S.F. mayor backs measure to stiffen retail theft penalties

SAN FRANCISCO — Democratic Mayors London Breed of San Francisco and Matt Mahan of San Jose have endorsed a tough-on-crime ballot measure to reform Proposition 47, a controversial initiative that reduced some drug and theft felonies to misdemeanors.

The measure — called the Homelessness, Drug Addiction, Retail Theft Reduction Act — would change the 2014 law by increasing penalties for fentanyl dealers and repeat organized retail theft rings, as well as providing mandatory treatment for drug users.

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“In San Francisco, we are making progress on property crimes, but the challenges we are facing related to fentanyl and organized retail theft require real change to our state laws,” Breed said. “I fully support this measure and know it will make a meaningful difference for cities across California.”

These endorsements come in the weeks after Gov. Gavin Newsom told reporters during his January budget presentation that altering Proposition 47 would not curtail the wave of high-profile retail thefts in the state. The Newsom administration instead has proposed six ways lawmakers can expand criminal penalties for organized theft without bringing the issue back to voters. Newsom agreed that tougher enforcement is needed and has called for more arrests in these cases.

Newsom also recently assigned 120 California Highway Patrol officers to combat crime in Oakland.

Proposition 47, supported by Newsom and approved by voters, reclassified some felony drug and theft offenses as misdemeanors and raised from $400 to $950 the amount for which theft can be prosecuted as a felony. Newsom often points out that some of the nation’s most conservative states, including Texas, have a higher threshold for felony charges.

Breed’s announcement comes as she runs for reelection and faces low approval ratings.

In 2022, San Francisco had the highest rate of property theft among all California cities, according to data from the Public Policy Institute of California, a leading nonpartisan group that researches crime trends and policies. Sacramento, Los Angeles and San Mateo also experienced an increase. However, according to the mayor’s office, property crimes in the city were lower than any period in the last 10 years, except for 2020. This year, in the first three weeks of January, property crime is reportedly down 41%.

Mahan told The Times in a phone interview that he was less aware of the governor’s plans and instead was more focused on the results of this bipartisan effort.

“The Legislature will be limited as far as what they can do without the voters,” Mahan said.

He cautioned that if Proposition 47 isn’t reformed now, there might be future support to repeal it altogether, which he said “would be a mistake.” Mahan said he witnessed firsthand a smash-and-grab theft at a grocery store.

“That feeling of no accountability is harmful to our society,” he said.

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times

Some Bills that Caught my Eye from 2024 Introductions

‘Isn’t that kind of obvious? A state statute cannot contradict the state Constitution’

Being the “legislative geek” that I am, as I made my way through the introduced bills in the 2024 California Legislative Session from yesterday’s deadline there have been a few measures that have caught my attention.

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This bill has 227 individual sections, the most I’ve seen so far.

