Monday, February 24, 2020

Ting Introduces Legislation Giving a Second Chance To Californians Living with Past Convictions

AB 2978 Automates Record Clearance For Those Already Qualified For Relief Under Current Law

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Expanding the reach of landmark criminal justice reform successfully championed last year, Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) unveiled AB 2978 today, providing broad post-conviction relief to people who have fully completed the terms of their sentence and rehabilitation.

AB 2978, sponsored by Californians for Safety and Justice and supported by district attorneys across party lines, would allow individuals with an eligible conviction dating back to 1973 to have their record automatically cleared when a person has fully completed the terms of their sentence. This proposal builds upon AB 1076, which Ting authored and was signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom in 2019; automatic records clearance, however, applies only to new cases beginning next year and beyond. AB 2978 seeks retroactivity.

“For me this is about fairness,” said Ting. “While I’m grateful my law from last year will help those arrested after Jan. 1, 2021, millions of Californians today are still living in a paper prison. Their records prevent them from getting jobs or housing. Let’s give people with past convictions the same clean slate that individuals in the future will be entitled to. Everybody deserves a second chance.”

Under current law, people can only have old convictions on their records cleared by petitioning courts through an arduous and often costly process. It can require hiring a lawyer to help identify records and file the necessary paperwork. Many are discouraged from doing it. According to a report by the Alliance for Safety and Justice, automatically clearing an old conviction after a person has completed their sentence is key to regaining family stability and economic security, which, in turn, is an integral part of a comprehensive public safety strategy. 

In California alone, eight million people are living with a past conviction or record that can lead them to face thousands of legal restrictions to jobs, housing, and other opportunities. That number grows to over 70 million when considering the entire country. Nationally, it is estimated that the United States loses over $87 billion in gross domestic product every year because of employment losses among people with a past conviction. 

“Millions of Californians who have completed their sentence, paid their debt, and remained crime-free for years still have old, stale convictions on their record,” said Jay Jordan, executive director of Californians for Safety and Justice. ‘This leads to thousands of legal restrictions that block people from employment, housing, education, and other critical opportunities. These restrictions undermine public safety and the economic viability of communities across California. We must mean what we say when we call someone rehabilitated and stop denying their ability to earn stability and move forward in their lives.”

AB 2978 is expected to have its first committee hearing this Spring. Pennsylvania and Utah have both recently enacted automated records clearance legislation, while similar legislation is being considered in Michigan.

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Friday, February 21, 2020

Publication: CalMatters

Dale Carnegie could have been talking about Phil Ting when the positive-thinking guru said, decades ago, “Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.”

Ting is that person. Sometimes he’s the California Assembly’s Don Quixote, chasing seemingly impossible dreams. He has tried to persuade skeptical colleagues to punish companies that do business with the Trump administration and to tell Californians to park their gas-fueled cars forever — even as he performs the more practical task of managing the Assembly’s purse strings as chairman of the powerful budget committee.

For some practitioners, political accomplishment is a zero-sum proposition, with success measured by wins ­— legislation signed into law — and losses — bills that may die a lonely death in committee.

But Ting doesn’t see his work that way. He’s playing the long game. It’s a win, says Ting — a  key figure in California’s fight to slash auto emissions in the battle against climate change and — if his legislation does nothing more than start a conversation.

“I’d much rather raise the issue and have people pay attention,” he says. “Sometimes behavior changes.” 

Friday, February 21, 2020

Golden Gate Bridge to Remain Toll Free For Pedestrians & Bicyclists Under Ting Proposal

Toll Ban Extends to Six Other Bay Area Bridges

To encourage exercise and bolster environmental benefits, Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) has introduced AB 2674, banning the assessment of fees on anyone who walks or bikes across a toll bridge, including the Golden Gate Bridge. With the current ban expiring in January 2021, Ting’s new bill extends the date another ten years.

“We have spent decades promoting active lifestyles to improve our health and carbon-free transportation alternatives to combat our climate crisis. Sidewalk tolls would undo that work,” said Ting. “My bill ensures everyone has free access to bike and walk across California’s iconic bridges, encouraging more people to get out of their cars and enjoy the outdoors.” 

Ting authored the original law, AB 40 (2015), prohibiting bridge tolls on pedestrians and bicyclists for five years. At the time, the Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District was considering a fee for sidewalk use. As many as 10,000 people and 6,000 bicyclists cross the Golden Gate Bridge each day. The Golden Gate Bridge has been free of charge since 1970 for non-vehicle access – a policy that exemplifies California’s commitment to public recreation, while fostering sustainable ways to move around. AB 2674 protects this legacy not only for the Golden Gate Bridge, but for all toll bridges in the state.

“Bicycling and walking are solutions to many problems we face. State policy should encourage people to walk and bike, not penalize them by charging a fee to use public roads and bridges,” said Dave Snyder, Executive Director of the California Bicycle Coalition.

