Effort to make human trafficking a violent felony failed. One Valley lawmaker faces heat over it.

A Central Valley Democrat is being targeted for voting against a proposal to crack down on human trafficking in the California Senate. 

Assembly Bill 2167, authored by Assm. Ash Kalra (D–San Jose) and Sen. Josh Becker (D–Menlo Park), would require courts to consider probation, restorative justice and collaborative justice court programs and other alternatives to incarceration. 

AB 2167 passed through the Assembly in May, and Sen. Shannon Grove (R–Bakersfield) attempted to amend it to consider human trafficking to be a serious and violent felony. 

That would prevent probation and other measure from being applied to human traffickers. 

But Monday, the Senate rejected the amendment on a 31-8 vote, led by Democrats. 

One Democrat under political fire is Sen. Melissa Hurtado (D–Sanger). 

Her opponent in the race for 16th Senate District, David Shepard (R–Porterville), condemned the vote. 

“One again, Melissa Hurtado has shown herself to be more aligned with the radical liberal activists from San Francisco and Sacramento than the families of the Central Valley,” Shepard said in a statement. 

“Human trafficking is a repugnant crime that rips young women from their families and forces them into a life of sex work. To suggest, or in Hurtado’s case, actually vote, to make this crime anything other than a serious and violent felony, is utterly despicable.”

Daniel Gligich is a reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun, focusing on Fresno State Athletics and the southern San Joaquin Valley. Email him at