Bill Watch

Bail Reform Bill Stretches the 72-Hour Notice Law – UPDATED

WLA Guest
Written by WLA Guest

Update: On Tuesday, Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 10 into law.


Editor’s Note: On Tuesday, August 21, the California Senate passed SB 10, the state’s bail reform bill, in a 26-12 vote, and sent it to the governor for signature. Just before it was pushed through both houses, legislators added amendments that substantially changed the nature of the bill, losing many former SB 10 supporters, including the ACLU, in the process. In the commentary below, Dan Walters of CALmatters argues that the amendments may also have violated the spirit of voter-approved Proposition 54, which established a 72-hour public review period for bills before a final vote, in order to prevent legislators from slipping in eleventh-hour sneaky changes without public notice.

Taylor Walker


By Dan Walters

Two years ago, nearly two-thirds of California voters supported a ballot measure to crack down on legislative trickery.

For decades, state lawmakers had dodged the public by secretly drafting important bills and then quickly jamming them through both legislative houses. They became known as “mushroom bills” because they sprouted in the dark of night.

Proposition 54, backed by a wide array of civic groups and with $10.7 million in campaign financing from wealthy Stanford University physicist Charles Munger Jr., sought to curb mushroom bills by stating, “No bill may be passed or ultimately become a statute unless the bill with any amendments has been printed, and distributed to the members, and published on the Internet, in its final form, for at least 72 hours before the vote….”

Capitol politicians despise Proposition 54 and have tried to work around it. But what happened last week on a highly controversial measure to outlaw cash bail may take the cake.

Senate Bill 10 had sat in limbo for nearly a year while lobbyists for the interest groups involved, such as bail bond agents and criminal-justice reformers, negotiated among themselves and with legislators, Gov. Jerry Brown’s office and state Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye.

Suddenly, on Aug. 16, the dormant bill, carried principally by Sen. Bob Hertzberg, a Van Nuys Democrat, was revived in the Assembly Appropriations Committee and passed. A day later—on a Friday afternoon—major amendments to the bill were submitted to the Assembly clerk’s office.

However, the official records pertaining to SB 10, including the bill itself, say the amendments were adopted the following Monday, Aug. 20, just before the Assembly approved it on a 42-31 vote. A day later, the Senate gave final approval, sending the bill to Brown for certain signature on a 26-12 vote.

Hertzberg and others contend that the 72-hour rule was obeyed by submitting the amendments—essentially an entirely new bill—to the Assembly clerk on Aug. 17. However, the amended bill was not truly available to the public until Aug. 20, the day of the Assembly’s vote.

The process may—or may not—have adhered to the letter of the 72-hour requirement, but it certainly violated its spirit of giving the public time to examine and react to pending legislation.

Why the rush?

The revised measure, largely reflecting wishes of Cantil-Sakauye, does away with cash bail, but it provides judges with wide discretion in deciding who may be released from custody while awaiting trial and creates a massive new bureaucracy to evaluate defendants.

The changes alienated many bail reformers, including the American Civil Liberties Union and California Attorneys for Criminal Justice, which said, “We believe there is a substantial likelihood that more people will be incarcerated pretrial than under current law.”

Legislative leaders were clearly concerned that the opposition, an odd-bedfellows alliance of bail reformers and bail bond agents, could, if given several days to work on wavering legislators, peel away enough votes to block passage. So they wanted to move quickly.

Legislative leaders also faced heavy pressure from unions, particularly the Service Employees International Union, to pass the bill because the new bureaucracy it would create would mean thousands of new unionized civil-service workers.

By stretching Proposition 54’s rules, the tricky timing of SB 10 could create a new template for writing more mushroom bills. A challenge in court from Proposition 54 backers could test its legality. But the judges who would decide such a case also are principal interests in the bill.


Dan Walters is an opinion columnist for CALmatters, where this commentary first appeared.

16 Comments

  • Of course. The Dems do what the f they want in Sacramento. F the rules. F the law. F what’s right.

    They have no fears; the lemmings who vote in this state will just continue to vote them while our once great state sinks in to the Pacific.

    • The North 5 Interstate can take you to Canada and the 5 South takes you to Mexico. The Interstate 10 ultimately takes you to Florida as you go through many other southern states. Let us not forget the Interstate 40 which gives you many more options. For a bit of nostalgia, get your kicks on Route 66. Whichever route you take, Adios Amigo!

  • Juan, remember you just said that.

    In a decade or two, those of us that escaped on Route 66 will be having the last laugh. Or we’ll be making sure you don’t make it over our wall that runs along Cali’s eastern border as you’re trying to escape the cesspool you helped create.

  • Ownership, I am one of those already searching east, I like Tucson AZ, Las Cruces NM/El Paso TX area, all the way to San Antonio. You could sell your house in California, and with the proceeds replace it with a brand new house or two in the listed areas. The house prices are high in California now, there is no other place but the prices to go down. If a major earthquake hits California, expect prices to drop significantly.

