Editor's Note: This blog post first appeared on the Los Angeles Police Protective League's website.
A wave of new bills was introduced as California lawmakers reconvened at the State Capitol on Jan. 7 to start their legislative year. A number of them are of particular interest to law enforcement and deserve a close watch.
We applaud Senator Ted W. Lieu of Los Angeles for introducing a bill making it a felony for parolees to cut off GPS-aided ankle bracelets. Lieu cited data showing a two-thirds jump in parolees who illegally remove ankle-mounted monitoring bracelets.
"An increasing number of California parolees are cutting off their GPS monitoring devices because they're convinced little will happen to them," Lieu said in press release explaining the need for Senate Bill 57. "By making this crime a new felony, we can only hope these former prisoners, most of them either convicted sex offenders or hard-core gang members, will have second thoughts to roaming freely among the public with zero oversight."
Senator Noreen Evans meanwhile, moved quickly to propose other needed legislation that would update a 1870s rape provision to cover impersonation of other bedmates. A man impersonated his female victim's boyfriend in order to have sex with her while she was sleeping. His conviction was overturned by a state appeals court in Los Angeles earlier this month on the technicality that current law only allows someone to be convicted for rape for impersonating a spouse.
SB 59 will change the word "spouse" to "sexually intimate partner," expanding the definition from what Senator Evans calls "an arcane law that could let a rapist go free. "Rape is a violent crime that should be punished to the fullest extent of the law," said Evans. "Justice cannot be conditioned on the victim's marital status."
As you might expect several new bills were introduced in an effort to crack down on guns and ammunition in the wake of last month's massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., where 20 children and six adults were killed. This is part of a trend on the local, state and federal levels to try to make substantive changes in gun laws while public interest is high.
Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner proposed Assembly Bill 48 requiring sellers of ammunition to be licensed and for purchasers to show identification. The Department of Justice would be required to notify local law enforcement of large-quantity purchases over a five-day period by an individual who is not a peace officer. It would also ban the manufacture, sale or import of any device that enables a gun to fire more than 10 rounds at one time.
Last month, Sen. Kevin de León proposed legislation to require ammunition buyers to purchase annual permits that would cost about $50. The process would include a yearly background check. Sen. Ted Gaines (R-Rocklin) proposed a measure to permanently prohibit various mentally ill Californians from ever buying a firearm.
Last year, some 800 laws were enacted by the California Legislature and signed into law. That suggests the bills introduced in the first two weeks of the new year are just the beginning of a robust legislative session for 2013. We shall keep a close eye on legislation pertaining to law enforcement.