Crunch Time in Sacramento: Your Voice Needed!

mike gatto

Assemblymember Mike Gatto

Many Justice Not Jails priority issues are addressed in key pieces of legislation now under consideration. Bills need to clear at least one house of the legislature by the end of May in order be considered during this term.  If a bill has moved from committee to the floor of one of the chambers or has moved to the “second house” for final action, you should contact your representative to urge his or her support. If a bill is on what’s called “suspense” (because it affects the state budget), you should contact the chair of that chamber’s Appropriations Committee AND the bill’s sponsor to urge that it be released for floor consideration.

The chair of the Assembly Appropriations Committee is the Hon. Mike Gatto of Glendale. Use the “contact Mike” button on his website. The chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee is the Hon. Kevin DeLeon of Los Angeles. His website has an “e-mail Sen. DeLeon” button.

Don’t forget that you can learn more about the substance of any bill by doing a Google search that includes the bill number + “California legislature”.

Here are the bills:

kevin de leon

State Senator Kevin de Leon

On the Assembly Floor

  • AB 721 – sponsored by Assembly Member Steven Bradford (Los Angeles). This bill modifies penalties for persons arrested with drugs for personal use and not for trafficking. 
  • AB 938 – sponsored by Assembly Member Shirley Weber (San Diego). This bill clarifies the voting rights of people under law enforcement supervision; it would stop the frequent wrongful denial of voting rights by confused local boards of elections. 

On the Assembly Floor for Second House Passage

  • SB 649 – sponsored by Senator Mark Leno (San Francisco). This bill gives prosecutors the discretion to charge simple drug possession as a misdemeanor offense.

On “Suspense” in the Assembly Appropriations Committee

  • AB 218 – sponsored by Assembly Member Roger Dickinson (Sacramento). This bill frees people with felony conviction histories from having to check a box on applications for public sector jobs. Public employers would still be able to conduct background checks.
  • AB 560 – sponsored by Assembly Member Tom Ammiano (San Francisco). This bill requires split sentencing for low-level offenders who would spend the final six months of their sentences under law enforcement supervision but in a community setting.
  • AB 720 – sponsored by Assembly Member Nancy Skinner (Berkeley). This bill requires counties to enroll eligible jail inmates in MediCal 30 days prior to their release so that they can leave jail with health insurance – an urgent need for many re-entering people.

On the Senate Floor for Second House Passage

  • AB 651 – sponsored by Assembly Member Steven Bradford (Los Angeles). This very important bill makes expungement of criminal records easier to achieve.

Before the Senate Appropriations Committee

  • SB 61 – sponsored by Senator Leland Yee (San Francisco). This bill limits the use of solitary confinement for youth.
  • SB 580 – sponsored by Senator Mark Leno (San Francisco). This bill allows a small part of the Crime Victims Compensation Fund to be used to support pilot programs that would provide trauma recovery support for victims of crimes.

On “Suspense” in the Senate Appropriations Committee

  • peter laarmanSB 283 – sponsored by Senator Loni Hancock (Oakland). This bill would repeal California’s current exclusion of persons with felony drug convictions from receiving CalFresh (food stamps) or CalWorks (welfare) assistance. Barring ex-offenders from these federally-subsidized programs makes no sense and greatly increases prospects for recidivism. 

 Peter Laarman
Justice Not Jails

About Peter Laarman

Rev. Peter Laarman serves on the Justice Not Jails steering committee. He formerly directed Progressive Christians Uniting, the LA-based network of activist individuals and congregations that first launched Justice Not Jails in 2012 as a multifaith initiative. He served as the senior minister of New York’s Judson Memorial Church from 1994 to 2004. Ordained in the United Church of Christ, Peter spent 15 years as a labor movement strategist and communications specialist prior to training for ministry.