Wilk bills advance to Senate floor

Senator Scott Wilk of the 21st district.

A bill requiring offenders convicted of animal abuse charges to undergo mental health assessments and another that would provide funding for an aerospace institute headed to the Senate floor Friday.

The pair of bills authored by Senator Scott Wilk, R-Antelope Valley, passed the Senate Appropriations Committee on Friday. The legislation is now heading to the Senate floor, and must pass by June 1 to become law.

Senate Bill 1024, the Animal Cruelty and Violence Intervention Act of 2018, would require offenders convicted under animal abuse crimes to undergo mandatory mental health assessments and possibly attend ongoing counseling. The bill also allows animal abuse offenders to be sentenced to an animal offender education course that will teach them proper techniques for interacting with animals in a positive way.

Wilk cited studies showing that 71 percent of domestic violence offenders abused animals at some point and that over 70 percent of the most violent prison inmates had serious animal abuse in their histories.

“S.B. 1024 will allow us to funnel the most serious animal abuse offenders in to mental health evaluations and treatments so that we can identify and address the underlying causes of their violent behavior,” said Wilk. “The Animal Cruelty and Violence Intervention Act will begin to weaken the link between animal cruelty and tragic acts of violence committed later by many of the same offenders down the road.”

S.B. 1356 would allow an annual appropriation of up to $500,000 in matching funds for the Aerospace Institute at Antelope Valley College if and when the college has received private contributions for support of the industry, among other criteria.

The aerospace industry does over $61 billion in economic activity within California, according to a Wilk press release.

“Much like Stanford University was able to transform Silicon Valley in the 1970s, the California Institute for Aerospace would strengthen Southern California’s position as a global leader in the aerospace industry by increasing our public-private partnerships,” Wilk said. “We have some of the most talented young minds here in California and it is critical that we provide them educational opportunities close to home and afford them unique opportunities available nowhere else in the world.”

Due to upcoming legislative deadlines both bills must be brought up for a vote of the Senate no later than June 1.

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