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California Democrats 'mutilate' anti-trafficking bill targeting adults who pay for sex with minors

California Democrats "mutilated" part of a bipartisan anti-sex trafficking bill this week that makes it a felony for people to purchase sex with minors.

California Democrats "mutilated" part of a bipartisan anti-sex trafficking bill this week that makes it a felony for people to purchase sex with minors and requires those convicted to register as sex offenders, according to the lead author of the bill.

Democrats added several amendments that only made proposed charges applicable if the child is younger than 15. 

The changes "mutilated this bill," Republican state Sen. Shannon Grove, lead author of SB 1414, said in an interview with Fox News Digital.

Grove's original bill would have toughened the punishment for child trafficking and increased it from a misdemeanor charge to a felony, carrying a maximum penalty of four years in prison and a $25,000 fine. Unlike current law, the penalties would apply regardless of whether the adult was aware of the child's age. 


It would also require the perpetrator to register as a sex offender, but Democrats opposed that provision.

Public safety committee Democrats worried the bill was "overly broad" and would criminalize young adults who are in consensual relationships with minors. Under current sex offender laws that have been on the books in California for decades, judges decide whether an adult, no more than 10 years older than a minor between the ages of 14 and 17, should be placed on the sex offender registry if they are engaging in sexual intercourse. 

"This is not consensual, this is commercial sex," Grove told Fox News Digital Wednesday. "And, again, the Democratic committee consultant was conflating those issues, and I kept trying to explain to them this is not consensual sex. This is commercial sex purchase.


"My bill goes after the buyer for engaging in that process." 

The current law for soliciting a child for sex carries a $10,000 fine and two days to a year in a county jail. 

Democrats on the public safety committee, senators Scott Wiener, Nancy Skinner and Aisha Wahab, pushed the amendments through in a 4-0 vote, skipping a procedural vote to take up the amendments first. During the hearing, Grove said "on record" she opposed the amendments and called it "completely unacceptable."

"My goal is to continue to work on the bill and amend it. Their goal was to make it so bad I would pull it and not address this issue this year," Grove said. "But I couldn't do that because there are minors out there who would be subjected to this horrific crime for one more year. So, we're going to continue to move forward and see if we can get amendments back in this bill and give it some teeth to address this issue."

During the hearing, Wiener told Grove they could've "easily just said no to this bill, because this bill is incredibly overbroad in my opinion." 

"This bill will sweep in a lot of people who are not trafficking," Wiener said. "This bill will send people to state prison, put people in the sex offender registry, which is basically, effectively in many ways, the end of their life."

While Grove did not accept the amendment to make the law applicable only when dealing with children below 15, she did offer to amend the bill to remove the requirement for first-time offenders to be placed on the sex offender registry. 

Earlier this month, Democrats on the committee blocked a similar bill that would have recriminalized street loitering for the purpose of prostitution. SB 1219 would have reinstituted a provision previously taken out of California's penal code that prohibited loitering in a public place. 

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