' See How LB-Area Sac'to Lawmakers Voted On Ending Mandatory Increased Prison Time (Restores A Judge's Discretion) When Someone Uses A Gun In Committing Certain Felonies And (2) Reduces From Felony To Misdemeanor Intentionally Giving Someone HIV (Virus That Causes AIDS) '


See How LB-Area Sac'to Lawmakers Voted On (1) Ending Mandatory Increased Prison Time (Restores A Judge's Discretion) When Someone Uses A Gun In Committing Certain Felonies And (2) Reduces From Felony To Misdemeanor Intentionally Giving Someone HIV (Virus That Causes AIDS)

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(Oct. 12, 2017) -- Should Sacramento lawmakers change CA law to no longer require additional state prison time in fixed specified amounts for those using a gun in committing certain felonies, and again give judges discretion on whether to impose additional prison time, or possibly impose none at all, in their sentences for those committing certain felonies using a gun?

Should someone who knows he/she is infected with HIV (the virus that causes AIDS) and engages in unprotected sex with someone with the specific intent to infect the other person with HIV be prosecutable for a felony or simply a misdemeanor?

[Scroll down for further.]

LBREPORT.com is "old school" about some things and we dislike news stories that lazily attribute new or changed laws to nameless "Sacramento" or the nameless "state legislature." Real elected officials with real names vote for or against Assembly or state Senate bills. "Who" is one the basic journalistic W's (who, what, when, where and why.) Accordingly, LBREPORT.com identifies who voted and how they voted on two newsworthy bills affected CA criminal laws:



  • SB 620 (full text here) changed a law that required judges to sentence persons who used a gun in committing certain felonies to additional prison years (a "sentence enhancement.") SB 620 lets a judge strike or dismiss a firearm enhancement that would otherwise add 3, 4 or 10 years, or 5, 6 or 10 years (depending on the firearm) or 10 years, 20 years, or 25-years-to-life to a state prison term depending on the underlying offense and manner of use. SB 620 basically returns CA to the period when judges had discretion on whether or not to add prison time in sentencing someone who used a gun in committing a felony.

    On final passage, state Senator Ricardo Lara (D, LB-Huntington Park) and Assemblyman Patrick O'Donnell (LB-SP) voted "yes." State Senator Janet Nguyen (D, SE LB-West OC) voted "no." A list of all the recorded votes is here.

    The final State Senate Legislative Analysis lists support and opposition as follows:

    SUPPORT (Verified 9/12/17)
    Alliance for Boys and Men of Color
    American Civil Liberties Union
    Anti-Recidivism Coalition
    California Attorneys for Criminal Justice
    California Public Defenders Association
    Californians for Safety and Justice
    Californians United for a Responsible Budget
    Friends Committee on Legislation of California
    OPPOSITION: (Verified 9/12/17)
    California District Attorneys Association
    California State Sheriffs' Association
    Gun Owners of California


  • SB 239 changed criminal penalties that specified higher penalties for transmittinig HIV that for transmitting other communicable diseases. It was a felony to expose another person to HIV by engaging in unprotected sex when the infected person knows he or she is infected with HIV, hasn't disclosed his/her HIV-positive status and acted with the specific intent to infect the other person with HIV. Existing law also made it a felony for someone to donate blood, tissue, or, under specified circumstances, semen or breast milk, if he/she has AIDS or has tested reactive to HIV. SB 239 repealed those provisions and now makes it a misdemeanor to intentionally transmit HIV (like other infectious or communicable diseases) for up to 6 months in a county jail if certain circumstances apply,

    For SB 239's full bill text, click here.

    On final passage, state Senator Ricardo Lara (D, LB-Huntington Park) and Assemblyman Patrick O'Donnell (LB-SP) voted "yes." State Senator Janet Nguyen (D, SE LB-West OC) voted "no." A list of all the recorded votes is here.

    SB 239's primary author was state Senator Scott Weiner (D, San Francisco). Sen. Weiner was also the author of SB 35 that under certain circumstances prevents the public from using CEQA and gives developers near rubberstamp approval for proposed multi-unit low rent projects.)



    The Assembly Legislative Analysis of SB 239 on final passage stated in pertinent part:

    COMMENTS: According to the author, there is no evidence that laws criminalizing sexual activity on the part of people living with HIV accomplish their intended goal of improving public health. In 1988, when most California laws that made HIV transmission a felony were passed, there were no effective treatment for HIV and discrimination towards people living with HIV was extremely high. A 2017 analysis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) "found no association between HIV or AIDS diagnosis rates and criminal exposure laws across states over time, suggesting that these laws have had no detectable HIV prevention effect." Instead, research suggests that these laws may act as a disincentive for testing and disclosure of HIV status and may create a barrier to those seeking care. According to the National Association of County and City Health Officials, "Disease-specific laws and policies that result in criminal prosecution fuel stigma and discrimination against persons living with communicable diseases… Ending the stigma and discrimination faced by people living with communicable diseases is an important step to improving individual health and protecting the public's health." The author argues that HIV criminalization laws only increase stigmatization of people living with HIV and disproportionately impact women and people of color.

    The author states that, consistent with guidelines from the United States Department of Justice, this bill would maintain criminal penalties for individuals who intentionally transmit or attempt to transmit HIV, or any other serious infectious or communicable disease, to another person, and would bring parity with existing laws regarding other communicable diseases by making it a misdemeanor, rather than a felony, to transmit any disease that is determined to have significant public health implications. Furthermore, this bill also clarifies that taking practical means to prevent transmission – such as using a condom or being on treatment – is incompatible with the intention to transmit HIV or any other infectious or communicable disease. Finally, this bill would also repeal other outdated provisions of law that significantly increase penalties for sex workers living with HIV, and unnecessary laws regarding donation of blood, tissue, or, in certain circumstances, semen or breast milk, by those living with HIV. The author argues that these changes will ensure that California law reflects a science-based understanding of HIV prevention, treatment, and transmission.