An act to amend Sections 7196.2, 12240, 13400, 13404, 13440, 13442, 13470, and 13531 of the Business and Professions Code, to amend Sections 798.41, 1785.11.9, 1798.98, and 2929.5 of the Civil Code, to amend Sections 349.05, 564, 726.5, and 736 of the Code of Civil Procedure, to amend Section 17213 of the Education Code, to amend Section 824 of the Evidence Code, to amend Sections 819, 7274, and 32202 of the Financial Code, to amend Section 6602 of the Fish and Game Code, to amend Sections 4216, 4216.3, 4217.11, 6546, 7267.9, 7513.7, 7922.700, 8585.01, 8670.3, 8670.56.5, 11342.610, 16428.1, 16428.15, 16428.2, 51010.5, 53313.5, 54957, 61105, 63010, 65912.113, 65912.123, 65913.16, 65950.5, 65963.2, and 70357 of the Government Code, to amend Section 294 of the Harbors and Navigation Code, to amend Sections 18029.1, 19881, 25144, 25299.97, 25421, 38501, 38562, 38594, 39607, 39731, 39733, 40448.5, 40516, 40603, 41062, 41081, 41704, 42301.15, 42710, 43867, 44229, and 78075 of the Health and Safety Code, to amend Sections 7655 and 7800 of the Labor Code, to amend Sections 2202, 2202.5, 10295.3, 10295.35, 10295.5, and 10299.1 of the Public Contract Code, to amend Sections 2005, 3008, 3015, 3180, 3181, 3186.3, 3205.8, 3227.6, 3300, 3316.2, 3500, 3501, 3503, 3635.3, 6245, 6827.5, 21080.25, 21080.40, 21151.8, 25000.1, 25000.5, 25121, 25122, 25125, 25126, 25134, 25140, 25228, 25300, 25301, 25303, 25303.5, 25310, 25320, 25354, 25355, 25401.2, 25401.5, 25402.10, 25412.5, 25540.6, 25550, 25555, 25620.1, 25620.8, 25704, 25722.5, 25722.8, 25722.9, 25794.6, 25943, 25990, 26401, 30001.2, 30107, 30715, and 42891 of the Public Resources Code, to amend Sections 216, 216.6, 328.1, 328.2, 353.1, 366.1, 368, 379.5, 379.6, 390, 391, 398.4, 399.12, 454.56, 454.7, 701.1, 739.4, 740.3, 740.8, 747, 783.5, 784.2, 785.2, 890, 891, 892, 892.2, 896, 950, 955, 958, 963, 972, 975, 1002.5, 1821, 2104.7, 2775.7, 2801, 2802, 2804, 2806, 2811, 2812, 2836.7, 2840.6, 2841, 2851, 3252, 3255, 3310, 3325, 3365, 3369, 4351, 4358, 6350, 6351, 6352, 7673, 7714.5, 8340, 8341, 8371, 8372, 8380, 9616, 9618, and 99500 of the Public Utilities Code, to amend Sections 6358.1, 7284.3, 7326, 7335, 8613, 8651.6, 8651.7, 9258, 9501, 17131.10, 18154, 25128, 60004, and 60022 of the Revenue and Taxation Code, to amend Section 2580 of the Streets and Highways Code, to amend Sections 2402.6, 27602, and 27909 of the Vehicle Code, and to amend Section 24252.1 of the Water Code, relating to methane, and making an appropriation therefor.

Other than the Budget Bill, that’s a lot of code sections affected!

Why is this provision necessary?

Nothing in this section restricts the right of the public to use navigable waters for hunting, fishing, or other public purpose as guaranteed under Section IV of Article X of the California Constitution.

Isn’t that kind of obvious? A state statute cannot contradict the state Constitution.

This bill has an interesting provision.

This act does not affect, and shall not be construed to affect, the validity of City of Woodland Measure S (2004), its applicability to any flood control project, including the subject of this act, or the outcome of the litigation in Yolo County Farm Bureau v. City of Woodland (Yolo County Superior Court Case No. CV 2021-0564; 3rd District Court of Appeal Case No. C097202).

This is unique because it addresses a local ballot measure. In addition, on occasion, the Legislature addresses an appellate court decision, usually to abrogate it. In this case, the intent is to not disrupt the appeals court decision.

SB 1076 is doing it the “right” way (in my opinion):

The Legislature finds and declares that this act furthers the purposes and intent of the California Privacy Rights Act of 2020 by ensuring consumers’ rights, including the constitutional right to privacy, are protected by enacting additional consumer protection provisions regarding consumers’ requests that data brokers delete their personal information, including additional safeguards related to consumers’ use of authorized agents to make those requests.

I really appreciate when bills amending a statutory initiative actually explain why the bill “furthers the purposes” of that ballot measure. In most bills, we find the following as the standard language, which I think is inadequate:

The Legislature finds and declares that this act furthers the purposes and intent of The California Privacy Rights Act of 2020.

I always chuckle when reading the maxims of jurisprudence, most of which were enacted in 1872 in the California Civil Code.

