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California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Democratic leaders in the state legislature are working to negotiate a Proposition 47 reform measure off the November ballot. Prop 47, approved by voters in 2014, reduced several crimes to misdemeanors, leading to a rise in theft in the state. Newsom and some Democrats are supporting public safety bills that address organized retail theft, car break-ins, and other crimes, in response to residents’ concerns. However, some Democrat lawmakers plan to add inoperability clauses to these bills to prevent them from going into effect if voters approve the Prop 47 reforms.

Republicans are opposing these inoperability clauses, calling them a “poison pill.” They argue that voters should have the opportunity to decide on fixing Prop 47, rather than allowing the legislature to make changes. The ballot initiative would enhance penalties for repeat thieves and classify possession of fentanyl as a felony. Some Democrats believe that the legislative public safety package is the better option to address the rise in crime in California. The deadline for the Secretary of State to certify the November ballot is June 27, giving Democrat leaders only a few weeks to negotiate the measure off the ballot.

Newsom did not confirm whether he would sign the legislation if it includes the inoperability clauses. He questioned the need for the ballot initiative, suggesting that legislative changes with more flexibility would be a better approach. Republicans believe that Democrats are not serious about addressing the increase in crime and are using the inoperability clauses to avoid making necessary reforms. Assembly Republican Leader James Gallagher stated that Democrats should let voters decide on fixing Prop 47.

Senator Mike McGuire, a Democrat, argued that the legislative public safety package is supported by law enforcement, firefighters, retailers, store owners, and trusted local leaders. He believes that these bills are necessary to combat retail theft and keep the people of California safe. However, Republican leaders are standing firm in their support for voters to have a say in repealing parts of Prop 47. They view the inoperability clauses as a way for Democrats to avoid addressing the flaws in the existing law.

The ongoing negotiations and disagreements between Democratic and Republican leaders in California highlight the complexity of addressing the rise in crime in the state. While Democrats are pushing for legislative changes to address public safety concerns, Republicans are advocating for voters to have a say in reforming Prop 47. The outcome of these negotiations and the potential inclusion of inoperability clauses in the public safety bills will have significant implications for the future of criminal justice reform in California.

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