California Democrats introduce legislation — supported by Governor Newsom — on police reforms that would ban police tactics used against suspects and protesters. Congress considers how to follow California’s lead on our police use-of-force bill — led by CDT-endorsed Assemblymember Shirley Weber — with the Justice in Policing Act of 2020.
Black lawmakers look to pass legislation to that addresses systemic inequalities, including repealing the ban on affirmative action, restoring voting rights to felons serving parole, and studying the impacts of slavery in California and exploring reparations.
Race Class Narrative (RCN) released a messaging guide on protests, policing and racial injustice. RCN is a leading resource for progressive groups throughout the U.S.
CA Police Reforms
Three District Attorneys and DA candidate — San Francisco DA Chesa Boudin, Contra Costa DA Diana Becton, and Los Angeles DA candidate George Gascón — have joined together to call for a ban on police union contributions to district attorney candidates. State legislators — including Senator Lena Gonzalez — are starting to pledge the same.
The Democratic Party of Orange County approved a resolution to “only back local candidates who will commit to fighting for sweeping police reform” and “turn down money from police unions, effectively relegating police contributions to the same status as ‘big tobacco’ and ‘big oil,’ whose funding is considered too politically toxic for Democrats to accept.”
The State Senate and Assembly announced a unified budget plan, rejecting Governor Newsom’s budget, especially the $14 billion in spending cuts that would have come mostly from schools, on the contingency that Congress would pass more aid money for state and local governments by October 1. The budget includes tax breaks — the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Young Child Tax Credit programs — for undocumented immigrants. The state legislature has until June 15 to pass a budget.
The California Budget and Policy Center looks at how corporations have been paying less and less of their share of taxes over a generation. The Schools and Communities First ballot initiative, which qualified for the fall ballot, will address this and provide additional funding at a critical time for local and statewide governing bodies.
Governor Newsom issued another executive order last week, expanding on his original vote-by-mail order to ensure that voters have more options to cast ballots before November 3. No additional funding was set aside to support implementation of all vote-by-mail elections, which poses challenges for counties, which are operating with dwindling budgets.
Former Representative and current CD50 (San Diego) Republican candidate Darrell Issa lines up with the president again, suing Governor Newsom over the governor’s original vote-by-mail executive order, with the support of the conservative Judicial Watch. Since the case will likely be dismissed, Issa and Judicial Watch are likely using this case for publicity and fundraising. The Republican National Committee, the National Republican Congressional Committee and the California Republican Party have also filed suit.
COVID and Race in California
In Los Angeles, lower-income communities — especially predominantly Black and Latinx — are most affected. In San Francisco, the AAPI population has been disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus, as have low-wage, and especially Latinx, workers. The CA Budget and Policy Center outlines how state leaders can protect some of these workers.
Only half of the 15,000 rooms leased by the state to temporarily house the homeless during COVID, Project Roomkey, are occupied. There is a lack of service providers to help run the hotels and make sure people have what they need as they shelter in place. Governor Newsom considers buying hotels to permanently house people.
Undocumented students cannot access federal COVID aid. The CA Budget and Policy Center looks at the impact in CA, and provides recommendations for actions the state legislature could take to support them.
Criminal Justice Reform
California jail populations are lower since COVID prevention measures were enacted. “In a seismic, almost overnight shift, California has jailed 21,700 fewer people — nearly one-third of its daily inmate population — in county lockups since the new coronavirus hit the state. Prisons are holding about 5,500 fewer inmates than they did in late March. … The result has been a 32 percent drop in Sacramento County’s jail population. Orange County holds 45 percent fewer people. And some state’s smallest county jails are housing less than half as many people as they did before the pandemic.”
However, state and federal prisons are still experiencing high rates of infection and some deaths.