Capitol Beat – Taking Action on COVID-19

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

Legislative Update

As many of you know, the Legislature adjourned on March 15 as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. Both Senate Pro Tem Toni Atkins and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon have proposed May 4 as a potential date to reconvene; however, that date is still to be determined as new information about the virus continues to be brought to light.

With that said, our legislative leaders have put in a request to their committee chairs asking them to limit their legislative packages to critical bills and issues surrounding COVID-19. Pro Tem Atkins shared in a recent press release that, personally, she would only be moving forward with two bills this year. All other efforts will be geared toward helping businesses, school districts and local governments find solutions to the more immediate problems brought forth by COVID-19. 

At this point, we are not sure what to expect with our priority bills; however, PORAC and Aaron Read & Associates (ARA) are steadfast in continuing to track the nearly 200 bills that could potentially impact our membership. We are receiving new updates daily, so by the time you read this article, we will likely have a better understanding of how our state plans to move forward.

For more information on PORAC’s highest legislative priorities, please see the bill chart on page 37 or online at https://bit.ly/2XxR7mA.

PORAC Virtual Town Hall Meetings

On March 25 and 26, PORAC virtually hosted four regional COVID-19 town hall meetings. ARA worked with PORAC, as well as PORAC’s federal advocates, Steptoe & Johnson, to invite and encourage our California federal and state elected officials from each region to participate. PORAC’s town halls proved to be successful, as many elected leaders and staff attended and shared their support for our members. Many legislators reached out individually after the meetings to ask what they could do to assist PORAC in our ongoing efforts to ensure the safety and security of our officers and their families, knowing full well the great risk you all are taking every day on the front lines of this pandemic. PORAC is encouraged by the vast support of many of our federal and state leaders and plans to continue holding town hall meetings to educate and inform our elected officials of PORAC’s needs and concerns as our officers bravely respond to COVID-19.

PORAC’s Requests to Policymakers

PORAC has worked diligently to draft legislation that establishes COVID-19 as a presumptive occupational illness to be covered under workers’ compensation. Because of the uncertainty around when the Legislature will return, and because it takes months to get legislation passed, we are also pursuing an executive order from the governor.  As we write this report, it is too soon to predict how this will turn out, but it’s imperative that we push to get appropriate relief for our officers who have or will come into contact with the virus. 

In addition to the workers’ comp presumption, PORAC has also asked the governor to assist in requesting the federal government to increase the supply of personal protective equipment (PPE). PORAC has also asked for expedited testing and testing sites for all first responders who have been exposed to COVID-19, as well as to make quarantine space (i.e., local hotels, CSU or UC campus dorms and other facilities) available to officers who have been infected so as not to infect their co-workers and families. Furthermore, we encouraged our governor to address and put forth a list of best practice protocols for first responder agencies with mandatory minimum responses when it comes to PPE and quarantines offsite when an exposure has occurred.

As the largest law enforcement organization in the country, PORAC stands united as we meet the challenges presented by COVID-19.

Budget

The current budget is being severely impacted, and tax revenues, apart from capital gains taxes, have been severely reduced. Some estimates say there will be $7–$9 billion less in capital gains taxes this year. That’s not to mention lower personal income taxes from those who are at the top 1%, and for the tens of thousands of workers who have been laid off. We don’t know when this will end, nor do we know the full fiscal impact — and we likely won’t know for a few months. Pro Tem Atkins has established a special Senate Budget Subcommittee that will meet regularly to respond to the COVID-19 crisis. Speaker Rendon announced a similar hearing for the Assembly to be held on April 20.

If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to Aaron Read (aread@aaronread.com), Randy Perry (rperry@aaronread.com) or Michele Cervone (mcervone@aaronread.com).

Capitol Beat – Officer Wellness, Elections and the Future

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

Officer Wellness Budget Proposal

Peace officers experience more trauma throughout their careers than most people do in a lifetime. What others only see in headlines, our officers will likely come face to face with during their career. Without the resources to cope and manage the stress and trauma associated with being in law enforcement, our officers’ health and well-being are compromised. This year, PORAC is standing in strong support of the Officer Wellness Budget Proposal submitted by the California Police Chiefs Association (CPCA). This proposal appropriates $40 million out of the general fund to support peace officer wellness and mental health programs across California.

