national opinion

Monday Column
Carol Platt Liebau

[go to Liebau index]

Latest Column:
Stopping the Meltdown
What Beltway Republicans Need To Do

Subscribe to CRO Alerts
Sign up for a weekly notice of CRO content updates.

Jon Fleischman’s
The premier source for
California political news

Michael Ramirez

editorial cartoon

Do your part to do right by our troops.
They did the right thing for you.
Donate Today

CRO Talk Radio
Contributor Sites
Laura Ingraham

Hugh Hewitt
Eric Hogue
Sharon Hughes
Frank Pastore
[Radio Home]

















California’s Children, Child Molesters, Jessica’s Law
The fight over AB 50...

[Chuck DeVore] 2/7/06

The last week of legislative action (yes, I know that is questionably oxymoronic) was very intense on the topic of how we deal with child molesters as illustrated by the heated debate over Mark Leno’s AB 50 vs. Jessica’s Law.

First, the back story.

Chuck DeVore

Assemblyman Chuck DeVore represents 450,000 residents of Orange County California’s 70th Assembly District.. He served as a Reagan White House appointee in the Pentagon from 1986 to 1988 and was Senior Assistant to Cong. Chris Cox. He is a lieutenant colonel in the Army National Guard. Chuck’s novel, CHINA ATTACKS, sells internationally and has been translated into Chinese for sales in Taiwan. [go to DeVore index]

Mr. Leno’s AB 50 started out early last year as a bill to weaken California’s highly effective and voter-approved Three Strikes Law. Not really a shock, when you consider that the Assembly’s Public Safety Committee, chaired by Mr. Leno, is notoriously tilted left and is highly reluctant to consider tough on crime legislation (as is its sister committee in the Senate). In fact, the Democrat leadership has so packed the Public Safety Committee with liberals that more mainstream Democrats (there are a few) have a history of being removed from the committee.

Now, along comes AB 231 by Assemblywoman Sharon Runner. AB 231 is an effort to toughen California’s laws against child molesters and sexual predators. Modeled on other states’ successful passage of Jessica’s Law, this bill was killed twice in the Public Safety Committee on a strict Party-line vote, the two Republicans voting “yes” and the Democrats voting “no” or abstaining.

Not easily deterred, Assemblywoman Runner converted AB 231 into an initiative which now, coincidentally has over 400,000 signatures on its way to a probable début on the November 2006 ballot with the enthusiastic support of Governor Schwarzenegger.

With AB 231 now the Jessica’s Law initiative and looking strong, we return to Mr. Leno’s AB 50. AB 50, as it appeared on the Assembly floor last week, would have allowed 100 items of knowingly-possessed child pornography before triggering penalties, with each item, such as a CD-ROM, able to contain tens of thousands of pornographic images. It would not have instituted a statewide GPS tracking system for all molesters, and it only slightly increased prison time for felons.

The majority Democrats said AB 50 was the best protection for our children we could afford. They said it was the best bill we could get out of the legislature. They said it was a step in the right direction. What they didn’t say was that AB 50’s modest step in the right direction tough came about only because of the pressure of 400,000 signatures on a much-tougher Jessica’s Law initiative. What they didn’t say was that AB 50’s true purpose is to take the steam out of the Jessica’s Law initiative, to either keep it off of the November ballot, or, once qualified, to bolster the campaign arguments against it.

Last week the Democrats rejected a Republican effort to substitute AB 50 with AB 231’s Jessica’s Law language. Because yesterday was the deadline for passage of bills introduced last year, AB 50 came up again and was debated all day long.

After the first two Democrats rose to speak on behalf of AB 50, I rose as the first Republican speaker to ask a question of the bill’s main author, Assemblyman Mark Leno. I asked Mr. Leno if the amended language of AB 50 setting 10 items of child porn as the trigger (down from 100 last week) might include 10 CD-ROMs or whether it was 10 images? (Because of Assemblyman Todd Spitzer’s research into case law, I already knew the answer – 9 CD-ROMs, each with hundreds of thousands of images, each image potentially representing an individual child victim, would not trigger the proposed law’s sanctions.)

With an unsatisfactory answer from Mr. Leno, I then commented on the floor that AB 50, as written, was not tough enough on molesters and did not go far enough to protect our children from sexual predators.

Interestingly, several hours of debate later, Democrats amended the bill again so that just one item of child pornography would be sufficient to trigger penalties. (Amazing what a little heat of debate can accomplish in an election year.)

The Democrats then sent the bill onto the Senate with all Republicans except one abstaining in the vote.

Yesterday was a unique day in the history of the legislature. We actually debated the merits of a bill as a committee of the whole – rather than seeing commonsense provisions die with a whimper after 3 minutes of discussion in committees hopelessly stacked to the left.

Of course, the debate was only made possible because of Assemblywoman Runner’s hard work in gathering 400,000 signatures on her Jessica’s Law initiative. CRO

copyright 2006 Chuck DeVore




Blue Collar -  120x90
120x90 Jan 06 Brand
Free Trial Static 02
ActionGear 120*60
Free Trial Static 01
Applicable copyrights indicated. All other material copyright 2003-2005