Western Center Bills Become Law
Several Western Center bills were signed into law this legislative session. While 2020 has been an unusual year, our advocates worked tirelessly to make sure Californians with low incomes are protected, both during the pandemic and after it’s over. Here are a few highlights:
- SB 144 (Mitchell)/ AB 1869 (Budget Committee) to repeal state law authorizing specified criminal justice fees. The bill repeals 23 criminal justice fees and expunges an estimated $16 billion in outstanding debt. We achieved this historic, first in the country victory in coordination with the Debt Free Justice Coalition.
- SB 1290 (Durazo and Mitchell) to require counties to stop collecting juvenile fees assessed before 2018. Our sponsored bill SB 190 stopped new debt from accumulating after that date, but did not eliminate existing debt. We are now the first state in the country to completely eliminate juvenile fees, which is an important step in state disinvestment in the carceral system.
- SB 1065 (Hertzberg) to make specified changes to the CalWORKs Homeless Assistance Program. This bill is a favorite of public benefit legal services programs, and bookends about four years’ worth of legislation.
- AB 2520 (Chiu) will increase access to public benefit programs by requiring doctors to complete forms and make it easier to obtain medical records for people in need of benefits programs. Watch Western Center health advocate Linda Nguy explain more here.
- AB 2276 (Reyes) would implement the California Auditor’s recommendations to increase blood lead screenings for children on Medi-Cal, as already mandated, and would require the Department of Public Health to update risk factors for evaluating risk of lead poisoning.
The CROWN Act Goes to Washington
The CROWN (Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair) Act, which Western Center originally co-sponsored in California last year to end workplace discrimination based on hair, is now a federal bill that has passed through the House of Representatives. You can learn more about the CROWN Act and the federal movement to end hair-based workplace discrimination in Vanity Fair, ELLE, and Cosmopolitan.
Garden Party in One Week!
Don’t forget to get your tickets for our 36th annual (and first virtual) Garden Party on Thursday, October 8th at 6pm PT, where we will feature a conversation between Steve Lopez, author and award-winning journalist from the Los Angeles Times, and Crystal Crawford, Western Center’s new Executive Director. We will also honor Los Angeles Deputy Mayor Brenda Shockley for her lifetime of work for equal justice as recipient of the Earl Johnson Equal Justice Award.