In a surprising turn of events, Gavin’s Law passed through the Assembly Public Safety Committee on Tuesday, drawing bipartisan support to an issue that has so far failed to make it out of the State Senate,
Asm. Jim Patterson (R – Fresno) brought Gavin’s Law, Assembly Bill 1067, before the committee to close a loophole that inadvertently encourages drivers to leave the scene of an accident, especially if they are under the influence.
The backstory: Gavin’s Law is named after former Clovis Unified School District educator Gavin Gladding, who was killed by Rogelio Alvarez Maravilla in a 2018 hit-and-run accident. Maravilla fled the scene instead of stopping to help Gladding, who was still alive in the immediate aftermath of the accident.
- Maravilla turned himself in five days later and was sentenced to three years in prison. He was released after serving 13 months behind bars.
- Another incident driving Gavin’s Law happened two years ago when Courtney Osegueda was killed in a hit-and-run accident in Oakland. Osegueda was the sister of Mike Osegueda, a former Yahoo Sports writer and the founder of Fresno Street Eats.
- Gavin’s Law has passed through the Assembly twice in recent years, but the Senate Public Safety Committee has never given its stamp of approval.
The big picture: Gavin’s Law would increase the penalties for fleeing the scene of an accident that results in the death of a person. The maximum punishment is four years in prison under current law and would increase to a maximum of six years under the proposal.
- The permissible fine of $1,000 to $10,000 would be made mandatory where the accident resulted in death or permanent, serious injury, although judges would have the authority to reduce it in the interests of justice.
State of play: Gavin Gladding’s mother Rita Gladding and Mike Osegueda testified at Tuesday’s hearing in support of the bill as they have done previously.
- Rita Gladding’s testimony in particular helped push the committee to support the bill, Patterson told reporters after the hearing.
- Patterson needed at least three Democrats to side with Republicans on the committee to push Gavin’s Law through, and received support from Asm. Miguel Santiago (D–Los Angeles) and Asm. Rick Chavez Zbur (D–West Hollywood), the latter of which came as a particular surprise to the Fresno Republican.
- Asm. Mia Bonta initially abstained from voting, but after the hearing she spoke privately with Patterson and Rita Gladding and returned to the committee to change her vote, pushing Gavin’s Law through.
What we’re watching: With support from the Assembly Public Safety Committee, Gavin’s Law will now move to the Assembly Appropriations Committee, where if it receives enough support it would then move to a vote in front of the entire Assembly.
What they’re saying: “Given the atmospherics of this capital, I think it was a miracle today,” Patterson said. “I actually think it was a miracle. I was anticipating that the two who voted for it that I mentioned earlier might very well have either layed off or been a no vote. And they turned into aye votes. THat’s the miracle today, and I think they had a real awakening of what we were trying to do, a sympathy for the judicial review that we gave, the careful crafting of the bill, and so it passed.”
- Patterson added that he is confident that Gavin’s Law will be approved by the Assembly if it can make it through the Appropriations Committee.