The decade's most triggering comedy
A Democrat California Assemblymember said she regrets abstaining from a vote earlier this week with other members of her party, blocking a bill that would have made human trafficking of a minor a serious felony.
Assemblymember Liz Ortega, whose district includes the southern East Bay of the San Francisco Bay Area, joined five other Democrats on the Public Safety Committee in blocking the bill that seeks to keep repeat offenders behind bars longer. Only two members of the committee, both Republicans, voted to advance the bill after the Democrat-controlled state Senate unanimously passed it.
Two days after the controversial vote from the California Democrats, Ortega said she was “wrong.”
“On Tuesday, I made a bad decision,” Ortega tweeted. “Voting against legislation targeting really bad people who traffic children was wrong. I regret doing that and I am going to help get this important legislation passed into law.”
On Tuesday, I made a bad decision. Voting against legislation targeting really bad people who traffic children was wrong.
I regret doing that and I am going to help get this important legislation passed into law.
— Assemblymember Liz Ortega (@AsmLizOrtega) July 13, 2023
The committee chair, Democrat Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer, opposed passing the bill, saying, “Ultimately, members of the Assembly’s Public Safety Committee understood the author’s intent but recognized this bill needs considerable work and granted reconsideration.” According to Republican state Sen. Shannon Grove, Jones-Sawyer’s opposition led the other Democratic voters to abstain with him.
Members of the audience at the meeting voiced their outrage when the six Democrats blocked the bill, yelling “You’re horrible!” and “You should be ashamed of yourselves!” while victims of human trafficking broke down in tears.
“They all thought it was a good bill and said they would consider it, but there is this issue of rolling the chair, so I don’t think anyone was going to stand up against the chair,” Grove said.
California Democrat Governor Gavin Newsom, who supports the bill, said the move by the Democrat-controlled committee surprised him.
“It’s an area I care deeply about, I have since my time as mayor, as a supervisor working with then-District Attorney Kamala Harris,” Newsom said, according to KCRA. “I appreciate Shannon Grove’s efforts on this and wanted to make sure she knew that today and we’ll be following up and will have more to say shortly.”
Grove said she met Wednesday afternoon with Jones-Sawyer and had a productive meeting, but no final decision was made on the bill. The GOP state senator is calling for the Assembly to suspend rules requiring the bill to be passed by the committee and instead go directly to the entire house.
Some Democrats reportedly still oppose the bill, and party leadership met Thursday to discuss the possibility of a forced vote. Democratic leadership developed its own plan to address the concerns of those within its caucus, sources told KCRA.
“I think they are seeing Californians are outraged about this and America is watching,” California GOP Chairwoman Jessica Millan Patterson said of Democrats in the Assembly. “They need to fix this right away, not because of the political blowback, but because it’s the right thing to do for our kids.”
Hank Berrien contributed to this report.