It wasn’t an hour after SB-10 cleared the Senate Appropriations Committee yesterday on a 5-2 vote, I began getting phone calls from California bail agents. Is this it, are we done? Are we out of business? No, we’re not done and we’re not out of business. While California bail agents and surety companies operating in the Golden State do have a huge fight on our hands, we can prevail.
Proponents of these two criminal welfare bills SB-10 and AB-42 are probably feeling good today, their side advanced the ball. There are still many plays left before either of these two measures can cross the goal line and become law. There is an adage in legislative circles, it’s easier to kill a bill than to pass one. Our aim and the aim of many other stakeholders within California’s criminal justice system is to kill these toxic measures.
I wrote an article a couple days ago about Texas and how their legislature has elected to not perpetuate the desire by some to eliminate the idea of holding criminals accountable for their actions, to not reward bad behavior. Texas bail agents just went through a process California bail agents are going through now, fighting legislation that could put the bail industry out of business.
Ten weeks ago Texas bail agents were very concerned they were finished. Rather than sit back and whine and fret, they took substantive action to protect their place in the criminal justice system. They contacted their legislators, contributed to PBT or other entities acting on their behalf and went to Austin when directed. They fought and fought hard. Assuming an Acme anvil doesn’t fall from the sky before the Texas legislator concludes today, they will have won their fight. California bail agents must show similar resolve.
It is projected both SB-10 and AB-42 will be voted out of the Senate and Assembly respectively by the end of next week. Both bills will then be sent to the opposite chamber where they must start the process over again; i.e., committee hearings, etc. Every California bail agent must join the fight if this battle is to be won. Contact CBAA, GSBAA or ABC to see how you can contribute. Financial contributions are as important as your relationship to your local legislature and your ability to travel to Sacramento at a moment’s notice.
These legislative fights always seem daunting and unbeatable. The legislators have the bully pulpit and seem to have everyone listening and believing every word uttered. The reality is not every legislator is in agreement and those are the folks we need to reach. The advocacy team assembled by the bail industry has been doing a remarkable job in Sacramento. They’ve been successful in getting legislators to see the other side of the argument, the true facts. Legislators are beginning to listen.
What can you do today? Call your senator and assembly representative and ask them to vote no to SB-10 and AB-42. Call your surety company to make sure they are engaged and participating in this fight. Next, contact one of the agent or surety organizations and make a financial contribution. How much is it worth to you to stay in business?
While the fight is far from over, the only way to win the battle is to fight the battle.