Capitol Beat – 2017 End-of-Session Report

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

On Friday, September 15, the Legislature adjourned the first half of the 2017–18 legislative session. Governor Brown had until midnight on October 15 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, 2,980 bills were introduced, of which 1,189 have been chaptered (signed by the Governor), 118 were vetoed, and 442 bills are inactive, dead or are resolutions that, by law, do not have to go to the Governor. Also, 1,231 measures have been made into two-year bills, meaning 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.

Below is the status of many of PORAC’s priority bills this legislative session. We will provide a full report at Conference in November.

Chaptered Bills

AB 459 by Assembly Member Ed Chau (D-Arcadia), supported by PORAC: The California Public Records Act (CPRA) requires state and local agencies to make their records available for public inspection, unless an exemption from disclosure applies. This bill would exempt video and audio files from a body-worn camera created by a peace officer of a state or local law enforcement agency that depict any victim of rape, incest, domestic violence or child abuse from disclosure pursuant to the act, unless the victim or victims depicted provide express written consent.

AB 1459 by Assembly Member Sharon Quirk-Silva (D-Orange County), supported by PORAC: This bill makes the unlawful killing of a peace officer first-degree murder. This bill was signed by the Governor and will become law in January.

SB 54 by Senator Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles), the “sanctuary state” bill, opposed by PORAC: This legislation will create new barriers in the cooperation between local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. An unfortunate consequence is that dangerous criminals will slip through the system for bureaucratic reasons.

While we support human rights and the honest, fair, compassionate and safe treatment of everyone with whom our law enforcement officers come in contact, the breakdown of local, state and federal partnerships will prevent our officers from being able to do their jobs; therefore violent criminals will remain on the streets and our families will be in danger.

PORAC’s main concern is public safety. We protect all Californians, immigrants and nonimmigrants alike. Plain and simple, innocent people will get hurt because of this new law.

SB 65 by Senator Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo), supported by PORAC: The Legislature passed and the Governor signed three measures dealing with the regulatory structure of medical cannabis use. Last November, voters approved Proposition 64, making it legal for persons over age 21 to recreationally use cannabis. One of the larger oversights of the Legislature and of the drafters of Proposition 64 was creating a penalty for being under the influence of cannabis while driving a vehicle. This bill addresses this oversight.

Vetoed Bills

AB 1408 by Assembly Member Ian Calderon (D-Whittier), supported by PORAC: AB 1408 would require the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to provide local law enforcement agencies with copies of an inmate’s record of supervision during any prior period of parole.

Due to the passing of numerous criminal justice reforms and realignments, the way California prosecutes criminals has dramatically changed. Many criminals are seeing their sentences reduced and many will even qualify for early release. Some lower level felons will be placed in county jails rather than state prisons and once released will be supervised under Post Release Community Supervision (PRCS).

Without knowledge of their past criminal activity in the state institutions, inmates’ criminal history may not be considered when determining their punishment at parole hearings. This opens the door for career criminals to deliberately abuse and disrespect the justice system. PORAC believes this gap of communication needs to be closed so that criminals remain off the streets and our families remain safe.

Two-Year Bills

AB 284 by Assembly Member Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento), opposed by PORAC: Sponsored by the Attorney General, this bill would allow the AG to review any case related to officer-involved shootings or serious uses of force from 2015–2016, with the intent of making recommendations to the department regarding investigations, training or policies and procedures.

AB 1428 by Assembly Member Evan Low (D-Silicon Valley), sponsored by PORAC: This bill was PORAC’s attempt to be proactive in the area of transparency as it relates to officer-involved shootings, serious uses of force and citizens’ complaints.

AB 1428 was opposed by some law enforcement management groups, as well as the ACLU and the California News Publishers Association. Although the bill was held in committee, PORAC again showed that we are on the forefront in the area of transparency, just as we previously have in sensitive areas such as the use of body-worn cameras and changes to the CPRA.

SB 21 by Senator Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo), opposed by PORAC: Senator Hill’s SB 21 would require all agencies to hold public hearings regarding the use of surveillance technology or equipment. Each agency would have to report to their city councils or boards of supervisors for approval prior to purchasing surveillance equipment or technology.

AB 748 by Assembly Member Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), opposed by PORAC: This bill sailed through the Assembly as a fairly innocuous measure. However, when it reached the other house, Assembly Member Ting gutted the bill and mandated the disclosure of all videos involving a peace officer’s use of force to be released after 120 days.

The sponsors of AB 748 are now seeking to make changes to the CPRA that would be harmful to all law enforcement.

