Bonta bail reform bill narrowly fails in Assembly

Potential landmark legislation that would reform the state’s troubled money bail system was narrowly defeated Thursday night in the Assembly.

East Bay Assemblymember Rob Bonta’s Assembly Bill 42 failed by one vote, 36-37, after seven legislators did not record a vote.

The bill was the center piece of Bonta’s ambitious legislative agenda this year and would have established protocols for pre-trial release of plaintiffs and create county-by-county bureaucracies to assess their flight risks. Bonta has said the money bail system in the state disproportionally targets the poor, which in many cases cannot afford bail.

“Colleagues, our system is broken. I haven’t talked to any of you who disagree. The issue is how do we fix it?” said Bonta during Thursday night’s floor session.

But some assemblymembers on the fence were concerned about its estimated costs. A legislative assessment estimated the bill would cost “hundreds of millions of dollars.” Many Republicans added the bill would put public safety at risk.

But the bill’s demise is not necessarily a total defeat. Senate Bill 10, an identical bill by state Sen Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys), was approved, 26-11, in the senate. The arrangement allows for bail reform to receive a second try in the Assembly.

Despite Thursday’s result, Bonta expressed optimism going forward. “Bail Reform is alive and well in California,” he said in a statement. “As we have always planned, we will continue to talk with stakeholders as we work to strengthen the bills.”

“We remain confident that we are doing the right thing in pressing for greater fairness and equity in our justice system. We will not stop fighting and these reforms are inevitable. We have right on our side and we will not be deterred.”

Categories: AB42, Assembly, bail reform, Bob Hertzberg, legislature, Rob Bonta, SB10, State Senate

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