Western Center’s policy advocates are hard at work in Sacramento to pass this year’s slate of bills to make California better for everyone. Here is our full 2022 Legislative Agenda.
AB 1816 (Bryan): Reentry Housing and Workforce Development Program
(co-sponsored with Housing California, Corporation for Supportive Housing, Californians for Safety and Justice, People Assisting the Homeless (PATH), and Los Angeles Regional Reentry Partnership)
This bill will establish a funding source for permanent affordable housing and workforce development for formerly incarcerated people at risk of or currently experiencing homelessness. The bill is necessary to support people reentering society after incarceration to reduce recidivism and homelessness – 70 percent of Californians experiencing homelessness have a history of incarceration.
AB 2230 (Gipson) – CalWORKs: Temporary Shelter and Permanent Housing Benefits
(co-sponsored with Coalition of California Welfare Rights Organizations)
This bill will make significant improvements in the CalWORKs Homeless Assistance Program (HAP) to minimize homelessness that CalWORKs families experience by repealing the limitations for receiving assistance through HAP. HAP is meant to assist families who have become unhoused and need immediate assistance. It is Western Center’s firm belief that families should not be burdened with additional program requirements to receive critical assistance for the health and safety of their family.
AB 2339 (Bloom): Emergency Shelters
(co-sponsored with California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation and the Public Interest Law Project)
There are upwards of 160,000 people experiencing homelessness in California, and 72% are completely unsheltered. While some California localities provide enough shelter beds, in others, there are either no shelter beds or only a small number. AB 2339 strengthens housing element law to ensure that zones identified for shelters and other interim housing are suitable and available. The bill also requires jurisdictions to demonstrate sufficient capacity on the sites to meet the identified need for interim housing for those experiencing homelessness.
SB 1017 (Eggman): Keeping Survivors Housed
(co-sponsored with California Partnership to End Domestic Violence, Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice, Dr. Beatriz Maria Solis Policy Institute – Women’s Foundation of California, Family Violence Appellate Project)
This bill allows domestic violence survivors who are tenants to maintain their current housing and avoid eviction by expanding allowable documentation for lease termination policies, allowing survivors to use eviction protections when the abusive person is on the lease but no longer residing in the residence, and by allowing survivors who live with an abusive person to remain in the unit on the same lease terms while removing the abusive person.
California Emergency Rental Assistance Program
While not a bill, Western Center and California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation are working to obtain an extension of the current eviction protections implemented in response to the pandemic. To prevent mass evictions, displacement, and economic instability, the state must extend these protections as hundreds of thousands of tenants wait for rental assistance from the state’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program.
AB 1911 (Gabriel): Affordable Housing Preservation Tax Credit
(co-sponsored with California Housing Partnership, California Coalition for Rural Housing, Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California and San Diego Housing Federation)
AB 1911 creates an Affordable Housing Preservation Tax Credit to support the preservation of tens of thousands of affordable housing units at risk of converting to market rate housing or displacing low-income tenants. California cannot afford to lose tens of thousands of affordable housing units in the midst of our current housing crisis. A targeted tax credit that encourages property owners to sell to affordable housing developers committed to long-term affordability would allow thousands of lower-income households to stay in their homes.
AB 2597 (Bloom, E. Garcia): Cool and Healthy Homes
(co-sponsored with California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation, Inner City Law Center, Leadership Council, Regional Asthma Management and Prevention (RAMP)
AB 2597 will address a long-standing issue that is rapidly exacerbated by human-induced climate change: the safety of renters in their homes when outdoor temperatures rise. Excessive heat has a negative impact on health and quality of life and leads to an increasing number of deaths. State law has long required that rental units be able to maintain a safe indoor air temperature when it’s cold outside, but there is no analogous requirement that applies when the weather is hot. This gap leaves many renters living in homes that reach unhealthy and often dangerous temperatures indoors and disproportionately impacts low-income households and people of color. AB 2597 will update the state’s habitability standards to ensure that all rental units have a means of maintaining a safe indoor air temperature regardless of the temperature outside.
