Bipartisan backlash builds on legislative effort to challenge Prop 47 reform ballot initiative

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

Elected officials from both political parties on Wednesday spoke out against an effort by Democratic state leaders that attempts to challenge a ballot initiative to reform Proposition 47 in November. A decade ago, Proposition 47 loosened penalties around drug and theft crimes. The initiative to reinstate the consequences and prison time for thieves and fentanyl dealers has qualified for the November ballot. Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas and Senate Pro Tempore Mike McGuire said this week they planned to add controversial amendments to a set of bills that mostly address organized retail theft that would repeal those proposed laws if voters approve the separate ballot initiative. State Senator Marie Alvarado-Gil (D-Jackson) is the latest Democrat to say she doesn’t support the legislative tactic and announced she was removing her name as a coauthor from two of the bills. “I oppose the amendments to these two bills, and I was not consulted about them prior. Let me be clear- I do support the Prop 47 reform initiative and believe voters have the right to vote on this. This is not about the policy, it’s about the politics,” Alvarado-Gil said in a statement. The senator’s comments come a day after Assemblyman Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) told reporters his Assembly Public Safety committee did not feel that it was appropriate to move forward with the amendments at its hearing Tuesday and suggested it could happen in another committee. The division among Democrats comes as negotiations continue between state leaders and the proponents of the Prop 47 reform measure. Two sources close to the situation told KCRA 3 that Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Chief of Staff, Dana Williamson, met with lobbyists working with the initiative’s campaign on Tuesday night. Greg Totten, a spokesman for the Californians for Safer Communities campaign, said the group has always been willing to discuss with Democratic leaders. “Legislative leadership and the governor’s office have said they don’t want to amend proposition 47, but the problem cannot be fixed without amending proposition 47,” Totten said. Meanwhile, the campaign held a news conference outside of the Attorney General’s Office on Wednesday morning, urging lawmakers to stop playing politics with the initiative. They urged California Attorney General Rob Bonta to be fair with the title and summary, should he decide to rewrite it. “We ask that our attorney general do the right thing when it comes to the initiative, title and summary, by rising above politics,” said Bobbie Allen-Singh, mayor of Elk Grove. Bonta has publicly supported the legislative public safety package. His office said in a statement this week that it takes the title and summary responsibility seriously, but would not comment further. See more coverage of top California stories here | Download our app.

Elected officials from both political parties on Wednesday spoke out against an effort by Democratic state leaders that attempts to challenge a ballot initiative to reform Proposition 47 in November.

A decade ago, Proposition 47 loosened penalties around drug and theft crimes. The initiative to reinstate the consequences and prison time for thieves and fentanyl dealers has qualified for the November ballot.

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Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas and Senate Pro Tempore Mike McGuire said this week they planned to add controversial amendments to a set of bills that mostly address organized retail theft that would repeal those proposed laws if voters approve the separate ballot initiative.

State Senator Marie Alvarado-Gil (D-Jackson) is the latest Democrat to say she doesn’t support the legislative tactic and announced she was removing her name as a coauthor from two of the bills.

“I oppose the amendments to these two bills, and I was not consulted about them prior. Let me be clear- I do support the Prop 47 reform initiative and believe voters have the right to vote on this. This is not about the policy, it’s about the politics,” Alvarado-Gil said in a statement.

The senator’s comments come a day after Assemblyman Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) told reporters his Assembly Public Safety committee did not feel that it was appropriate to move forward with the amendments at its hearing Tuesday and suggested it could happen in another committee.

The division among Democrats comes as negotiations continue between state leaders and the proponents of the Prop 47 reform measure. Two sources close to the situation told KCRA 3 that Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Chief of Staff, Dana Williamson, met with lobbyists working with the initiative’s campaign on Tuesday night.

Greg Totten, a spokesman for the Californians for Safer Communities campaign, said the group has always been willing to discuss with Democratic leaders.

“Legislative leadership and the governor’s office have said they don’t want to amend proposition 47, but the problem cannot be fixed without amending proposition 47,” Totten said.

Meanwhile, the campaign held a news conference outside of the Attorney General’s Office on Wednesday morning, urging lawmakers to stop playing politics with the initiative. They urged California Attorney General Rob Bonta to be fair with the title and summary, should he decide to rewrite it.

“We ask that our attorney general do the right thing when it comes to the initiative, title and summary, by rising above politics,” said Bobbie Allen-Singh, mayor of Elk Grove.

Bonta has publicly supported the legislative public safety package. His office said in a statement this week that it takes the title and summary responsibility seriously, but would not comment further.

See more coverage of top California stories here | Download our app.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.