Fought To Keep Our Communities Safe

Reforms are needed to combat crime spikes.

Senate Republicans continue to press for reforming the flawed Proposition 47 law that allows a “Get-Out-of-Jail-Free card” to some criminals.

California communities are already feeling the unintended consequences of this flawed law through crime spikes.

According to the most recent FBI crime statistics, both violent crime and property crime rates are on the rise in California.

California’s 2015 violent crime rate increased 7.6% from the prior year. Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters highlighted that California’s violent crime rate increase “was 2 1/2 times the 3 percent national increase, the 13th highest of any state.”

FBI data also show a 7.2% increase in California’s property crime rate. This comes at a time when the FBI notes that “for 2015, the estimated number of property crimes nationwide decreased 2.6 percent when compared with the 2014 estimate.”

Senate Republicans will continue to shine a light on this problem and offer common-sense solutions. For example, Senate Bill 1321 (Stone) was introduced this year and would have required a criminal who committed a felony while on mandatory supervision to serve the new sentence in state prison and not be assigned to over-burdened county jails.

While the majority party killed this and other practical solutions in 2016, Senate Republicans remain resolute in our efforts to fight on the side of law-abiding citizens and for safe communities.

Senate Republicans worked to protect our communities from drug trafficking.

With fentanyl drug overdosing on the rise, Senate Republicans pushed legislation (SB 1323/Bates and Huff) this year to enhance penalties for its sale and to treat the trafficking of it the same as heroin or cocaine.

“Fentanyl is a prescribed synthetic opioid used to treat people with severe chronic pain, when other pain medicines no longer work, and as an anesthetic in surgery. When abused, fentanyl affects the brain and nervous system by producing a euphoric high 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine or heroin... The drug is inexpensive to produce, making it a go-to heroin substitute for drug cartels.” [August 11, 2016 Senator Bates Press Release, “Assembly Committee Blocks Bill to Address Fentanyl Drug Trafficking”]

Though SB 1323 had strong support from the law enforcement community, it failed to move past the Assembly Committee on Appropriations due to the “governor’s focus on decreasing the state’s prison population…”[August 11, 2016 Senator Bates Press Release, “Assembly Committee Blocks Bill to Address Fentanyl Drug Trafficking”]

Fentanyl-related overdose deaths have surged in California. [As Senator Bates’ fact sheet stated: “In Orange County…fentanyl possession increased 400% from November 2014 to November 2015 and cases of driving under the influence of fentanyl rose 100%, over the same period.”]

In Los Angeles County, the number of fentanyl-related deaths increased approximately 50% from 2013 to 2014 (from around 40 a year between 2011-2013 to 62 in 2014).

The Sacramento region also experienced a dramatic increase in fentanyl overdoses and deaths. As of mid-July, Sacramento County reported 53 overdoses and 12 deaths and Yolo County reported three overdoses and two deaths. [July 20, 2016 Sacramento Bee, “Sacramento’s deadly fentanyl cases yield first known arrest”]

Senate Republicans also supported legislation by the late Sharon Runner (SB 1367) to give local governments more control over the sale of synthetic drugs and keep them out of the hands of children. There has been a surge in recent years of new drugs such as “spice,” a synthetic marijuana, as well as others. These drugs are dangerous. SB 1367 would have provided local governments the ability to ban the sale of these synthetic drugs to minors as they crop up in communities around the state. The bill did not move past the Assembly.

The California Legislature failed to approve either of these important bills that would have kept our communities safe.

Senate Republicans advocated to keep a dangerous felon behind bars.

Senate Republicans monitor especially dangerous felons as they become eligible for parole, and unanimously urged the state Parole Board to deny the release of convicted murderer Steven John Burns.

In 1979, Burns harassed and stalked University of the Pacific student Catina Rose Salarno for months before he murdered her.

After incarceration, Burns wrote harassing letters to Salarno’s family and failed to show remorse for his crimes. Senate Republicans recognize the importance of remaining vigilant in keeping such criminals off the streets.

Senate Republicans set the record straight that even more gun control does not make our communities safer.

Senate Republicans vigorously opposed the majority party’s false promise that sweeping restrictions on law-abiding gun owners will make our communities safer.

After all, the guns used in the San Bernardino terrorist attack were already illegal before it occurred.

Even the Brady Campaign agrees that California already has the strictest gun laws in the nation.

Before we enact even more gun laws, we should focus on actually enforcing those laws already on the books.

Case in point:

Millions of dollars were given to California’s Attorney General to remove illegal guns from our streets, but she has failed to do that.

As a result, thousands of felons and individuals who are mentally unstable currently possess guns in our communities.

More laws will not help our Attorney General do the job of top cop.