Category Archives: California legislature

‘Insulting’: California police reform bills die without vote

State takes small steps toward reform

Vallejo Times-Herald, By Nico Savidge, September 3, 2020
[See also: Associated Press, California bill to strip badges from ‘bad officers’ fails]

Three months ago, with protests against racism and police brutality gripping the state and nation, California lawmakers had plans for new legislation that would make sweeping changes to law enforcement.

But as their session came to a chaotic end at midnight Tuesday, state legislators had only approved a handful of relatively modest changes to police practices, while more controversial proposals — to strip problem officers of their badges, broaden public access to police misconduct records and limit the use of rubber bullets and tear gas at protests — died without the votes they needed to pass.

The defeat of those measures, coming in the Democrat- dominated Legislature of a state that positions itself as a beacon of progressive government, is a stinging disappointment for activists, civil liberties groups and lawmakers, who believed the time had come for major changes meant to bolster police accountability and transparency.

“To ignore the thousands of voices calling for meaningful police reform is insulting,” Sen. Steven Bradford, D-Gardena, said in a statement early Tuesday morning after his bill to “decertify” officers who commit crimes or serious misconduct failed to get a vote in the final hours Monday. “Today, Californians were once again let down by those who were meant to represent them.”

Policing wasn’t the only issue that left advocates and lawmakers unsatisfied — bills that passed for eviction protections and housing also fell short of what many hoped to see in the shortened legislative session that was upended by the coronavirus.

The law enforcement bills lawmakers did approve included a requirement that state authorities investigate certain deadly police shootings, as well as a ban on the carotid “sleeper” restraint a Minneapolis officer used in the deadly arrest of George Floyd on Memorial Day.

But Dennis Cuevas-Romero, a legislative advocate for the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, noted that many police departments have already prohibited officers from using the carotid restraint. Gov. Gavin Newsom also directed the state’s Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training after Floyd’s death to no longer offer training on the tactic.

And while Cuevas-Romero said having state authorities investigate police shootings “could be really significant,” he also noted that the bill only requires the state to investigate fatal police shootings of unarmed civilians, as opposed to all deaths at the hands of police.

“This was our concern from the very beginning, when all the police reform legislation was introduced,” Cuevas-Romero said. “The ones that were less impactful would be the ones that make it to the finish line,” allowing lawmakers to claim victory “without actually doing significant reform.”

The ACLU cosponsored Bradford’s decertification bill. California is one
of only five states that doesn’t have such a process, and an investigation by this news organization found dozens of police officers with criminal records were still working in departments across the state.

Bradford’s bill also would have rolled back some of the legal protection known as “qualified immunity,” which shields officers from liability in many excessive force lawsuits. Activists charge the legal doctrine is a significant barrier to holding police accountable, and the bill got a late lobbying push from a raft of celebrities, including Kim Kardashian West and Los Angeles Laker Kyle Kuzma.

Law enforcement groups say they are open to creating a decertification process, and have called for a special session of the Legislature to create one. But they vehemently opposed the bill’s limits to qualified immunity, which helped make it the most controversial of this year’s police reform proposals.

“We are pleased that the late-session rush to enact a flawed bill that would have had debilitating repercussions for police officers and public safety was not voted upon,” Craig Lally, the president of the union representing Los Angeles police officers, said in a statement after Bradford’s bill failed. “It is more important to get it right and not rushed, and we pledge our cooperation to work collaboratively with likeminded stakeholders and the legislature to get it right.”

Brian Marvel, president of the Peace Officers Research Association of California, said the shortened session made it difficult for his organization representing more than 75,000 police officers to negotiate with lawmakers. In the next session, Marvel said, “We will have a much better opportunity to collaboratively work with the authors on creating legislation.”

Bradford pledged to bring his proposal back next year.

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, said she would do the same with her bill sharply limiting the use of rubber bullets and tear gas, prompted by what critics derided as a heavyhanded police response to racial justice demonstrations. That bill, which also faced opposition from police lobbying groups, similarly never came up for a vote Monday night.

Benicia meeting on Climate Emergency Declaration, Student-led Climate Strike

Repost from Progressive Democrats of Benicia, Sept 11, 2019
[Editor: see links below for docs &  information about Climate Strike 2020 and Benicia’s proposed Climate Emergency Declaration.  Also see Benicia’s nearest Climate Strike next Saturday Sept 20: Walnut Creek.  (Note that Friday 9/13, was the final day of CA legislative session.)  – R.S.]
Kathy Dervin, Co-Chair of 350 Bay Area Legislative Committee

On September 10, members of Progressive Democrats of Benicia heard from a powerful and highly informative featured speaker, Kathy Dervin, Co-Chair of 350 Bay Area Legislative Committee and a consulting professional with a Master of Public Health (MPH) focused in Health Education/Environmental Health.

Kathy presented a compelling overview of pending legislation relating to Climate Change (see bold text below).  She also covered

We made plans to post here and send out by email an URGENT CALL TO ACTION!  > With only three days to the close of the California Legislature’s  session (until Sept 13th), everyone was asked to call Assembly member Grayson and Senator Dodd’s office ASAP to advocate on the following bills: (see details at URGENT! Call our representatives today!! or download the list)

California’s conservative Democrat legislators not protecting air quality

Repost from CALmatters

When oil industry supports legislators, air quality suffers

By By Kathryn Phillips, April 22, 2019

When oil industry supports legislators, air quality suffers

California journalists have reported over the last two election cycles on the effort by the Legislature’s “moderate caucus,” composed of conservative Democratic state legislators, to increase the caucus’ influence

The caucus’ power, according to those reports, is rooted deeply in the oil industry and its generous campaign donations to the caucus and its members.