AB 42 by Assembly Member Rob Bonta (D-Oakland)/SB 10 by Senator BobHertzberg (D-Van Nuys), cashless bail, opposed by PORAC: PORAC remains strongly opposed to SB 10 and AB 42. PORAC leadership, along with the team at ARA, continue to work with a coalition of law enforcement and crime victim groups to fight this dangerous bill. The author of the bill has not accepted the amendments law enforcement has offered.

Capitol Beat – The Suspense…

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

“Suspense” means something different in legislation. The Senate and Assembly appropriations committees hold hearings on their “suspense” bills toward the end of every session. These are the bills that have expenditure in them over a certain dollar amount designated by each committee. Truthfully, the financial threshold can change depending on the controversial nature of the bill. That list of bills is then taken up all at once, and each bill is either passed or failed based on whether the committee feels that it is an appropriate expenditure of state dollars. 

This year, many of the “active” bills we have been working on have been detrimental to public safety or the law enforcement profession. After the September 1 suspense hearings, we can report that two egregious bills that PORAC was working to stop were held in committee — effectively killing them for the year, and likely for good. The first, AB 284 by Assembly Member McCarty (D-Sacramento) and sponsored by the attorney general, would have allowed the AG to review any case related to officer-involved shootings or serious uses of force from 2015 to 2016, with the intent of making recommendations to  departments regarding investigations, training or policies and procedures. The second, SB 21 by Senator Hill (D-San Mateo), would have required all agencies to hold public hearings regarding the use of surveillance technology or equipment. Each agency would have to report to its city council or board of supervisors for approval prior to purchasing surveillance equipment or technology.

PORAC’s sponsored bill, AB 1428 by Assembly Member Low (D-Campbell), was also held by the Senate Appropriations Committee. AB 1428 was PORAC’s attempt to be proactive in the area of transparency, as it relates to officer-involved shootings, serious uses of force and citizens’ complaints. The bill was opposed by some law enforcement management groups, as well as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the California Newspaper Publishers Association. Although the bill was held in committee, we feel that PORAC clearly showed that we are again at the forefront in the area of transparency, just as we have been in the past with other sensitive areas, such as the use of body-worn cameras and changes to the California Public Records Act (CPRA). If the Legislature chooses not to move forward with changes in these areas, even though PORAC is willing to work with them on such changes, there is little we can do about it. As the leading voice for law enforcement in California, PORAC has never shied away from difficult or controversial issues. 

Below is the list of PORAC’s actively supported and opposed bills that were on suspense in the Appropriations Committee in each house. Keep in mind that even though a bill PORAC actively opposes may have passed out of committee on September 1, that does not mean we won’t continue the fight against the bill or work to amend it favorably.

  • AB 284 by Assembly Member McCarty (D-Sacramento), Department of Justice: officer-involved shootings — report. Actively opposed by PORAC, this bill was held.
  • AB 512 by Assembly Member Rodriguez (D-Pomona), Public employees’ retirement: safety members — industrial. Actively supported by PORAC, this bill passed.
  • AB 1028 by Assembly Member Bocanegra (D-San Fernando), Workers’ compensation. Sponsored by PORAC, this bill was held.
  • AB 1116 by Assembly Member Grayson (D-Concord), Peer Support and Crisis Referral Services Act. Actively supported by PORAC, this bill passed.
  • AB 1408 by Assembly Member Calderon (D-Whittier), Crimes: supervised release. Actively supported by PORAC, this bill passed.
  • AB 1428 by Assembly Member Low (D-Campbell), Peace officers: transparency. Sponsored by PORAC, this bill was held.
  • AB 1595 by Assembly Member Gallagher (R-Nicolaus), Theft: burglary — natural or manmade disasters. Sponsored by PORAC, this bill was held.
  • SB 21 by Senator Hill (D-San Mateo), Law enforcement agencies: surveillance — policies. Actively opposed by PORAC, this bill was held.
  • SB 54 by Senator de León (D-Los Angeles), Law enforcement: sharing data. Actively opposed by PORAC, this bill passed.
  • SB 687 by Senator Skinner (D-Berkeley), Health facilities: emergency services — Attorney General. Actively supported by PORAC, this bill passed.

End of Session

On Friday, September 15, the Legislature adjourned the first half of the 2017–2018 legislative session. Governor Brown has until midnight on October 15 to sign or veto the multitude of bills that have just been sent to him. If he does not take action on a bill, it automatically becomes law without his signature. As usual, both houses of the Legislature saved the most hotly debated bills for the last weeks of session, with the most controversial being voted on last. Over the next few weeks, Governor Brown has some significant issues to ponder, including issues that will directly affect PORAC membership.

In next month’s Capitol Beat, we will provide a recap of PORAC’s priority legislation and bills that have or will become law in California.