Press Releases

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Ting Proposal Banning Facial Recognition Technology In Police Body Cameras Heads to the GovernorCalifornia could become the largest state to protect civil liberties by banning facial recognition technology in police body cameras. The California State Assembly today sent Governor Newsom AB 1215, a proposal by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) that prohibits law enforcement from equipping body cameras with facial recognition software and other biometric scanners for three years.

“Without my bill, facial recognition technology essentially turns body cameras into a 24-hour surveillance tool, giving law enforcement the ability to track our every movement. Let’s not become a police state and keep body cameras as they were originally intended – to provide police accountability and transparency,” said Ting.

In addition, facial recognition systems are prone to mistakes. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) recently put the technology to the test, running photos of all 120 members of the state Legislature through a mugshot database. It falsely matched 26 lawmakers, including Ting. More than half of those falsely identified are lawmakers of color, illustrating the biases and risks associated with the technology’s dangerous inaccuracies if allowed to subject people to perpetual police line-ups. A similar test conducted on members of Congress last year also produced 28 mismatches.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Under a proposal by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), California is on the verge of giving people a second chance in life after they’ve served their time. The State Assembly today sent Governor Newsom AB 1076, which uses technology to automate arrest and conviction relief for those already entitled to record clearance under existing law. The current paper system is burdensome and expensive and discourages individuals from going through the process.

“A clean slate opens the doors to employment, housing and educational opportunities that help can individuals succeed and reduce the chance of recidivism. We must automate the records clearance process so former offenders can get back on their feet and lead productive lives,” said Ting. “Otherwise, our economy and society pay the price when job-seeking workers are shut out.”

“We advance public safety by removing barriers to employment, housing and educational opportunities,” said District Attorney George Gascón, who worked with Ting on this legislation. “That is why this landmark bill is so important and why we are working hard to be the first state in the country to enact it into law.”

Studies show that lack of access to jobs and housing are primary factors that drive individuals to reoffend. The obstacles to successful re-entry also disproportionately impact communities of color and those who are socio-economically disadvantaged. By requiring no additional action by petitioners, AB 1076 can make the records clearance system more fair and equitable, while also improving public safety through reduced recidivism. 

Amendments adopted during the legislative process now only apply automatic record clearance to individuals whose arrest occurs after January 1, 2021. AB 1076 originally included prior cases. Still, supporters say it’s a step in the right direction and will continue working to expand the process to past convictions. 

Monday, September 9, 2019

Ting participated in a rally in August calling for more gun safety laws. Courtesy: SF Brady United Against Gun Violence

California is poised to expand its red flag law after a recent study suggested such policies may be effective in reducing the risk of mass shootings. The Assembly sent Governor Newsom AB 61 by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) today, which gives more Californians access to a court process that could temporarily take away someone’s firearms through a Gun Violence Restraining Order (GVRO), if they pose a danger to themselves or others. Current law only allows law enforcement and immediate family members to file a GVRO. Ting’s proposal adds educators, employers and co-workers.

“There’s no question in my mind that California’s Gun Violence Restraining Order law is a powerful tool that helps save lives. With school and workplace shootings on the rise, it’s common sense to give the people we see every day a way to prevent tragedies,” said Ting.

From 2016 (when California’s red flag law took effect) through 2018, more than 600 people had weapons removed from their possession via GVROs. Researchers at the Violence Prevention Research Program at UC Davis closely examined a sample of these individuals and found none were involved in subsequent gun-related violence. While it is hard to say how many incidents were prevented, it is reasonable to conclude GVROs play a role in reducing the chance of gun-related violence.

Seventeen states have a version of red flag laws on the books. Twelve enacted their measures after the 2018 Parkland, FL shooting. In California, there are two ways a GVRO can be granted:

  • For a duration of 21 days, immediately, which can be extended for up to one year after a court hearing, or

  • For a duration of one year after a court hearing

For GVRO requests in the latter category, Ting has a companion bill, AB 1493, which allows the subject of a GVRO to surrender their firearms to authorities without contesting the order. Under current law, even a subject who agrees guns should not be in their possession must still go through a court hearing, wasting time and resources.

As with all bills sent to the Governor this month by the September 13th deadline, he has until October 13th to act. If signed into law, AB 61 & AB 1493 will take effect September 1, 2020.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Ting Proposal for Reservation & Pricing System On World Famous Lombard Street Heads to the Governor

As frustrations over traffic congestion on San Francisco’s Lombard Street heighten, the city is one step closer to being able to test a solution. The California State Assembly sent AB 1605 to the Governor today, allowing a Reservation and Pricing System Pilot Program on the Crooked Street, which sees more than two million visitors a year. The bill by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) is necessary because existing law prohibits a local agency from imposing a tax, permit fee, or other charge for the use of its streets or highways.

“It has become increasingly difficult to manage the crowds and traffic congestion on Lombard Street,” said Ting.  “Neither the presence of parking enforcement officers, nor the closure of the crooked segment has changed the current situation. AB 1605 offers a fix worth trying to improve public safety and the quality of life for residents.”

