Cooper Has Broad Legislative Agenda as Second California Assembly Term is Underway
February 2, 2017 | As Assemblymember Jim Cooper starts his second term representing Calif...
Cooper, elected to the Assembly in 2014 after serving an Elk Grove City Council Member for 14 years and being the City's first Mayor and a 30-year career with the Sacramento Sheriff's Department has included several pieces of legislation of ranging from law enforcement to pay equity.
One of those bills, Assembly Bill 16, which concerns DNA collection, is being reintroduced by Cooper in this session and is coauthored by Senate Majority Leader Kevin DeLeon is his top legislative priority. In the last session, the bill was introduced as AB 390 in February 2015 but stalled.
Cooper says the bill will fix an unintended consequence of Proposition 47 (Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act) and would allow DNA collection of criminals convicted of crimes that were previously felonies but are now reclassified as misdemeanors.
The importance of AB 16, Cooper said, is it provides law enforcement a valuable tool to help solve cold case murders and sexual assaults. As an example, Cooper pointed to murder convictions rendered this week in Yuba County.
In September 2016 two men were taken into custody for the November 1973 rape and murder of two young Olivehurst, Calif. girls. The arrests were based on hits from the DNA database.
Also, to help to solve cold cases, Cooper characterized the legislation as a women's issue as many of the cases solved using the DNA database involve rapist.
"These DNA cold case are a women's issue, it is a big women's issue," Cooper said. "A lot of these are serial rapist and murderers."
Cooper also stressed that it works both ways in that it can help exonerate wrongly convicted people
"It cuts both ways," he said. "We want to test the bad guy, and we want to make sure that no one that is innocent is behind bars."
Another bill that Cooper discussed is AB 2. That bill, which is authored by Assemblymember Jay Obernolte (R-Hesperia) which would include crimes against law enforcement being added to hate the crimes classification.
"I support AB 2, police officers being added to the hate crimes category because I wore the uniform for over 30 years. As a police officer and as an African American, I know first-hand how hate can be directed at you because of how you look," Cooper said. "Police officers are hated or targeted by some, simply because they put on a uniform. Sometimes that hate turns into violence. There is no other profession in America that is singled-out because of how they look or what they do for a living.”
In an opinion piece posted here yesterday, Cooper was identified as the sponsor of the bill. Cooper stressed that he was a coauthor which indicates his support of the legislation but not the author.
Another piece of legislation that Cooper supports is AB 165, which seeks to close a loophole that prevents school districts from inspecting district-owned iPad and electronic tablets on loan to students from inspection.
"The schools currently cannot examine the iPad to make sure students are not downloading inappropriate materials or using it to bully people," he noted.
Additionally, Cooper has introduced a pay equity bill for public employees. AB 46 which would expand California’s pay equity laws for women and minorities to encompass all employees both public and private. Currently, it only applies to the private sector.
“Last year, we passed several bills aimed at leveling the playing field for California’s working women and people of color. Yesterday, I introduced a package of bills to provide equality for those workers in our public sector,” Cooper said. “I believe it is important to lead by example and that our pay equity laws should be all-encompassing and include all sectors, both private and public."
Cooper also wants to remind constituents of his field office that is located in Elk Grove that is available to help with constituent concerns. The office is located at 9250 Laguna Springs Drive, Suite 220.
"We have solved a myriad of constituent services," Cooper said. "We are usually able to resolve these things in a timely manner. We are here to serve our constituents."
Cooper also wryly noted, "I don't sponsor easy bills."