So 2017 has arrived, and with it the new session of the state legislature. Several new faces have appeared and we congratulate them on their victories and some old allies have termed out unfortunately. We wish them all the best in their future endeavors. Regardless, those in the Capitol are once again proposing new laws. Some of these proposals are good and others are downright egregious. As always, good policies we will support. But public policy that infringes on liberty we will fight tooth and nail to oppose. Before going into the bills we will support, let’s examine the ones that we will feel do a disservice to the public.
AB 2: Obernolte – Hate crimes: peace officers.
This bill is essentially a recycled version of last session’s AB 246 by Assemblymembers Hernandez and Salas.That bill died so it seems Mr. Obernolte has decided to try again. Honestly, it doesn’t appear that any of the people mentioned had anything to do with this poorly crafted piece of legislation. This is a bill likely penned by someone in the California Peace Officers Association or another group for the men in blue, who do not appear to understand the hate crimes statute. “Hate crime” means a criminal act committed, in whole or in part, because of one or more of the following actual or perceived characteristics of the victim: disability, gender, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, rexual orientation, or sssociation with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics. Please note that “occupation” is not on this list. Yes, it must be acknowledged that peace officers have a dangerous job, but anyone seeking employment as a peace officer should already know that. And perhaps such “hate crimes” would not be taking place if law enforcement would acknowledge that some of their actions have resulted in a very angry public sentiment that has driven some with less stable mental faculties to the point of violence. Police tactics and procedures need an overhaul.
AB 16: Cooper/DeLeon – Criminal law: DNA evidence.
Honestly, this is the type of bill that we have come to expect from a law and order type, such as Assemblymember Cooper, but not something we’re used to seeing from Senator de León’s office. He made a name for himself as a clean energy champion, a crusader for
the working class and minorities! Be that as it may, this bill is intolerable. It essentially expands on DNA collection for sex offenders and murderers. These are felonious acts and we can see the necessity for this. But this proposition extends the DNA collection to
those found guilty of MISDEMEANORS. This includes such terrible crimes as shoplifting, larceny, forgery/counterfeiting, and possession of narcotics—including marijuana, which was actually legalized in the last election. This is beyond nonsensical. Next thing you know, they will be requiring a DNA sample at traffic stops. Does one leave DNA behind when shoplifting or signing another person’s signature?
That is the sum of bad in the Assembly at this very early date. Now we will examine the
Senate docket thus far.
SB 25: Leyva/Reyes/Beall – Sex offenders: Access to schools.
This is the only bill on the Senate docket thus far that we in the CCLA take issue with. On the face of it, it is understandable, but there is so much fearmongering behind the overly general label of “sex offender.” As an example, you can be made to register for public urination, which is ridiculous. What this bill proposes is that anyone on the Sex Offender Registry be charged with a misdemeanor for entering school grounds for ANY reason. So if someone is on the registry and has children, they are disallowed from attending any scholastic events their children may be a part of. Thus, they may not attend plays, sporting events, or even their own child’s graduation. It would also bar anyone whose employment
required them to be on school property, i.e. contractors, gardeners, IT professionals, if they had been convicted of a crime that required them to register. This bill is overly harsh and unconscionable.
Unfortunately, at this point there appears to only be one substantive good bill. While we appreciate and approve of the government recognition of the Japanese interment, and Korean Americans, their recognition will not forward the cause of Civil Liberties, ergo they have no place in this article.
SB 21: Hill – Law enforcement agencies: surveillance: policies.
This is a bill that actually tries to put a check on the overreaching surveillance of the police
departments. It requires them to hold a public meeting to outline the use of every piece of surveillance technology that they use and the information collected. This means that the public will be able to have input on these things. Does it mean that their input will be given due consideration? We can only hope, but this is definitely a step in the right direction.
So that is the CCLA digest for the first part of the 2017-2018 legislative sessions. We will provide more critiques of legislation as it is proposed. Also, we at the CCLA are currently in the process of writing some legislation that we will be looking for legislators to propose.
So if you’re a legislator reading this, contact us. If you know a legislator looking for bills that are geared toward improving civil liberties, have them contact us. If you are simply interested in civil liberties and would like to find out how you can help, we would love to communicate with you.