People using kids who desperately need our support aren’t real solutions – they’re part of the problem

Op Ed by Assemblywoman Pilar Schiavo

Last week, a colleague of mine – Republican Bill Essayli, who is so extreme he attacks members of his own party and will refuse to join their Republican caucus meetings – caused some controversy in Sacramento.

Also last week, bills that made it through the Assembly committees came to the Assembly floor for a vote that moves them forward to the Senate. No bill can be taken up on the floor of the Assembly unless it passes a committee, a fact that Assemblymember Essayli is well aware. This process is actually very important, as the committees are where bills get improved, checked for being unconstitutional, as well as where any other legal, fiscal or policy concerns are resolved.

However, Asm. Essayli decided the rules shouldn’t apply to him. On his own he had withdrawn one of his bills, AB 2641, from being heard. The bill then was never heard, and died in committee because it did not go through the committee process required and thus could not be heard or voted on by his colleagues on the Assembly floor. But what did he do? Mr. Essayli chose to ignore the rules that apply to all legislation, that all of his 119 colleagues follow given the importance, and attempted to have his bill taken up for debate on the Assembly floor anyway. He tried to get special treatment for his bill, he attempted to waive the constitutional rules and made a motion that he knew would fail because it did not go through the committee process. This was not a vote on his actual bill policy.

And, Asm. Essayli didn’t stop there. He then went on to lie to the public, saying that his colleagues – including myself – opposed the legislation itself and that we were against the policy he was putting forward. The fact is, we never voted on the bill, because he didn’t take it through the legislative process.

The fact that Asm. Essayli chose to not have his bill heard in committee, and then asked his colleagues to break the rules for him – with full knowledge of the rules, process, and what would happen along the way – is proof in and of itself that his intent had nothing to do with the policy at all. In fact, he is using those he is claiming to protect with his legislation, minors who are victims and survivors of sex crimes, as political props to stir up this controversy among his colleagues in the Assembly and rile up his extremist supporters on social media.

I said it before and I will say it again: it’s disgusting. As a survivor myself and as a mother, I would never support dangerous pedophiles over our children. And I will not be silenced as children who have suffered the trauma and fear I also went through are used by a disingenuous legislator who has a legislative record of getting zero bills passed and signed into law.

Having served with Asm. Essayli for nearly two years, these tactics don’t surprise me. I was, however, incredibly disappointed to see that Patrick Lee Gipson, my opponent in my upcoming re-election, supported this behavior. I know my opponent doesn’t understand the legislative process, but by standing with Essayli he is aligning himself with political theater gotcha tactics rather than real solutions to the problems facing our community. Essayli is widely known as our most extreme right-wing Assemblymember, yet Gipson called him “a voice of reason in Sacramento,” showing just how out of touch he is with our community’s values.

We have seen these same tactics with Trump and his MAGA extremist supporters on the national stage. They are dangerous, result in further division between political parties and our community, and do absolutely nothing to help people who need it.

What I do know is that if my opponent wants to model himself after a do-nothing, aspiring social media star who is more interested in clicks and likes than effective leadership, I’m confident that will not be good for our community or for our state. By contrast, I have passed laws to protect seniors and the disabled, brought a record $20 million investments to the district for things like school and community safety, and now have 18 bills moving forward to the Senate – including AB 2499 which protects crime survivors and their family from losing jobs while seeking safety as a result of violence.

It seems like other people are catching on to this too. It’s why I’m the only candidate endorsed by multiple law enforcement organizations, including the Los Angeles Police Protective League and California Correctional Peace Officers Association , in addition to nurses, teachers and firefighters – organizations who have worked with me and seen that I’m a fair, balanced, legislator who prioritizes the health and safety of our community.

Partisan theatrics and half-baked policies using kids who desperately need our support aren’t real solutions – they’re part of the problem.

Originally published on KHTS Radio’s on May 28, 2024.