During normal times—say, when the planet’s very future hasn’t depended on dramatically cutting combustion fueled by oil and methane gas—such facts would be just interesting data points for analyzing the Legislature’s political dynamics.

Now, though, the caucus members’ devotion to maintaining California’s oil dependence is having health-threatening consequences.

This devotion is especially playing out in the Assembly Transportation Committee. The committee is chaired by Jim Frazier, a Democrat from Discovery Bay, a leader of the moderate caucus.

California’s notorious air and climate pollution is driven by transportation. The smog and toxic particles that spark maladies ranging from low birthweight to asthma and heart disease are tightly linked to tailpipe emissions.

Reams of data, scientific papers and regulatory agency reports point to the need to transition California’s cars and trucks to zero-emission vehicles if the state is to ever have clean air or avoid the worst effects of climate change.

So one would expect to see growing devotion by the Democratic-led California Legislature to do more to help Californians access electric cars and cut pollution from delivery trucks.

Instead, the California Assembly is the graveyard for legislation designed to help advance zero-emission vehicles.

Assembly Transportation Committee Chairman Frazier has a commanding, no-nonsense, take-no-prisoners style of governing. He has demonstrated that style by stopping bills to advance clean transportation by refusing to schedule them for a hearing in his committee.

One of the most recent victims is Assembly Bill 40, which would require the regulatory agency responsible for tailpipe emissions regulations, the California Air Resources Board, to produce and deliver to the legislature a strategy for fully transitioning brand new cars sold in California to zero-emission by 2040.

That is, the bill by San Francisco Democratic Assemblyman Phil Ting would have asked for a study to be done and sent to the Legislature. It did nothing more. Yet it’s a bill the oil and gas industry and the California Chamber of Commerce strongly oppose. The bill isn’t being scheduled for a hearing.

There are a few bills in the Senate that advance clean transportation that may pass in that house. But they are sure to face the buzzsaw in the Assembly once they reach Frazier’s committee.

How can a single legislator stop progress in advancing technology and cutting pollution?

He can do this by not acting alone. The Assembly Transportation Committee includes at least four other moderate caucus members who won’t buck the chairman, and whose votes, when counted with the handful of Republicans on the committee, can stop any bill.

In essence, the committee is stacked against zero-emission technology.

Frazier isn’t the only pro-oil Democrat sitting in a leadership role this year. Rudy Salas, Jr., a Democrat from Bakersfield, is chairman of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee. His first action was to try to get an expansive and expensive audit of the air resources board’s work on transportation.

It wouldn’t take a rocket scientist to see that Salas’s audit request, which failed to garner the votes needed, echoed the complaints commonly heard from the oil and gas industry about the air resources board’s transportation policies.

Who pays campaign costs has consequences. In the California Legislature, the consequences are that we all live with more health-threatening transportation pollution with no end in sight.


Kathryn Phillips is director of Sierra Club California, the legislative and regulatory advocacy arm of the Sierra Club’s 13 local chapters. She wrote this commentary for CALmatters.

Progressive Women Positioned to Replace 9 Male Legislators in 2018 California Races

PRESS RELEASE
Contact: Close the Gap CA Executive Director Susannah Delano
June 6, 2018  –  (707) 771-0939  –  susannah@closethegapca.org

Progressive Women Positioned to Replace 9 Male Legislators in 2018 State Races 

Below the Congressional “jungle primary” canopy, a groundswell of progressive women candidates is headed straight for Sacramento.

A record 98 women competed yesterday to win a spot in November run-offs for State Legislative seats. 43 will advance. This is the largest cohort of women to do so since 2004. Close the gap CA targeted 9 winnable districts to ensure at least one progressive woman was prepared to compete:

  • SD 12- Anna Caballero
  • SD 14- Melissa Hurtado
  • SD 22- Susan Rubio
  • SD 24- Maria Elena Durazo
  • SD 32- Vanessa Delgado
  • AD 15- Buffy Wicks, Jovanka Beckles (TBD)
  • AD 16- Rebecca Bauer-Kahan
  • AD 39- Luz Rivas
  • AD 76- Tasha Boerner-Horvath, Elizabeth Warren

In all districts except SD 32, at least one progressive woman has advanced to November (listed above). Two thirds are women of color. All targeted seats, except AD 16 have most recently been held by men.

For the first time in over a decade, we are witnessing a decisive uptick in the number of women serving in the California State Legislature,” said Executive Director Susannah Delano. “Close the gap CA targets open and purple, winnable seats throughout the state—including those vacated in the wake of #MeToo allegations—recruiting progressive women and positioning them to launch competitive campaigns.”

“It’s not a coincidence that these accomplished women were ready to run successful campaigns with very short runways,” continued Delano. In the past 6 months, voters have held 5 special elections to fill legislative seats vacated by men. Progressive women have already won 3 of the 5– Assemblymembers Wendy Carrillo and Sydney Kamlager, and now Assemblymember-Elect Luz Rivas. With progressive women positioned to replace male predecessors in 6 additional districts in November, 2019 could begin with gender parity numbers approaching their highest ever in California history.

“When more progressive women serve, our state’s policies become more comprehensive and just. And our Legislature itself is challenged to do better, for every Californian,” said Delano.


Close the gap CA is a campaign to achieve gender parity in the State Legislature by 2028.  After watching women drop to just 23% of the Assembly and Senate over the past decade, we decided to do something about it: we recruit progressive women to run.
For more information, please visit closethegapca.org.