Landmark Legislation Around Criminal Justice Reform, Housing Passed Out of House of Origin

SACRAMENTO, CA — Last week, three bills authored by Senator Sydney K. Kamlager (D - Los Angeles) were passed out of the house of origin: AB 333: Gang Enhancements; AB 124: Justice for Survivors; and, SB 679:  L.A. County Affordable Housing Solutions Agency. The three final pieces of legislation make up an eight-bill package that is in the process of advancing to the next legislative body, a package centered on expanding equity and opportunity in the realms of criminal justice reform, housing access, and sustainability.

Senator Kamlager, elected in a special election in March 2021 to the State Senate after serving as an Assemblymember since 2018, navigated a robust legislative package with bills having originated in both the Senate and the Assembly.

 “What we saw this week were people stepping forward,” said Senator Kamlager. “Not only by my legislative colleagues in the Assembly and Senate, but with the stories and posts advocates and storytellers shared this week. Folks that were fed up with the status quo — from the lack of housing affordability to how current policies in the penal system are being used to strip people of their dignity and due process.”

AB 333: Gang Enhancements, known as the “STEP Forward Act”, has a broad coalition of support, driven to revise racist sentencing laws. As shared by Senator Kamlager in the Assembly Public Safety committee, current gang enhancements are being used frivolously and discriminatorily, with 92% of gang enhancements being used against Black and Brown communities. The bill seeks to address the inconsistencies perpetuated by the current STEP Act, and only apply gang enhancement sentencing to only serious offenses that directly relate to gang activity. Presented by Assemblymember Adam Gray (D - Merced), the bill passed out of the Assembly on Thursday.

Senator Kamlager previously shared in committe how nearly 60% of female state prisoners nationwide and as many as 94% of certain female prison populations experienced physical or sexual abuse before being incarcerated. AB 124: Justice for Survivors, a California Legislative Women’s Caucus (CLWC) priority, seeks to support survivors by requiring a holistic, trauma-informed approach in sentencing. The bill was presented by CLWC Chair Assemblymember Cristina Garica (D - Bell Gardens) and received bipartisan support with a final vote of 50-2.

Lastly, SB  679:  L.A. County Affordable Housing Solutions Agency will establish a single independent countywide affordable housing solutions agency for LA County. The bill, the first to be presented on by Senator Kamlager in her new capacity as a State Senator, passed with bipartisan support from members across the state.

The final bills make up three out of the nine bills Senator Kamlager is authoring. AB 118: CRISES Act: Community Response Initiative to Strengthen Emergency Systems, vetoed by Governor Newsom last year and reintroduced this year, has maintained bipartisan support. The bill is a California Legislative Black Caucus Priority with twenty coauthors signed on, and continues to advance while budgetary negotiations continue. 

“Seeing my bills go out of the house or origin literally left me with tears of joy,” continued Senator Kamlager. “We overcame hurdles this week, and I’m eager to see the legislation, especially as it relates to progressive, criminal justice reform like the CRISES Act, go through the other house and to the Governor.”

For the full list of legislation Senator Kamlager is authoring, see here.

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Senate District 30 consists of Culver City, Ladera Heights, Westmont, and the Crenshaw, Downtown, and Florence neighborhoods of Los Angeles.