AB 2713 (Wicks): Tenant Protections: Just Cause Termination: Rent Caps
(co-sponsored with California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation)
This bill cleans up loopholes in AB 1482, California’s first statewide just cause eviction protection and anti-rent gouging law. Since AB 1482 was enacted in 2019, several key loopholes (owner move-in, substantial renovation, and intent to remove the unit from the rental market) have been exploited by landlords attempting to evict vulnerable tenants. This law will require owners attempting to evict tenants for owner move-in to move into the unit within 90 days and stay at the unit for a minimum of three years. For owners attempting to evict based on substantial renovation, it will require owners to obtain the necessary permits for the renovations and justify why the improvements cannot be completed with the tenants in place. For evictions based on withdrawal from the rental market, the owner will be required to clearly explain in the notice to the tenant what the alternative use of the property will be and the necessary permits to convert the unit to the intended use. If the landlord does not meet those conditions post eviction, the tenant has the right to rent the unit under the previous terms of the agreement.
SCA 2 (Allen, Wiener): Public Housing Projects – Two-year bill
(co-sponsored with California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation, California Coalition for Rural Housing, California Housing Consortium, California Housing Partnership, California Association of Realtors, California YIMBY, Housing California, Nonprofit Housing Association of Northern California, and Southern California Association of Nonprofit Housing)
SCA 2 will place the repeal of Article 34 of the California Constitution on the ballot. Passed by voters in 1950, Article 34 requires a majority approval by the voters of a city or county for the development, construction, or acquisition of publicly subsidized housing. For decades the requirement has stifled the development of subsidized housing creating and perpetuating racially and economically segregated communities. The passage of SCA 2 would give voters an opportunity to eliminate an obstacle, enshrined in our Constitution, which currently undermines the ability to address California’s acute housing and homelessness challenges.
AB 470 (Carrillo): Eliminating the Non-MAGI Assets Limit – Two-year bill
(co-sponsored with Justice in Aging)
This bill will clean up code for when the Medi-Cal assets test is eliminated on January 1, 2024, following the 2021 budget agreement that also raises the asset limits effective July 1, 2022.
AB 1355 (Levine): Expanding Independent Medical Review – Two-year bill
This bill will ensure more fairness in the Medi-Cal appeals process by expanding Independent Medical Reviews to all Medi-Cal members and services, and by standardizing the process state departments must follow when alternating judges’ decisions in fair hearings. Independent Medical Reviews use medical professionals with expertise in the medical service at issue, resulting in more favorable and clinically sound outcomes for patients than plan appeals and state fair hearings.
AB 1900 (Arambula): Share of Cost Reform
(co-sponsored with Bet Tzedek, California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, Disability Rights California, Justice in Aging, and Senior and Disability Action)
This bill will make the Medi-Cal Share of Cost program more affordable by updating the maintenance need levels to 138% of the federal poverty level. Today, older adults and people with disabilities who are just $1 over the free Medi-Cal limit are forced to pay over $800 of their monthly income on health care and are expected to survive on just $600—the maintenance need level—to pay for rent, food, utilities, and all other expenses.
AB 1995 (Arambula): Eliminating Med-Cal Premiums
(co-sponsored with Children Now)
Medi-Cal premium requirements place an undue economic burden on families already living on very limited incomes and create barriers in access to care and unnecessary breaks in coverage for eligible individuals. This bill will ensure pregnant people, children, and people with disabilities can access the health care services they need to stay healthy by eliminating their monthly Medi-Cal premiums.
SB 644 (Leyva): Connecting Unemployed Individuals to Covered California & Medi-Cal
(co-sponsored with Health Access and California Pan-Ethnic Health Network)
This bill will require the Employment Development Department (EDD) to share with Covered California contact and income information about people who have recently applied for or lost unemployment, state disability insurance, paid family leave, and other EDD programs. This will allow Covered California to reach out and help enroll individuals in Medi-Cal or Covered California.
