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California Democrats shut down stronger sentencing for trafficking minors

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(The Center Square) – Despite passing unanimously with bipartisan support in the California Senate, a bill to bring California’s sentencing for trafficking minors in line with other states by making it a “serious felony” failed in the California Assembly Public Safety Committee due to unanimous Democratic abstention.

SB 14 would have made trafficking of minors a serious felony that would qualify under California’s three strikes law, which keeps dangerous, serial criminals off the streets, and make individuals convicted of the crime ineligible for early release.

Due to the Democratic supermajority in the California legislature, united opposition by elected Democrats, who abstained from the measure, meant the measure could be kept at bay.

While California Democrats remained silent on the measure, bill author Senator Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield) said, “After passing the Senate with a unanimous, bipartisan vote, I had hoped Democrats on the Assembly Public Safety Committee, led by Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer, would agree to make sex trafficking of a minor a serious felony. I am profoundly disappointed that committee Democrats couldn’t bring themselves to support the bill, with their stubborn and misguided objection to any penalty increase regardless of how heinous the crime.”

SB 14 faced no such opposition in the Senate, and secured substantial support from a broad coalition of interest groups ranging from law enforcement agencies, prosecutors’ offices, cities and counties, to nonprofit agencies, anti-human trafficking groups and even corporations such as UPS.

With the world’s richest man, Elon Musk, taking to Twitter to ask how trafficking minors is “not already a serous felony,” serious public opposition is emerging online and among concerned citizens.

In response to public backlash, Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas (D-Salinas) has signaled support for the bill and announced he held a discussion with Senator Grove, and told Californians to stay tuned for new developments.

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