Prison bill vote redux: Five Dems who voted "no"
San Francisco Chronicle blog
Sep 2, 2009
In case you were wondering, the state Assembly's prison bill vote on Monday wasn't exactly 100 percent along party-lines.
All of the 41 "yes" votes were cast by Democrats, but not all of the 35 "no" votes came from Republicans. Five Democrats ended up siding with their GOP colleagues in pushing the red button for AB18XXX. (The state Assembly uses an electronic system to cast their votes while the state Senate still relies on a voice vote - yes, they call out the name of each senator for every single bill.)
Earlier reports mentioned how despite holding a strong majority, Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, D-Baldwin Vista (Los Angeles County), was having a tough time garnering enough votes for the bill because many of her Democratic colleagues are running for higher offices next year.
The bill was ultimately watered down significantly - such as the elimination of a plan to allow sick and elderly inmates to serve time outside prison walls - to make the legislation more palatable for lawmakers. The changes did help Bass get more Democratic votes, but not all of them.
Here are the five Democrats voting "no" on AB18XXX.
* Assemblywoman Ana Caballero, D-Salinas, is a candidate for state Senate seat that's currently held by GOP Sen. Jeff Denham of Atwater (Merced County), who will be termed out next year.
* Assemblywoman Alyson Huber, D-El Dorado Hills, represents a highly contested district where she's currently facing a recall campaign against her.
* Assemblyman Ted Lieu, D-Torrance (Los Angeles County), and Assemblyman Pedro Nava, D-Santa Barbara, are running for state attorney general.
* Then there's Assemblywoman Fiona Ma from San Francisco, the lone Democrat who voted "no" yet not running for higher office.
We called Ma's office inquiring her reasons for opposing the bill and here's a written statement that we received today:
"While reducing costs is important to fix our budget crisis, we have to be responsible when it comes to public safety. If effective services are not in place as inmates re-enter society these cost savings will be pointless. As we make these reforms, our top priority should be to decrease recidivism rates and give individuals the appropriate tools to become productive members of society. We should not play budget politics with public safety and I would prefer a substantive, open process when making reforms of this magnitude."