84% of the Assembly bills vetoed were authored by Democrats.
  • 13% of the Assembly bills vetoed were authored by Republicans.
  • 3% of the Assembly bills vetoed were committee bills.
  • 26% of the vetoed bills were Senate bills.
  • 94% of the Senate bills vetoed were authored by Democrats.
  • 6% of the Senate bills vetoed were authored by Republicans.

Overall, PORAC, as well as all law enforcement, was on the defense this year; however, there were a few good bills.

Below is an update on some of the major bills that the governor acted on since our report last month.

Oppose

AB 748 (Ting, D–San Francisco) This bill mandating that local agencies create policies on body-worn cameras and that those policies be made public, moved through the Assembly. After substantial amendments in the Senate, the bill required 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 also amended to allow agencies up to one year before they had to release the footage. However, the agency must give reasons for the delayed release every 30 days. To our knowledge, law enforcement had not been consulted on any of these significant changes.

AB 748 was signed by the Governor September 30. PORAC was strongly opposed.

SB 1421 (Skinner, D–Berkeley) This bill requires the release of parts of an investigation involving uses of force causing death or great bodily injury, or the discharge of a firearm at a person. It also requires 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.  Simply put, this bill allows the sponsors —  the ACLU and newspaper publishers — to get around the Pitchess System that has been in law for 50 years. 

An unfair appellate process currently exists; disclosing the findings prior to a court fully reviewing and analyzing the matter would unduly prejudice what could be an innocent officer. In a case with mixed allegations, there is no way to parse out what should and should not be disclosed. Should information about law enforcement discipline be publicized, a wave of habeas corpus petitions from convicted criminals would follow.

This bill is an improvement over SB 1286 (Leno, D–San Francisco), which we killed two years ago. That bill would have released the information before an officer’s final adjudication.

SB 1421 was signed by the Governor September 30. PORAC was adamantly opposed, as was every other rank-and-file law enforcement group; however, the California Police Chiefs Association came out in support, which made it more difficult.

Support

SB 1086 (Atkins, D–San Diego) — This bill deletes the sunset clause on a law that provides an extended statute of limitations for workers’ compensation death benefits payable to the survivors of public safety officers who die of work-related cancer or other specified diseases. This bill extends the window of time during which the family of a public safety officer whose death is attributable to specified work-related illnesses is eligible to collect survivor death benefits.

By permanently extending the survivor death benefit eligibility from 240 weeks to 420 weeks, SB 1086 will ensure that these officers’ grieving families are not deprived of the benefits they deserve because of an arbitrary and unfair timeline. 

Governor Brown signed this bill September 23. PORAC co-sponsored this bill.

Election

The 2018 November General Election takes place November 6. All statewide officers are up for election, as well as all 80 assembly members and 20 senators — half of the 40-member Senate. Because senators hold four-year terms, they only appear on the ballot every other year. This year the even-numbered districts are on the ballot.

Statewide officers hold four-year terms; therefore, they only appear on the ballot every other election year. It is called a midterm election, essentially the election in between presidential elections. This year happens to be a statewide election year and the seats of the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, treasurer, controller, secretary of state, insurance commissioner and superintendent of public instruction are up for election.

Assembly and Senate Highlights

Democrats captured a two-thirds supermajority in the Assembly in 2016 when they expanded to 55-25. They hope to pick up a few more this election; however, they may lose a couple of seats as well. 

In the Senate, Democrats expanded to 27-13 in 2016, providing a supermajority in both houses; however, they lost their supermajority in 2018, when Senator Josh Newman was recalled and replaced by Republican Ling-Ling Chang. Democrats hope to pick up a seat this election to regain the supermajority.

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.

Capitol Beat – Assembly Bill 931

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

PORAC and the advocates at Aaron Read & Associates (ARA) have lobbied against AB 931 with a diligence that reflects the seriousness of this bill. AB 931 will result in more deaths of officers and the public. If passed, this bill puts everyone at an increased risk of crime. 

 AB 931 limits the use of deadly force by a peace officer to situations where it is “necessary” to prevent imminent and serious bodily injury or death to the officer or to a third party. It would prohibit the use of deadly force by a peace officer in a situation where an individual poses a risk only to himself or herself. AB 931 would also limit the use of deadly force by a peace officer against a person fleeing from arrest or imprisonment to only those situations in which the officer has probable cause to believe that the person has committed or intends to commit, a felony involving serious bodily injury or death, and there is an imminent risk of serious bodily injury or death to the officer or to another person if the subject is not immediately apprehended.

At the time of this writing, the Senate had removed AB 931 from the Senate Appropriations Committee and referred it to the Senate Rules Committee. This allowed the Senate more time to consider suggested amendments or other options. This also allowed all parties to “negotiate.” However, PORAC has been very clear that as long as the bill changed the standard from “reasonable” to “necessary,” we have to protect the officer and public. If that was removed, other issues could be considered relating to training and policy changes.

