State Senate Republican leader Brian Jones addresses reporters outside the Third District Court of Appeal building in Sacramento on Jan. 25, 2023. Photo by Rahul Lal, Sipa USA via Reuters

(CALMATTERS) – You have to give legislative Republicans credit for persistence. 

They continue to push some proposals on crime, even though the Democratic-majority Legislature shoots them down, quickly. 

Monday, state Senate GOP leader Brian Jones of San Diego County offered an amendment to repeal a 2022 law that supporters say prevents selective enforcement of prostitution laws against transgender people, but that critics say makes it difficult for law enforcement to crack down on sex trafficking. After about five minutes of statements, the Senate rejected Jones’ amendment on a 29-8 vote, with three absences.

  • Jones: “Laying these amendments on the table means letting a bad law stay on the books that isn’t working as intended and is in fact allowing more women and young girls being sex trafficked. It means less arrests of pimps that are sex trafficking and law enforcement having fewer tools to help victims left out in the street.”
  • Democratic Sen. Mike McGuire from Santa Rosa, in a rebuttal: “The number one commitment of this body is to keep this state safe. It’s not about sound bites, it’s about smart policy.”

And today, the Senate public safety committee is to take up a bill from Sen. Roger Niello, a Sacramento Republican, that would make serial theft a felony. This is another effort to roll back Proposition 47, which was approved in 2014 and made shoplifting a misdemeanor as long as the items stolen totaled $950 or less. Critics blame that change for a rash of brazen smash-and-grab thefts of drug stores.

  • Niello, in a statement: “Even though Proposition 47 was labeled as ‘Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act,’ property crime has increased since its passage, and our communities and businesses are the ones facing the consequences. It is crucial that we hold criminals accountable and make our communities safer.”

Earlier this month, the Assembly public safety committee quashed a Republican bill to increase criminal penalties for domestic violence.

But even if the bills don’t pass, they do get attention — which may be the point.

In a Public Policy Institute of California survey in February, 65% of Californians said they are very or somewhat worried that they or a family member will be a victim of crime. With 2024 election campaigns well underway, highlighting instances where Democrats dismiss tougher crime measures gives Republicans more ammunition to garner support from voters who are anxious about crime.