LEGISLATIVE UPDATE September 2016

Important Dates & Deadlines

 

November 8th - General Election
November 30th - Adjournment of the 2015-16 Legislative Session sine die
December 5th - 2017-2018 Session Begins
 
 
Supermajority Possibility Looms for State Democrats
 
One hundred legislative seats are up for grabs in just three weeks and Democrats in the legislature are hoping to see a swing in their favor.  Republican voter registration is down, while Democrat voter registration slowly inches upward, even in regions that were once thought to be solidly red.  And with it being a presidential year, higher voter turnout does historically favor the Democrats.  The last time the Democrats enjoyed a supermajority was 2012, but lost that advantage two years later, with an upswing in Republican seats. 
 
Two seats are needed in the Assembly and only one in the Senate to overtake the title of supermajority once again, and with many tight races, it is a possibility in at least one of the two houses.  This supermajority may not mean as much as it did in 2012, however, with many moderate Democrats potentially filling the seats.  Regardless, the sheer numbers may not be as important as the kind of Democrats being elected and how they may vote on key issues.   
 
To help ensure public safety-oriented candidates are elected to office, we urge you to consider supporting those candidates endorsed by CVUC.  To see a list of CVUC-endorsed candidates, please see http://crimevictimsunited.com/general-election-endorsements
 
Holden Tapped as Black Caucus Chair
 
Ahead of the close of the 2016 Legislative Session at the end of August, Assemblyman Chris Holden (D-Pasadena) was elected as the new chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus.  Holden takes the helm from Senator Isadore Hall (D-Compton) who is running for Congress.  Serving with Holden will be Assemblywoman Shirley Weber (D-San Diego) as Vice Chair, Assemblyman Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) as Treasurer, and Assemblyman Sebastian Ridley-Thomas (D-Los Angeles) as Secretary.
 
State Legislature’s Approval Rating Up
 
In September of 2010, voter’s approval rating of the California Legislature was not good.  In fact, at 10% approval, it was downright abysmal.  However, six years later, according to a recent statewide Field/IGS Poll, Californians are looking much more favorably upon the lawmaking body in Sacramento with an approval rating at just above 50%. 

 

This marks a rare improvement, as it has been since 2003 that a greater percentage of Californians have approved, rather than disapproved, of the job the Legislature is doing.  When asked about the direction of the country in general, 62% indicated they believe the U.S. is “seriously off on the wrong track” but believe California is doing better in general.  About 51% are happy with the way things are going in California, with 49% displeased.  And while Governor Brown’s approval rating is also higher at 60% versus 56% in a July poll, his disapproval rating went up from 30% to 40% in the same time period

 
Jerry Brown Signs 900 Bills into Law, Vetoes Only 15%
This year, the Legislature voted in favor of and sent 1,059 bills to the desk of Governor Jerry Brown for approval.  Now that the signing deadline has come and gone, we know that of those bills, only 159 were vetoed, a total of 15%.  This number may seem low, but compared to his first stint as governor, in his final year he vetoed a mere 30 bills out of 1,674 – a staggeringly low 1.79% veto rate. 
 
When asked about his veto rate, Brown referenced comity – the respect one branch of government owes another and following in the spirit of that reverence.  It also must be noted that Governor Brown is often not just seeing bills for the first time once they reach his desk after passing through the legislature.  Legislators have been working diligently with Brown and his staff in efforts of crafting language that will not only garner enough votes to get through committee and off of the floor of both houses, but also will satisfy the Governor and secure his approval.  Also to be considered is that Brown is a Democratic governor, with a Legislature dominated by Democrats in both houses.  Ideological conflict is at a minimum.
 
2016 Ballot Initiatives – Support & Opposition Overview
 
Next month California voters will be faced with 17 ballot measures for consideration ranging from measures determining the fate of the death penalty to legalization of marijuana, increasing gun control in the state and more.  Measures of interest to CVUC and other public safety stakeholders as well as where the stakeholders stand on them include the following:
Proposition 54 - Legislature. Legislation and Proceedings.
This measure would require any bill (including changes to the bill) to be made available to legislators and posted on the Internet for at least 72 hours before the Legislature could pass it. The Legislature would have to ensure that its public meetings are recorded and make videos of those meetings available on the Internet.

