Supporter of California shoplifting reform initiative calls new Democrats' move “dirty politics”

SACRAMENTO – A political scandal involving shoplifting and allegations of dirty politics is brewing at the California State Capitol.

Supporters of a nationwide referendum to toughen shoplifting laws fear that a new legislative tactic by Democrats could undermine their plan.

Governor Gavin Newsom and other Democratic lawmakers are accelerating the passage of bills this week that they say are better than the ballot reform bill Prop 47.

Democratic lawmakers have also implemented a controversial tactic that they defended at a press conference on Monday: They have added an amendment that their opponents call a “poison pill” that could override the very laws they want to pass.

“There are no poison pills,” said House Speaker Robert Rivas at the conference. “To be honest, that's a very misleading argument.”

Proposition 47 was passed by California voters in 2014 and reduced penalties for non-violent property crimes and drug possession.

Shoplifting incidents and widely viewed surveillance videos showing the brazen robberies have prompted California prosecutors and law enforcement to push for a statewide referendum to reform House Bill 47, which would create the possibility of charging repeat offenders with a serious crime.

The push to reform Prop 47 is seen as The Act to Reduce Homelessness, Drug Addiction and Theft.It is alleged that Prop 47 in its current form has led to an increase in homelessness, drug addiction and theft across the state.

Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig helped draft the proposed statewide initiative.

“This is simply dirty politics. It is underhanded and clearly aimed at sabotaging the initiative,” Reisig said. “The poison pill clearly has the intention of sabotaging the initiative.”

Now, Democratic lawmakers are preparing their own emergency anti-shoplifting legislation, adding only what they call the Poison Pill Amendment Inoperability, or Poison Pill Amendment, which says their own legislative reforms would be immediately repealed if voters pass the state's initiative to reform Prop 47.

Democratic strategist Steve Maviglio said the tactic, while potentially unpopular, could be effective for Democrats who fear the initiative could lead to a return of mass incarceration in the state.

“A poison pill in legislation is essentially designed to kill something they don't like,” Maviglio said. “The goal is to confuse voters so they'll vote no.”

The changes are expected to be officially added in committee meetings on Tuesday. Then we will see how lawmakers vote on the changes and what impact they might have.

Anna Harden

Learn More →

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *