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Top California Democrats announce ballot measure targeting retail theft

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Top California Democrats announced Sunday they will ask voters to approve a plan cracking down on retail theft.

The plan is an effort to compete with another crime-focused measure backed by a coalition of business groups that lawmakers said would result in more people being put behind bars. Both proposals would include make shoplifting a felony for repeat offenders and increase penalties for fentanyl dealers.

Under the retailers’ plan, any prior theft-related convictions, even if they happened years ago, would count toward a three-strike policy for increased sentences. Lawmakers also are proposing harsher punishment for repeat thieves, but the convictions would have to happen within three years of each other.

Prosecutors could aggregate the amount of all stolen goods within three years to charge harsher offenses under the Democrats’ plan.

Lawmakers hope to place the measure on the ballot in November. They will vote to advance the plan and deliver it to Gov. Gavin Newsom for his signature before the deadline on Wednesday.

The last-minute plan is an attempt by top California Democrats to override another initiative cracking down on shoplifters and drug dealers, which is backed by a broad coalition of businesses, law enforcement and local officials.

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