Can California Curb Shoplifting Without Prop. 47 to change? Assembly Democrats unveil their plan

(Ryan Fonseca/Los Angeles Times)

Can California Curb Shoplifting Without Prop. 47 to change? Assembly Democrats unveil their plan

California Politics, 2024 Elections

Anabel Sosa

April 10, 2024

Two approaches are gaining ground as California faces the issue of shoplifting, which was pushed to the top of the state’s political agenda this year by viral videos of robberies and the proliferation of drugstores locking up basic goods.

Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas (D-Hollister) on Tuesday


threw his support behind a package of bills that aim to thwart theft by, among other proposals, allowing restraining orders to keep people who steal from certain stores and letting prosecutors aggregate the value of multi-incident thefts when calculating establishing criminal charges.

Meanwhile, supporters of an initiative paid for by major retailers are preparing to submit signatures this month


to include on the November ballot a measure that would address the problem through tougher criminal penalties for repeat offenders and court-ordered diversion programs for drug users.

The question now is whether the two sides will negotiate a middle ground or whether both approaches will make progress this year, paving the way for a fight at the ballot box.

At the heart of the issue is a debate over whether California can curb theft without changing Proposition 47, the liberal criminal justice measure voters approved in 2014 that classified certain drug and theft offenses under $950 as felonies. Rivas and Democratic Government. Gavin Newsom believes they can enact new laws to address theft while keeping Proposition 47 intact. Proponents of the initiative, backed by major retailers and plaintiffs, believe that repeating parts of Proposition 47 is crucial to solving the problem.

“There is no way to turn back the clock when it comes to the criminal justice reforms that have been implemented,” Rivas said during a press conference at the Capitol on Tuesday. “It’s about understanding the root causes of this problem, which is complex. And for us, each of these bills taps into these layers of complexity.”

Rivas rejected proposals that would require a change to Proposition 47, sending The Times a statement saying that “going to the ballot to address retail crime or theft is not necessary because the Assemblies’ bipartisan and comprehensive plan is real and delivers urgent changes for Californians.

Rachel Michelin, president of California Retailer

s Assn., appeared alongside Rivas in a sign of her group’s support for the legislation. But she sees the bills as

one more option on the table

to the voting initiative


“California is a very political state, this is a very political situation, but it’s about how do we find solutions?” she told the Times. “Whether it’s a ballot initiative or a legislative package, which has the best chance of success?”

The ballot initiative was called Homelessness, Drug Addiction

Retail etc

The Theft Reduction Act seeks to change Proposition 47 in numerous ways. It would make the third time someone shoplifts a misdemeanor. It would also allow prosecutors to add up the value of stolen property so that someone could be charged with a misdemeanor for multiple thefts totaling at least $950. It would add fentanyl to a law that prohibits possession of hard drugs while armed with a loaded firearm. Drug treatment would also be required if someone is charged with simple drug possession for the third time.

“We can’t solve this without going back to the polls,” Bobbie said

To sing

Singh-Allen, president of the American Petroleum and Convenience Store Assn., a supporter of the initiative, which represents nearly 2,000 convenience stores in California. “We don’t want to just leave it up to the legislature.”

The ballot initiative has raised more than $7 million since October and is largely funded by retailers such as Target, Walmart, 7-Eleven and Home Depot, campaign finance data show. The prosecutor-led initiative was largely supported by law enforcement officials and Republicans

elected officials

but recently received support from Democrats


Mayor London Breed of San Francisco.

Greg Totten, CEO of the California District Attorney’s Office

s Assn. and a

in favor of the initiative,

told The Times that he is confident


will be eligible for the November ballot. The deadline for submitting signatures is April 23.

A law passed in 2014 gives the Legislature the chance to hold hearings and negotiate with promoters over policies that could tempt them to take their measures off the ballot. Totten said his campaign “stands ready to negotiate at any time, in any place, under any circumstances.”

Rivas did not answer The Times’ question about whether he would hold a public hearing on possible negotiations.

The Senate is also considering a package of bills to address the growing fentanyl crisis and organized retail theft. Lawmakers have until the end of August to decide which bills to send to Newsom.

The parliamentary bill package

has support from progressive groups that support California’s criminal justice reforms.

Rather than simply trying to score quick and cheap political points, the package reflects a commitment to pursuing solutions that would reduce thefts in the first place,” said Tinisch Hollins, executive director of Californians for Safety and Justice, in a statement.

Here are the bills Rivas wants to prioritize: Assembly Bill 2943, co-authored by Rivas and Assembly Member Rick Chavez Zbur (D-Los Angeles), is a nod to Newsom’s suggestions about how the state should try to curb theft . The bill targets serial thieves, collects dollar amounts and expands drug diversion programs. Portions of this bill address similar issues in the ballot initiative. Assembly Bill 1794 from Assembly Member Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) would allow prosecutors to merge theft crimes committed by the same perpetrator, even if they involve different locations and victims. It would also streamline the process of reporting shoplifting incidents directly to prosecutors through a nationwide program called CAL Fast Pass. Assembly Bill 1845 by Assembly Member Juan Alanis (R-Modesto) is the only Republican bill in the package and would expand the California Highway Patrol’s property crimes task force program to include freight theft and railroad policing. Assembly Bill 3209 from Assemblymember Marc Berman (D-Menlo Park) would allow a court to impose a restraining order of up to two years on a person who has stolen, vandalized or committed battery against an employee. It would also require the court to consider whether a person is living in a food desert and whether the store is the only location for necessities. Assembly Bill 1779 by Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin (D-Thousand Oaks) is co-sponsored by the California District Attorney’s Assn. It would allow prosecutors to charge several crimes that occurred in different provinces and try them in one court. Assembly Bill 1802 by Assembly Member Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles) would make the California Highway Patrol’s Property Crimes Task Force permanent. Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. George Gascn sponsored this bill. Assembly Bill 1960 by Assemblymember Esmeralda Soria (D-Fresno) would increase penalties for someone who takes or destroys property worth more than $50,000. Supporters include the Merced County District Attorney’s Office, the Assn. and Assn. of the Orange County District Attorney.


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