The San Francisco County Transportation Authority (SFCTA) concluded in a 2017 study that access to the popular tourist attraction must be better managed and recommended a Reservation and Pricing System to do so. Lombard Street draws up to 17,000 visitors per day on busy summer weekends. Queues of motorists often form at 10am and run as late as 8pm, with wait times extending to 45 minutes per vehicle.

The proposed strategy would regulate demand and flow at the entrance while reducing the length of cars lined up, and could be implemented through an all-electronic system supported by a website, mobile app or on-street kiosks. Recent amendments to the bill require the SFCTA to identify ways to accommodate low-income, disabled or elderly visitors at Lombard Street. The SFCTA must also compile regular reports to assess the program’s effectiveness and ensure it is working as intended.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

California's First College Admissions Reform Bill Heads To The Governor

In an effort to make the college admissions process more fair and equitable, the California State Assembly sent Governor Newsom AB 697 by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco). Ting’s bill would require colleges to disclose to the state whether they give preferential admissions treatment to applicants related to donor or alumni, and detail how many students were admitted under such practices.

“If we’re allowing CalGrants and other state-funded benefits to go toward a school, we need to ensure every applicant has a level playing field during the application process,” said Ting.

In March, a handful of Assembly Democrats unveiled a package of six college admissions reform proposals in response to the scandal dubbed “Operation Varsity Blues.” That investigation alleges that well-connected families used a side door to get their children admitted into elite schools through illegal bribes and/or donations. Additionally, the scandal shed light on the many legal ways that wealth and relationships skew the college admissions process.  AB 697 is the first reform measure to reach the Governor.

Other proposals by lawmakers include:

  • AB 1383 strengthens checks and balances on special admissions (McCarty)
  • ACR 64 studies phasing out the use of SAT and ACT scores for admissions (McCarty)
  • AB 1312 establishes a registration process for college admission consultants (Low)
  • AB 136 prohibits fraudulent tax write-offs for individuals charged in the scandal (Quirk-Silva)
  • Audit request of the University of California’s admission policies and practices (Boerner Horvath)

As with all bills sent to the Governor this month by the September 13th deadline, he has until October 13th to act. If signed into law, AB 697 will take effect January 1, 2020.

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Tuesday, September 3, 2019

State Assembly Recognizes 76th Anniversary of the Repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act;  Calls on Trump to Revoke Anti-Immigrant Actions

Congress repealed the Chinese Exclusion Act on December 17, 1943. Today, the California State Assembly approved AJR 22, a resolution by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) that would recognize the 76th anniversary of this historic moment, a significant point in the immigrant struggle for fairness and equality in America. The resolution also calls on President Trump to revoke his anti-immigrant orders and actions.

“Asian Americans see echoes of the past in the President’s rhetoric and policies. AJR 22 is a necessary reminder that progress is fragile, and that California must stand up against an administration determined to turn back the clock,” said Ting.

The resolution’s passage is timely, given the latest example of anti-immigrant policies at the federal level. Beginning October 15, a revision to the “public charge” rule is set to take effect, which makes it more difficult for immigrants to obtain a green card if they benefit from government programs, such as food, housing and medical assistance. Ting attended a rally in Oakland last week, denouncing the change. It joins a long list of actions by the Trump Administration directed against groups based on race, ethnicity, religious beliefs and immigration status, repeating mistakes of the past.

The Chinese Exclusion Act was enacted in 1882 and stood for more than sixty years before its repeal. It was the United States’ first law prohibiting immigration based solely on ethnicity because “the coming of Chinese laborers endangers the good order of certain localities.” For those who were already in America, the act also denied a pathway to citizenship, bearing striking similarities to federal actions today.

AJR 22 reaffirms that California welcomes all immigrants and refugees and now heads to the state Senate for consideration. The resolution’s co-authors include the Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus.

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Monday, August 19, 2019

California’s Red Flag Law is known as the Gun Violence Restraining Order (GVRO) Law

Ting's Statement On New Report Suggesting CA's “Red Flag” Law Plays a Role in Preventing Mass Shootings

“Based on the new findings, there’s no question in my mind that California’s Gun Violence Restraining Order law is an effective tool that helps save lives. I’m more committed than ever before to expanding the pool of Californians who have access to GVROs and will fight to get my bill, AB 61, to the Governor as soon as possible. With school and workplace shootings on the rise, it’s common sense to give the people we see every day a way to prevent tragedies,” said Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco).

Ting is the author of AB 61, which adds educators, employers and co-workers to the list of people who can petition a court to temporarily take someone’s firearms away if they pose a danger to themselves or others. Currently, only law enforcement and immediate family can file for a GVRO.

Ting also serves as Chair of the Assembly Budget Committee and helped secure $5 million in the 2016-17 state budget for the University of California Firearm Violence Prevention Research Center. Read the Center’s new study about “red flag” laws here.

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