Existing law provides certain maxims of jurisprudence, including acquiescence in error takes away the right of objecting to it. This bill would add to the maxims of jurisprudence described above that the exceptions and qualifications to maxims are more important than the so-called maxims.

Click here to read the full article in California Globe

California lawmakers weigh bill to ban cities from requiring voter ID for local elections

SHOULD CITIES BE ALLOWED TO REQUIRE VOTER ID?

California cities would be prohibited from establishing voter ID requirements in local elections, under a proposed law being considered by the Legislature. SB 1174 is intended to preempt the City of Huntington Beach, which is set to vote this March on whether require that voters present identification before voting in city elections.

It would also affect other city government considering implementing such a policy, according to a statement from the bill’s author, Sen. Dave Min, D-Irvine. California voters are not required to present ID in most circumstances during state elections. However, state law leaves it up to local jurisdictions for local elections. “Healthy democracies rely on robust access to the polls.

That’s why in California we follow the facts when it comes to the overwhelming body of evidence that voter ID laws only subvert voter turnout and create barriers to law abiding voters,” Min said in a statement.

Huntington Beach Mayor Gracey Van Der Mark is a proponent of voter ID requirements, and in an interview with Spectrum News 1 said, “If asking for an ID makes people feel more secure and brings back their faith for our voting system, then why not?”

Min pointed to the success of California’s COVID-19 motivated push for universal mail-in ballots, and that proponents of voter ID laws have not produced any evidence of voter fraud.

“At the same time, we know that voter ID laws can make it more difficult for seniors, people of color, young people, and other historically marginalized groups from participating in our democracy,” he said. The bill has not yet been assigned to a committee for consideration. Civil rights groups and others have long been wary of voter ID requirements.

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A League of Women Voters report said that “not only do these measures disproportionately impact Black, Native, elderly, and student voters, but they also fail to effectively address any real issues related to election integrity — the very thing advocates say these measures are designed to do. “ Min is running to succeed Rep. Katier Porter in Congress.

This bill will not affect his race.

DRUG CARTELS = TERRORISTS? Last year, six people — including a teen mom and her baby son — were executed in Tulare County. Police alleged that the massacre was drug cartel related. Now, California lawmakers are set to consider a bill that would designate violent drug trafficking gangs as foreign terrorist organizations and direct the California Attorney General’s Office to work with the Legislature to crack down on them.

Click here to read the full article at the Sacramento Bee

Porter defends ad highlighting little-known GOP rival in Senate race

Rep. Katie Porter, who accused her main Democratic rival in the Senate race of cynicism for attempting to prop up a Republican in the contest, is now doing the same.

The Irvine congresswoman, who is battling with Republican former baseball player Steve Garvey to come in second place in the March 5 primary, is running digital ads touting the conservative credentials of one of Garvey’s GOP rivals.

The Facebook ads argue that Eric Early, an attorney and perennial candidate who polls in the low single digits in the Senate contest, is the true conservative in the race.

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“Who’s the real Republican threat in the California Senate race? MAGA Republican Eric Early proudly stands with Donald Trump, while Steve Garvey refuses to tell us who he supports. Garvey claimed he might even vote for Joe Biden. Get the facts,” the Facebook post says.

Though the ad ostensibly criticizes Early, it is similar to other recent Democratic efforts to boost a Republican’s standing in an election, a byproduct of the state’s open primary system. The top two vote-getters in March move on to the general election, regardless of party affiliation. While Democrats dominate California voter rolls, if Republicans consolidate behind one candidate in a crowded field, he or she could win one of those two spots.

If Porter’s ad increases support for Early among GOP voters, that would eat into Garvey’s support, possibly allowing Porter to win the second spot.

Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank) appears assured to win the top spot in the primary based on polling. His campaign as well as a super PAC backing his bid are spending millions of dollars running television ads highlighting Garvey.

“Two leading candidates for Senate. Two very different visions for California,” a narrator intones in a Schiff campaign ad, noting later that Garvey “is too conservative for California” and voted for former President Trump twice.

