By Isiah REYES
Assemblymember Mike Gatto discussed his 2015 legislation and answered questions during the “Building Responsible Government” town hall meeting on Jan. 17 at the Burbank YMCA.
Gatto discussed several bills from his current bill package for 2015. One of them is AB 84, which would allow for DNA to be collected from individuals arrested and charged (but not yet convicted) with serious felonies upon court process and a finding of probable cause.
“Right now, for someone who is arrested in California, the police cannot take their DNA to solve past crimes,” Gatto said. “So my assembly bill that I introduced this year would try to reintroduce a DNA-testing system that meets constitutional requirements and gives police some degree of freedom to test a criminal’s DNA.”
The legislation also expands a pre-existing testing program that allows a person who is arrested for a non-violent crime, such as shoplifting, to have their charges dropped in exchange for paying a small fine and agreeing to a DNA swab to check against prior violent crimes and to keep on hand for the future.
To protect people wrongfully accused, arrested, charged or convicted, the DNA sample would be required to be removed and erased if the case is dismissed or if the accused was acquitted or exonerated.
“DNA can be a powerful tool for people to be exonerated from crimes they did not commit as well,” Gatto said.
Gatto is also introducing a new California online poker bill, AB 9, introduced on the first day of the new legislative session. The bill is intended to regulate online poker and provide all participants with certainty and security that will legitimize the game and bring back money that has left the state.
“The bill I introduced this year would hopefully allow the state to regulate online poker and hopefully it will not result in any more people necessarily playing it,” Gatto said.
Gatto is also introducing AB 8, Yellow Alerts, which would allow local law enforcement to access the state’s network of changeable message signs when there is a hit and run accident. Currently, a Yellow Alert can only be sent out in cases when a person has been killed or suffered serious bodily injury.
Other assembly bills included in Gatto’s 2015 bill package are AB 83 and AB 139. The former is the Privacy Wiki bill, where citizens can visit the “Wiki bill” website to propose, draft, and edit a bill that would be introduced after a consensus emerges.
The latter is the Revocable Transfer on Death Deed. Currently, all someone has to do to pass the contents of a bank account or a car or stock is to fill out a form. It’s not so easy when it comes to passing on property. Family members can deed a house to a loved one while alive but there is no easy way in California to do so upon death without dealing with high fees and the bureaucracy of probate. AB 139 is intended to create a new non-probate property transfer tool that operates similarly to a will. It would not transfer or create any interest in the property until the transferor’s death and it could be revoked by the transferor at any time prior to death.
To learn more about Gatto’s legislative plans, visit www.mikegatto.com.