    According to the CDC, the risk of getting HIV varies widely depending on the type of exposure or behavior (such as sharing needles or having sex without a condom). Some exposures to HIV carry a much higher risk of transmission than other exposures. For some exposures, while transmission is biologically possible, the risk is so low that it is not possible to put a precise number on it. But CDC notes that repeated low risk exposures can add up to a high lifetime risk of HIV. CDC publishes a chart that lists the risk of transmission of HIV from an infected source per 10,000 exposures. The risk from an infected blood transfusion is 92.5%; from needle-sharing during injection drug use 0.6%; from a needle-stick 0.2%; from various specified sexual behaviors 0.04% to 1.4%; and, from biting or spitting negligible (technically possible but unlikely and not well documented).

    This bill repeals the felony solicitation statute, which is the most commonly enforced of the HIV-related laws. It also repeals the other HIV-related offenses as well as the misdemeanor statute that prohibits willful exposure to any communicable disease. It creates two new crimes, one that prohibits the intentional transmission of any infectious or communicable disease including HIV, and the other that gives health officers the power to prevent conduct that poses a substantial risk of transmission of an infectious or communicable disease.

    Both new crimes are misdemeanors punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than six months. This bill does not change the existing law that imposes a three-year sentence enhancement if a person commits specified sex crimes while being HIV-positive.

    Supporters argue that this bill updates laws that unfairly target people living with HIV for criminal prosecution based on their HIV status and ensures that California law reflects the current scientific understanding of HIV, addresses exposure to HIV in the same manner as exposure to other serious communicable diseases, and promotes public health by reducing HIV-related stigma and discrimination. Opponents argue that this bill eliminates precautions that safeguard public health and substitutes provisions that are both inadequate and unscientific, fails to provide disincentives to irresponsible willful or negligent behavior, and does not take into account scientific advances that determine the degree of HIV communicability.


    The final State Senate Legislative Analysis lists support and opposition to SB 239 as follows:

    American Civil Liberties Union of California (co-source)
    APLA Health (co-source)
    Black Aids Institute (co-source)
    Equality California (co-source)
    Lambda Legal (co-source)
    Positive Women’s Network – USA (co-source)
    A New Way of Life Re-Entry Project
    A New Path
    ACCESS Women’s Health Justice
    ACT for Women and Girls
    Adolescent Counseling Services
    Adult Performer Advocacy Committee
    AIDS Legal Referral Panel
    AIDS Project of the East Bay
    Alliance for Boys and Men of Color
    Asian Americans Advancing Justice
    Asian Law Alliance
    Asian Pacific Environmental Network
    Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom
    Being Alive
    Billy DeFrank LGBTQ Community Center
    Black Women for Wellness
    Brown Boi Project
    California Attorneys for Criminal Justice
    California Communities United Institute
    California Immigrant Policy Center
    California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance
    California In-Home Supportive Services Consumer Alliance
    California Latinas for Reproductive Justice
    California Pan-Ethnic Health Network
    California Partnership
    California Public Defenders Association
    California Women’s Law Center
    Californians for Safety and Justice
    Center for Health Justice, Inc.
    Center for HIV Law and Policy
    Center for LGBTQ and Gender Studies in Religion
    Center of Excellence for Transgender Health
    Centro Legal de la Raza
    Citizens for Choice
    Courage Campaign
    Consumer Attorneys of California
    Desert AIDS Project
    Drug Policy Alliance
    East Bay Community Law Center
    East Los Angeles Women’s Center
    Equal Justice Society
    Equality Federation
    Fellowship of Affirming Ministries
    Forward Together
    Free Speech Coalition
    Friends Committee on Legislation of California
    Friends of Project 10 Inc.
    Gender & Sexualities Alliance Network
    Gender Health Center
    GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBT Equality
    Harm Reduction Coalition
    HIV Medical Association
    HIV Modernization Movement – Indiana
    Holman United Methodist Church
    Human Rights Watch
    If/When/How: Immigration Equality Action Fund
    Imperial Valley LGBT Resource Center
    Justice NOW
    Latino Equality Alliance
    Lawyering for Reproductive Justice
    Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area
    Life Group LA
    Legal Services for Prisoners with Children
    LGBTQ Center of Long Beach
    LGBT Center of Orange County
    Los Angeles HIV Law & Policy Project
    Los Angeles LGBT Center
    NARAL Pro-Choice California
    National Alliance of State & Territorial AIDS Directors
    National Black Justice Coalition
    National Compadres Network
    National Council of Jewish Women, CA
    National Day Laborer Organizing Network
    National Health Law Project
    National Immigration Law Center
    Our Family Coalition
    Pacific Pride Foundation
    Pangea Legal Services
    Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California
    Project Inform
    Public Interest Law Project
    Queer Life Space
    Root & Rebound
    St. John’s Well Child & Family Center
    Sacramento LGBT Community Center
    San Diego LGBT Community Center
    San Francisco AIDS Foundation
    SERO Project
    Sex Workers Outreach Project of Los Angeles
    Spahr Center
    Stonewall Democratic Club
    Tarzana Treatment Centers, Inc.
    Transgender Gender Variant Intersex Justice Project
    Trans Student Educational Resources
    Transgender Law Center
    Trans Latin@ Coalition
    Trevor Project
    Voices for Progress Education Fund
    Western Center on Law and Poverty
    Western Regional Advocacy Project
    Women’s Foundation of California
    19 private individuals
    OPPOSITION: (Verified 9/8/17)
    California Right to Life Committe

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