(CALMATTERS) – It’s crunch month for California legislators who promised sweeping reforms in response to the police killing of George Floyd and the protests his death unleashed.

Police officers fire rubber bullets after a protest over the death of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man in police custody in Minneapolis, in Los Angeles, Saturday, May 30, 2020. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

Yet some social justice advocates doubt that politicians’ stomachs for change are as strong as their rhetoric: A Senate bill to excommunicate corrupt or misbehaving cops may be denied a floor vote, while another measure to involve the attorney general in certain deadly force investigations is gaining new opposition from those who say it won’t do much if signed into law.

State lawmakers have until Aug. 31 to consider at least 15 bills seeking to reign in, report on and oversee the kind of police violence that ended the lives of Floyd in Minnesota, Breonna Taylor in Kentucky, Rayshard Brooks in Georgia and — closer to home — Andres Guardado in Gardena and Sean Monterrosa in Vallejo in the past year.

Most of the bills will be tested this week and next as lawmakers in both houses determine whether California can afford the price of reform when the state is tapping so deep into its rainy-day fund.

For instance, a bill allowing victims of violent police crimes to pursue benefits through the state could draw $200 million a year from the California Victim Compensation Board’s restitution fund, as well as $700 million in retroactive payouts. Those are expenses the fund probably cannot support, Jolie Onodera, a deputy secretary of legislation for the Department of Finance, told the Senate Appropriations Committee on Monday.

While some bills appear to be carrying enough momentum to survive, Sen. Scott Wiener had a word of caution at a Public Safety hearing last week.

“This is a challenge to the entire Legislature,” the San Francisco Democrat said. “We can’t just have a few wins this year … and then just go back to business as usual.”

The police reform measures churning through a pandemic-shortened legislative session cover a lot of ground:

  • AB 1196 would bar law enforcement from using chokeholds to make an arrest, prevent an escape or overcome resistance.
  • AB 66 would ban police from firing tear gas on crowds and restrict use of so-called “less lethal” artillery, such as rubber bullets and beanbag projectiles, which were frequently deployed against protesters this year.
  • SB 629 demands new protections of media covering protests. It is one of at least three bills motivated by law enforcement’s forceful response to protests against systemic police violence.
  • AB 846 requires prospective officers to be medically evaluated for bias.
  • AB 1022 lays out specific requirements for officers to intervene or report their fellow cops when they see them abusing people.
  • SB 731 creates a statewide process to disqualify bad officers and block them from being hired by other agencies, and AB 776 expands access to their personnel files.
  • AB 767 removes hurdles for victims of illegal police violence and their families to pursue restitution, including help with medical expenses and funeral costs.
  • And AB 1506 requires the state Department of Justice to review a limited number of police killings.

BY RAHEEM HOSSEINI | CALmatters