Capitol Beat – Use of Force: Where Are We Now?

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

AB 392 by Assembly Member Weber (D-San Diego), the use-of-force bill we have been working against (but, as amended, we are neutral), passed the Senate floor on July 10. It was approved by both houses and is now enrolled and sent to the governor. PORAC and the law enforcement community worked diligently to ensure that AB 392 did not make it out of the Legislature in its original form, which would have created a “necessary” standard that eliminated officers’ right to self-defense by requiring them to exhaust all other alternatives before using deadly force. In April, the bill was dramatically amended. It now strengthens the state’s current standard for authorizing use of force, but its definition of “necessary” conforms to Graham v. Connor and the objectively reasonable force standard. Due to these amendments, PORAC removed our opposition to AB 392 and went neutral, as did all other law enforcement groups.

Our sponsored legislation, SB 230 by Senator Caballero (D-Salinas), is currently waiting to be heard in the Assembly Appropriations Committee. SB 230 is on suspense file, meaning it is determined to have an annual fiscal impact of $150,000 or more; therefore, it will be heard at a special Appropriations hearing with the other suspense bills in late August. PORAC and the team at ARA spent nearly a year developing SB 230 and ensuring that it stays true to our original intent. SB 230 provides officers with the tools and training they need, including de-escalation tactics, interacting with vulnerable populations and alternatives to use of deadly force. We continue to receive pushback on our bill and requests for amendments from the opposition, but we oppose any substantive amendments. We are proud of the work of PORAC leadership has done on SB 230 and the commitment of Senator Caballero in maintaining the integrity of this bill.

The intense debate on use of force continues, but we are confident that our hard work will pay off. PORAC’s primary goal throughout this whole process has been to ensure the safety of our officers and the public we serve. PORAC has played a vital role in working with the governor, legislative leadership and stakeholders to communicate the needs of our members and reach solutions that everyone can agree on. Ultimately, as the largest law enforcement association in California, it is our job to advocate for a reasonable use-of-force package that includes training and sound policy.

Use of force is a topic that will likely be discussed for years to come, but we are confident in PORAC and ARA’s platform, and our strong relationship with our legislative leaders, to ensure that our voices are heard now and in the future.

Summer Recess

The kids aren’t the only ones who get a summer break in California. From July 12 to August 12, the State Legislature adjourns for summer recess. In a non-election year like this, the month is often spent traveling, spending time with family and connecting with constituents in their districts. Next year, it will likely be spent campaigning for re-election. July 12 marked the last day for policy committees to meet and report bills, but the bills that survive policy still have a long road ahead. The reality is, the job of the Legislature never ends.

When legislators return from summer recess, they will have five weeks to get their bills passed. For the team at Aaron Read & Associates (ARA), this means there will be days full of meetings, negotiations and long hours spent in our State Capitol building. Bills can continue to be amended on the floor until the deadline of September 6, and the final day for bills to pass in each house is September 13. If, in the five weeks after summer recess, a bill passes through both the Senate and the Assembly, it is sent to the governor, who then has 30 days to sign or veto it. If bills fail to meet deadlines, they are not necessarily dead; they can oftentimes be brought up again next year as “two-year bills.” However, there are hearing deadlines they must meet. In the coming months, PORAC, along with ARA, will continue to create opportunities to work with legislators and their staff to address the critical issues facing law enforcement.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact the team at Aaron Read & Associates if you have any legislative questions or concerns at (916) 448-3444, or email Aaron Read (aread@aaronread.com), Randy Perry (rperry@aaronread.com) or Michele Cervone (mcervone@aaronread.com). We are proud to be a part of the PORAC family.   

Capitol Beat – Legislative Issues on PORAC’s Radar

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

Since Assembly Bill 931 by Assemblymember Shirley Weber (D–San Diego) was first amended to create a new “necessary” standard for the use of deadly force in April 2018, PORAC and the law enforcement community have come together to proactively address the issue in California. The effort this legislative session has included actively opposing AB 392 (Weber’s resurrected AB 931) and drafting and sponsoring SB 230 by Senator Ana Caballero (D–Salinas). This has been a highly complex and dynamic process that has involved numerous meetings with the governor’s office, Senate Pro Tem Toni Atkins, Senator Caballero and many other legislators, as well as meetings with the author and sponsors of AB 392, Weber and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). In addition, PORAC has enlisted the guidance of use-of-force experts, lawyers and stakeholders from around the state to develop SB 230, our comprehensive legislation that would minimize use of deadly force in California. 

