Capitol Alert

AM Alert: Activists rally at Capitol against police brutality, for immigrant heath care

Rohnicia Sykes of Sacramento rallies against police brutality at the Capitol on Dec. 13, 2014.
Rohnicia Sykes of Sacramento rallies against police brutality at the Capitol on Dec. 13, 2014. The Sacramento Bee file

A series of fatal police shootings involving unarmed black men – including a recent incident in South Carolina captured on video – has stirred a national debate over racial disparities in law enforcement.

California lawmakers have responded this session with a number of bills aimed at curbing police violence, including legislation to expand the use of body cameras and institute independent reviews of shootings. Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, introduced AB 619, which would implement new public reporting requirements for deaths that occur under police custody, and AB 953, which would expand a prohibition on racial profiling to probation and parole officers, as well as create a panel to investigate racial profiling in California law enforcement agencies.

The ACLU of California, a co-sponsor of both bills, will hold a rally for AB 619 and AB 953, which are scheduled to be heard in the Assembly Public Safety Committee next week, 11:30 a.m. on the south steps of the Capitol.

WALK ON: With SB 4 facing its first hearing before the Senate Health Committee on Wednesday, supporters of the bill to expand Medi-Cal to undocumented immigrants will march to the Capitol today. After departing from the Embassy Suites on Capitol Mall at 10:30 a.m. and rallying on the north steps of the Capitol, immigrant rights advocates from Young Invincibles, the Courage Campaign, Health Access California and the California Immigrant Policy Center will be joined by the legislation’s author, Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, for a press conference at noon. SB 4 is the centerpiece of a package of bills introduced last week by Democrats to expand protections for people who are in the country illegally.

BILLS TO WATCH: Sen. Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, has been working for years to repeal California’s “welfare queen” law. SB 23, which would allow families that conceive a child while on welfare to receive additional benefits, is before the Senate Appropriations Committee, 10 a.m. in Room 4203 of the Capitol. With an estimated cost of more than $200 million in its first year, it faces a significant challenge. We’ll also get our first sense of the prospects for Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León’s call for California’s public pension funds to divest from coal. SB 185 will be heard by the Senate Public Employment and Retirement Committee, 2 p.m. in Room 2040.

CELEBRATIONS: Happy birthday to California Republican Party Chair Jim Brulte, who turns 59; Rep. Jim Costa, D-Fresno, who turns 63; and Rep. Susan Davis, D-San Diego, who turns 71.

Call The Bee’s Alexei Koseff, (916) 321-5236. Follow him on Twitter @akoseff.