At the time, Porter denounced the effort as a political ploy.

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times

Election 2024: Get to know the candidates in California’s 37th state Senate race

The race for California’s 37th state Senate district is a crowded one — and features some familiar names for legislative spectators.

The sprawling SD-37, which changed during the decennial redistricting process in 2021, includes at least parts of Irvine, Aliso Viejo, Costa Mesa, Orange, Fullerton and Laguna Niguel.

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It’s the only state Senate seat Orange County voters will see on their ballot this year.

Sen. Josh Newman, an incumbent Democrat is running for the seat, as is business owner Gabrielle Ashbaugh, former Assemblymember Steven Choi, neurosurgical technologist Leticia Correa, surgical coordinator Jacob Niles Creer, former Councilmember Anthony Kuo, medical authorization coordinator Stephanie Le, Councilmember Crystal Miles, community organizer Alex Mohajer, BuildersMax CEO Guy Selleck and respiratory therapist Jenny Suarez.

Choi, Kuo, Miles and Selleck are Republicans; the other seven candidates are Democrats.

For many of the candidates, education and health care are their top budget priorities.

Selleck says he would prioritize supporting behavioral health hospitals to address homelessness and drug addiction during the budget process while Mohajer would like to see Medi-Cal, the state’s Medicaid program, expanded and universal healthcare coverage implemented.

Newman, who chairs the Senate’s Education Committee, is keen on ensuring there’s maximum funding earmarked for California’s education system, particularly at the K-12 level. And Miles, a Villa Park councilmember, says she wants to make sure education funding is spent in the classroom.

Ashbaugh, Correa, Creer, Le and Suarez did not participate in the Register’s 2024 Primary Election Voter Guide and did not respond to requests for comment for this article.

A former Irvine Unified School Board member, Choi served in the Assembly for six years before redistricting pitted him against another incumbent member — and he lost. He says he wants to return to the legislature to aid in efforts to reduce homelessness, and for him, that looks like focusing on more long-term efforts, he said.

Click here to read that the full article in the OC Register

EDD Switches Over To Money Network For Benefit Payments Following $32 Billion in Fraud

Department switches bank networks following $32 billion in fraudulent unemployment claims during pandemic

The Employment Development Department officially switched over from Bank of America to Money Network for unemployment, disability, and Paid Family Leave debit card payments, following years of issues with BofA issued cards.

According to the EDD, old Bank of America EDD Debit Cards will continue to work for now. However April 15, 2024 will be the last day that claimants will be able to use the old cards.  Customers will need to transfer any remaining balance on their debit cards to a different account or request a check for the funds from BofA by that date.

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“With Money Network, customers get the benefits of embedded microchips and state-of-the-art encryption for making contactless payments when using that card,” said EDD Deputy Director Loree Levy in an announcement on Friday.

The switchover from BofA has been in the process for years, dating back to the COVID-19 pandemic. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the EDD was slammed with a record number of requests for unemployment following the shutdown of many businesses in March 2020. The EDD approved so many requests, even lifting their own anti-fraud measures. In January 2021, California Labor and Workforce Development Agency Secretary Julie Su said that the number of fraudulent claims was at S11.4 billion. By the time anti-fraud measures were firmly in place and that all claims could be thoroughly checked, the amount had climbed to $32 billion.

Investigations into the fraud were launched, with Governor Gavin Newsom launching his own investigation. There, they found that the high number of BofA cards issued did not have fraud prevention chips in them, allowing for so many fraudsters to receive them during the pandemic. Task forces soon recommended not only cards with fraud prevention chips, but also cards with tap to pay technology and the option for direct deposits to help combat fraud.

Bank of America, while also struggling to combat the fraud, said that “The vast majority of unemployment fraud is committed by those filing false applications. When fraudulent transactions occur on benefit cards, we review those claims and restore money to legitimate recipients.”

