California's capital city of SACRAMENTO Nine months after it passed the Legislature, a bill that would prevent police from arresting people for loitering for prostitution was sent to the governor.
Police officers disproportionately target black and Latino women when arresting people for loitering with the intent to engage in prostitution.
Critics think it's a further erosion of criminal penalties that tie the hands of police on quality-of-life issues. A spokesman for the California Family Council is concerned that it is part of a plan to decriminalize prostitution.
If you want sex traffickers to increase in California, this bill is perfect. The bill won't affect neighborhoods where the legislators live.
Sex work would not be decriminalized under the bill. The court would be able to seal the record of a previous conviction if the person were to ask for it to be dismissed.
After the Assembly approved the measure with no votes to spare, Assemblyman Scott Wiener stopped the bill from going to the governor. More than two dozen of his fellow Democrats in the Assembly and Senate didn't vote.
He wanted time to explain why the civil rights bill is good policy and why the loitering crime is against California values.
On Monday, the Senate sent the bill to the mayor.
Concerns about crime, homelessness and the perception that major California cities are becoming more unsafe have become more acute since the Legislature acted nine months ago.
The bill's supporters include the San Francisco District Attorney, who voters just recalled from office after he was accused of being soft on criminals.
The democrat running for reelection after easily beating back a recall last year has said that more needs to be done to address homelessness and theft. The bill was not commented on by the spokesman for the governor.
Lawmakers waited until after the governor defeated the recall to send it to him, according to the person.
The bill is sponsored in part by groups that support gay and trans rights, and Wiener waited to send the measure to the mayor until Pride month.
A law that targets the gay community is more important than ever. Pride isn't just about parades. The most marginalized in our community are protected.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department is one of the opponents. It will make it harder to identify and assist victims of human traffickers if it is repealed.
The law is used to keep prostitutes away from public places, business and residential communities, which can lead to crime and drug use.
Sex buyers will benefit from the consequences, the department said.
The loitering law allows law enforcement to target and arrest people if they are wearing a lot of makeup. In New York last year, a similar bill became law, and it was cast as part of a larger movement to end discrimination against sex workers.
The American Civil Liberties Union of California supported the debate and the National Center on Sexual Exploitation opposed it.
If it reaches his desk, he will have 12 days to either sign or veto it.
There are two related measures that are law.
The intent of the bill passed in 2016 was to treat prostitutes as victims. Sex workers can't be arrested if they report crimes as victims or witnesses. Condoms can't be used as a reason for an arrest.