A report from the United States Department of Justice analyzing programs from around the country has highlighted successful approaches to improving officer wellness and mental health that are proven to decrease depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress injuries (PTSI) among officers. Many of these conditions have resulted in a suicide rate that may be three times the rate of the general public. The health and safety of our officers is of the utmost importance to us, and we will support any effort to improve the quality of life for the brave men and women who protect our families, homes and streets.

The $40 million proposed from the general fund will go to supplement existing funds to expand eligible programs that must meet the goal of improving officer wellness. Funds to each county will be used to support the following best practice programs that have been effective in improving officer residency and overall health:

  • Stress management training
  • Training in personal nutrition, exercise and self-care
  • Counseling with mental health professionals with expertise in first responder trauma
  • Access to self-service apps
  • Establishment of early warning systems
  • Expanding access to exercise and physical fitness
  • Development of mentorship programs
  • Access to mindfulness and yoga classes
  • Funding for Mental Health Services Units
  • Expanding access to crisis hotlines
  • Incentivized mental and physical health checks

Elections

In every election cycle, PORAC works very closely with our local associations on endorsements. We are a grassroots association, and the power of our group comes from listening closely to our members. The POAs, DSAs and chapters provide direction to the PORAC Executive Board of Directors on endorsements in their area.

Below is a survey of the results from the primary election on March 3.

PORAC chose to actively endorse in 39 of the 80 Assembly races. With the exception of Sylvia Rubio in Assembly District 57, our endorsed candidates came in either first or second, which allows them to move on to the November 3 general election. The competitive nature of the primary races requires us to research the candidates with greater intensity and understand more completely the politics of California’s neighborhoods.

Half of the 40-member Senate is up for election every two years. This year, the odd-numbered seats were on the ballot. After listening to our local members, PORAC made the decision to endorse in seven of the 20 Senate races. Working together, we successfully predicted the winner in six races.

There was one special election in Senate District 28, where former Senator Jeff Stone was appointed by President Trump to the U.S. Department of Labor. Assemblymember Melissa Melendez, whom PORAC endorsed, was one of five candidates in the race. While she received a majority of the vote, she did not receive more than 50%, which means a runoff will take place on May 12. As of this writing, the race is still too close to call for second place.

Fifty-three California congressional races were presented to the voters. PORAC membership asked for an endorsement in 20 races. We successfully predicted the outcome in 19 races.

Legislation

PORAC is following hundreds of bills during this legislative session that have a direct and significant impact on the way you do your job. The bills are consequential and, unfortunately, many are drawn from headlines rather than research. The target of these bills is the way the laws of California are enforced, which means they could impact the manner in which PORAC keeps the streets of our neighborhoods safe.

To follow PORAC’s current list of priority bills, please see the legislative bill chart in this issue, or go to PORAC.org/advocacy/legislation-overview for a link to PORAC’s interactive bill chart.

The Future 

The next couple of years are not going to be easy for any of us associated with law enforcement. Tough stories appear almost daily, and all of us read them. They impact us on the job and they impact the way we will prepare for our job. PORAC will continue to be the voice for law enforcement in California and provide the real-world insights that come from being the first line of defense.

Capitol Beat – Legislation on PORAC’s Radar

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

CPOMF Tax Check-Off Legislation

On Monday, May 4, the California Peace Officers’ Memorial Foundation (CPOMF) will host the 44th annual California Peace Officers’ Memorial Ceremony at the California Peace Officers’ Memorial Monument on State Capitol grounds in Sacramento. The ceremony serves to formally enroll peace officers who have died in the line of duty the previous year, to pay tribute to the over 1,600 officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice since California became a state and to honor the families left behind. Our law enforcement family continues to experience tremendous loss, and this ceremony helps honor those who laid down their lives and ensure their legacy will live on.