Bank of America – Money Network switchover

Despite this, Bank of America quickly decided to get out of providing unemployment benefits, because of their part in the $32 billion in fraud and giving out outdated cards with no fraud prevention chips. Needing a new partner for benefit payments, the EDD turned to Money Network. The company, which proved itself by sending the Middle Class Tax Refund out in late 2022, won the bid, with the transition between BofA and Money Network starting last year.

This led to the debit card changeover officially happening on Friday. In addition to the provider switchover, the EDD added that a direct deposit option will be implemented later this year, with the EDD to pay Money Network around $32.3 million over the next five years to cover the costs of direct deposit transactions alone. This is all part of the EDDNext program, which while making claims processing easier and faster, will also drastically increase protection against fraud.

Click here to read the full article in the California Globe

What Will They Take Away Next? Bill to Ban Use Of Disposable Cups At Restaurants Introduced in CA Senate

Critics say that SB 1167 would be largely ineffective: ‘This just isn’t a smart bill’

Photo: sd38.senate.ca.gov

A bill to end the usage of disposable plastic or paper cups at some restaurants was introduced to the Senate on Wednesday, becoming the latest bill this year to cut back or ban disposable plastic or paper product usage.

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Senate Bill 1167, authored by Senator Catherine Blakespear (D-Encinitas), would prohibit a chain restaurant from serving or offering for sale a beverage in a single-use vessel to a customer that is dining or consuming the beverage on the premises. According to a press release released by Blakespear, this will specifically require chain restaurants in California to provide dine-in customers with non-toxic reusable cups, instead of single-use plastic or paper cups that often end up in landfills.

Blakespear said that she wrote the bill because while many disposable cups are designed to be recyclable or disposable, many still end up in landfills. Other parts of them, such as plastic tops or sleeves are often non-recyclable as well, contributing to environmental problems. She also noted that many paper cups found in restaurants, especially fast food restaurants, are usually lined with polyethylene plastic, making them difficult to recycle or compost. She also noted that a CalRecycle study found that 500,000 tons of plastic foodware are brought to dumps each year, with a big culprit being cups.

“California has a massive plastic waste problem, and if we are serious about protecting our environment and living sustainably, we must reduce it across the board,” said Senator Blakespear on Wednesday. “SB 1167 is a simple, sensible step to reduce waste coming from restaurants.”

“SB 1167 would require chain restaurants in California to provide dine-in customers with non-toxic reusable cups, instead of single-use plastic or paper cups that often end up in landfills.”

Disposable Cup Ban bill

While no other lawmakers backed the bill on Wednesday, several environmental groups did, echoing Blakespear’s reasoning.

Click here to read the full article in the California Globe

California Assemblymen Introduce a Legitimate Bill to Solve Homelessness

End ‘Liberal Olympics’: Pray that the State Capitol media gives it the attention it needs, and that all of California deserves

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Two California Assemblymen have introduced a bill to address life beyond homelessness.

Assemblymen Josh Hoover (R-Folsom) and Joe Patterson (R-Rocklin) announced Assembly Bill 2417 “to expand and improve California’s response to our state’s homelessness crisis. This legislation increases funding flexibility for treatment and service oriented programs by repealing the state’s existing one-size-fits-all ‘Housing First’ approach to homelessness.”

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What? This doesn’t sound interesting, controversial or sexy? Yawn.

That’s the problem with today’s Liberal Olympics. Only the craziest, most ridiculous bills seem to get any media attention. The actually necessary, corrective policy-fix bills are ignored by the mainstream media while the stupid, excessive, exaggerated bills make the media’s click-bait cut.

This bill is important… So what does the “Beyond Housing” bill do?

According to the bill’s authors:

It “eliminates the state’s one-size-fits-all approach to homelessness by allowing treatment as a potential option rather than the strict Housing First policy. This would allow state agencies and departments to distribute homeless funds to entities that require mental health and drug treatment for homeless individuals to remain in the program. Ultimately, this will reduce homelessness, crime, squalor, and pressure on local services, when billions in taxpayer money has already been squandered.”

