Tuesday, September 17, 2002
Davis Signs Three Cooley-Sponsored Anti-Terror Bills
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Gov. Gray Davis yesterday signed into law three bills sponsored by the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office to improve “homeland defense.”
“We are sadder but wiser; we are more vigilant,” after the events of Sept. 11, 2001, Davis said.
Assembly Bill 74, Assembly Bill 1838, and Senate Bill 1287, extending the ability of law enforcement agencies to use wiretaps and increasing the penalties for the use of weapons of mass destruction, were among seven anti-terrorism bills signed by Davis.
AB 74, authored by Assemblyman Carl Washington, extends the sunset date of the state’s current wiretap law to 2008 and expands the list of offenses eligible for intercept orders to include offenses involving weapons of mass destruction, restricted biological agents, and destructive devices, one legislative analyst explains.
The current law limited the use of wiretaps to investigations of murder, kidnapping, bombing, drug transactions, and criminal gang activity. California voters gave law enforcement agencies the authority to use wiretapping devices to investigate gang related crimes in March of 2000 with the adoption of Proposition 21.
AB 1839, authored by Assembly Speaker Emeritus Robert Hertzberg, a Democrat from Van Nuys, was passed by a unanimous vote in both the Assembly and the Senate. Under the new law a crime involving a weapon of mass destruction is classified as a “serious and violent felony,” a murder perpetrated by a weapon of mass destruction is classified as first degree murder, and penalties are significantly increased for individuals who use, or conspire to use, weapons of mass destruction.
SB 1287, authored by the majority whip Richard Alarcon, a Democrat from the San Fernando Valley, also passed both chambers with a unanimous vote. The bill expands the definition of “weapon of mass destruction” to include biological agents and airplanes, vessels and vehicles, and increases the penalties for the use of such weapons, or the threat thereof.
Cooley applauded the Legislature and the governor for passing and signing into law the trio of bills.
“California’s police and prosecutors ñ the foot soldiers in the war on terrorism ñ now have better weapons to track, hunt, arrest and prosecute anyone conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction against our citizens,” Cooley said in a statement.
He praised the balance of the anti-terrorism legislation, adding, “I am pleased my office helped craft three bills that aggressively attack the agents of terror and organized crime yet respect the rights of law-abiding citizens.”
Copyright 2002, Metropolitan News Company