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Impassioned California Lawmaker Rails Against Fellow Democrats Watering Down An Underage Prostitution Bill: ‘I’m Done!’

Senator Eggman’s floor speech calls out members of her own party for failing to protect the most vulnerable in the name of social justice.

State Senator Susan Talamantes Eggman (D) took fellow lawmakers to task over a failure to hold criminals accountable. “I’d like to say as a progressive proud member of this body for the last twelve years, I’m done. I’m done with us protecting people who would buy and abuse our children.” 

Her call for fellow Democrats to “move back into the center” on the issue came after a bill that would have updated the law regarding soliciting minors was heavily watered down. Senate Bill 1414, sponsored by Senator Shannon Grove (R) would have made the purchase of all minors a felony, carrying a maximum penalty of up to four years in prison and a $25,000 fine. In spite of widespread support, including Governor Newsom, Democrats on the Senate Public Safety Committee reduced the scope of the bill to exclude the solicitation of minors 16 and 17 years of age.

Opponents of the bill argue it was too broad. Senator Nancy Skinner (D), who cast one of the votes to amend the bill, cautioned the bill should “balance unintended consequences.” Smart Justice California worried that unamended, the bill would have “exposed minors to felony prosecution.”

State Sen. Eggman’s floor speech addressed these concerns, “I don’t want to send more black and brown men to prison, I don’t want more people in prison, but I don’t want people buying girls. I don’t want people buying little girls anymore and I’m tired of saying it’s ok and that we have to protect the men who do it.” 

With the amendments in place, the law leaves soliciting minors over 15 years old as a misdemeanor. The current enforcement, she argued,  gives men a “slap on the hand or a couple days and then they’re back out again and do the same thing over and they get caught over and over again.” 

In spite of the controversy leading to the final vote of the bill, it passed unanimously in the Senate and is now awaiting further committee action in the Assembly. Sponsor of the original bill state Sen. Grove hopes it will be restored to a stronger version, “The crime of purchasing a child, of any age, for sex in the state of California should be a prison felony…We must restore this bill in the Assembly to protect every child in the state of California from the horrific crime of sex trafficking.”

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