In addition to hosting the ceremony each year and maintaining the grounds in which the monument stands, CPOMF also subsidizes survivor support groups and supports the families of our fallen heroes through educational grants and financial assistance programs. CPOMF is a nonprofit charitable organization that is fully funded through contributions; donations can be made directly to the fund. California law also allows taxpayers to make voluntary tax-free contributions directly to CPOMF on their personal state income tax returns. This tax check-off, dedicated directly to CPOMF, was first established in 1999 through a PORAC-sponsored bill. However, the initial bill had a sunset date, meaning it had a certain time period to fulfill its obligation of meeting a minimum contribution amount of $250,000 for any calendar year, or it simply expired, repealing the tax check-off on the tax return form. In the case of sunset dates, legislative action must be taken in order to extend the date. This year, PORAC, along with California Professional Firefighters (CPF), introduced AB 2068 by Assemblymember Cottie Petrie-Norris (D-Laguna Beach), legislation that extends the CPOMF and California Firefighters’ Memorial Fund (CFMF) personal income tax check-off until January 1, 2031. AB 2068 will ensure the continuation of the Peace Officers’ Memorial and Ceremony, as well as continue the successful programs within CPOMF that provide support and services in recognition of fallen peace officers and firefighters in California. Please remember this important program during your tax preparation time.

PTSI Follow-Up Legislation

In 2019, PORAC co-sponsored SB 542 by Senator Henry Stern (D-Canoga Park), legislation relating to post-traumatic stress injuries (PTSI). The bill passed through the Legislature and was signed by the governor on October 1. SB 542 creates a rebuttable workers’ compensation presumption for peace officers and firefighters in instances where they sustain occupational PTSI. Despite alarmingly high rates of PTSI and suicide among law enforcement officers and firefighters, up until now, California law did not contain a PTSI presumption. The issue with SB 542 is that it excluded certain specialized officers from the presumption. Senator Stern agreed to author follow-up legislation to SB 542 in an effort to incorporate many of those specialized officers into the new law. PORAC has submitted language to add to the bill, which is not yet in print, that includes our specialized members, as defined in Sections 830.31, 830.33 and 830.35 of the Penal Code. With our language added, PORAC has agreed to co-sponsor the bill. We believe the PTSI presumptions will help provide timely access to needed treatment, raise awareness and destigmatize these conditions for those whose mental health may depend upon seeking treatment.

L.A. County District Attorney’s Race

PORAC continues our aggressive efforts in support of incumbent Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey, who is facing recently retired San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón in the race for LADA. Gascón left his DA position in San Francisco specifically to relocate and run for LADA. Lacey is the first woman and first African American to serve as LADA in the history of the office. She has cracked down on human trafficking and fought for the most vulnerable populations. PORAC has joined with other supporters of Lacey to reach voters through targeted digital media, live phone banking and radio. By the time you read this, the results of the March 3 primary election will likely be known; however, it is projected that Lacey and Gascón will receive the most votes, thereby guaranteeing that this battle continues to the November general election.

Capitol Beat – Looking Ahead in 2020

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

Legislative Update

This January marks the second year of a two-year legislative session. This means that we will see many of our 2019 priority bills moving through committee and floor hearings once again. Last year, there were over 3,000 bills introduced in the state Assembly and state Senate. On average, each bill is amended three or four times, so that means PORAC leadership, along with Aaron Read & Associates, reviewed over 10,000 bills, looking for those that have an impact on our members.

Bills that remain from last year, called two-year bills, must pass their house of origin by the end of January or they automatically die. Many of them have already passed their house of origin and are pending in the second house in 2020, but there are many that are waiting for action in January. On top of that, the Legislature will introduce at least another 1,000 new bills for 2020. Over the course of winter recess, PORAC leadership, along with Aaron Read & Associates, has had many discussions with legislators and stakeholders regarding the current political and social climate in California, and it is clear that we are going to have another tough year ahead.  

On the Horizon

We are hearing discussion about legislation being introduced that calls for law enforcement “licensing” or some form of a certificate that would make it so if an officer is found guilty of a crime, as specified, they would lose their ability to be a law enforcement officer. At the time this article was written, we have not seen any proposed language or legislation; we’ve only heard rumors. Consequently, PORAC is working with other law enforcement associations, our attorneys and consultants to determine the best course of action as it relates to any officers who are found guilty of a particular crime.

