2019 Legislation: Mentally Ill & Homeless Among Expected Topics

By Shaun Rundle, Deputy Director.

 In preparation for the 2019-2020 Legislative session beginning on January 7th, legislators both returning and new gathered the Capitol in December for their swearing-in. At that time, returning members were allowed to introduce legislation they intend to take up in 2019-20. The handful of public safety bills introduced looked and smelled like extensions of 2017-18 attempts. One bill even goes so far as to change verbiage referring to mentally ill persons. And so, it begins.

Here is a quick view of various bills that have put across the desk for introduction:

AB 46 (Carrillo)-would state the intent of the Legislature to enact legislation to replace derogatory terms, including, but not limited to, “insane” and “mentally defective,” with more culturally sensitive terms when referring to individuals with mental illness.

SB 22 (Leyva)-would require a law enforcement agency to either submit sexual assault forensic evidence to a crime lab or ensure that a rapid turnaround DNA program is in place, as specified, and require a crime lab to either process the evidence or transmit the evidence to another crime lab for processing, as specified.

SB 23 (Wiener)-would make entering a vehicle with the intent to commit a theft therein a crime punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for a period not to exceed one year or imprisonment in a county jail for 16 months, or 2 or 3 years.

SB 48 (Wiener)-sets efforts to ensure housing for homeless. All communities must provide their homeless with shelters, rather than force residents to move to other communities. Allows homeless to access services needed to succeed in obtaining permanent housing (including mental health & addiction treatment).

These introduced bills are just “spot-bills” or placeholders until actual code changes are reflected in the bill language. CPOA is not certain what these bills will look like going forward, but I am in the process of meeting with the various authors until the first hearings to determine where they expect to go with their legislation.

One certainty, however, is that the Legislature will also want to address use of lethal force. Although they didn’t have the Senate votes to pass AB 931 (Weber-D) last year, CPOA and our industry partners have conducted various stakeholder meetings with legislators and we know the issue is not going away. While we have yet to see a 2019 bill on use of force, law enforcement groups are working with our legal teams to determine suitable language that draws needed attention to public AND officer safety, as well as policy and training components.

Stay tuned.