-       In Support:  California NAACP, California Chamber of Commerce, Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, et al.

-       In Opposition: California Labor Federation, California Democratic Party

Proposition 57 - Criminal Sentences. Juvenile Criminal Proceedings and Sentencing. 
 
This measure would (1) require the California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation (CDCR) to develop regulations to and allow certain state prison inmates convicted of nonviolent felony offenses to be considered for release earlier than otherwise; (2) permit the California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation (CDCR) to develop regulations for and award additional sentencing credits to inmates for good behavior and approved rehabilitative or educational achievements; and (3) provide sole discretion to the courts to decide whether youth should be tried in juvenile or adult court.

-       In Support: Governor Jerry Brown, California Federation of Teachers, Chief Probation Officers of California, et al.

-       In Opposition: Crime Victim’s United, California District Attorneys Association, California Police Chiefs Association, et al.

Proposition 62 - Death Penalty. 
This measure would abolish the death penalty and convert death penalty offenders’ sentences to life without the possibility of parole, which would be the biggest penalty provided for the most heinous offenses.

-     In Support:  Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, California NAACP, ACLU, Catholics Against the Death Penalty, et al.

-     In Opposition: Crime Victims United, California District Attorneys Association, CCPOA, California State Sheriffs’ Association, Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, et al.

Proposition 63 - Firearms. Ammunition Sales. 
This measure would create a new court process for the removal of firearms from individuals upon conviction of certain crimes. It also contains new requirements related to the selling or purchasing of ammunition.

            **CVUC has not taken a position on Proposition 63.

-       In Support:  Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, Courage Campaign, SEIU California, Women Against Gun Violence, et al.

-       In Opposition: CCPOA, NRA, Gun Owners of California, Pink Pistols, Women Against Gun Control, et al. 

Proposition 64 - Marijuana Legalization. 
This measure would permit adults 21 years of age or older to legally grow, possess, and use marijuana for nonmedical purposes, with certain restrictions. The state would regulate nonmedical marijuana businesses and tax the growing and selling of medical and nonmedical marijuana. Most of the revenue from such taxes would support youth programs, environmental protection, and law enforcement.

           **CVUC has not taken a position on Proposition 64.

-       In Support: ACLU of California, California Medical Association, Marijuana Policy Project of California, Parents for Addiction Treatment & Healing, et al.

-       In Opposition: California Hospital Association, Association of Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, Citizens Against Legalizing Marijuana, The Small Farmers Association, et al.

Proposition 66 – Death Penalty. Procedures
This measure would reform the death penalty process.  More specifically, it would revise the court procedures for legal challenges to death sentences including addressing time limits on challenges and revise rules to increase the number of available attorneys for those challenges. Additionally, it would provide that condemned inmates could be housed at any state prison.

-       In Support:  Crime Victims United, California District Attorneys Association, The Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, Crime Survivors, Klass Kids Foundation, et al.

-       In Opposition: California Democratic Party, California Labor Federation, Equal Justice Initiative, Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, et al.

For more information on these measures, please see http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/ballot-measures/qualified-ballot-measures/

Governor’s Appointments
Chuck Supple of Sacramento has been appointed chair of the Board of Juvenile Hearings at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, where he has served as a commissioner since 2014. The designation of chair does not require Senate confirmation. Supple is a Democrat.
 
Rachel Stern of Sacramento has been appointed executive officer of the Board of Juvenile Hearings at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, where she has been a youthful offender parole board representative since 2010 and served as staff counsel in the Office of Legal Affairs from 2007 to 2010. Stern was an associate at the Law Office of Williams and Associates from 2006 to 2007 and held several positions at Laplante, Spinelli and Donald from 2005 to 2006, including law clerk and associate. She was chief of staff in the Office of Missouri House of Representatives member Tim Harlan from 1997 to 2000. Stern earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Missouri School of Law. This position requires Senate confirmation. Stern is a Democrat.

