By Shaun Rundle, CPOA Executive Director
Legislators feeling frustrated by their failed 2021 bills have reintroduced some of those measures. They join a wave of new introductions that seek to address many of the common crimes flooding California’s streets. While the Legislature is slowly starting to realize that they’re too late in combating issues like organized retail theft, they have also not even given bill hearings to measures that would address fentanyl overdoses. In other words, here we go again.
I was pleased to see that several 2-year bills from 2021 that were eligible for discussion in 2022 have been changed to no longer reflect their previous intent. These include SB 271 (Wiener-D) (sheriff eligibility)- now relates to jury information furnished to Franchise Tax Board.
Other 2021 bills are being taken up again in January, but sadly, the Legislature continues to vote down bills that would draw needed attention and action to fentanyl and controlled substances.
The below bills failed again this year:
- SB 75 (Bates-R)- Would include fentanyl in an enhancement statute under which any person convicted of any of a list of specified drug offenses receives an additional term of three years to 25 years based on the weight of the drug involved in the case.
- SB 350 (Melendez-R)- Provides for a written advisory to a person convicted of specified drug offenses notifying the person of the danger of manufacturing and distributing controlled substances and of the potential future criminal liability if another person dies because of that person’s actions.
Adversely, the Legislature passed out of the Health Committee, SB 57, which authorizes San Francisco, Los Angeles County and Oakland to operate overdose prevention sites for consumption of pre-obtained drugs.
Thus far, there have not been any huge-impact pieces of legislation introduced the way we saw last year with SB 2 (decertification) or AB 89 (peace officer education requirements). Last day for bills to be introduced is February 18th, and bill hearings, particularly in Assembly and Senate Public Safety and Judiciary Committees, in March.
Finally getting their act together, legislators are introducing bills that could essentially be categorized as Prop 47 fixes:
- AB 1957 (Waldron-R)- Reinstates provisions repealed by Prop 47 where a person who has been convicted of petty or grand theft 3 or more times and then is subsequently convicted of petty theft, be subject to a jail term of up to 3 years.
- AB 1599 (Kiley-R)- Repeals Prop 47, except for reductions in penalty for concentrated cannabis possession.
- AB 1603 (Salas-D)- Reduces threshold amount for petty theft and shoplifting from $950 back to $400, upon approval of the voters.
- AB 1613 (Irwin-D)- Expands court jurisdiction for theft, organized retail theft, or receipt of stolen property to encompass counties where the crime occurred, merchandise was recovered, and the county where anyone aiding the defendant in commission of the offense committed such act(s).
These bills were just introduced in January, so will not be heard until late February or March.