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.