Home>Articles>Two Bills to Reverse Prop 47 Retail Theft, Felony Laws Introduced in Assembly

Assemblyman Kevin Kiley. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

Two Bills to Reverse Prop 47 Retail Theft, Felony Laws Introduced in Assembly

Are politics and this election year driving two Dem/Rep bills on Prop 47 reversals?

By Evan Symon, January 5, 2022 10:45 am

Two bills that would largely reverse Proposition 47, a law that greatly raised the monetary threshold for felony theft, were introduced to the Assembly on Tuesday.

In 2014, Californian voters passed Prop 47  59.6% to 40.4%, increasing the felony threshold rate for theft in retail establishments from over $400 to over $950, and lowering misdemeanor thefts having jail time limited to a maximum of  6 months. Assembly Bill 1603, authored by Assemblyman Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield), would reduce the threshold amount for petty theft and shoplifting back down to $400 and would re-allow shoplifting to be tried as a felony again but only if the person who did it had prior convictions.

Assemblyman Rudy Salas. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

Meanwhile, Assembly Bill 1599, authored by Assemblymen Kevin Kiley (R-Rocklin) and James Gallagher (R-Yuba City), would more substantially eliminate Prop 47, repealing all changes and additions made by Proposition 47, except those related to reducing the penalty for possession of concentrated cannabis. Both bills also noted that, even if passed and signed by the Governor, California voters would have to vote to enact the bills language via another proposition.

Salas, Kiley, and Gallagher wrote their respective bills largely due to Prop 47 being tied to the recent string of high-profile “smash and grab” robberies, as well as being a major factor for major crime waves currently occurring in cities such as San Francisco. Specifically, the drastically increased felony amount and the sharp decrease in felony retail shoplifting cases has been cited by many lawmakers, citizens groups, and law enforcement organizations for incidents such as the Union Square robberies late last year and the continuing closures of retail chains in cities with high amounts of crime.

James Gallagher
Assemblyman James Gallagher. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

In a statement for AB 1603, Assemblyman Salas noted citizen frustration with criminals going unprosecuted due to their crimes not reaching felony level.

“Enough is enough, we need to fight back against the criminals who are stealing from our communities.” said Salas on Tuesday. “We have seen the unintended consequences of Prop. 47’s weakening of our theft laws and I believe California voters are ready to make their voices heard on this issue again.”

Assemblyman Kiley, in his statement for AB 1599, noted the same, specifically linking Prop 47 to crime waves hitting California.

“After years of failed policies and leadership, California is now experiencing an unprecedented surge in crime,” noted Kiley on Tuesday. “When you pass laws to legalize bad behavior and have prosecutors who fail to hold people accountable, this is the end result. It is time to end the failed experiment of Prop. 47 and give voters the opportunity to restore consequences and accountability to our criminal justice system.”

In a tweet on Wednesday, Kiley added that “I’ve officially introduced legislation to repeal Prop. 47. It’s a quaint notion but I think stealing things should be treated as criminal conduct.”

While no formal opposition has yet to be announced against the bill, both Governor Gavin Newsom and Attorney General Rob Bonta have both defended Prop. 47 in previous months. They said that Prop. 47 is not responsible for the rise in crime nor for the recent “flash mob” robbery wave. They have also pointed out the failures of recent efforts, such as Prop 20, that attempted to increase penalties again but were voted against in elections.

Supporters have noted, however, that crime statistics have drastically changed since 2020 in California, with crimes becoming more bold and serious.

“It was maybe an experiment. It failed. It’s time to change things,” said Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims on Tuesday about to the new bills. “Unfortunately, what happens is they become so emboldened, their crimes become more and more serious. Whether or not they stay in jail. What their bail amount is. The seriousness of the offense. Prior convictions. This could be very detrimental to someone who has a criminal history.”

Political experts noted that both bills, despite being similar in language, have very different agendas for their respective authors.

“AB 1599 with Kiley is on point,” said Clay Fitzgerald, a Kern County pollster, to the Globe on Wednesday. “Kiley has been tough on crime in the past, so this makes sense for him.”

“Now Salas and AB 1603 is where a lot of people are turning their heads. This is a Democrat going against the party, and this seems unusual until you look at this years election. Salas is going to be in a tight Congressional race against current Congressman David Valadao (R-CA) in Bakersfield, which is a swing area nowadays. Valadao won a squeaker there in 2020 and retook the district and Democrats want it back. That means that they want to court Republicans or right-leaning moderates, and that means being tougher on crime. So if that comes up during a debate or a questions in an interview, Salas can point to this. It’s obvious what he’s doing. That’s not saying he doesn’t want a safer state, but this bill in particular makes it clear what he is getting at.”

