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California Dems who blocked bill to make child trafficking a ‘serious felony’ reverse course following intense bipartisan blowback
Democratic California Assembly Public Safety Committee Chairman Reggie Jones-Sawyer (Image Source: KCRA-TV YouTube video screenshot)

California Dems who blocked bill to make child trafficking a ‘serious felony’ reverse course following intense bipartisan blowback

After receiving strong bipartisan blowback for killing a bill that would have made child trafficking a “serious felony,” Democratic members of the California Assembly Committee on Public Safety decided to reverse course on Thursday.

Senate Bill 14, introduced by Republican state Senator Shannon Grove, would add child sex trafficking to the list of “serious felonies.” Traffickers would be ineligible for early release and subject to California’s three strikes law, enforcing harsher sentences on repeat offenders, including up to life in prison.

On Tuesday, all six Democratic committee members, including Assembly Public Safety Committee Chairman Reggie Jones-Sawyer, blocked the bill’s passage by refusing to vote.

At the time, Jones-Sawyer claimed the bill failed to “address the root of the problem” but that he would be willing to work with Grove on the measure.

The Democratic members received significant pushback from the community, including from members of their own party, for stalling the bill.

On Wednesday, Democratic California Governor Gavin Newsom reported that he reached out to Grove personally and noted that he was “surprised” the legislation did not pass.

“I appreciate Shannon Grove’s efforts on this and wanted to make sure she knew that,” Newsom said.

Democratic Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas said Thursday that he was working with Grove on the legislation, adding it was “something that we are addressing and it’s something we are going to get right.”

Democratic Assembly Member Liz Ortega posted on Twitter Thursday that she had “made a bad decision” by refusing to vote on SB 14.

“Voting against legislation targeting really bad people who traffic children was wrong. I regret doing that and I am going to help get this important legislation passed into law,” Ortega wrote.

The Assembly Public Safety Committee held a special hearing on Thursday to once again vote on the bill. This time, it passed 6-0 after several Democratic members, including Reggie Jones-Sawyer, Liz Ortega, Miguel Santiago, and Rick Zbur, decided to reverse course and vote in support of the measure. Once again, Democratic members Mia Bonta and Isaac Bryan refused to vote.

Grove called it a “victory for every survivor.”

“This is a bill with strong bipartisan support, and protecting victims of child sex trafficking should not be a partisan issue,” she stated.

Grove’s bill now advances to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

“We shouldn’t be playing politics. We should be coming together — together — to move this forward so that everybody is safe,” Jones-Sawyer stated following Thursday’s vote. “I’m going to make a commitment to do everything in my power to get it on the governor’s desk so he can sign it.”

Reversal: Key California committee advances sex trafficking bill after backlashyoutu.be

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