New Assembly Member Jim Patterson, a Fresno Republican, introduced his first piece of legislation this week, and already there’s a chance he could be upstaged on the bill by majority Democrats.
Assembly Bill 63 — with Patterson as the lead author and six other Republicans including North Fork’s Frank Bigelow as co-authors — deals with parolees or accused criminals who illegally cut off ankle monitors. Senate Bill 57, by Democratic state Sens. Ted Lieu and Bakersfield’s Michael Rubio, also deals with cutting off ankle monitors.
“The days of Republicans getting their names (as a lead author) on bills — on a popular bill — are probably past,” said Tony Quinn, a longtime political analyst and former Republican legislative aide.
Quinn said Democrats have controlled the state Legislature for 15 years, and in that time all the high-profile bills ended up with Democratic lead authors.
At least now, Patterson’s is more specific.
If the person is prosecuted for removing the ankle monitor, the current bill language says, the judge has discretion to sentence him to state prison for up to three years on the high side, or a year in county jail on the low side. If the crime is addressed as a parole violation, any sentence would be served in state prison.
At this point, the Lieu/Rubio bill only says the state Legislature intends to enact legislation that would “address the removal and disablement of global positioning system (GPS) monitoring devices by parolees and probationers.”
But Rubio said he and Lieu will soon amend the bill into a more specific proposal — one that will make such actions a felony.
Rubio said he first thought of the bill last year when Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood approached him with the idea. The timing, however, wasn’t right.
But Rubio and Lieu think the mood of the public has changed with more parolees being released under the state’s prison realignment plan, and with rape being in the news lately.
“We’re going to work it aggressively,” Rubio said. “We’ve already discussed it with a number of members.”
In the end, there could be some joining of the minds on the Senate bill.
Rubio said he and Lieu had reached out to Patterson to see if he was interested in being a co-author, and Patterson said he plans to accept the offer.
Quinn thinks that in the end, some language from Patterson’s bill could possibly end up in the one from Rubio and Lieu, which has the better chance of moving forward.