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To protect and serve the common interests of its newsmedia members, to help members inform and thereby strengthen their communities, and to foster the highest ideals, ethics and traditions of journalism, a free press and the news profession.

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Legislative Update: What Happened This Week

Legislative Update: What Happened This Week

Position: Support

This bill passed the Senate Floor 31-3.

This bill would, commencing July 1, 2022, make every incident involving use of force to make a member of the public comply with an officer, force that is unreasonable, or excessive force subject to disclosure. The bill would require records relating to sustained findings of unlawful arrests and unlawful searches to be subject to disclosure. The bill would also require the disclosure of records relating to an incident in which a sustained finding was made by any law enforcement agency or oversight agency that a peace officer or custodial officer engaged in conduct involving prejudice or discrimination on the basis of specified protected classes.

The bill would require the retention of all complaints and related reports or findings currently in the possession of a department or agency. The bill would require that records relating to an incident in which an officer resigned before an investigation is completed to also be subject to release. For purposes of releasing records, the bill would prohibit assertion of the attorney-client privilege to limit the disclosure of factual information provided by the public entity to its attorney, factual information discovered by any investigation done by the public entity’s attorney, or billing records related to the work done by the attorney. The bill would expand the authorization to redact records to allow redaction to preserve the anonymity of victims and whistleblowers. The bill was amended to temporarily delay the application of penalties, but keep the necessary enforcement mechanism.

AB-48 (Gonzalez, Garcia & Kalra) Law enforcement: kinetic energy projectiles and chemical agents

Position: Support

AB-48 passed the Assembly Floor 46-19.

This bill would prohibit the use of kinetic energy projectiles or chemical agents by any law enforcement agency to disperse any assembly, protest, or demonstration, except in compliance with specified standards set by the bill, and would prohibit their use solely due to a violation of an imposed curfew, verbal threat, or noncompliance with a law enforcement directive. The bill would include in the standards for the use of kinetic energy projectiles and chemical agents to disperse gatherings the requirement that, among other things, those weapons only be used to defend against a threat to life or serious bodily injury to any individual, including a peace officer. The bill would define chemical agents to include, among other substances, chloroacetophenone tear gas or 2-chlorobenzalmalononitrile gas. The bill would make these provisions inapplicable within a state prison facility.

AB-268 (Irwin) Courts: sealing records: autopsy report

Position: Opposed

AB-268 passed the Assembly Floor 75-1.

This bill would require the court, upon the request of a qualifying family member, to seal the autopsy report and any evidence associated with the examination of a person who was killed as a result of a criminal act when the above conditions apply or when a prosecutorial agency has concluded all persons who could have been prosecuted for the criminal act have died. The bill would also include within the definition of “qualifying family member” the victim’s next of kin, personal representative, child, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, or domestic partner.

Existing constitutional provisions require that a statute that limits the right of access to the meetings of public bodies or the writings of public officials and agencies be adopted with findings demonstrating the interest protected by the limitation and the need for protecting that interest.

This bill would make legislative findings to that effect.

SB-98 (McGuire) Public peace: media access

Position: Support, if amendments are removed*

SB-98 passed the Senate Floor 34-2.

* When the bill was passed out of appropriations, amendments by Senator Portantino, the chair of appropriations, conditions access on approval from a commanding officer on the scene. We along with many others, oppose the amendments and are urging Senator Portantino to agree to their removal. Senator McGuire has heard our concerns and shares them.The bill has made its way to the assembly because today was the last day to pass bills to the other house.

This bill would, if peace officers close the immediate area surrounding any emergency field command post or establish any other command post, police line, or rolling closure at a demonstration, march, protest, or rally where individuals are engaged primarily in constitutionally protected activity, as described, require that a duly authorized representative of any news service, online news service, newspaper, or radio or television station or network, as described, be allowed to enter those closed areas and would prohibit a peace officer or other law enforcement officer from intentionally assaulting, interfering with, or obstructing a duly authorized representative who is gathering, receiving, or processing information for communication to the public.

The bill would also prohibit a duly authorized representative who is in a closed area from being cited for the failure to disperse or a violation of a curfew. The bill would require that if a representative to contact a supervisory officer immediately for the purpose of challenging the detention.

AB-339 (Lee & Garcia) Local government: open and public meetings

Position: Support

This bill passed the Assembly Floor 54-9.

AB-339 This bill would, until December 31, 2023, require all open and public meetings of a city council or a county board of supervisors that governs a jurisdiction containing at least 250,000 people to include an opportunity for members of the public to attend via a telephonic option or an internet-based service option. The bill would require all open and public meetings to include an in-person public comment opportunity, except in specified circumstances during a declared state or local emergency. The bill would require all meetings to provide the public with an opportunity to comment on proposed legislation in person and remotely via a telephonic or an internet-based service option, as provided.