Western Center had another landmark year in Sacramento with 23 of our sponsored and co-sponsored bills on behalf of low-income Californians signed into law. Victories included the elimination of the predatory commercial bail industry, proactive measures to dismantle segregation and end housing discrimination, and defending Medi-Cal expansion against back door federal cuts. Here is the full list of signed bills:
Ending Money Bail – SB 10 (Hertzberg) removes the consideration of wealth in the determination of freedom or incarceration for arrested individuals pending trial, effectively eliminating the predatory commercial bail industry, and establishing that conditions of pre-trial release must be non-monetary.
Ending Lawsuits on Old Debts – AB 1526 (Kalra) reforms California’s statute of limitations for consumer debt (including medical debt) so that a collection agency or original creditor cannot sue after the statute has run, and requires notice to the consumer that a debt may not be litigated or reported to a credit reporting agency when such activities are time-barred.
Increasing the Value of Community Service – AB 2532 (Jones-Sawyer) sets the value of community service performed in lieu of a fine for individuals convicted of an infraction at twice the minimum wage for employers of 25 or less, rather than minimum wage.
Ensuring the Availability of Payment Plans for Parking Tickets – AB 2544 (Lackey) clarifies that cities must offer payment plans for all parking tickets, notwithstanding when they were issued.
Removing Barriers to Youth Employment and Training – SB 1428 (McGuire) prohibits the denial of a youth’s work permit on the basis of a pupil’s grades, grade point average, or school attendance, if the pupil is applying for the work permit in order to participate in a government-administered employment and training program that will occur during the regular summer recess or vacation of the school that the pupil attends.
Addressing Discrimination and Segregation in Housing – AB 686 (Santiago) requires the state and
local governments to “affirmatively further fair housing,” including concrete plans and proactive measures to dismantle segregation and end discrimination in housing. The bill enshrines in state law groundbreaking Obama-era regulations that have been gutted by the current Administration.
Requiring Charter Schools to Feed Poor Children – AB 1871 (Bonta) – requires charter schools to provide each needy pupil with one nutritionally adequate free or reduced-price meal during each school day.
Ending the Collection of Parent’s School Debts from Children – AB 1974 (Gonzalez Fletcher) provides that a pupil or former pupil can never owe, be billed or be penalized for a debt owed to a public or charter school, other than for vandalism. It also prevents schools from reporting school debt to collection agencies.
Reducing College Student Hunger – AB 1894 (Weber) permits universities and colleges to apply for the CalFresh Restaurant Meals Program, even if the local county does not participate in that program.
Defending the Medi-Cal Expansion Against Backdoor Federal Cuts – SB 1108
(Hernandez) prohibits the CA Dept. of Health Care Services from obtaining a federal Medicaid waiver that includes work requirements, waiting periods, time limits, coverage lockouts, drug testing or any other condition that prevents low-income Californians from accessing health care services.
Improving Access to Children’s Health Care Services – SB 1287 (Hernandez) ensures that the correct medical necessity standard will be applied to children so that they and their providers do not have to use special terminology to get the health care they are entitled to through the Medi-Cal program.
Giving Tenants More Time to Cure and Respond in Evictions – AB 2343 (Chiu) gives tenants three court days, rather than calendar days, to pay rent or comply with other terms of the lease, and give them five court days to respond to an eviction lawsuit, making it more likely tenants can resolve issues and avoid eviction.
Stopping Discrimination Against Tenants Receiving Help With Rent – AB 2219 (Ting) requires landlords to allow a tenant to pay rent through a third party, such as a government assistance program, charity, or family member.
Ensuring Affordable Housing in Coastal Areas – AB 2797 (Bloom) reverses a court decision that undermined the application in the state’s coastal zone of key laws, such as Density Bonus Law and the Mello Act, that ensure the production and replacement of affordable housing.
Applying Uniform Planning Requirements to All Cities – SB 1333 (Wieckowski) requires charter cities (as is required of other cities) to act consistently with their adopted land use plans, including obligations with respect to affordable housing, when making development and planning decisions.
Requiring Fair and Equitable Housing Planning – AB 1771 (Bloom) reforms the regional housing needs allocation (RHNA) process, which drives local planning and zoning for housing, to create more equitable, data-driven city and county housing goals, remove exclusionary barriers in higher-opportunity neighborhoods, and ensure that wealthier communities are creating meaningful opportunities for the production of affordable housing.
Bridging CalFresh Benefits – AB 1892 (Jones-Sawyer) requires the state to instruct counties on how to provide transitional SNAP benefits to households that are terminating their participation in cash assistance programs.
Requiring the State to Recognize Electronic Theft Resulting From Scams – AB 2313 (Stone, Mark) requires the State to reimburse recipients when benefits are stolen electronically as a result of a scam or security breach of the statewide electronic benefits transfer (EBT) system.
Modernizing Welfare Systems to Allow Electronic Communications – AB 1957 (Berman) allows welfare program applicants and recipient to opt-in/out to electronic communications.
Expanding Services to People with a Disability and Survivors of Domestic Violence – AB 2030 (Limón) require the State Department of Social Services to ask welfare applicants and recipients about disabilities, the need for accommodation due to disability, or any experience of domestic violence.
Fixing the Welfare Overpayment Collection System – SB 726 (Wiener) increases the lower limit for the collection of welfare overpayments from $35 to $250 and requires a county to expunge an overpayment if the county determines that the overpayment has been caused by a major systemic error or negligence.
ACCESS TO JUSTICE
Defining Sales Tax as a “Tax” for Taxpayer Suits – AB 2376 (Stone) establishes that sales tax, property tax, and business license tax are “taxes” that establishes the right to bring a taxpayer lawsuit.
Protecting Due Process Rights of Welfare Applicants – AB 3224 (Thurmond) requires welfare departments to use qualified public employees to determine eligibility in the Medi-Cal, CalWORKs, and CalFresh Programs, rather than contracting out for this determination.