“But, even with Democrats being tougher on crime now if only for appearances, many others are angry about what is happening in their districts, so along with Republicans, they want a way to fight back. So we have this interesting scenario of some Democrats joining Republicans on repealing what was considered a crown jewel of California’s effort to fight crime in a more compassionate way and reduce things like profiling and arresting a disproportionate number of minorities  It’s all in disarray now because this crime wave is affecting everyone.”

“And logic would dictate in any other year Newsom would outright repeal this bill if it was passed. But it’s an election year, and depending on what the crime situation is later this year, Newsom may not want to not sign something that would reduce crime that opponents could seriously attack him on in the run up to the Governor’s race. Same goes for any Assembly member or Senator who votes against the bills.”

“These bills are throwing a wrench into everything early on.”

Both bills are expected to be heard in Assembly committees in the coming months.

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8 thoughts on “Two Bills to Reverse Prop 47 Retail Theft, Felony Laws Introduced in Assembly

  1. We’re with you on this completely ASMs. Kiley, Gallager, and Salas!
    The time has come for Californians to admit the error of their ways.

  2. Heres the deal these people are stealing to make money and if people were smart they would allow everyone to get financial assistance that do these cri bat live in poverty. People don’t realize that criminals need to eat too and guess what they’re too either institutionalized or live in poverty as it is. If they raised the amount of monthly benefits to a rate that people could actually live on without being homeless on the street it would solve a decent percentage of retail crimes and people living on the streets. The covid crisis provided funding of which should be available to those in need then crime would drop. Why do the lawmakers not get this it’s very simple. People who don’t have skills don’t have them for a reason and gr funds don’t cover a place to live and a months worth of food so do the math and compare it to multiple statistics and save all the losses that people have been stealing cause they don’t have help . No one wants to steal everyday cause they have other options they steal cause they are hungry or they are living day to day cause they can’t get ahead cause California gives them no stability. It’s easy to criticize for those who make the laws but they have a paycheck to protect them. Granted they worked hard for it but you can’t compare to those who didn’t get a helping hand or a family or other assistance to become someone who had opportunities that money gave them growing up. We seem to forget that children become products of their environment and when dad’s in jail and Mom is home and homeless kids have been put in a losing way of life and they later continue the pattern. Now maybe if the family could be certain that rent was paid and money for essentials would always keep them afloat then instead of having to commit crimes for money they could use their skills and stability to their advantage. If so much money was available for covid crisis then why not the bigger more serious issues be solved with essential money. And people don’t buy drugs and alcohol with extra money they buy things like clothes and cars to enable them to get a job but none of these thieves can guarantee any essentials to enable them to do anything other than to commit these crimes every day. Seriously lawmakers should be worried about the cause of the problem and solve it by giving Californians the basic needs and foundation that would enable people to stop doing the crime. And for those that continue stealing after being given funds to stop then those are the ones who need stricter punishments but until they have something to secure them and can rely on it this is only going to get worse. No man wakes up in the morning and says I’d like to rob someone today unless they don’t have anywhere to stay or food to eat or a house to come home to. Now put kids in the equation and guess what no one wants their child to go without but the poverty and government assistance doesn’t balance.

    1. Not true. Some people ENJOY stealing, find it thrilling. Other people like the idea of getting stuff for free even if they have a place to live and food to eat. The idea that every person who steals is starving, hungry, living on the street, or otherwise desperate, is absurd. If so, we’d have a crime rate ten times what we do now. I’m guessing most homeless people don’t even steal. And stealing a quart of milk or a box of cereal is not the equivalent of stealing hundreds of dollars of merchandise.

    2. Silly post. These thieves and criminals are not stealing expensive clothing, Louis Vuitton/Chanel bags, and jewelry, out of hungry and desperation as this poster rants on about. These are losers who are not educated and do not work at anything other than taking what does not belong to them. And then sell it for drugs/expensive sneakers/the latest clothing, etc. And they will smash/grab, put a gun to your head/burglarize your home and threaten you all for the love of EXPENSIVE goods they can’t afford because THEY DO NOT WORK FOR ANYTHING IN LIFE…

  3. Proposition 47: “The Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act” passed simply because of the title. Proof that most people don’t bother to read what a proposition actually does!
    Yes! This prop has to be repealed! Thank you for addressing it!

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