If the Senate or the sponsors of the bill had wished to negotiate on amendments at this point, then those negotiations would have had to occur by the week of August 20. In addition, all amendments needed to be in print and to the Assembly floor by August 28. If no action was taken on the bill, and it remained with the Senate Rules Committee past the 28th, without rule waivers by the full Senate, AB 931 would stay with the committee for the year.

We understand that this report is outdated by the time it reaches your hands, but we hope it provides a glimpse into the legislative process and what PORAC handles on a daily basis. Oftentimes, like this, we are faced with an uncertain future. AB 931 was brought to our attention via rumors in the halls of the Capitol. That same day, a news conference was held by Assembly Member Kevin McCarty and Assembly Member Shirley Weber to introduce the bill’s language. From that moment on, PORAC’s leaders and panel attorneys, along with ARA, held many meetings to develop a strategy on how best to defeat this bill.

Law enforcement across the board agrees that AB 931, in its current form, is detrimental to law enforcement. Our hope is that as you’re reading this, the bill is no longer an issue. However, it’s important to understand that this battle is not going away anytime soon. During the past few years, we have seen legislation asking for transparency in officers’ personnel files, attacks on our pensions and now bills attempting to criminalize our officers for doing their job. PORAC and ARA continue to work hard to fight for you — our members — and provide safety and security for your families. We look forward to continuing this journey with you.

Capitol Beat – The Ballot’s Dozen

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

“As the people are the only legitimate fountain of power, and it is from them that the constitutional charter, under which the several branches of government hold their power, is derived, it seems strictly consonant to the republican theory to recur to the same original authority … whenever it may be necessary to enlarge, diminish, or new-model the powers of government.” — James Madison, fourth U.S. president, The Federalist No. 49

During the 19th and 20th centuries, initiatives and referendums in California became increasingly popular. This idea of “direct democracy” in the United States was established so that, in essence, voters of each state could keep their politicians in check. Levels of government discontent pushed citizens to assume a more active role in democracy to assure that, as Abraham Lincoln stated in his Gettysburg address, “government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Currently, 24 states have initiatives as part of their policy-making system. These measures cover topics ranging from taxes and education to public safety and dividing California into three states (yes, it’s true, and it almost ended up on your ballot in November). Any individual registered to vote has the ability to run a statewide initiative, although it’s no secret that for a successful ballot proposal, a hefty amount of funding is necessary (to reach the people, you might have to spend millions). State and local governments may differ in their initiative process; however, the basic system consists of the following steps:

  1. Preliminary filing with government official
  2. Review of the petition for conformance with statutory requirements
  3. Preparation of ballot title and summary
  4. Petition circulation to obtain the required number of signatures of registered voters
  5. Submission of the petitions and verification of signatures

(For more details on running a California ballot initiative, go to sos.ca.gov.)

A total of 12 statewide initiatives gained enough signatures to get on California’s November 6 ballot. Here is a quick breakdown of each.

Proposition 1, Veterans and Affordable Housing Bond Act of 2018: Authorizes $4 billion in general obligation bonds for housing-related programs, loans, grants, and projects and housing loans for veterans.

Proposition 2, Use Millionaire’s Tax Revenue for Homelessness Prevention Housing Bonds Measure: Allows counties to use money from Proposition 63’s “millionaire’s tax” on permanent housing for the homeless that includes a direct connection to social services.

Proposition 3, California Water Infrastructure and Watershed Conservation Bond Initiative: Authorizes $8.877 billion in bonds to fund projects for water supply and quality, watershed, fish, wildlife, water conveyance, and groundwater sustainability and storage.

Proposition 4, Children’s Hospital Bonds Initiative: Provides qualifying children’s hospitals $1.5 billion in bonds to fund grants for construction, expansion, renovation and equipping of hospitals.

Proposition 5, Property Tax Transfer Initiative: Allows homebuyers who are age 55 or older or severely disabled to transfer their tax assessments, with a possible adjustment, from their prior home to their new home, no matter (a) the new home’s market value; (b) the new home’s location in the state; or (c) the buyer’s number of moves.

Proposition 6, Voter Approval for Future Gas and Vehicle Taxes and 2017 Tax Repeal Initiative: Repeals a fuel tax increase and vehicle fees that were enacted in 2017, including the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017 (RRAA), and requires majority voter approval (via ballot propositions) for the California State Legislature to impose, increase, or extend fuel taxes or vehicle fees in the future.

Proposition 7, Permanent Daylight Saving Time Measure: Overturns a 1949 voter-approved initiative called the Daylight Saving Time Act, which established Standard Pacific Time in California. If voters approve the ballot measure, the Legislature would then decide how the state’s time should be set.

Proposition 8, Limits on Dialysis Clinics’ Revenue and Required Refunds Initiative: Would require dialysis clinics to issue refunds to patients or patients’ payers for revenue above 115% of the costs of direct patient care and health-care improvements.

