Capitol Alert

California bills fail to advance on police records, body camera funding

Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, during Senate floor session in 2013.
Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, during Senate floor session in 2013. The Sacramento Bee file

Hundreds of bills face a vote before the California Senate and Assembly next week after passing off the suspense files in both houses on Friday, but a pair of high-profile public safety measures aimed at increasing transparency in law enforcement agencies will not.

Among dozens of proposals held this year in their respective appropriations committees, either for costing too much or proving politically unpopular, were Senate Bill 1286, by Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, to open public access for officer misconduct and use-of-force records, and Assembly Bill 1680, by Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Salinas, to fund a grant program for more local police to buy body cameras.

Both measures are part of a broader, and thus far largely unsuccessful, response at the Capitol to the ongoing national debate over police violence that has roiled cities with protests and riots. SB 1286 was heavily opposed by law enforcement groups that argued it went too far in making their private information available. Several body camera bills failed in the Legislature last year as well, as lawmakers could not agree whether to require their use and under what conditions.

“Secrecy around serious allegations of police misconduct undermines public trust in law enforcement and jeopardizes the safety of our communities,” Leno said in a statement. “When secrecy wins, the public loses. Without SB 1286, confirmed allegations of police misconduct will continue to be obscured from public view.”

Though Democrats have made gun safety a focus again this session, Assembly Bill 1663 was also held in appropriations. The measure, by Assemblyman David Chiu, D-San Francisco, would have expanded the state’s assault weapons ban to include semi-automatic rifles with detachable magazines.

The Senate committee killed one of organized labor’s biggest priorities for the year: Senate Bill 878, by Sen. Connie Leyva, D-Chino, requiring retailers to provide their employees a 21-day work schedule, at least a week before the first shift. A similar proposal was shelved in the Assembly last year.

Other measures that did not make it off the suspense file include:

▪  Assembly Bill 1713, by Assemblywoman Susan Talamantes Eggman, D-Stockton, which would have prohibited construction on the controversial Delta water conveyance tunnels unless approved by California voters.

▪  Assembly Bill 2539, by Assemblyman Marc Levine, D-Greenbrae, to combat eating disorders and sexual harassment in the fashion industry by giving fashion models more employee rights.

▪  Assembly Bill 2650, by Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian, D-Los Angeles, prohibiting California’s public retirement funds from investing in Turkish bonds, if the federal government were to pass sanctions against Turkey.

▪  Senate Bill 1002, by Sen. Bill Monning, D-Carmel, establishing a telephone hotline for questions about the state’s new assisted death law.

▪  Senate Bill 1114, by Sen. Ben Allen, D-Santa Monica, to phase out the use of enormous drift gill nets in commercial fishing off the coast of California that ensnare other marine animals fishermen do not intend to catch.

▪  Senate Bill 1462, by Sen. Bob Huff, R-San Dimas, introducing a new oral field screening to test whether drivers are under the influence of drugs.

Alexei Koseff: 916-321-5236, @akoseff. Rachel Cohrs contributed to this report.

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