All eight of California’s toll bridges are located in the Bay Area. Seven of them have bike/pedestrian access:

  • Golden Gate Bridge
  • San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge
  • Richmond-San Rafael
  • Carquinez Bridge
  • Antioch Bridge
  • Dumbarton Bridge
  • Benicia/Martinez Bridge

AB 2674 is expected to be heard in committee this Spring.

Thursday, February 20, 2020
Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Ting Introduces Bill to Help Cities And Counties License More Cannabis Retailers(Sacramento) – To boost California’s legal cannabis market, Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) introduced AB 2456, legislation to create a model ordinance that provides guidance to cities and counties wanting to set up such retailers in their jurisdictions. A regulated marketplace is critical for patients and consumers to access safe and tested products.

“We must do more to ensure the legal cannabis market thrives in California,” said Assemblymember Ting, author of AB 2456. “It can be tough for local governments to know where to begin when establishing a relatively new type of business in their communities. I hope my proposal can make the start-up process easier for them, so they can combat the underground market and begin benefitting from increased tax revenue.”

Despite the 2016 passage of Proposition 64, the Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Act, market density today does not meet demand. California currently has a relatively low number of licensed cannabis retailers, given its population – one for every 35,000 adults over the age of 21. By comparison, the ratio is one licensed retailer for every 5,500 adults in Oregon and 4,200 adults in Colorado. AB 2456 tasks the Bureau of Cannabis Control with developing the model ordinance that cities and counties could adopt which, in turn, will spur access to regulated products. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Publication: Los Angeles Times

California lawmakers will gather Wednesday to hear Gov. Gavin Newsom deliver his annual State of the State address and will no doubt applaud any promise he makes to zero in on homelessness. But that doesn’t mean they’ll agree with him.

There is a growing rift in Sacramento political circles over how best to address a crisis that has swelled so much in the past year that more than 151,000 people are now living on the streets and in shelters across the state.

Newsom has already proposed spending an additional $750 million to get people into housing this year — on top of the more than $1 billion that the state is still doling out from previous allocations — and $695 million to expand homeless services under Medi-Cal.

On Wednesday, the governor also may elaborate on a new plan that, he says, will create more accountability by carving the state into still-undecided regions. State officials would then pick an entity in each region to distribute the $750 million, bypassing the existing reliance on allotting money directly to cities and counties, and other local organizations. The details are vague.


There are signs that Newsom’s plan might not get quick approval. At a committee hearing last week, lawmakers were skeptical.

“It wasn’t clear what the new approach was addressing,” said Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) after the hearing. “People already feel like we have plenty of state employees. Why do we need more state employees to administer a new pot of money?”


Monday, February 17, 2020

Publication: CNN Wire

On Feb. 19, 1942, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt gave the Secretary of War the authority to evacuate to designated military areas anyone deemed a U.S. security threat.

For about the next four years, more than 100,000 people of Japanese origin — most of them US citizens — were forcibly removed from their homes and incarcerated in concentration camps across the country during World War II.

Almost 80 years later, California will apologize formally to Japanese Americans for its role in what became the largest single forced relocation in U.S. history.

The California state assembly is expected to approve a resolution later this week apologizing for supporting the “unjust exclusion, removal, and incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II, and for its failure to support and defend the civil rights and civil liberties of Japanese Americans during this period.”

“Given recent national events, it is all the more important to learn from the mistakes of the past and to ensure that such an assault on freedom will never again happen to any community in the United States,” the resolution reads.


Muratsuchi introduced the resolution last month, along with Anthony Rendon and Marie Waldron. The bill also lists Ed Chau, David Chiu, Todd Gloria and Phil Ting as co-authors.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Publication: San Francisco Chronicle

Big-city mayors and several Assembly members got their first good look Thursday at Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposal to create a system of regional administrators to oversee $750 million in new homeless funding, and they didn’t like it.

Newsom’s plan is largely unformed and being introduced far in advance of the mid-June deadline for the state to pass its budget. But the mere mention of regional administrators — an idea lambasted as inefficient this week by the state Legislative Analyst’s Office — raised hackles at an informational hearing in San Francisco of a California Assembly budget subcommittee.

All the mayors and almost all of the subcommittee members said they appreciate the new homeless program money Newsom proposed for the coming year’s budget, which would be at least $100 million more than last year, but not the extra buffer between state coffers and local programs.

Currently, homeless funding from the state is handed out to cities and counties, which then use it in governmental and nonprofit programs, and there is a growing call among elected leaders and managers around California to cooperate more regionally on homelessness. But this concept doesn’t seem to be helpful, most of those at the hearing said.

“Layering more bureaucracy and bypassing cities and counties is counterproductive,” San Francisco Mayor London Breed told the committee.


“Having unnamed regional bureaucrats be in charge of homeless funding doesn’t sound like a good idea to me,” said Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, chairman of the subcommittee. “But that having been said, I think we had a really robust discussion. We’ll see where it leads.”

Friday, February 7, 2020

Ting Hosts Budget Hearing on Homelessness