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Retail theft legislation fast-tracked for safer California
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With a comprehensive and bipartisan package of Assembly and Senate bills aimed at halting retail theft and improving public safety heading to policy committees, Senate President pro Tempore Mike McGuire (D-North Coast) and Speaker of the Assembly Robert Rivas (D-Salinas) reaffirmed their shared commitment to ensuring the legislation advances quickly through both houses.

The Senate and Assembly were to hear the 14 bills in committees this past week — seven bills from the Assembly and seven bills from the Senate. A dozen of these bills focused on retail crime and theft will be amended to include urgency clauses, ensuring they would take effect immediately when signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom.

Eleven of the bills also will include an amendment to address conflicting or unintended outcomes, if a ballot measure purporting to address retail theft and fentanyl is approved by voters. With these amendments, the Legislature is taking responsibility to ensure the laws meet the needs of the time and, particularly with public safety, protect Californians without being overly punitive or regressive. The amendments will also deliver real results, as soon as possible, to significantly improve safety for business owners and shoppers.

The bipartisan supporters of the 14 bills in the Legislature’s public safety and retail theft package include law enforcement members and organizations, prosecutors and district attorneys, local and statewide business groups, store owners and operators, grocers and community leaders.

“The Senate and Assembly need to move with speed to address retail theft and local crime and these 14 bills will do just that. They’ll give prosecutors, judges and law enforcement the enhanced tools they need to make our communities safer and stronger,” said Senate President Pro Tem McGuire.

Added Assembly Speaker Rivas: “The Senate and the Assembly would be completely remiss in our job if we didn’t address the public-safety problems facing California, no matter the outcome of the November election. We have a serious organized retail theft problem in the state, everyone knows that, and these bills take action by giving police and district attorneys new tools to hold criminals accountable without going back to the blunt and failed force of the mass-incarceration era. It’s that simple.”

The package includes the following Assembly and Senate bills: AB 1779 (Irwin), AB 1794 (McCarty), AB 1802 (Jones-Sawyer), AB 1960 (Soria), AB 1972 (Alanis), AB 2943 (Zbur/Rivas), AB 3209 (Berman), SB 1144 (Skinner), SB 1416 (Newman), SB 905 (Wiener), SB 982 (Wahab), SB 1242 (Min), SB 1320 (Wahab), and SB 1385 (Roth).

“Whether you’re working at a neighborhood store, or shopping there, you deserve to feel safe. The Legislature’s bipartisan, comprehensive retail theft package puts Californians’ safety first by giving local law enforcement new tools to combat retail crimes,” said Assemblymember Marc Berman, D-Menlo Park. “By creating the retail crime restraining order, AB 3209 is a commonsense solution which will further discourage organized and repeated retail theft. The comprehensive retail theft package balances keeping California’s stores and workers safe from crime, while not being overly punitive or regressive. The entire package was developed in partnership with both houses, the Governor, and stakeholders to ensure our constituents end up with a thoughtful, coordinated retail theft solution.”

State Senator Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, also authored one of the bills.

“Retail theft today is sophisticated and organized, using online marketplaces to sell large quantities of stolen goods. Taking down these online fencing operations is key to lowering retail theft in our communities. My bill, SB 1144, holds online marketplaces accountable to check the legality of their sellers. With SB 1144 and the other bills in this package of urgent legislation, we are advancing proven solutions to tackle retail theft and tackle it now.”