Proposition 9, Three States Initiative or Cal 3 Initiative: Tasks the governor with asking Congress to divide the state of California into three states: California, Northern California and Southern California. These states would make their own decisions about state and local taxes and spending. On July 18, the state Supreme Court decided unanimously to remove this measure from the November ballot, “because significant questions have been raised regarding the proposition’s validity.”

Proposition 10, Local Rent Control Initiative: Repeals the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, thus allowing local governments to adopt laws and regulations to govern how much landlords can charge tenants for renting apartments and houses.

Proposition 11, Ambulance Employees Paid On-Call Breaks, Training, and Mental Health Services Initiative: Allows ambulance providers to require workers to remain on call during breaks paid at their regular rate, requires employers to provide additional training for EMTs and paramedics, and requires employers to provide EMTs and paramedics with some paid mental health services.

Proposition 12, Farm Animal Confinement Initiative: Establishes new standards for confinement of certain farm animals; bans sale of certain non-complying products. This initiative bans the sale of meat and eggs from calves raised for veal, breeding pigs, and egg-laying hens confined in areas below a specific number of square feet.

PORAC monitors this process closely. If you have any questions, please contact Michele Cervone at (916) 448-3444 or mcervone@aaronread.com.

Capitol Beat – PORAC’s Priorities

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

By the time you read this, the Legislature will likely be in summer recess. When they return on August 6, there will only be four weeks left of the 2017–2018 legislative session. PORAC, along with Aaron Read & Associates (ARA), will be busy over the next several weeks working to support, oppose or amend legislation. (See the complete list of PORAC’s active support, active oppose and sponsored bills in the bill chart on the next page.) As mentioned in our previous article, law enforcement is primarily on the defensive this legislative session, opposing critical bills that would negatively impact our officers. Here is a list of some of the current issues that we are opposing:

AB 284 (McCarty, D-Sacramento): This bill inserts the California Department of Justice (DOJ) into the process of studying peace officer–involved shootings (OIS) resulting in a serious injury or death. AB 284 requires the attorney general to do a two-year study of past officer-involved shootings resulting in serious injury or death to determine whether there is a need for change in shooting policy and to make recommendations. The study would look at shootings from January 1, 2015, to December 31, 2016. PORAC played an active role in opposing this bill from the beginning. One of our arguments was that we didn’t believe legislation was needed for this issue. Under current law, the attorney general can already go in on an investigation. For this reason, Assembly Member McCarty made the decision to turn his bill into a budget augmentation of $10 million. We met with the Senate budget staff to continue our efforts to stop the request from being funded. We were recently informed that the Senate denied the McCarty budget proposal. As of right now, the funding for the DOJ OIS Investigation program is dead.

AB 748 (Ting, D-San Francisco): This bill requires the release of body-camera footage within 120 days, regardless of whether there is still an active, ongoing investigation, disallowing the use of redaction technology to obscure specific portions of the recording for law enforcement purposes and prohibiting the use of biometric technology on the video. At the time this article was written, we had just been handed amendments to AB 748 that purport to align with LAPD’s new video release policies. The amendments attempt to remove the negative impact this bill could have on ongoing investigations by allowing for extensions. PORAC’s lawyers are analyzing the amendments, and we will follow up when we have more information. AB 748 is currently awaiting a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

AB 931 (Weber, D-San Diego): This bill would limit the use of deadly force by a peace officer to situations where it is “necessary” to prevent imminent and serious bodily injury or death to the officer or to a third party. It would prohibit the use of deadly force by a peace officer in a situation where an individual poses a risk only to themselves. AB 931 would also limit the use of deadly force by a peace officer against a person fleeing from arrest or imprisonment to only those situations in which the officer has probable cause to believe that the person has committed, or intends to commit, a felony involving serious bodily injury or death, and there is an imminent risk of serious bodily injury or death to the officer or to another person if the subject is not immediately apprehended. Amendments are being proposed; however, as of this writing, they are not yet in print. PORAC’s leaders and panel attorneys, along with ARA, have been in many meetings over the last couple of months to develop a strategy on how best to defeat this bill. AB 931, in its current form, is detrimental to law enforcement and puts officers and the public at risk. This is our number one issue this year, and every effort is being put forth to keep the bill from moving forward. We will keep you informed as the situation progresses.

SB 1421 (Skinner, D-Berkeley): This bill permits inspection of specified peace officer and custodial officer records pursuant to the California Public Records Act (CPRA). SB 1421 provides that records related to reports, investigations or findings may be subject to disclosure if they involve the following: incidents involving the discharge of a firearm or electronic control weapons by an officer, incidents involving strikes of impact weapons or projectiles to the head or neck area, incidents of deadly force or serious bodily injury by an officer, incidents of sustained sexual assault by an officer or incidents relating to sustained findings of dishonesty by a peace officer. PORAC has met with Senator Skinner, her staff and the bill’s sponsors on many occasions and are working with her office on potential amendments. Stay tuned for more information. In the meantime, PORAC remains opposed.

Primary Election

As you know, the June 5 primary election is behind us. Incumbent legislators in both houses who were up for re-election advanced to the general election, which will be held on November 6.