Assemblyman Joe Patterson guest editorial: Tell Sacramento to stop playing games with public safety

As our community mourns fentanyl-related deaths and businesses throughout our district continue to grapple with the unintended consequences of Prop. 47, politicians in Sacramento are playing political games attempting to sabotage a citizen-led initiative to hold fentanyl trafficking and organized retail theft accountable.

For months, the Legislature has held multiple public hearings at the Capitol on a package of public safety bills, but just days after the citizen-led initiative qualified for the ballot, the anti-theft bills have been amended by politicians opposed to the initiative. The amended bills now include “poison pill” language that would automatically repeal the anti-theft bills if the initiative passes. These changes are a dishonest attempt to confuse voters and force them into a false choice between the bills and the initiative.

This dishonest attempt is being pushed by powerful yet fringe politicians. Editorial boards throughout the state, including the Los Angeles Times, Sacramento Bee and the Wall Street Journal, are calling them out. The blow-back has been bi-partisan, with Republicans and Democrats coming out against the poison pill language.

Public safety must be a priority of the Legislature to keep communities and families safe. Games like this to confuse voters should not be tolerated. We must get serious about penalties for fentanyl trafficking and theft, and that starts by passing clean public safety bills with no poison pill language. Just last year, my wife and son experienced first-hand a robbery in action at a local retail center. It’s past time that we get tough on crime to stop these senseless acts of theft.

And the truth is, voters, not Capitol insiders, should decide what happens with this initiative – free from intimidation and sabotage from elected officials. It’s wrong for elected officials to use their office to influence the outcome of an initiative. If you agree, join me by signing my petition to tell Sacramento to stop playing games with public safety at

The petition calls on the Legislature to pass clean bills with no poison pills, urges Governor Newsom to give Californians a voice and allow them to vote on the initiative without political interference, and demands Attorney General Rob Bonta write an unbiased title and summary for the initiative.

I am committed to looking out for you, our families and our children, especially when it comes to public safety. It is an honor to represent you at the state level.