SB 923 (Wiener): Access to Gender Affirming Care
(co-sponsored with Break The Binary LLC, California LGBTQ Health and Human Services Network, California TRANScends, Equality California, Gender Justice LA, National Health Law Program, Orange County TransLatinas, Queer Works, Rainbow Pride Youth Alliance, San Francisco Office of Transgender Initiatives, The TransPower Project, TransCanWork, Trans Community Project, Transgender Health and Wellness Center, Tranz of Anarchii INC, Unique Woman’s Coalition (UWC), and Unity Hope)
This bill will improve access to gender affirming care for transgender, gender non-conforming, and intersex (TGI) people by mandating health plans require TGI cultural competency training for contracted providers, their staff, and the staff of health plans. It would also require plan provider directories to identify providers who offer gender affirming services.
AB 1820 (Arambula): Labor Trafficking
(co-sponsored with Loyola Law School, SJI Anti-Trafficking Policy Initiative)
California has one of the highest rates of human trafficking in the nation, yet only two state agencies, the Department of Justice and the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, are responsible for prosecuting human trafficking cases. This bill will provide the Department of Industrial Relations with statutory authority to investigate and prosecute claims of human labor trafficking. This a priority for Western Center because many workers who are victims of labor trafficking are exploited because of poverty.
AB 2052 (Quirk-Silva): CalWORKs Child Education Act of 2022
(co-sponsored with Coalition of California Welfare Rights Organizations)
The pandemic has impacted the timeliness with which some children can complete high school. This bill will allow children receiving CalWORKs to obtain aid until age 20 if they are attending their last year of high school.
AB 2300 (Kalra): CalWORKs and CalFresh: Work Requirements
(co-sponsored with Legal Aid at Work, Women’s Foundation of California, and WorkSafe)
This bill will expand good cause exemptions for the CalWORKs welfare to work program to allow parents with children under two years old not to participate in welfare to work for up to 12 months. This bill incorporates many legal protections created by the legislature, like the Crown Act and domestic worker protections, into CalWORKs.
AB 2277 (Reyes): CalWORKs for Survivors of Domestic Violence
(co-sponsored with Coalition of California Welfare Rights Organizations)
This bill will remove barriers for accessing the CalWORKs program – a critical social service that assists families in financial need, by waiving program requirements for survivors of domestic violence. Currently, counties have the authority to waive CalWORKs program requirements for survivors of domestic violence. However, despite their ability to do so, many counties do not. This bill will require counties to waive the requirements.
SB 996 (Kamlager): CalWORKs Asset Test and Work Limit
(co-sponsored with Coalition of California Welfare Rights Organization)
This bill will eliminate the eligibility requirement for CalWORKs families to prove that they have less than $10,211 in their possession, and the 100-hour rule which requires parents to work no more than 100 hours to qualify for the program. Removing these archaic requirements will ensure that all eligible CalWORKs families can access the social service.
SB 972 (Gonzalez): Street Vendors
(co-sponsored with Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA), Community Power Collective, Inclusive Action for the City, Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara, Public Counsel)
Street vendors are a part of California’s culture and have been for decades. In recent years, street vendors became part of the formal economy with the decriminalization of street vending in 2018. However, many street vendors who sell food are unable to obtain health permits from their local county health departments, so this bill will modernize the California Retail Food Code to reduce barriers for street vendors to obtain local health permits. Creating this pathway will allow street vendors to further enter the formal economy and put an end to fines issued to these entrepreneurs with limited incomes.
SB 1200 (Skinner): Enforcement of Judgments: Renewal and Interest
This bill will reduce the interest rate on unpaid debt from 10 percent annually to 3 percent annually. New York became the first state to reduce the interest rate on debt and California should follow the example.
ACCESS TO JUSTICE
AB 1792 (Ward): Diversification of Grand Juries
Grand Juries play a critical role in the lives of Californians involved in the legal system — particularly people of color and those living in poverty who are over-policed. Currently, juries are disproportionately made up of retirees who can afford to take time off to serve. AB 1972 will diversify grand juries in California so they are representative of their populations and will ensure people are fairly compensated when they serve so jury duty is more accessible for Californians with low incomes.