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    Bill Essayli: Voters deserve a strong opposition party in Sacramento, not a cozy uniparty
    • March 14, 2024

    Republicans have lost 10 seats in the State Assembly over the last 10 years. When you’ve lost seats in every single election over the last 10 years, you might be doing something wrong. Republicans in the legislature dropped below super minority status years ago, and now at only 18 out of 80, we’re less than 1/4 of the votes in the Assembly. This means Republican votes alone can’t stop legislation in Sacramento—what matters is serving as a strong opposition party against Democrat policies which hurt Californians.

    To be an effective opposition party, Republican lawmakers must be zealous advocates for the public in the face of fierce resistance from the Democrat party and their allies. And yes there will be consequences from the party in power, and legislators may not get the crumbs they so crave from the Democrats in Sacramento. That is okay because the goal is not crumbs, it’s to be relevant. 

    Last year, when Democrats in the Assembly Public Safety Committee rejected SB 14, Republican Senator Shannon Grove’s bill to make human trafficking of a minor a “serious” felony, the public outcry was swift and decisive. So decisive, in fact, that Democratic leadership attempted to distance themselves from then-Chair of the Public Safety Committee, Assemblyman Reginald Jones-Sawyer, who refused to support the bill. Republicans rallied human trafficking victims and their stories ultimately won the day and the bill was signed into law, demonstrating both the moral bankruptcy of those who opposed as well as the power of public scrutiny in a building that would much rather push their harmful agendas under cover of darkness.

    This year, Assemblyman Jones-Sawyer introduced a horrific bill, AB 2031, which would spend taxpayer dollars to defend illegal immigrants facing deportation after they have been convicted of violent or serious felonies—in other words, free lawyers for illegal immigrants who murder Californian citizens. I strongly condemned this bill and rallied the public to pressure the Assembly Judiciary Committee to reject this dangerous bill, and it worked. The author pulled his bill from the committee hearing, even though he was in town and presented other bills in committee that same morning.

    Violent and serious felonies, as the naming implies, are some of the most heinous crimes imaginable. Murder, rape, kidnapping, lewd acts on a child under 14 years of age, and, as of SB 14 being signed into law, human trafficking of a minor. Keep in mind, the illegal immigrants this bill sought to provide legal assistance to are not merely accused of these acts, they have been convicted of them. 

    We’re talking about the lowest, most detestable dregs of society receiving taxpayer-funded legal support. The same ones that murdered 22-year-old University of Georgia nursing student Laken Riley, beheaded 55-year-old America Thayer, stabbed to death 20-year-old University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbets, and shot 32-year-old San Franciscan Kate Steinle in the back of the head, among the many other horrendous murders perpetrated by criminals who never should have been in this country in the first place. 

    It is almost unthinkable that an elected member of the California Legislature would even introduce such a dangerous bill—almost. Assemblymembers who think like Jones-Sawyer are far more common than Californians would like to believe. 

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    Just as the public outcry was felt in Sacramento when SB 14 was initially rejected last year, I am proud that our communities made their voices heard when AB 2031 was set for a hearing in the Assembly Judiciary Committee this morning. Social media pressure, phone calls to the offices of the Judiciary Committee members, and press scrutiny led directly to Assemblyman Jones-Sawyer pulling the bill from consideration last night. A win for public safety and a win for common sense. 

    While this represents a tremendous victory for California and a testament to the importance of public participation in the legislative process, this is only the beginning of the fight. AB 2031 could make a comeback at a future hearing in the coming weeks. Republican lawmakers need to stand firm if AB 2031 rears its ugly head again to engage and activate the public to kill this bill for good.

    Bill Essayli was elected in 2022 to represent the 63rd State Assembly District, which includes the whole cities of Norco, Menifee, Lake Elsinore, and Canyon Lake, as well as portions of the cities of Eastvale, Riverside, and Corona. Assemblyman Essayli is a former federal prosecutor and Riverside County Deputy District Attorney. He is also a small business owner as partner at the estate planning law firm of Essayli & Brown LLP.

    ​ Orange County Register