California Dems Water Down Bill To Make Buying Child Sex A Felony

The new bill excludes teens ages 16 and 17.
(Getty Images)

A California bill that would make purchasing child sex a felony up from a misdemeanor moved forward on Tuesday, but not before Democrats made significant changes.

The bipartisan bill would raise solicitation of a minor from a misdemeanor to a felony punishable by up to four years in prison, and a fine of up to $25,000. The bill would also require a person convicted of soliciting a minor to register as a sex offender for 10 years.

However, the new version of the bill would only allow prosecutors to level felony charges if the minor was under 16, meaning those who attempted to buy sex with a 16-year-old or 17-year-old could still only be charged with a misdemeanor.

On Tuesday, Democrats on the Senate Public Safety Committee passed the bill after making this and several other changes.

The bill’s author, Republican State Senator Shannon Grove, reacted with dismay to the new amendments, her voice shaking as she responded.

“To force these amendments on me in front of survivors, to water this down to avoid 16 and 17-year-olds,” Grove said.

In a statement after the committee hearing, Grove criticized the “hostile amendments” to her bill.

Under the new version, buyers would still be “ineligible for prison” even if the child they solicited was 15 or younger, she said.


“I’m incredibly disappointed that not only did my colleagues reject my proposal to make the buying of children for sex a prison felony, but that I was blindsided when they amended my bill without my consent,” Grove said.

“Unfortunately, the members of the public safety committee continue their soft on crime approach at the expense of California’s most vulnerable, our children,” she added.

Last week, Grove explained that she spoke to sex trafficking survivors last year who told her, “You’ve got to go after the buyers” in order to really crack down on the child sex trade.

“I want to make the solicitation, the person who’s going out there going, ‘Hey little 13-year-old, 14-year-old, 15-year-old, I want to get that person. I want that person to face felony charges. That’s what the bill does,” Grove said during a phone interview with The Daily Wire.

The Democrat who moved to amend the bill was State Senator Nancy Skinner, who represents the Berkeley area. Two other Democrats, Scott Wiener and committee chairwoman Aisha Wahab voted to move forward with the amendments against Grove’s will.

Wiener, who represents the San Francisco area, previously sponsored a law in 2020 that says adults who have oral or anal sex with a child ten years younger than them may not have to register as sex offenders, leaving that decision to a judge. The law supposedly addressed discrimination against LGBT people.

In 2022, Wiener sponsored another law that made California a sanctuary state for child transgender surgery, prohibiting doctors and officials from cooperating with out-of-state attempts to stop a child from getting puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, or gender surgery.

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  California Dems Water Down Bill To Make Buying Child Sex A Felony