From the President
August 21, 2015
Well, here we are in the doldrums of summer waiting for the legislature to get back on track from their summer recess. We are still tracking bills that are of importance to us, including our sponsored bill – AB 989 (juveniles: sealing of records), and SB 124 (juveniles: solitary confinement) – a bill that we continue to oppose. Both of these bills, in addition to other tracked bills, were discussed at our most recent meeting in San Diego County. Thanks again to the San Diego County Probation Officer’s Association for their hospitality!
Our jointly sponsored juvenile records bill, AB 989, made it out of the Assembly in the spring and is still in the Senate. It appears to be running on a parallel track to AB 666 (juveniles: sealing of records) in the legislature. If passed, AB 666 would keep moving the needle in the opposite direction, continuing to place restrictions on Probation’s ability to access juvenile records. Current law places restrictions on Probation’s ability to pull a juvenile’s records for any number of reasons. Passage of AB 989 would grant us increased access to information that is necessary to properly gain insight into a minor’s background and suitability for proper placement.
In addition to our jointly sponsored bill, we are continuing to monitor several bills which could have an impact on us if passed. The one still outstanding that could have the biggest impact on how Probation departments operate their facilities is SB 124 – juveniles: solitary confinement. Its passage would effectively ban the use of “solitary confinement” for juveniles. The traditional usage of solitary confinement as an isolated and oppressive means to lock down youth for extended periods of time is just not used any longer in California’s county facilities. There are times where juveniles are temporarily separated from the general population for their own safety, the safety of other juveniles, or the safety of staff. Both their separation from the general population and the supervision of their basic needs are governed by Code of Regulations, Juvenile Title 15. Facilities operated under Title 15 for many years, and every indication is that the current system works. As of this writing, SB 124 is on suspense in the Assembly Appropriations Committee. We will continue to monitor SB 124 and other bills that are of importance to our profession. In the meantime, you can always refer to our bill list (http://scopo.businesscatalyst.com/bill-information) for a list of bills that we are tracking with our position noted.
Lastly, once again we are facing an attack on our pensions from former San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed and former San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio, and this one looks to be a doozy. If the misleading measure titled “Voter Empowerment Act of 2016” makes it onto the ballot for next year, and is subsequently passed by the voters, the measure would:
- Eliminate vested constitutional rights by repealing the “California Rule.” The California Rule provides that retirement benefits promised to current employees cannot be impaired.
- Eliminate retirement security for all new public employees and restricts them to either 401k-style plans, or nothing at all unless voters approve a benefits package.
- Close defined benefit retirement plans and prohibit paying the debt or contributing funds to existing plans to pay for promised benefits; which would jeopardize the sustainability of CalPERS, CalSTRS, and other pension plans.
Not a pretty situation for current retirees, current employees or future hires. Passage of the ballot measure would effectively dismantle public employee pensions as they exist. Backers of the measure have until February 8, 2016, to collect 585,407 valid signatures to qualify the measure for the ballot. In the meantime, opponents of the measure should tell their friends, neighbors, and co-workers NOT to sign the petition if they see it. If you see a signature gatherer, try to dissuade them from carrying the petition. Write letters to the editor of your local newspaper urging voters not to sign the petition. To stay up to date on this issue, go to www.LetsTalkPensions.com and keep yourself informed.
Stay alert, stay safe, and stand committed.
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