By Vanessa Serna
The effort of a Democratic lawmaker to amend Proposition 47 failed for the fifth time in the Assembly Public Safety Committee in a 2–5 vote as the state crime trend persists.
“I guess we really are dependent on Batman to bring accountability and justice. Perhaps maybe we should call the Avengers too,” the author of the bill Assemblyman Jim Cooper (D-Elk Grove) wrote on Twitter on April 26.
Proposition 47, which was passed by voters in 2014, downgraded some crimes, such as simple drug possession, from felonies to misdemeanors and raised the minimum amount of stolen goods from $400 to $950 for a theft case to be classified as a felony.
Assembly Bill (AB) 2718 would have classified petty theft and shoplifting to be defined as serial theft—a new crime under the bill.
Serial theft of property valued over $500 would have led to prosecution if the offender had two or more previous convictions of theft—reducing the $950 minimum enforced in Proposition 47, according to the bill.
“Serial theft has become a serious problem in California,” Cooper said in a statement while clarifying AB 2718 would not repeal Proposition 47. “There are some who are taking advantage of recent changes in theft laws by repeatedly stealing property from retail stores.”
Receiving stolen property and credit card fraud are also defined as serial theft in the bill.
If passed, voters would have decided at the next statewide election on whether to make the legislation law.
The bill was supported by the California District Attorneys Association (CDAA)—an advocacy group for state prosecutors—that actively speaks out against crime, according to the bill analysis.
“California is suffering from an unprecedented increase in all types of thefts, including organized retail theft, smash and grabs, and vehicle theft, which negatively affects all Californians, including crime victims, consumers, and business owners,” the attorneys association said.
However, the California Public Defenders Association, opposed the bill while claiming the “tough on crime” approach has failed the state for three decades, according to the bill analysis.
“AB 2718 proposes to make it easier to charge non-violent Californians with felonies, to put those men, women, and children in jail for years,” the association said.
It’s unclear whether Cooper will bring AB 2718 back to the committee for another vote. For now, the bill goes into the pipeline of failed attempts to reform and repeal Proposition 47.
Assemblyman Kevin Kiley (R-Rocklin) attempted to repeal Proposition 47 various times through AB 1599, but the bill failed to make it out of the Public Safety Committee.
Assemblyman Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield) attempted to amend Proposition 47 in March by decreasing the threshold amount for theft from $950 to $400, but the effort failed to pass in committee.