    The only thing that worries me is what would be the state of LACERA. Early retirement sounds like a very good option right now, just in case this state goes down along with LACERA. Anyone who quits earlier would have less money but would leave behind the cesspool the sheriff department is, as well as this state and enjoy a less stressful life. Most deputies want to stay longer to maximize benefits and more money, I wonder if it is worth risking career, life, health and the feeling of well being. There are no studies done nor published, but I bet deputies are suffering from some sort of mental illness (PTSD) as a result of their job. Staying longer on the job was probably a good idea a few years ago when it was still enjoyable going to work as a deputy sheriff. Today, all deputies seem to be hiding, walking on eggshells, watching over their shoulders, wondering who is the person who will put a case on them.

    I might be wrong, it may be the only deputies in danger are the working type, the ones who go after criminals. Or it might be that vindictive supervisors are framing other lower-ranking deputies, as a disguise for “reform or transparency.” Maybe it is the best time for some, the ones who are lazy, unmotivated, afraid to go after criminals. I guess as long as they don’t do anything and are the last to get to the location of a crime, they will be fine, laughing all the way to the bank. However, whether they are hard chargers or not, right now, hiding is the best option, no shame on that. Who knows…

    Working for the sheriff’s department deputies are more likely getting fired than getting killed…I wish the department would put those statistics out listing the current level of production and effectiveness, the increase or decrease in the reported number of deputies injured on duty, and the attrition rate and reasons. I guarantee you, the numbers are not good. We already know the morale in the department is at the lowest rates ever documented…

    • If only LACERA would only offer some type of “Golden Parachute” like Fortune 500 companies did in the 80’s to encourage workers within a 5 years of retirement to leave. I’m sure many employees wouldn’t hesitate to pull the plug and say good bye and farewell.

  • Places like Chicago, San Francisco and Baltimore….especially Chicago should serve as blaring, neon sign examples of failed, far left Democratic policies and local governments. The city of Chicago and it’s major would rather tow the ineffective Democratic parties “anti-Trump at all cost” ideology as young black people get shot and die in massive numbers every week.

    Instead of acknowledging the problem and admitting your policies are wrong and clearly not working, the Democratic party, aided and abetted by a like minded media, look for other un-related minutia regarding the President to “distract and deflect” from the real problems.

    The Democratic ran political machine in places like Chicago would prefer to just sit back and let young black folks be shot and killed everyday rather than seek the aide of the President Trump led Federal Government. Sick, twisted. pathetic and very telling. Dirty politics on speed it would seem.

    They could probably try filing a law suit and get a sympathetic, anti-Trump Federal Judge to force the Federal government to help so they save face and keep up the charade. It’s been working in other far left Federal Judicial Districts.

    Most Americans no what is going on, including moderate Democrats, and no who the real enemy of the country is. They can see through the smoke screen and realize the extreme left Obama holdovers of the Democratic party are wacko and could really care less about the people. They see President Trump as imperfect but at least trying and succeeding at levelin the playing field, bringing respect to country on a world stage and looking out for the best interests of its citizens.

    • It was mentioned by another commenter in a previous thread what Admiral William McRaven felt about the current POTUS. Your last paragraph conflicts greatly with his thoughts. No offense to you but McRaven’s world is much bigger than yours as his qualifications outside of your circle. Interesting how wide the spectrum is.

      • Who is that? Well in my small world and view from the bottom up, this represents the meager view of the world I have lived in everyday of my life.

  • Neither Left Nor Right: You just proved Hmmm absolutely correct. His Real Life view is far more important to the majority or Americans than some elitist who’s views are from the top and COMPLETELY OUT OF TOUCH. That’s what the Left does. Looks down on us and tells us what we need.

    The Right’s (Not Far Right) agenda is for the citizens. Always has been always will be.

    The Left was the party of slavery, always has been and always will be.

    Baltimore, Chicago and San Francisco are prime examples.

    • So now someone “McRaven” on your side (Republican) is an elitist because he spoke truthfully regarding POTUS. When you can’t censor someone, the next thing is to discredit them. I see where you’re going with this, nowhere. “Hmmm” spoke up for himself very well without a coach. The division widens with your textbook narrative.

      • As you were with McRaven being a Republican, I was thinking of McCain who just so happened was not too far off with the same sentiments.
        Being flexible with an open mind gives one freedom without limits.
        Republicans and Democrats are too bullheaded to agree on many concessions, thus the daily spotlight.

  • That’s the difference between you and me!!
    Party affiliations don’t mean shit!!!
    Agenda does. Grow up bro and see through the titles to see the policies.

    The Left’s policies are failing miserably and Trump is proving to be the most “Minority” friendly POTUS in our lifetime!!

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