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California Democrats ‘playing dirty tricks’ to keep Prop 47 reform off ballot, GOP leader says

California Democrats are playing “dirty tricks” in response to bipartisan efforts to place a measure to reform Proposition 47 on the November ballot in favor of other public safety bills, officials said. 

Prop 47, a voter-approved initiative passed in 2014, loosened the penalties for drug and theft crimes in California and has been blamed for California’s rampant theft problems. Californians for Safer Communities, a bipartisan group made up of law enforcement, elected officials and businesses, said it has collected more than 900,000 signatures in support of the proposed amendment to reform Prop 47 in order to increase penalties for criminals. 

However, California Gov. Gavin Newsom and some elected Democrats don’t support the effort and are pushing some public safety bills circulating through the state Capitol that attempt to address organized retail theft, car break-ins and other crimes. They prefer those bills go before voters instead of the Prop 47 reform measure. 

Some Democrats plan to introduce inoperability clauses into the set of proposed public safety bills to prevent them from going into effect if voters approve the Prop 47 reforms. They contend that it’s a way to ensure there aren’t any inconsistencies in the law.

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“The Democrats are playing dirty tricks to try and stop it,” California Assembly Republican Leader James Gallagher told Fox News Digital. “They think that Prop 47 is good policy. I think the majority of Californians disagree with them and want to change it.”

Fox News Digital has reached out to the California Democratic Party and Californians for Safer Communities.

Prop 47 made several crimes, including shoplifting, grand theft and receiving stolen property, a misdemeanor instead of a felony if the value of the property did not exceed $950. It also lowered the penalty for the personal use of most illegal drugs below a certain weight.

Many law enforcement officials have blamed the measure for the uptick in theft and smash-and-grabs that have plagued California in the years since the COVID-19 pandemic. Around the same time, California became synonymous with smash-and-grab crimes as videos of groups of thieves brazenly ransacking stores gained traction online. 

Recently, Newsom has come out tougher on public safety as many Californians are voicing concerns about crime in their communities. 

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Gov Gavin Newsom

“There’s a lot of moving parts, a lot of negotiations concurrently happening,” Newsom told reporters on Friday. “Prop 47 is included.”

Those bills being pushed by Democrats, however, don’t address personal theft, as opposed to smash-and-grabs, the trafficking of fentanyl and drug treatment incentives, said Gallagher. 

“Those are three things that the initiative does that we need, that this (Democratic) retail package doesn’t do,” said Gallahgher. 

California has some of the toughest thresholds for prosecutors to charge suspects with a felony for theft up to $950, in contrast to other states that have higher thresholds, Newsom’s office said Monday. 

Last year, the Democratic governor announced more than $267 million to increase arrests and prosecutions for organized retail crime across the state. Earlier this year, Newsom recalled how he witnessed a shoplifter stealing from Target in Sacramento. He confronted a store employee moments later. 

“I said, ‘why didn’t you stop him,’” Newsom said during a Zoom meeting on mental health in January. “She goes, ‘oh, the governor.’ Swear to God, true story on my mom’s grave. ‘The governor lowered the threshold, there’s no accountability.’ I said that’s just not true.”

“That’s exactly the kind of situation that happens every day that his package does nothing about,” Gallagher said. 

photo of Gavin Newsom

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Regarding the possible inoperability clauses, Republicans have called it a “poison pill.” 

“To combat the California crime wave, we need to strengthen our laws, both in the Legislature and at the ballot box,” Senate Minority Leader Brian Jones previously said in a statement. “It’s irresponsible to force voters into a false choice between the two. Unfortunately, some Democrat politicians are too prideful to admit their mistake with Prop 47 and they continue to deny the desperate need for reform.”

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