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California governor aims to hike security grants

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California’s Democratic governor vowed on Monday to spend $15 million for increased security at “soft targets” like the synagogue where a gunman opened fire over the weekend, killing one worshipper.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said he will include the money in his $144 billion general fund budget proposal, which he intends to revise by the middle of May.

The California Legislative Jewish Caucus had requested it, calling for a 30-fold increase in a state program that last year spent $500,000 on grants to nonprofits organizations vulnerable to hate crimes.

“It was self-evident, the need to do more,” Newsom told reporters. “That money pales in comparison to the need for mosques, for synagogues, for other institutions.”

California has spent $4.5 million since 2015 to augment a federal grant program created after the 2001 terrorist attacks, including $2 million in 2017. But lawmakers and previous Gov. Jerry Brown reduced the funding to $500,000 this year.

California’s Jewish lawmakers want the state to spend much more on security guards, reinforced doors and gates, high-intensity lighting and alarms, and other security for vulnerable institutions. Those include Muslim, Sikh and other minority institutions, women’s health groups and LGBTQ organizations.

“The unfortunate reality is that even in houses of worship, thoughts and prayers won’t keep us safe,” said Assemblyman Jesse Gabriel, a Democrat from Encino and vice chairman of the caucus. “We need more than thoughts and prayers. We need real security and we need the state to step up and play a role in that.”

Gabriel’s legislation would help pay for increasing physical security at nonprofit organizations at higher risk because of their ideology, beliefs or mission.

Assembly Judiciary Committee Approves Assemblymember Gabriel’s Bill Cracking Down On Spam Calls and Caller ID Fraud

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SACRAMENTO – Yesterday, the Assembly Judiciary Committee unanimously voted to approve Assembly Bill (AB) 1132, authored by Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel (D – San Fernando Valley), which would prohibit telemarketers and scammers from impersonating the caller ID information of state or local government entities. The practice of misrepresenting caller ID information—known as “spoofing”—has become commonplace and poses significant risks to unsuspecting consumers. In recent weeks, scammers have used spoofing technology to impersonate local law enforcement and demand payment for the expungement of fake warrants.

After the Committee vote, Assemblymember Gabriel made the following remarks:  

“As millions of Californians know far too well, spam calls and caller ID fraud are out of control.  These practices are more than just annoying—they are the favored tools of those seeking to defraud California consumers. AB 1132 will crack down on these abusive practices and help protect California consumers.”

“Caller ID spoofing has become ubiquitous, with some consumers receiving dozens of calls each day,” said Ignacio Hernandez on behalf of the Consumer Federation of California. “Consumers should not have to endure a distracting sales pitch, or worse fraud and identity theft, as a result of answering their phone,” he added. “AB 1132 will discourage these activities and help restore trust in government.”

AB 1132 is supported by law enforcement and consumer groups and will be heard next in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

Rejecting Attacks by Anti-Choice Activists, Assembly Education Committee Approves Assemblymember Gabriel’s Bill Adding Resource Numbers to California Student IDs

SACRAMENTO – Undeterred by attacks from anti-choice activists, the Assembly Education Committee voted last night to approve Assembly Bill (AB) 624. The bill, authored by Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel (D – San Fernando Valley), would require schools serving grades 7-12, as well as institutions of higher education, to include the phone numbers for sexual assault, domestic violence, and reproductive healthcare hotlines on student ID cards.  AB 624 builds on SB 972, signed into law by Governor Brown in 2018, which requires that schools provide the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on student ID cards.

Assemblymembers Jesse Gabriel and Adrin Nazarian Bring Together Armenian & Jewish Leaders to Combat Rising Acts of Hate

Los Angeles – In response to recent hate incidents targeting Armenian and Jewish institutions in the San Fernando Valley, Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian and Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel brought together religious and lay leaders from the Armenian and Jewish communities for an inter-community dinner and dialogue. The discussion focused on efforts to work together to combat hate and discrimination of all forms.

On January 29, 2019, hate incidents occurred at two Armenian schools in the San Fernando Valley, with Turkish flags being hung at Holy Martyrs Ferrahian Armenian School and AGBU Manoogian School. The following day, Mishkan Torah Synagogue in Tarzana was vandalized with anti-Semitic graffiti.