Democrats Save the Day: Resurrecting a Crucial Bill to Combat Sex Trafficking

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In a move reminiscent of a Hollywood blockbuster, Democratic state legislators in California have pulled off an epic save, rescuing a crucial bill dedicated to combating the heinous crime of sex trafficking. This nail-biting saga unfolded in the illustrious California State Assembly, where a bonehead play by some Democratic members threatened to undermine important legislation.

Just like in the iconic baseball film “Bull Durham,” where a frustrated manager passionately lectures his team on the simplicity of the game, lawmakers were faced with a seemingly straightforward task: to throw the ball, catch the ball, and hit the ball.

The game in question was the hardball world of lawmaking, which, at times, can be just as simple. And the play in question? The need to recognize that peddling children for sex is a serious crime without any ifs or buts.

Fortunately, Governor Gavin Newsom and newly appointed Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas understood the importance of sound policy and quickly read the political playing field. They spared the Democratic Party a potential public backlash in a state where optics matter.

So, what was all the fuss about? Two months ago, a unanimously passed bill in the heavily Democratic state Senate sought to stiffen penalties for repeat sex trafficking of minors, an egregious crime that had been classified as a non-serious felony. This bill, known as SB 14, aimed to designate such offenses as “serious” crimes, ensuring harsher punishments under California’s three strikes law.

To everyone’s surprise, this no-brainer bill was met with obstruction when it reached the Assembly Public Safety Committee. Inflexible opponents of stiffer sentencing, who seemingly prioritized abstract ideology over common sense, saw this bill as another opportunity to wave the banner of criminal justice reform. But thankfully, their efforts did not go unchallenged.

Enter Odessa Perkins, a brave survivor who shared her heartbreaking story of being trafficked as a child. Perkins shattered the committee room with her testimony, forcing some members to confront the tragic realities behind these crimes. Yet, some Democratic committee members still seemed unmoved.

However, their resistance was short-lived. It took a wake-up call from Governor Newsom, Assembly Speaker Rivas, and countless furious voters to jolt the committee into action. Realizing the gravity of their mistake, the committee resuscitated the bill with a unanimous 6-0 vote, sending it forward to the Appropriations Committee.

Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer, the committee’s chairman, acknowledged that sex traffickers of minors could already receive significant sentences if force, coercion, or violence were involved. However, proving these elements in court was often challenging, rendering the need for this bill even more critical.

Retired Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley, a Democrat herself, expressed shock that child trafficking was not considered a serious felony in California. The outrage among legislators and the public was palpable, highlighting why the pushback against this bill had been so fierce.

While this political drama may not involve car chases or explosive heists, the importance of the topic at hand cannot be overstated. Lawmakers were teetering on the precipice of losing sight of their duty to protect vulnerable children and fight against the insidious crime of sex trafficking.

In this game of politics, when voter pushback becomes too potent, the consequences for elected officials can be dire. However, this time, Democrats managed to turn the tide, bringing back a bill vital to the safety and well-being of countless innocent children.

So, let this saga serve as a reminder to all politicians that sometimes, in the game of politics, achieving real-world truth and practicality, even if it doesn’t fit neatly into an abstract ideology, is what truly matters. And for Californians, this resuscitation of a crucial bill meant a victory against the darkness that seeks to exploit the most innocent among us.

Ryan Scott
Author: Ryan Scott

Just a guy

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