California Legislature: Sagging Towards Sine Die
California lawmakers have less than two weeks to wrap up their work before the August 31 legislative session ends. Thus begins the final legislative gridlock, as bills line up for final votes.
A piece of legislation’s particular place in this line is the complex product of political horse-trading, the competing priorities of the state Assembly and Senate, and the whims of legislative leadership. It is therefore not always easy to predict when the final vote will take place.
The time for Senator Maria Elena Durazo was particularly unlucky.
As CalMatters politics intern Ariel Gans reports, the Los Angeles Democrat tested positive for COVID last week. So after more than two years of work, she missed the final legislative passage on Thursday a bill that expands the types of arrests and convictions that are waived of most criminal background checks.
The 28-10 vote in the Senate sent the legislation to Governor Gavin Newsom. If he signs it, the bill will come into force on July 1, 2023.
Durazo told CalMatters that these records make it difficult for formerly incarcerated people to “move on with their lives.”
- Durazo: “We literally spend billions of dollars on many programs, both while they are incarcerated and right after they leave and are released. And it struck me that here we prepare them as best we can, and yet when they leave, they face all these obstacles. So our own investment – our own taxes – we don’t get the most out of it.
But Senator Shannon Grove, a Republican from Bakersfield, pointed out that the bill extends that relief to perpetrators of domestic violence. She joined other Republicans, as well as Democratic Senator Melissa Hurtado de Sanger, in voting no.
- Grove: “These are very violent things, even if they are not listed as serious and violent in the penal code.”
The Peace Officers Research Association of California also opposed the bill, warning that it would reduce deterrence for repeat offenses and endanger public safety.
But a long list of labor organizations and criminal justice reform groups have backed the bill, arguing that criminal records disproportionately limit access to jobs and housing for Blacks, Latinos and Californians. poor.
Nearly one in three adults in California have been arrested or convicted on their record, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. While many cases are never prosecuted, in California these incidents may remain on an individual’s record until they are 100 years old.
The bill extends assistance to those arrested for crimes who have not been prosecuted after three years, or six years for more serious crimes. The relief does not apply to a “serious or violent” crime, or to crimes requiring registration as a sex offender. The state Assembly also amended the bill to require that criminal records be disclosed to school districts for hiring decisions.
Here are some other bills that are on their way to the governor’s office:
There are many farewells in order. At least 22 Assembly members and 9 members of the Senate will not return next year. This does not include members who lose their re-election bids to non-incumbents or gain a job elsewhere in november.