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California Democrats cry 'hogwash' on Republican criticism of retail theft bills, Prop. 47

Lindsey Holden and Stephen Hobbs, The Sacramento Bee on

Published in News & Features

California Democratic leaders on Monday pushed back against criticism from Republicans over their handling of a series of bills that would tighten penalties on retail theft crimes.

“To our Republican colleagues who oppose our public safety and retail theft solutions, I ask them this: What do you all stand for?” said Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas, D-Hollister, during a news conference. “What policy in our bipartisan package are you defending here?”

That followed an outcry from Republicans who were unhappy about amendments to some of the bills in the package. The changes would void a group of the measures if a ballot initiative changing Proposition 47 passes in November. The 2014 voter-approved initiative reduced some theft and drug crimes to misdemeanors and set a $950 threshold for shoplifting.

The 14 measures head to the Assembly and Senate Public Safety committees on Tuesday. However, Rivas and Senate President Pro Tem Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg, have yet to explain which bills they plan to amend.

Assembly Republican Leader James Gallagher of Yuba City and Senate Minority Leader Brian Jones of San Diego on Thursday sent the Democrats a letter expressing concerns about the amendments, saying they “set a dangerous precedent, forcing our constituents into a false choice between legislative reforms and necessary modifications to Proposition 47.”

Another urgency amendment would cause them to take effect as soon as Gov. Gavin Newsom signs them, potentially undercutting the ballot measure.


Conflicting retail theft plans

On Monday, Rivas and McGuire called Republican allegations that the amendments are a “poison pill” hypocritical.

They insist enacting the ballot measure and the bill package simultaneously would cause conflicts.

Rivas cited a Assembly Bill 1960 from Assemblywoman Esmeralda Soria, D-Fresno, that would add sentencing enhancements for those who destroy property while committing a felony if the loss exceeds $50,000. He said the initiative contains a similar provision, but it does not include an inflation adjustment.


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