Ciara Hamilton (center left) and Liz Medrano (center right), who both lost family members in police shootings, testify on AB 392. / Photo courtesy of the California Assembly

Another week, another surprise decision on the fate of a major bill: Assemblywoman Shirley Weber’s bill to change the standards guiding police use of deadly force has been given a green light after law enforcement groups agreed to drop opposition following several new amendments.

People across the state and even the country are still buzzing about the demise of SB 50, but as the so-called house of origin deadline looms – it’s not a prequel to “Game of Thrones” but a requirement that all bills must pass out of the house where they originated by May 31 – big decisions are being made about each measure.

Now the fates of AB 392 and SB 50, the two most high-profile bills this session, appear set.

AB 392 has not even passed through the Assembly yet, but with Thursday’s announcement of a deal and the backing of Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins and Gov. Gavin Newsom, it looks like the hard part is over.

“With so many unnecessary deaths, I think everyone agrees that we need to change how deadly force is used in California,” Weber said in a statement. “We can now move a policy forward that will save lives and change the culture of policing in California.”

CALmatters’ Laurel Rosenhall, who’s been chronicling the bill’s progress all year in a special podcast, broke down the major concessions secured by each side in a Twitter thread: Police groups won “removal of criminal liability in cases of criminal negligence resulting someone’s death” and “removal of the definition of “necessary” as meaning “no reasonable alternative to the use of deadly force,” Rosenhall noted, while advocates won a “standard for using force that is much tougher than current state law & goes a little further than the SCOTUS standard set by Graham v Connor,” plus “consideration of the conduct of both subject & officer leading up to use of force when deciding if a shooting is justified.”

“The best public policies aren’t made in a vacuum,” said Ron Lawrence, president of the California Police Chiefs Association, in a statement. “AB 392 now reflects the shared experiences, perspectives and expertise from everyone at the table, from families and communities to the officers who have sworn to serve and protect them.”

Weber introduced a version of the bill last year, but Atkins moved the measure to a two-year track after intense opposition from law enforcement groups.

It’s the same track that SB 50, the controversial measure by Sen. Scott Weiner to allow far more home-building near transit, was put on in a surprise move last week.

Atkins’ statement Thursday on the deal for AB 392 appeared to suggest that moving controversial measures to a two-year track to allow more time to build consensus can be a good thing: “The decision to hold the legislation last year proved to be the right choice. We spent countless hours as soon as session ended last year right up to today, bringing the different groups together so we could begin the difficult conversations needed to arrive at a negotiated agreement,” she said.

San Diego Lawmakers Split on Airbnb Bill as it Clears Assembly

Assemblywoman Tasha Boerner Horvath’s attempt to tamp down vacation rentals along San Diego’s coastline passed the state Assembly on Thursday without the support of a couple key allies.

Boerner Horvath’s AB 1731 takes a different tack than San Diego County cities that have sought to regulate vacation rentals, barring rental platforms like Airbnb and VRBO from listing San Diego County vacation rentals that fall into both residential and state coastal zones on their sites for more than 30 days a year unless a full-time resident is on site.

Cities across the county, namely the city of San Diego, have for years been paralyzed over how to regulate vacation rentals.

Yet a spokesman for fellow Democrat and state Assemblyman Todd Gloria, who is running for mayor, said Thursday that Gloria voted against AB 1731 because he believes cities – not the state – should lead the way on regulations.

“(Gloria) has served on the City Council and he’s lived through all of these discussions related to short-term vacation rentals and what we realize is there’s really no replacement for local action on this issue,” spokesman Nick Serrano said.

Serrano said Gloria had urged Boerner Horvath to amend her bill to allow cities to choose to opt in or out of its regulations. He had also raised concerns about the lack of enforcement mechanisms for the proposed rules.

Assemblyman Brian Maienschein, a Democrat, abstained from voting on the matter. Maienschein’s office did not immediately respond to VOSD’s request for comment on his decision.

Other San Diego Democrats, Assemblywomen Lorena Gonzalez and Shirley Weber, backed Boerner Horvath’s bill while Republican Assemblywoman Marie Waldron and Assemblyman Randy Voepel in voting against the bill.

AB 1731 is now headed to the state Senate. If signed by Newsom, it’s expected to go into effect next January.

Lisa Halverstadt

A Few More Bills That Are Moving on …

Here are a few more notable bills that recently passed their house of origin, and move on to the opposite chamber:

SB 305 by Sen. Ben Hueso would require health care facilities to allow terminally ill patients to use medical marijuana within the facility. The bill is known as Ryan’s Law in honor of Santee Mayor Jim Bartell’s son Ryan, according to Hueso’s office.

SB 276 by Sen. Richard Pan would transfer the power to dole out medical exemptions to vaccine requirements from individual doctors to the California Department of Public Health. The bill would also create a database of exemptions, and allow the department to revoke exemptions found to have been obtained fraudulently or for reasons that aren’t accepted by the CDC. It was inspired in part by Voice of San Diego reporting showing a single doctor was responsible for granting nearly one-third of the medical vaccine exemptions in San Diego Unified.

SB 541 by Sen. Pat Bates would require schools to conduct one lockdown drill a year.

AB 500 by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez would require school districts, charter schools and community colleges to provide at least six weeks of paid maternity leave.

AB 1413 by Assemblyman Todd Gloria would let several San Diego transit agencies –  the San Diego County Regional Transportation Commission, SANDAG, MTS and the North County Transit District – propose new taxes for a specific portion of the areas they cover, cleaving off tax-averse areas from both paying the tax and voting to approve it.

Golden State News

Sara Libby was VOSD’s managing editor until 2021. She oversaw VOSD’s newsroom and content.

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