Capitol Alert

Ending cash bail has another proponent in California

Billionaire activist Tom Steyer wants California to end its cash bail system.
Billionaire activist Tom Steyer wants California to end its cash bail system. AP

Known for his outspoken criticism of President Donald Trump, Tom Steyer also wants to end California's cash bail system.

The billionaire environmental activist, who is focused on impeaching Trump, is in Sacramento on Monday to lead a discussion on why California must stop its cash bail system. Steyer joins several California leaders, including Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, Attorney General Xavier Becerra and Gov. Jerry Brown, who have called for the state to overhaul a system they argue unfairly penalizes the poor.

Steyer will moderate a panel of criminal justice experts discussing California's cash bail system at the Crest Theater, 1013 K St. Following the discussion, which begins at 5:30 p.m., Steyer's NextGen America will present a special screening of "13TH," a 2016 documentary by Ana DuVernay on the history of racism in the American prison system.

Steyer spoke about bail reform in Sacramento last August while attending the Imagine Justice Concert put on by rapper Common on the Capitol Mall. In addition, he also led a commission that released a report last summer on income and racial inequality in California.

His NextGen America group supports Senate Bill 10, which would largely eliminate the cash bail system in California and have courts instead rely on pretrial assessments of an offender's flight risk and danger to public safety. Sen. Bob Hertzberg, D-Los Angeles, introduced SB 10 in 2016, but negotiations with lawmakers and court officials have held up the bill.

Before the evening forum, the National Association of Social Workers, California Chapter, will call for passage of SB 10 on the west steps of the Capitol from 11 a.m. to noon. Speakers will include Hertzberg, Assemblyman Evan Low, D-Campbell, Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, and former Assemblywoman and social worker Mariko Yamada, D-Davis.

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TUITION FREEZE, PLEASE: As state universities weigh potential tuition hikes, a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers, students and faculty will call for a tuition freeze for California State University and University of California students at a Capitol news conference this afternoon. UC regents delayed a vote on a tuition hike until May amid opposition from lawmakers, students and Gov. Jerry Brown.

"In a year when state budget revenues are expected to be robust, and when we've already raised tuition so much, we shouldn't be imposing more tuition increases on the families of students at our public universities," said Sens. Steve Glazer, D-Orinda, and Ben Allen, D-Santa Monica, in a joint statement. "Investing state resources in preserving college affordability must be a priority, for the sake of today's young people and for the future of our state."

Glazer chairs the Senate Select Committee on Student Success, and Allen chairs the Senate Education Committee. The coalition will hold a conference in Room 1190 of the Capitol at 1:30 p.m. A live stream will be available via Glazer's Twitter account.

CELEBRATE: Happy birthday to Assemblyman Rudy Salas, D-Bakersfield, who turns 41, and to Assemblyman Tom Lackey, R-Palmdale, who turns 59.

Billy Kobin: (916) 321-1860, @Billy_Kobin