As a result of the work put in by PORAC leadership and the involvement of legislative leadership, informed and thoughtful amendments were made to both SB 230 and AB 392 that created a unified solution. AB 392 now strengthens the state’s current standard for authorizing use of force without the “necessary” standard, as defined in the original version of the bill. The necessary standard would have eliminated an officer’s right to self-defense by requiring them to exhaust all other alternatives before using deadly force. Due to these amendments, all law enforcement removed their opposition to AB 392 and remain neutral on the bill. SB 230 provides officers with the tools and training they need to implement the updated legal standard put forth by AB 392, including de-escalation tactics, interacting with vulnerable populations and alternatives to use of deadly force. This bill is unlike any legislation introduced in the nation, and PORAC is proud to pave the way in the effort to protect our communities and our officers as they uphold their commitment to serve and protect.

On May 28, SB 230 passed unanimously on the Senate floor (38–0). There were two vacancies in the 40-member Senate at the time. Senators Jim Nielsen, Bob Archuleta, Holly Mitchell and Bob Hertzberg spoke in support of the bill. Both bills are now set to be heard in the opposite house. We feel confident that SB 230 is a positive step toward building greater trust between our officers and the communities we serve.

Battle Over Death Penalty Continues

Every day, the team at Aaron Read & Associates tracks and reviews hundreds of bills that have a direct and significant impact on the way our members do their jobs. Although a solution has been reached with AB 392 and SB 230, our work is not over. Recently, we brought Assembly Constitutional Amendment (ACA) 12, authored by Assemblymember Marc Levine (D–Marin County), to PORAC’s Executive Committee. This measure would amend the California Constitution to prohibit the death penalty from being imposed as a punishment for any violation of law. The disagreement on the death penalty is not new; however, PORAC believes the most egregious crimes deserve the worst punishment. At some point, we have to say that we will not house, clothe or feed those who have murdered, raped or tortured. In 2016, California citizens voted to keep the death penalty, while making some necessary “fixes” to save California taxpayers millions of dollars per year, assure due process protections for those sentenced to death and promote justice for murder victims and their families. PORAC played an integral role in the passing of this initiative. ACA 12 undermines the public’s 2016 vote. PORAC is actively opposed to this measure.

Senate District 1 Special Election

On June 4, Senate District 1 held a special election to fill a vacant seat. The candidates running were Assemblymembers Brian Dahle and Kevin Kiley. Both candidates are highly qualified and respected by law enforcement; however, PORAC voted to endorse the senior legislator, Dahle, who has been a consistent and loyal supporter of our law enforcement family for over five years. PORAC teamed up with the California Association of Highway Patrolmen (CAHP) and CAL FIRE Local 2881 to develop a positive radio campaign for Dahle that aired throughout the district. Dahle defeated Kiley 53% to 47%. The newly-elected senator has personally reached out to thank PORAC for its support in his successful election.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact the team at Aaron Read & Associates if you have any legislative questions or concerns at (916) 448-3444 or email Aaron Read (aread@aaronread.com), Randy Perry (rperry@aaronread.com) or Michele Cervone (mcervone@aaronread.com). We are proud to be a part of the PORAC family. 

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.

Capitol Beat – Key Bills Affecting Law Enforcement

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

Defeating AB 392 and ensuring the success of SB 230 continues to be our top priorities this year. AB 392 (Weber) was heard in the Assembly Public Safety Committee on April 9. The bill was debated for more than three hours. Ultimately, and as expected, the bill passed out of committee on a party-line vote of 6–2. It now goes to the Assembly Rules Committee. At the time of this writing, SB 230 was not yet heard in Senate Public Safety but, as always, we will keep you apprised as developments occur.