This means that the failed “Housing First” policy this state has spent billions on is… well… a failure – except for the contractors refurbishing and building the “housing” for the homeless.

t is notable that several states with high housing costs have low homelessness – something which rankles “housing first” advocates who continue to insist the hundreds of thousands of drug addicts living on the streets, parks, beaches, rivers and golf courses in California would not be there if they could afford housing, even calling the drug-addicted homeless the “unhoused.”

The Globe has covered the homeless crisis extensively and note that focusing only on housing rather than what’s really at the root of homelessness – drug addiction and mental illness – is merely Democrats controlling the language rather than solving the homeless crisis.

As Assemblymen Hoover and Patterson explain in detail:

Click here to read that the full article in the California Globe

They earn nearly $200,000. Can they afford to have kids in SoCal?

During their daily walk a few years ago, a Burbank couple brainstormed baby names, settling on one option for a boy and another for a girl.

Shutterstock

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But the names never got used.

After several conversations and scrutiny of their life goals and monthly budget, Beccy Quinn and Xavier Coelho-Kostolny decided last year to join the growing cohort of Americans who describe themselves as child-free by choice.

Their discussions hinged on two questions: Will we still be able to invest as much time in the relationships we already value? And, if we have a child, can we still live comfortably in the city we love and save enough for travel and retirement?

The answer to both was no.

Coelho-Kostolny, 36, designs 3-D models for video games and Quinn, 35, works as an actor and writer, and although they earned a combined income of nearly $200,000 last year, her salary fluctuates each year. The couple expects to help care for Quinn’s parents down the road and they already feel behind on a retirement goal they’ve read online: Aim to save five times your annual salary by age 40.

“It’s just impossible,” Coehlo-Kostolny said, exasperated. “I’m pretty sure I’m just gonna work until I die.”

Quinn, who manages the couple’s monthly budget, assured him that they’re doing better than he thinks, but agreed that having a child would make it extremely challenging. The cost of day care alone, she said, would eclipse her salary some years.

“I would have had to quit.”

Birth rates have been trending downward in the U.S. for several decades, but they dropped even more precipitously during the pandemic, a time of profound uncertainty when parents juggled jobs, as well as full-time caregiving and teaching roles. After a small rebound, they’re now down again.

More than a quarter million fewer babies were born in the U.S. in 2022 than in 2012, according to the most recent finalized data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A phenomenon across much of the world, the falling birth rate has sweeping implications on the global economy, prompting Taiwan to spend more than $3 billion on child-rearing initiatives and leaders in several countries to create so-called baby bonuses.

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times

Why do candidates who campaign on climate flood mailboxes with fliers?

Mailers generate carbon. They also generate money and votes. Experts talk about that balance, plus ways that campaigns can be greener.

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One California voter tweeted: “‘Help me fight climate change’ says the campaign mailer going straight into the recycle bin.”

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Then there’s the Facebook user who called “snail mail” campaign fliers “mostly a nuisance these days,” and said her main response to them is this question: “Don’t these people care even a bit about the environment?”

If you’re a registered voter, and particularly if you live in a district with a competitive primary race, your mailbox has likely been flooded in recent days with political campaign fliers.

Like all mail, each of these fliers leaves a small carbon footprint. Trees are felled to make their paper and gas-powered vehicles spew carbon to deliver them. That’s why climate groups encourage everyone to turn off paper billing, to opt out of junk mail, and to “think before you print.”

But despite the growing role that digital advertising now plays in modern elections, the decades-old tradition of mailing out campaign fliers shows no signs of slowing down.

That’s true even of candidates who use those mailers to tout their passion for fighting climate change.

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“Campaigns are notorious for being slow adapters,” said Dan Schnur, who teaches politics at USC and worked as a strategist on past presidential and gubernatorial campaigns.

“But there still is significant residual value in old fashioned snail mail,” he added. “So a campaign that moves away from it for philosophical or ideological reasons is potentially compromising their effectiveness.”

Click here to read the full article in the OC Register