EDITOR: The California Pawnbrokers Association (CAPA) sponsored AB 391 (Pan) in 2012, the bill that was the subject of your editorial on June 12. Therefore, we feel justified to take great exception to points of law you incorrectly ascribe to AB 391. You indicate that AB 391 was the product of the “esteemed Democratic majority”. In fact the bill was passed unanimously by all members of the California Legislature that were present and voting. The bill had a record 82 co-authors, proportionally split between Democrats and Republicans. The bill was overwhelmingly supported by law enforcement, National Federation of Independent Business, and a host of statewide and local business groups.
Most importantly, AB 391 (Pan) did not change in any way which businesses are required to report, nor did AB 391 (Pan) alter in any manner the list of items which must be reported under current law. In short, it did not “sweep up antique dealers and consignment stores” as you indicate. Part of that report is the fingerprint requirement that is used by law enforcement. This has been a requirement for decades, and AB 391 did nothing to change that. AB 391 (Pan) is very sound public policy. It allows legally operating secondhand dealers and pawnbrokers to assess themselves a fee to fund a uniform and statewide electronic system of reporting.
Under AB 391, the license fee is capped at actual costs of the single, statewide electronic reporting system incurred by the California Department of Justice consistent with the taxpayer protections imposed by Proposition 26. Only those businesses required to report under prior law, report under AB 391. It allows these legally operating businesses to realize tremendous cost savings by not using the arcane and inefficient paper reporting system that has been in effect since 1954. More importantly it, for the first time, will allow all police jurisdictions in California to interact in a coordinated fashion with each other to locate stolen property and return it to the rightful owners. Before AB 391, if an item was stolen in Placerville and sold or pawned in Sacramento, the two police jurisdictions would have no way of communicating. When the AB 391 system is operational later this year, all police jurisdictions in California will be able to search statewide for stolen items.
We believe you are just plain wrong about your assessment of AB 391. We agree that there is plenty wrong with the way California law deals with business. We are overregulated, overtaxed, and underappreciated not only by the state government but also by many local governments. When businesses band together and assess themselves a fee, to not only save themselves considerable money, but to also achieve a very desirable public benefit, it seems as though the minimum that should be asked of the press is to get the facts collect before they are critical of the endeavor.
For /California Pawnbrokers Association