Hertzberg Sworn in to Second Term in Senate; Introduces Bills to Bring Equity to Justice System
Legislation will further Hertzberg’s commitment to pursuing bail reform, and eliminate discrimination in the civil justice system
SACRAMENTO – Senator Bob Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, was sworn in to the California State Senate today for his second and final term in the legislative body after receiving the vote of 78.09% of the 18th Senate District. Senator Hertzberg is one of few sitting legislators who has held office over the course of the last three decades; he was first elected to the California State Assembly in 1996, and served as the 64th Assembly Speaker from April 2000 through February 2002 before being elected to the California State Senate in 2014.
In the first action of his second term in the Senate, Senator Hertzberg introduced two bills designed to eliminate bias and discrimination in the justice system. The first, SB 36, is a follow up to last year’s SB 10 (the California Money Bail Reform Act.) It aims to prevent racial, gender, and economic disparities in pretrial release practices by requiring the state to collect data about and evaluate any risk assessment tools used by county pretrial services agencies.
Last year, the Pretrial Detention Reform Workgroup Report commissioned by Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye reported that as many as 49 counties in California employ a risk assessment tool in some capacity for some defendants. Senator Hertzberg’s SB 10 eliminated money bail in California and, with it, the consideration of wealth in whether a person is detained pretrial. However, comprehensive data collection is critical in ensuring that implicit bias that leads to racial, gender, and other disparities are not in play when considering pretrial detention.
The second bill introduced today by Senator Hertzberg, SB 41, addresses discrimination in civil damage awards. No state or federal law currently prohibits the use of race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation data in the calculation of civil remedies paid to injured parties. This has resulted in discriminatory civil damage awards, as data on protected classes is deeply embedded in the estimates used by experts to determine monetary judgments. For example, because historically marginalized groups such as people of color and women in the U.S. earn less than white people and men, the damages they receive are substantially lower than those of their counterparts. This bill would correct that by prohibiting any calculation of damages based on a plaintiff’s race, ethnicity, gender, religion or sexual orientation that would reduce the civil remedies they are paid.
“It is incredible that in the year 2018, Californians are not treated equally by our justice system,” said Senator Hertzberg. “SB 36 will build on the progress that our coalition has made on pretrial reform over the last two years by giving us the tools to address the issue of implicit bias. And all California plaintiffs deserve just compensation, regardless of their gender, race, religion or sexual orientation.”
Both Hertzberg’s environmental expertise and his penchant for problem solving have played a key role in the accomplishments of his first term in the Senate. As Chair of the Committee on Natural Resources & Water, Hertzberg has advanced environmental protection laws, championed clean water access, and passed legislation to prepare for future droughts by making water efficiency a way of life for Californians.
Throughout his time in the Assembly and his first term in the Senate, Senator Hertzberg has been characterized as a legislator who fears nothing and takes on everything. From criminal justice to technology related issues (in 2018 he negotiated and passed the California Consumer Privacy Act, enacting the strongest data privacy protections in the nation), Hertzberg approaches every problem through a lens of governing for the next generation, not the next election.
As such, he has taken on a host of tough issues. For years he has been a vocal critic of California’s volatile tax structure, introducing a bill each year with innovative ideas to broaden the state’s tax base and ease the burden on working Californians. He has also been a warrior for “paying common sense”, whether it be making traffic fines and fees more fair, or eliminating the practice of school lunch shaming with his Child Hunger Prevention and Fair Treatment Act of 2017.
In addition to being Chair of the Committee on Natural Resources and Water, Hertzberg serves on the Committee on Governance and Finance; the Committee on Elections and Constitutional Amendments; and the Committee on Energy, Utilities and Communications; the Committee on Insurance; and the Committee on the Judiciary.
Media Contact: Katie Hanzlik
Senator Robert M. Hertzberg
Capitol Building, Room 4038