Capitol Alert

Sheriff oversight bill held + Rent cap moves to Assembly + Governors urge gun control

Sacramento Sheriff Scott Jones was accused of misusing department computers when he was a captain as a favor to area bail bondsmen. He was cleared of the allegations, but they dogged him throughout his 2010 race for his first term as sheriff.
Sacramento Sheriff Scott Jones was accused of misusing department computers when he was a captain as a favor to area bail bondsmen. He was cleared of the allegations, but they dogged him throughout his 2010 race for his first term as sheriff. pkitagaki@sacbee.com

Good Wednesday morning, alerters. Two more days y’all.

Both the Senate and Assembly are in at 10 a.m.

SHADOW BILL

For much of the year, the criminal justice reform conversation centered on Assembly Bill 392.

The landmark law restricts officers from using deadly force unless deemed “necessary,” and based on the totality of circumstances.

In AB 392’s shadows was Assembly Bill 1185, written by Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, to increase oversight of sheriffs departments in California.

The proposal would allow counties to establish a separate supervision body to oversee the inner workings of sheriffs’ departments.

AB 1185 would also allow the oversight commission to issue a subpoena to investigate a sheriffs department and establish an office for an inspector general.

McCarty said the bill would increase “transparency and accountability” over California sheriffs.

But he also decided to move the proposal to a two-year effort.

AB 1185 needed extra time, his office said. And there just wasn’t enough of it this year.

The bill was backed by a handful of advocacy groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union of California, which said the “Misuse of (sheriffs departments) can lead to grave constitutional violations, harms to liberty and the inherent sanctity of human life, and significant public unrest,” according to the bill analysis.

The California State Sheriffs’ Association deemed the bill “unnecessary,” given the initiative by several counties to already increase department accountability.

There’s a backstory here.

McCarty wrote the bill in direct response to Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones locking out Inspector General Rick Braziel last year amid investigations into a police shooting of an emotionally disturbed African American man in 2017.

Later, the Sacramento County Grand Jury found that Jones had the power to halt Braziel’s work. Members of the grand jury wrote that the county would need new authority to prevent a sheriff from obstructing a similar investigation in the future.

“Because of the current lack of oversight, we’ve seen taxpayers foot the bill for millions of dollars as a result of legal fees racked up due to allegations of misconduct against deputies, jailers, and sheriff’s department employees,” McCarty told The Bee in a statement about holding the bill. “There have been countless examples all over the state that have demonstrated how important it is that we ensure that supervisors, sheriff oversight boards, and the inspector general have the authority necessary to conduct proper oversight so they can do their jobs.”

IT’S NOT RENT CONTROL

“(Assembly Bill 1482) is very different,” said Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, following the vote on a two-for-one bill that would cap rent increases at 5 percent plus inflation and prohibit landlords from throwing out tenants in certain situations.

Atkins’ defense of the bill comes after the Senate passed the measure on a 25-10 vote yesterday. It now heads to the Assembly for final approval before heading to the governor’s desk.

“There is a big distinction in difference,” Atkins continued. “We’ve been very clear what this cap is, how it will be used and when there is a sunset. This is not rent control.”

Republicans speaking against the measure were not so convinced.

The two words ‘rent control’ to me is like fingernails scratching on a chalkboard,” said state Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa.

Moorlach and his conservative colleagues argued during the floor debate that the AB 1482 would add hurdles to housing production in a state already bleeding for more units, and that it would harm landlords who own a few units to rake in a little extra cash.

“If it disincentivizes the production of new housing, we’re toast,” Moorlach continued.

Newsom, however, appears ready with pen poised.

“California is at the doorstep of enacting strong, statewide renter protections – safeguards that are critical to combating our state’s housing and cost-of-living crisis,” Newsom said in a statement following the vote. “I thank the Senate for their decisive action today as the bill moves on to the Assembly.”

‘ENOUGH IS ENOUGH’

Gov. Gavin Newsom, along with a coalition of 11 fellow governors, is not messing around when it comes to gun control, according to a letter he co-signed and sent to the White House on Tuesday.

Congressional lawmakers are back in Washington to get a few high-profile issues checked off its to-do list, including gun control legislation.

Following a slew of deadly mass shootings this summer, elected leaders across the country have called on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, and President Donald Trump to crack down on the National Rifle Association and pass “common sense” gun laws.

The governors include those from: New York, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, Rhode Island and Washington.

In the letter, Newsom and the governors said the “time is now to break the cycle by enacting four common-sense measures.”

“As governors, it is our responsibility to listen to our communities’ calls for action,” they wrote. “However, a patchwork of state laws will never be a substitute for coherent national policy.”

Their demands include:

  • Pass so-called “red-flag” laws, which prohibit individuals thought to pose a danger to themselves or others from possessing or purchasing a gun.
  • Pass universal background checks
  • “Outlaw” the weapons commonly used in mass shootings, like assault weapons and high-capacity magazines
  • Strengthen reporting requirements on those with mental health concerns

“Thoughts and prayers won’t fix this disturbing trend,” they continued. “Enough is enough.”

TWEET OF THE DAY

Alternate TOTD, because it brought me back to my middle school days.

I’m just a bill. Yes, I’m only a bill.

Best of The Bee:

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  • California’s poverty rate among highest in nation once again, new census figures show by Michael Finch II
  • Can’t buy a house? 2020 Democrats say they’ll push cities to build more homes by Emily Cadei
Hannah Wiley joined The Bee as a legislative reporter in 2019. She produces the morning newsletter for Capitol Alert and previously reported on immigration, education and criminal justice. She’s a Chicago-area native and a graduate of Saint Louis University and Northwestern.
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