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Thursday, July 11, 2024 | Back issues
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California Republicans say Democrats are playing political games with crime bills

State Republican leaders say the Democrats are interfering with an upcoming vote to repeal a 10-year-old proposition critics say contributed to the state's retail theft crisis.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) — California Republicans on Tuesday accused their Democratic counterparts of trying to sabotage a potential initiative on the November ballot by making amendments to a package of crime bills.

Those bills, a bipartisan effort to address the state’s retail theft crisis, have become a focus of both political parties in the Golden State. Democrats intend to add urgency and inoperability clauses to the legislation, which led Republicans to call foul.

Both sides have accused the other of playing political games.

On Monday, Senate President Pro Tempore Mike McGuire, a Democrat, called Republican talking points “hogwash.”

“As someone who grew up on a farm, I’m very familiar with what hogwash is,” said Republican Assemblymember James Gallagher, of Yuba City, at a Tuesday press conference. “You can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig and this one is quite an oinker.”

Gallagher, his chamber’s minority leader, said the additions to the bills are an attempt to distort a proposed ballot initiative that would repeal Proposition 47. That proposition, passed 10 years ago, led to the reduction of some felonies to misdemeanors. Critics of the proposition say it has helped fuel the state’s retail theft crisis that led to the bipartisan crime bills.

California’s secretary of state said Tuesday that the ballot initiative had received enough signatures to appear on the November ballot. All eligible ballot initiatives will be qualified on June 27.

Days ago, Democrats announced intent to add urgency clauses to a dozen of the 14 bills included in the package. That urgency will make the bills law as soon as the governor signs them, as opposed to becoming effective on Jan. 1. Democrats want the bills before Governor Gavin Newsom before the legislative recess begins July 4.

Democrats also said they’d add inoperability clauses to 11 of the bills, meaning they’d be voided if voters repeal Proposition 47 in November.

Gallagher claimed Attorney General Rob Bonta would try to rewrite the title and summary of the Homelessness, Drug Addiction & Theft Reduction Act, the initiative to repeal Proposition 47, if the newly amended bills become law.

Bonta’s office couldn’t be reached for comment.

“We’ve got to stop the games and let people vote,” Gallagher said.

The Senate Public Safety Committee heard testimony about some of the crime bills as Republican leadership held the press conference.

State Senator Kelly Seyarto, a Murrieta Republican and committee member, called the crime bills a great step toward addressing retail theft and other crimes. However, he called Democrats’ last-minute amendments “political games.”

On Monday, Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas said the inoperability clauses would remove any legal conflict that would arise from the repeal of Proposition 47. Seyarto on Tuesday dismissed that argument, saying the Legislature regularly corrects issues in the law through legislation, sometimes years afterward.

Gallagher in a statement also attacked the inoperability claim.

“It’s been days since Democrats introduced their amendments and they have been unable to name any conflicts between the initiative and the legislative package besides one provision in one bill to adjust its thresholds for inflation,” he said.

The crime bills before the Senate Public Safety Committee on Tuesday will have the amendments added to them in the Senate Appropriations Committee. That committee focuses arguments on fiscal aspects of a bill, rather than policy.

“My opinion, this process, the way it’s happening now, is crap,” Seyarto said.

State Senator Nancy Skinner, a Berkeley Democrat and Public Safety Committee member, said games are played by both parties to garner public support.

Democrats in a Tuesday statement pointed to support for the bill package from law enforcement, prosecutors and business owners.

Some members of law enforcement stood with Republicans during their press conference. Morgan Gire, the district attorney of Placer County, called the crime bills good, but added that they don’t go far enough. That’s what the Proposition 47 repeal initiative is for, he said.

Categories / Criminal, Government, Law

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