With more than 600 bills to sign or veto before a Sept. 30 deadline, Gov. Jerry Brown has yet to weigh in on significant public safety legislation, including bills affecting prostitution, rape and the ability of felons to vote.
Here are five bills worth watching:
Senate Bill 443 (Sen. Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles): Requires law enforcement agencies to obtain convictions before keeping property taken during criminal investigations under a process known as civil asset forfeiture.
Analysis: The bill is a product of a deal struck by lawmakers and law enforcement after law enforcement groups lobbied against such a measure last year. The bill Brown will consider is a scaled-back version, removing most opposition. It includes an exception for cash seizures in excess of $40,000.
Senate Bill 1322 (Sen. Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles): Prohibits arresting or charging people under the age of 18 for prostitution or loitering with the intent to commit prostitution.
Analysis: The legislation is part of a shift in how lawmakers view commercial sex, seeing minors as victims who should be offered services, not arrested. Law enforcement groups opposed the bill, and it narrowly passed in the Legislature.
Senate bill 1129 (Sen. Bill Monning, D-Carmel): Removes mandatory minimum jail sentences for repeat prostitution offenses.
Analysis: Monning argued a “tough-on-crime” approach to prostitution does not deter prostitution and discourages victims of human trafficking from participating in diversion and drug treatment programs that might reduce their jail time. Brown, the proponent of a ballot measure to make certain nonviolent felons eligible for early parole, has made a major push for rehabilitation.
Assembly Bill 2466 (Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego): Allows convicted felons who are not in prison or on parole to vote.
Analysis: The California Constitution prohibits people who are in prison or on parole for a felony from voting. But under the prison realignment legislation Brown signed in 2011, some offenders now serve sentences in county jails instead. Weber’s bill was prompted by a 2014 lawsuit on behalf of low-level felons sentenced to county jurisdictions, and Secretary of State Alex Padilla dropped the state’s appeal of the case last year. Reminiscent of arguments Brown has made on different public safety issues, Padilla cited the need to re-engage inmates in society to reduce recidivism.
Senate Bill 813 (Sen. Connie Leyva, D-Chino): Removes statute of limitations for rape allegations.
Analysis: Current law generally requires charges to be brought within 10 years of a sexual assault, though victims of sex crimes that occurred when they were children have until they turn 40. Parsing Brown’s past decisions shows a complex approach to statutes of limitations. He has vetoed consecutive measures that would have allowed more time to sue organizations for childhood sex abuse, reflecting at length in one veto message on the concept of justice and writing in another that statutes of limitations reflect “a matter of fundamental fairness.” But those dealt with civil penalties. He signed a measure allowing more than an additional decade for victims to seek criminal charges against alleged childhood assailants.