While the current use-of-force legislation is the most critical issue we are facing this session, there are still many other bills that we have taken a position on or is sponsoring. Here are a few:

SB 416 by Senator Ben Hueso (D–San Diego) — Sponsor

Workers’ Compensation Presumptions

SB 416 is long overdue and will extend to all peace officers and their families the same protections that have long been afforded to a majority of peace officers in California.

The Penal Code designates individuals as peace officers in many various sections and subdivisions commencing with Section 830 and is based upon their employing agency. The Labor Code, commencing with Section 3212, identifies specific injuries and ailments that are presumed to be work-related (due to those conditions often manifesting over a period of time) and applies workers’ compensation protections to specific classifications of peace officers as defined in the Penal Code. Those Labor Code provisions have not been adapted to include the various classifications of peace officers added into law over the years.

The California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) certifies individuals as California Peace Officers upon their successful completion of the standardized training guidelines required of all peace officers in this state and their continued training throughout their public service. All peace officers are exposed to the same risks associated with those specific conditions identified within the Labor Code. SB 416 corrects the inequities to public safety professionals by extending the Labor Code protections to all individuals defined as peace officers in the Penal Code. With the passage of SB 416, the employing agencies of peace officers not currently afforded these protections will also be better equipped to recruit and retain quality law enforcement personnel, enhancing public safety and helping to level the field of competition for those agencies. SB 416 is a much-needed fix that will allow all peace officers to be protected as they should.

AB 1600 by Assemblymember Ash Kalra (D–San Jose) — Active Oppose

Discovery: personnel records: peace officers and custodial officers.

AB 1600 proposes a handful of amendments to the statutory Pitchess process — amendments to Code of Civil Procedure (“CCP”) Section 1005 and Evidence Code Sections 1043 and 1045 and repealing Evidence Code Section 1047. The proposed amendments to CCP Section 1105 and Evidence Code Section 1043 make the standard 16-day advance notice requirement for a Pitchess motion applicable only to such motions filed in civil proceedings while shortening to 10 days the advance notice requirement for Pitchess motions filed in criminal proceedings. This creates an unfair due process for an affected peace officer by shortening the time in which they may seek out and obtain legal representation to contest a Pitchess motion, and it likewise shortens the time available for a member’s public agency employer to prepare for and oppose the motion. AB 1600 does not identify the reason for this proposed change and does not provide a justifiable basis to do so other than to speed up the process of seeking confidential personnel file information and make it more difficult for a peace officer to oppose, solely to the advantage of a criminal defendant.

PORAC opposes this measure because its provisions seek only to further erode the confidentiality rights of peace officers to their personnel file information, make it more difficult for peace officers to lawfully protect the confidentiality of that information when disclosure is sought in civil and criminal proceedings and appears to open a loophole whereby requests for relevant peace officer personnel file information could result in the disclosure of patently irrelevant information without affording courts the authority to limit disclosure. In summary, AB 1600 constitutes a continued effort to roll back peace officers’ confidentiality rights.

AB 1555 by Assemblymember Todd Gloria (D–San Diego) — Active Oppose

Police radio communications: encryption.

This bill would require a law enforcement agency that operates encrypted police radio communications or a joint powers authority that operates encrypted police radio communications on behalf of a law enforcement agency 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.

PORAC opposes this bill because 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 on sharing information so that the media and public get the information they need to report on incidents but don’t jeopardize investigations, while also allowing for privacy of all people law enforcement comes in contact with.

Capitol Beat – Priority Legislation

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

Over 2,750 bills have been introduced this year. Of those bills, PORAC is tracking over 215 that potentially have an impact on law enforcement or the safety of the communities we serve. All hands are on deck as we diligently work to pass PORAC’s sponsored bill, SB 230 by Senator Anna Caballero (D–Salinas), and actively oppose AB 392 by Assemblymember Shirley Weber (D–San Diego). Last month’s PORAC LE News highlighted SB 230, which was introduced by law enforcement to proactively address use-of-force policies, guidelines and training. Law enforcement in California is setting the national standard for how officers interact with the public or respond to an emergency, and it will continue to be the voice for officers nationwide on these issues. SB 230 is a comprehensive approach to reducing use-of-force incidents and ensuring that peace officers can continue protecting California’s communities. 

