News

Monday, August 19, 2019

Publication: Los Angeles Times

Four years after California became one of the first states to expedite the removal of guns from people seen as a public danger by family members or law enforcement, its “red flag” law appears to be helping to reduce the chance of mass shootings, according to a study released Monday by the UC Davis School of Medicine.

The initial findings by the school’s Violence Prevention Research Program were made public just hours after Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday that he is interested in receiving a group of pending bills that would significantly expand the use of so-called “extreme risk protection” orders.

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Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) has written one of nearly 10 bills pending that would enlarge California’s red flag law. His legislation would expand the number of people who can petition the court for orders to include co-workers, employers and school employees who believe individuals are a public risk of gun violence.

“It proves that strong gun control measures work,” Ting said Monday of the study. “You have potentially 21 people who could have carried out violent acts who aren’t able to because their guns were taken away.”

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Publication: Los Angeles Times

California Assemblyman Phil Ting has never been arrested, but he was recently mistaken for a criminal.

He’s not surprised.

Ting (D-San Francisco), who authored a bill to ban facial recognition software from being used on police body cameras, was one of 26 California legislators who was incorrectly matched with a mug shot in a recent test of a common face-scanning program by the American Civil Liberties Union.

About 1 in 5 legislators was erroneously matched to a person who had been arrested when the ACLU used the software to screen their pictures against a database of 25,000 publicly available booking photos. 

Monday, August 5, 2019

Publication: San Diego Union Tribune

While the number of electric vehicles on California’s roads is growing, the state is going to have to hustle to reach the goal established by former Gov. Jerry Brown to have 5 million zero-emission vehicles, or ZEVs, on the state’s roads by 2030.

With that in mind, Assembly member Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, wants to overhaul the state’s rebate program for zero-emission vehicles by increasing the size of the check to as much as $7,500 and then gradually reducing the amount over time in an effort to encourage potential customers to buy the cars sooner rather than later.

“If you want to boost the adoption (of ZEVs) here in California, we’re going to have to restructure our incentive program,” Ting said.

Currently, the state’s Clean Vehicle Rebate Project gives $2,500 to drivers who buy or lease battery-electric vehicles. Ting says the keeping the rebate constant does not provide enough of an incentive for drivers to go electric right away.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Publication: San Francisco Chronicle

Kent Williams’ friends and family thought he would probably die in prison.

He didn’t hurt anybody — he broke into two houses and stole a car in 2003. Still, under California’s previous “three strikes” law, Williams was sentenced to 50 years to life in prison due to his prior felonies.

His life sentence for property crimes, fueled by addiction to crack cocaine, was equivalent to the prison time a murderer might typically receive today.

But after 16 years behind bars, Williams walked out of prison on June 4. He’s believed to be the first California inmate released under a new law that allows prosecutors to review sentences they consider unjustly harsh.

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Williams was freed under a law that took effect Jan. 1. AB2942, by Assemblyman Phil Ting, allows district attorneys to review old cases and recommend lesser sentences to a judge.

Ting, D-San Francisco, said he sponsored the bill because California prisons are filled with thousands of people who were given overly harsh sentences under three strikes and old sentencing guidelines the state has since reversed.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Publication: San Diego Union Tribune

Kent Joy Williams spent most of a decade getting high, breaking into people’s homes and going to prison.

In 2003, a San Diego judge looked at Williams’ “three strike” history of convictions and gave him the maximum sentence possible for two new burglaries and auto theft: 50 years to life in prison.

But on Thursday, Williams, 57, stood as a free man next to his family, District Attorney Summer Stephan and other officials to showcase his release from prison under a new law that allows prosecutors to take a fresh look at whether a convicted criminal’s sentence was unduly harsh when viewed under current guidelines.

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Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, carried a bill suggested by former San Francisco prosecutor Hillary Blout that allowed prosecutors to seek reduced sentences for suitable inmates and for judges to grant such requests.

Ting, at the news conference, said the bill did not require prosecutors or judges to take action, but gave them authority that previously had rested solely with the state Parole Board and the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Publication: San Francisco Magazine

San Francisco magazine is proud to be a participant in the fourth annual SF Homeless Project headed by the San Francisco Chronicle. We asked Assemblyman Phil Ting about his efforts to address this epidemic and his thoughts on the causes and possible solutions.

As Chair of the Assembly Budget Committee, what have you been able to do and/or work on to alleviate this growing problem?


Addressing our homeless crisis has been one of my top budget priorities these last few years. Our FY 2019-20 Budget makes a historic $1 billion investment to tackle homelessness, including $650 million in emergency aid for cities and counties to build shelters and permanent supportive housing, fund rapid rehousing programs and more. Allocation of funding will be based on the pending 2019 federal point-in-time homeless count, with San Francisco estimated to receive nearly $40 million. This builds upon our work from last year’s budget, which provided $500 million to local governments for homeless supportive services. San Francisco’s $27.6 million allocation has gone towards both adult and youth navigation centers and rapid rehousing projects, including the city’s newest proposed navigation center at 1925 Evans. Other major programs funded in recent budgets include rental housing payment assistance through CalWORKS and student rapid rehousing through California Community Colleges, CSU, and UC to prevent homelessness in the first place.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Publication: KCBS Radio

Gilroy police are evaluating how and when they will comply with a state law that requires the department to release officers' body camera footage from Sunday’s deadly shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival.

Investigators said 19-year-old Santino Legan fired into the crowd at random, killing three people. Three officers who were patrolling the festival responded within one minute and engaged Legan who was shot and killed.

Under a new California police transparency law that went into effect this month, law enforcement agencies are required to release footage from any incident where a police officer seriously injures a person or fires a gun within 45 days, unless they can demonstrate that releasing the footage would hinder an investigation.

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“The video that we’ve released previously to California Public Records Act requests has required us to go through and redact uninvolved parties out. And quite frankly for a department of our size I don’t know how we’re going to do that yet," Smithee said. 

That echoes complaints raised by police unions and law enforcement agencies throughout California before the law went into effect, with many officials calling it an undue burden. But supporters – including the bill’s author San Francisco Assemblyman Phil Ting – say the bill is necessary to hold police accountable and increase transparency and trust.