On the floor of the Senate yesterday, the Senate passed the Tiered Registry Bill (SB 421). It was a miracle! It was the first time, after three unsuccessful attempts, that a legislative body approved a tiered registry bill. The miracle maker is the bill’s author, Senator Scott Wiener, who assumed authorship of the bill after its original author withdrew.
It is Senator Wiener who saw and spoke the truth about the registry….how it is broken and bloated….so bloated that is has become useless. It is Senator Wiener who gathered the support of 27 senators, from both the Democratic and Republican parties, to stop 70 years of punishment…that everyone convicted of a sex offense in California must register for a lifetime.
During the debate of the bill on the Senate floor, Senator Wiener was praised for his courage by his colleagues, including Senator Nancy Skinner. Senator Skinner first bravely identified herself as a victim of sexual abuse. She then acknowledged that the registry has created many more victims in the form of registrants and family members who have suffered and continue to suffer from public humiliation, unemployment, homelessness and vigilante violence.
We owe a huge debt of gratitude to Senator Wiener and the 26 additional senators who voted in support of the tiered registry bill. They include Senator President Kevin De Leon who did not vote on many bills that day but who demonstrated leadership by voting in favor of SB 421.
We also owe a debt of gratitude to the many co-sponsors of the tiered registry bill, including Equality California, the CA Sex Offender Management Board and CalCASA, a victims’ rights organization. Without their support, this bill would not have passed.
There is another group of co-sponsors to whom we are also grateful, but who we continue to view with caution. That group includes district attorneys and law enforcement officials who have made certain that their interests are reflected in the original bill and its amendments. There is an uneasy truce between us as we each struggle to maximize the benefits of the bill for our constituencies.
Although we recognize that there is much yet to be done before the Tiered Registry Bill becomes law, we celebrate today its passage in the Senate. For we know without that vital step, the bill would have been stopped.
Today we celebrate knowing that our efforts during the past five years have paid off, that we have been heard. We therefore look forward to the next steps of the legislative process with renewed vigor and dedication as we prepare to Show Up – Stand Up – Speak Up.