Capitol Alert

‘Sanctuary state’ bill amended to require reporting immigrants with violent felonies

Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers escort an arrestee from an apartment building in the Bronx borough of New York on March 3, 2015.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers escort an arrestee from an apartment building in the Bronx borough of New York on March 3, 2015. The Associated Press

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A week after Republican lawmakers and county sheriffs railed against the public safety threat of what they dubbed the “sanctuary state” bill, that measure will come up for a key committee vote today with a significant change that addresses some of their concerns.

Senate Bill 54 originally would have instituted a sweeping prohibition on state and local law enforcement using their resources to assist federal authorities with immigration enforcement. Critics like Sen. Joel Anderson, R-Alpine, blasted the proposal for protecting “rapists, murderers, armed robbers, serial drunk drivers, people who endanger and hurt other in our communities” by allowing them back onto California streets.

But on Friday, Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, who authored SB 54, announced an amendment that would require state prisons and county jails to notify the FBI 60 days before releasing an undocumented immigrant with a violent felony conviction.

The change came with the endorsement of Assemblyman Jim Cooper, D-Elk Grove, as a principal co-author of the bill, a boost for its prospects. Cooper is a barometer at the Capitol for where law enforcement stands on an issue.

In a statement, Cooper said he worked closely with de León’s office on the amendment “to ensure that we are not jeopardizing public safety, while at the same time, ensuring that the rights of all Californians regardless of their immigration status are protected and continue to be protected.”

SB 54 is up for consideration in the Senate Appropriations Committee, 10 a.m. in Room 4203 of the Capitol.

WORTH REPEATING: “Liberal nut job queen. Does that come with a tiara?” - Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, D-San Diego, responding to an insult on Twitter about her bill to raise the tax on hard alcohol to fund a sales tax exemption for diapers and tampons.

FIGHT FOR YOUR RIGHT: It’s merely legislation to develop legislation, but Senate Bill 18 – which would require the Legislature by 2022 to create a “Bill of Rights for Children and Youth” – is already proving controversial. The idea of the measure, from Sen. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, and sponsor Common Sense Kids Action, is to set standards in health, safety, care and educational opportunity for California children. Critics, however, are mobilizing against what they say is another example of government overreach into parental choice; they already protested at the Capitol in January. Many of them are the same people who lobbied passionately two years ago against Pan’s mandatory vaccines bill, raising worry among backers that the anti-SB 18 campaign is petty revenge. They will try to build support for the bill with a rally at 9:30 a.m. on the east steps of the Capitol.

PUTTING IN WORK: Among those who already support SB 54 is the California chapter of National Association of Social Workers, which is at the Capitol for its annual lobby day. The group will call on the Legislature to pass the bill, along with other measures that would allow courts to place mentally ill defendants in diversion programs and prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation in long-term care facilities, at a rally on the west steps of the Capitol at 11 a.m. De León and seven other lawmakers are slated to address the crowd.

VIDEO OF THE DAY: California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones told The Bee Capitol Bureau that he couldn’t remember how he voted on Proposition 64, the ballot measure to legalize recreational marijuana. He later told KQED that he voted no.

BREAK FREE: As the debate over higher education affordability rages on, amid pending public university tuition increases for the first time in seven years, Assembly Democrats are taking up the debt-free college rallying cry that has become a major progressive cause since Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign. More than half a dozen members, including Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and budget chair Phil Ting of San Francisco, will unveil a budget plan aimed at helping students graduate without debt, 11 a.m. in Room 317 of the Capitol.

ODE BOY: Chigozie Maduchukwu, a senior at Pleasant Grove High School in Elk Grove, won California’s student poetry recitation contest, Poetry Out Loud, last year and he’s back to defend his title. The final rounds of the competition, produced by the California Arts Council, begin at 8:30 a.m. in the Senate chambers. The winner earns $200 and a trip to Washington, D.C. to represent California in the national finals hosted by the National Endowment for the Arts.

CELEBRATIONS: Happy birthday to Sen. Ben Allen, D-Santa Monica, who turns 39 today.

Alexei Koseff: 916-321-5236, @akoseff