California Democrat Criticizes Fellow Progressive Lawmakers Over Child Sex Bill: We Must Move Back to the ‘Center’

A California lawmaker lambasted her own party in a strongly worded speech on the Senate floor last week after Democrats watered down a bill that would make it a felony to purchase or solicit a minor for sex.

State Sen. Susan Eggman criticized fellow progressive members of the Democrat party and told them that “enough is enough” in her May 23 remarks to the chamber, adding that lawmakers have a moral responsibility to protect children.

“We’ve got to move back into the center or we all look like fools and laughingstocks,” the state senator said to the chamber.

“I’d like to say, as a progressive, proud member of this body for the last 12 years, I’m done. I’m done with us protecting people who would buy and abuse our children,” she added.

The democrat, who will reach her term limit in the California State Legislature in November, declared that she was leaving her tenure but urged her fellow lawmakers to move back to the“center” politically on the issue. This comes as tensions remain high following the back-and-forth debacle over Senate Bill 1414, which calls for harsher penalties on people who buy children for sex.

Under current California law, buying or soliciting sex from a minor is a misdemeanor that carries a penalty of between two days, a year in jail, and a $10,000 fine. SB 1414, authored by GOP state Sen. Shannon Grove, aims to make the crime a felony and beefs up the penalty to at least two to four years in prison, a $25,000 fine, and a requirement to register as a sex offender.

But last month, a group of Democrats, led by state Senator Scott Wiener, changed the bill and only allowed the felony classification for the purchase of minors under the age of 16 years, citing the potential “unintended consequences” from the original bill.

“This bill will send people to state prison, will put people on the sex offender registry which is basically, effectively the end of their life,” Sen. Scott Weiner said in support of the changes.

The Senate Public Safety Committee held a vote and passed the bill 4-0 on the condition of the suggested amendments.

“It goes after individuals who have not, who again, it’s verbal. They haven’t actually engaged,” Sen. Nancy Skinner said, adding that the bill was originally written too broadly.

Ms. Eggman argued that she is not suggesting to “open the gates to flood our prisons with people” but said, “We’ve given enough in this area.”

“I’m leaving, but the rest of you who are gonna be here for a while, let’s get our stuff together and really start focusing on some of the important things. “We talk about learning, and we talk about being safe. This is like at the core of it!” the state senator said.

“A lot of these kids can be throwaway kids. They’re poor kids, they’re kids of color, but they shouldn’t have to live a life determined by what happens to them by others at a very young age and have the Democratic Party of California say, ‘It’s okay,’” she added.

Meanwhile, the author of the original bill said in a statement that she was disappointed and “blindsided” by colleagues who rejected her initial proposal and amended the bill without her consent.

“Children of all ages deserve to be protected under the law and a simple fine after buying a child for sex is not an appropriate punishment,” Ms. Grove said in a statement.

“Californians across the state have made their voices heard and they want this law changed. Unfortunately, the members of the public safety committee continue their soft on crime approach at the expense of California’s most vulnerable, our children,” she added.

Meanwhile, the lawmaker said that she is actively discussing the next steps and continues to collaborate with joint authors and a coalition of survivors and advocates who are invested in the outcome of the bill.

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