2020–2021 Budget

Governor Newsom will unveil his proposed 2020–2021 state budget on or before January 10. The governor will also give his State of the State address at some point in January, in which he will lay out his administration’s goals for the coming year. The state will continue to grapple with perennial issues, such as our homeless problem, wildfires and a housing shortage, to name a few. At the same time, there continues to be rumblings about a possible slowdown in the economy. The stock market has been a bull market for longer than normal and many expect a slowdown and possible recession to some degree. Hopefully, it will be nothing like what we experienced in 2008–2010. That said, the state does have a continuously growing rainy-day reserve set aside that is over $19.2 billion. The reserve consists of:

  • $16.5 billion in the Budget Stabilization Account (BSA), the state’s constitutional reserve
  • $1.4 billion in the Special Fund for Economic Uncertainties (SFEU), which is available for any purpose, including unexpected costs related to disasters
  • $900 million in the safety net reserve, which is available for spending on the state’s safety net programs like California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs)
  • $377 million in the state’s school reserve

Election Year

For most of you, this election year will be critical for your organization, your pension and the overall quality of your daily work life. Perhaps this election brings you hope for the future or quite possibly you share the concerns of millions of Californians that we need a more common-sense approach to governing. Aaron Read & Associates has been involved in elections and campaigning since we first opened our doors in 1978. What we have learned over the decades is that public safety has a voice, and it’s strong and credible. You don’t have to sit from the sidelines and watch — get involved!

This year, California has moved its primary election from June to March. That means there will be a lot of political ads on television, on the internet and in your mailbox — no doubt you will grow tired of seeing them. California moved the primary to an earlier date so that the state might have more influence on the presidential primary. We also have all 80 districts in the state Assembly up for election, as assembly members have two-year terms. Most Assembly districts have incumbents running for re-election, but there are several districts where there are vacancies due to a member retiring, moving on to a different office or quitting for some other reason. Half of the 40-member state Senate is up for election in 2020, as senators have four-year terms. The odd-numbered districts will be up for election this year, and the even-numbered districts will be up in 2022.

District Attorney Elections

As we mentioned in our previous report, the race for the new Los Angeles district attorney is heating up. California has 58 counties, and there are 58 district attorneys and, of course, 58 sheriffs. Sheriffs and DAs are elected countywide. In the last election cycle of 2018, we saw several incumbent DAs being challenged by liberal candidates being funded by an out-of-state billionaire named George Soros. Soros made his money running his own hedge funds. He has given away over $12 billion to various liberal causes. Most recently, he bankrolled the campaigns of several very liberal DA candidates throughout California and will no doubt continue to do the same in 2020. We have already seen a very liberal candidate, Chesa Boudin, win the DA race in San Francisco. The new DA openly campaigned saying he would prosecute police officers. He replaces George Gascón, who was the previous San Francisco DA and was equally liberal. Gascón is moving to Los Angeles, where he is challenging incumbent DA Jackie Lacey. DA Lacey is an African-American woman who has done a very good job as the incumbent district attorney. Gascón alleges Lacey is not hard enough on prosecuting police officers. In 2018, PORAC became financially involved in California’s DA races and will continue to be this election year. If Gascón becomes the DA of the most populous county in California, it will ignite the fire that started in 2018, and social justice groups will work aggressively to replace all current DAs with progressive, criminal justice reform supporters. Stay tuned.

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).

Capitol Beat – The California Climate

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

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

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

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

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

Looking Ahead

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

Thank You

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

Happy holidays!

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

Capitol Beat – 2019 Wrap-Up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AB 516 unfairly treats those who comply with laws regarding vehicle registration and parking of vehicles. This proposed legislation would give the same rights to people who flout the law as those who obey the laws and register their vehicles in a timely fashion. If a vehicle’s owner cannot afford to pay their vehicle registration, then perhaps a more equitable solution would be to allow them to enter into a payment plan with the DMV that would give them a conditional vehicle registration.

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

AB 1185 by Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.