 

2016 Legislation
 
AB 2263 (Baker): DV, Healthcare Provider Victims: Address Confidentiality
Would require the Secretary of State to provide each Safe at Home program participant a notice in clear and conspicuous font that contains specified information, including that the program participant is authorized by law to request to use his or her address designated by the Secretary of State on real property deeds, change of ownership forms, and deeds of trust when purchasing or selling a home.
Position: Support
Governor Action: *SIGNED BY THE GOVERNOR*
 
AB 2295 (Baker): Restitution for Crimes   
Current law requires the court to order a person who is convicted of a crime to pay restitution to the victim or victims for the full amount of economic loss, unless the court finds compelling and extraordinary reasons for not doing so and states them on the record. This bill would require the court to order full restitution and would make technical, nonsubstantive changes. The bill would state the finding of the Legislature that these changes are declaratory of current law.           
Position: Support / Sponsor                 
Governor Action: *SIGNED BY THE GOVERNOR*  
 
AB 2498 (Bonta): Human Trafficking
Would authorize, at the request of a victim and subject to specified restrictions, the withholding of the names and images of a victim of human trafficking and that victim's immediate family, as defined and as specified, from disclosure pursuant to the California Public Records Act until the investigation or any subsequent prosecution is complete. The bill would additionally prohibit law enforcement agencies from disclosing the names, addresses, and images of victims of human trafficking and their immediate family, except under specified circumstances. 
Position: Support
Governor Action: *SIGNED BY THE GOVERNOR*
 
AB 2590 (Weber): Sentencing: Restorative Justice
Amends legislative findings and declarations related to the purpose of sentencing being public safety achieved through punishment, rehabilitation, and restorative justice by removing the provision relating to determinate sentences and noting state educational, rehabilitative, and restorative justice programs should be available. Additionally, it would extend to January 1, 2022, the authority of the court to impose the appropriate term that best serves the interests of justice. The bill would, on and after January 1, 2022, require the court to impose the middle term, unless there are circumstances in aggravation or mitigation of the crime.
Position: Neutral as Amended
Governor Action: *SIGNED BY THE GOVERNOR*
 
SB 813 (Leyva): Sex Offenses: Statute of Limitations
Would allow the prosecution of rape, sodomy, lewd or lascivious acts, continuous sexual abuse of a child, oral copulation, and sexual penetration, that are committed under certain circumstances, as specified, to be commenced at any time. The bill would apply to these crimes committed after January 1, 2017, and to crimes for which the statute of limitations that was in effect prior to January 1, 2017, has not run as of January 1, 2017. 
Position: Support
Governor Action: *SIGNED BY THE GOVERNOR*
 
SB 955 (Beall): State Hospital Commitment: Compassionate Release
Would establish similar compassionate release provisions for terminally ill defendants who have been committed to a state hospital because, among other reasons, the defendants are incompetent to stand trial or to be adjudged to punishment, or the defendant is a mentally disordered offender, including a person who has been found not guilty by reason of insanity.
Position: Concerns
Governor Action: *SIGNED BY THE GOVERNOR*
 
SB 1084 (Hancock): Sentencing
Would authorize an offender who was under 18 years of age at the time of committing an offense for which the prisoner was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole to submit a petition for recall and resentencing after he or she has served at least 15 years of his or her sentence to submit the petition for recall and resentencing after he or she has been incarcerated for 15 years. The bill would allow a defendant whose sentence was recalled, but who was resentenced to life without the possibility of parole, to make additional petitions as specified above.
Position: Concerns
Governor Action: *SIGNED BY THE GOVERNOR*
 

***NOTE: These measures are just a few of the measures CVUC is tracking heading into the second year of the 2-Year session.  For the full list of bills, please see www.crimevictimsunited.com.