To break it down, SB 230 will require all of California’s over 500 law enforcement agencies to:

  • Adhere to the use-of-force standard set by the U.S. Supreme Court.
  • Establish the most comprehensive use-of-force policies and guidelines in the nation.
  • Undergo the best use-of-force training available.
  • Continue to uphold their commitment to protecting all Californians.

AB 392 has been proposed as an “alternative” to SB 230. However, AB 392 fails to include any proactive measures to reduce the use of force. This bill does not in any way change use-of-force policies, training or guidelines; rather, it creates a subjective standard for evaluating use of force that aims to criminalize officers for their split-second decisions during life-or-death situations. AB 392 authorizes police officers to use deadly force only when it is necessary to prevent imminent and serious bodily injury or death — that is, when given the totality of the circumstances, there was no reasonable alternative to using deadly force, including warnings, verbal persuasion or other non-lethal methods of resolution or de-escalation. 

An officer takes an oath to run toward danger when everyone else is running away. However, the legal standard AB 392 seeks to implement will have a chilling effect on the men and women in uniform by undermining their ability to respond in an immediate and decisive manner — creating a hesitation that would threaten the safety of our families, communities and officers.  

While these bills are PORAC’s highest priority this legislative session, it is critical that PORAC stays active in supporting and opposing all legislation relating to public safety, at any level. Over the next few months, we will introduce you to more of PORAC’s priority bills this session. The following are just a few:

SB 266 by Senator Connie Leyva (D–Chino)

SB 266 will protect a retiree’s promised and paid-for collectively bargained benefits in cases where the benefit is disallowed by CalPERS after the member has already retired. It also sets parameters for resolving future disputes over active and retired employees’ collectively bargained pensionable compensation.

Employers have a legal and actuarial obligation to correctly report pension-eligible compensation to CalPERS as a result of employer bargaining. If an item of compensation is later determined to be improper, it is appropriate policy to require the employer to bear the actuarial liability of that promise made to their retiree. If pensionable compensation is misapplied, it should be corrected. But that misapplication should not come at the cost of breaking the promise made to someone already retired and living on a fixed pension that they depend upon in retirement. PORAC is co-sponsoring this bill.

SB 542 by Senator Henry Stern (D–Canoga Park)

SB 542, “the Trauma Treatment Act,” is co-sponsored by PORAC, alongside California Professional Firefighters (CPF), California Association of Highway Patrolmen (CAHP) and CAL FIRE Local 2881. This bill was introduced to address the trauma associated with the occupational duties of law enforcement officers and firefighters. SB 542 creates a rebuttable workers’ compensation presumption for these professions in instances where they sustain occupational post-traumatic stress injuries (PTSI). Despite alarmingly high rates of PTSI and suicide among law enforcement officers and firefighters, currently, California law does not contain a PTSI presumption. PORAC hopes the passage of SB 542 will provide first responders timely access to needed treatment, raise awareness and destigmatize these conditions for those whose mental health may depend upon seeking treatment.

AB 582 by Assemblymember Jim Patterson (R–Fresno)

AB 582 is named after Gavin Gladding, a beloved Clovis Unified School District vice principal who was tragically killed in a hit-and-run incident in 2018. Currently, the penalty for an individual who leaves the scene of a vehicle accident that results in permanent or serious injury or death is a maximum of four years in prison and/or a fine of $1,000–$10,000. The potential sentence for leaving the scene of an accident is not enough to deter drivers, especially those who may be under the influence, from leaving the scene.

Hit-and-runs involving injury or death are seemingly on the rise; 42% of fatal collisions in Fresno in the past three months have involved a driver who left the scene. Right now, there is an inadvertent loophole in the law that encourages drivers under the influence to flee the scene of an accident — not to stay and help. By fleeing, they can avoid additional charges for driving under the influence and causing injury or death.

This bill will address this loophole by increasing the penalty for hit-and-runs that result in great bodily injury or death. AB 582 will encourage drivers to stay at the scene of a crime, even if they may be under the influence, as opposed to fleeing the scene. PORAC supports this measure.

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.