2017 Legislative Review

LSPC Staff & Interns gather on the Capitol steps after a successful day meeting with legislators to advocate for our sponsored bills.

Every legislative cycle, LSPC staff, interns, and AOUON members track hundreds of bills through the California Legislature. We support bills that advance our mission of releasing incarcerated people, restoring human and civil rights and reunifying families by writing advocacy letters, testifying in hearings in Sacramento, and directly lobbying legislators. We oppose bills that increase the severity and/or length of sentences, or create more barriers to employment, housing, education, or voting in much the same way.

 

 

CO-SPONSORED LEGISLATIVE PROPOSALS 

AB 412 (Ting) – Civil Assessments 

This bill would expand protections for low-income people who fail to appear in court or who fail to make a payment in traffic court. In particular, the bill would require a court to vacate a civil assessment – a penalty fee which can otherwise cost as much as $300 – if a defendant can show good cause for failing to appear or failing to pay. The bill specifies that “good cause” includes being homeless, on means-tested benefits, a student receiving financial aid, or otherwise indigent.  

Status: This is a 2-year bill for the 2017-18 legislative cycle. 

AB 1008 (McCarty-Weber) – The Fair Chance Act 

This bill will prohibit employers from inquiring about conviction or an incarceration record until after a conditional offer of employment has been made. Additionally, it requires that employers considering denying an applicant solely based on their criminal record to perform the following: make an individual assessment of the applicant, notify the applicant of the preliminary decision, as well as wait for the applicant to respond with any rehabilitation information.  

Status: This bill was signed into law in October 2017. 

SB 180 (Mitchell) – The RISE Act 

SB 180 removes the current three-year enhancements for prior drug convictions. However, if a minor is involved it does not apply. SB 180 allows for funding that would otherwise be spent on incarceration to go toward effective causes such as programs for treatment, housing, and employment. Research indicates that funding such programs will increase public safety and reduce recidivism rates. SB180 will help stop the dismantling of communities and families of color.  

Status: This bill was signed into law in October 2017. 

SB 185 (Hertzberg) – Traffic Court Debt Reform 

This bill requires courts to determine a defendant’s ability to pay traffic violations fines and fees and requires courts to offer fee reductions and alternatives to payment for indigent defendants. SB 185 also helps protect low-income drivers who miss a court date from having their driver’s license suspended and forbids traffic courts from using bench warrants and misdemeanor changes to punish defendants who fail to pay or appear in court.  

Status: This is a 2-year bill for the 2017-18 legislative cycle. 

 

SUPPORTED LEGISLATIVE PROPOSALS 

AB 103 (2017-18 Budget: Public Safety Omnibus) – License Suspension for Failure to Pay 

This bill makes California the first state in the nation to end the practice of using driver’s license suspension as a collection tool against people who fail to pay outstanding fines and fees in traffic court.  

Status: This bill was signed into law in June 2017. 

AB 208 (Eggman) – Deferred Entry of Judgement 

This bill changes the existing deferred entry of judgment (DEJ) program for specified drug offenses into a pretrial drug diversion program. Under current law, an individual is required to enter a guilty plea in order to participate in the program. The bill is aimed at providing protections to undocumented citizens whose dismissals still count as convictions under federal immigration law subjecting them to deportation proceedings.  

Status: This bill was signed into law in October 2017. 

AB 503 (Lackey) – Parking Ticket Debt Reform 

This bill creates a payment plan system for parking tickets, including reduced monthly payment amounts for drivers who are on public benefits or otherwise indigent within specific income requirements. Further, by establishing flexibility for indigent drivers, this bill will help protect those individuals from having their vehicle registration or license renewal blocked for nonpayment of parking tickets.  

Status: This bill was signed into law in October 2017. 

SB 10 (Hertzberg) – Bail Reform 

This bill revises the pretrial release system by limiting pretrial detention to specified persons, eliminating the use of bail schedules, and establishing pretrial services agencies tasked with conducting risk assessments on arrested persons and preparing reports with recommendations for conditions of release. 

Status: This is a 2-year bill for the 2017-18 legislative cycle. 

SB 54 (De Leon) – Law Enforcement and Immigration: Data Sharing 

This bill would prohibit state and local law enforcement from using resources to investigate or arrest persons for immigration enforcement purposes.  

Status: This bill was signed into law in October 2017. 

SB 310 (Atkins) – California Department of Corrections: Gender Identity 

SB 310 would allow transgender individuals within in the California Department of Correctional to obtain an identification card consistent with the name that matches their gender identity while incarcerated. This would drastically reduce the number of incidences of assaults, attacks, and harassments that many transgender experience while in state prison.  

Status: This bill was signed into law in October 2017. 

SB 620 (Bradford) – Firearm Enhancements 

Existing law allows an individual who used a firearm in the commission of a felony to be sentenced to an additional state prison enhancement of 3, 4, or 10 years or 5, 6, or 10 years, depending on the type of firearm, or of 10 years, 20 years, or 25-years-to-life for specific convictions or if the firearm was discharged. This bill would allow a court to strike such an enhancement in the interest of justice during either sentencing or resentencing.  

Status: This bill was signed into law in October 2017.