Cali Assembly Draws Backlash After Blocking Bill

This week, the California Assembly’s Public Safety Committee blocked a bill that would have made human trafficking of a minor a serious felony.

The bill, HB 14, noted that “California consistently ranks number one in the nation in the number of human trafficking cases reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline,” and “Human trafficking is among the world’s fastest-growing criminal enterprises and is estimated to be a $150,000,000,000 a year global industry.” The bill would have made human trafficking of a minor subject to California’s Three Strikes Law, and thus someone convicted twice could be sentenced to life in prison.

The bill had already passed unanimously in the State Senate, but none of the six Democratic members of the committee would vote on the bill; the only yes votes were cast by two Republicans, Assemblymen Juan Alanis and Tom Lackey.

The outrage—and emotional breakdowns—came after Democrats failed to vote on the bill. State Sen. Shannon Grove, a Republican who co-authored the bill, said she had spoken with Democrats on the committee prior to the hearing, and “They all thought it was a good bill and said they would consider it, but there is this issue of rolling the chair, so I don’t think anyone was going to stand up against the chair,” she said.

Audience members, including victims of human trafficking, shouted “You’re horrible!” and “You should be ashamed of yourselves!” while breaking down in tears.

“I am profoundly disappointed that committee Democrats couldn’t bring themselves to support the bill, with their stubborn and misguided objection to any penalty increase regardless of how heinous the crime,” Grove said.

Grove told KCRA 3 that she had tried three times to call Jones-Sawyer on his cellphone and her staff tried six or seven times, but he would not meet with her. While the Assemblymember’s office admits that there was a single call from Senator Grove’s staff to his legislative director on Friday, July 7, it said that “the conversation was brief, resulting in no changes to either office’s positions on the bill.”

The Committee has also rejected other measures that would increase penalties for domestic violence offenders, rapists of developmentally disabled children and other sexually violent crimes.

California Democrats have already been criticized for their stance on the issue, as victims of human trafficking—and advocates against it—expressed shock and dismay. While legal action can still be taken, it remains to be seen what, if anything, will be done to protect the innocent victims of trafficking from exploitation.

Previous Kamala In Some Hot Water Over An Airplane Bathroom
Next Secret Service Turns Down FOIA Request