By Anne Spevack
Deadline: ASAP, votes will be scheduled throughout August –
The California legislature is currently in recess, extended due to one Assemblymember and five staffers testing positive for COVID-19. They’re scheduled to return on July 27, and August 31 is the constitutionally mandated date to pass bills this session – so legislators will have to make tough choices on which bills to hear. On the list of important legislation that could pass this year but still needs additional support: regulation and oversight of policing and the criminal justice system; expansion and restoration of rights to people on parole and undocumented residents; reducing high fees related to arrests and trials; multiple avenues to reduce healthcare costs; regulation of oil and gas extraction sites; and allowing for affordable housing at vacant properties.
Immediately below, find your state Senator and Assemblymember, and call or email them about key actions that need the most support right NOW. Then read on for a longer list of priority bills for the remainder of this legislative session, with notes about committee assignments or other special ties to local legislators.
What you can do:
Let your state legislators know our priorities so they’ll push for hearings and votes before the deadline:
What to say:
My name is _____, my zip code is ____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m calling to support of AB 2054, the CRISES Act, to support community-oriented crisis intervention services. It’s great that community organizations help vulnerable populations in emergencies, but it’s not enough. California must support these organizations. AB 2054 will help people get emergency services from trained professionals with connection to their communities. Please help vulnerable Californians in crisis by supporting this bill and making sure it gets a hearing in the Government Organization Committee.
Contact info: email; (916) 651-4007; Orinda (925) 258-1176; Antioch (925) 754-1461
2. If you’re a constituent of Assemblymembers Buffy Wicks (15th Assembly District, including Berkeley, El Cerrito, Emeryville, Richmond, and part of Oakland), Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (16th Assembly District, including Lamorinda and Tri-Valley area), or Bill Quirk (20th Assembly District, including Hayward, Castro Valley, Union City): tell them to support SB 144, ending most criminal justice-related administrative fees.
What to say:
My name is _____, my zip code is ____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m calling in support of SB 144 to end most criminal justice-related administrative fees. These fees can quickly add up to thousands of dollars and put people trying to get back on their feet into debt. They affect low-income people of color most harshly. Please help end these fees – support SB 144 and make sure it gets a hearing this session in the Public Safety Committee.
- Buffy Wicks: email; District: 510-286-1400; Capitol: 916-319-2015
- Rebecca Bauer-Kahan: email; Capitol (handles legislative calls): 916-319-2016; District: 925-328-1515
- Bill Quirk: Capitol: 916-319-2020; District 510-583-8818
3. If you’re a constituent of Assemblymember Rob Bonta (18th Assembly District, including Oakland, Alameda, and San Leandro), ask him to support SB 852, requiring California to manufacture generic prescription drugs, AND thank him for supporting the Green New Deal:
What to say:
My name is _____, my zip code is ____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m calling to support SB 852, to require California to manufacture generic prescription drugs. We need a publicly controlled generic option to help keep drug costs down because everyone should be able to afford preventive and life-saving medication. Please help Californians afford healthcare by supporting this bill and making sure it gets a hearing in the Health Committee.
Also, thank you for your work this year on AB 1839, the Green New Deal. I’m disappointed it’s not moving forward. A commitment to a racial and environmental justice framework is more important than ever as we plan to recover from the pandemic. I hope you’ll continue to champion this effort next year.
Contact info: Rob Bonta: email; District: 510-286-1670; Capitol: 916-319-2018
4. If you’re a constituent of Assemblymember Timothy Grayson (14th Assembly District, including Concord, Vallejo, Benicia, Martinez, and Pleasant Hill), ask him to support one or two bills from the Priority Legislation List (Assembly) below. If you’re a constituent of Senator Nancy Skinner (9th Senate District, Alameda and Contra Costa Counties, including San Pablo, Richmond, El Cerrito, Berkeley, Oakland, Alameda and San Leandro) or Senator Bob Wieckowski (10th Senate District, Alameda and Santa Clara Counties, including Castro Valley, Hayward, Union City, and Fremont), ask them to support one or two bills from the Priority Legislation List (Senate) below.
What to say:
My name is _____, my zip code is ____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m calling in support of [bill number and brief description].
- Add one or two sentences about why the bill is important to you
- Ask them to support the bill and push for it to be heard before the August deadline
- Timothy Grayson: email; Capitol: 916-319-2014; District: 925-521-1511
- Nancy Skinner: email; (916) 651-4009, Oakland (510) 286-1333
- Bob Wieckowski: email; (916) 651-4010, Fremont (510) 794-3900
Priority Legislation list:
Background: Earlier this year, the state-level Indivisible organization California StateStrong held a nomination and voting process for members of Indivisible groups throughout California to choose priority bills for the California Legislature to focus on this legislative session. Since then, the COVID-19 pandemic has upended the legislative process, along with pretty much everything in our lives. With limited opportunity for legislators to participate remotely and a looming budget deficit, the focus has been on passing emergency response bills, including several bills that were recently introduced or that became priorities during the pandemic and the uprising against police brutality and racial injustice.
The State legislative calendar requires bills to make it out of their house of origin by the end of June. Most bills did not make it in time this year, and won’t be voted on this session – including many of StateStrong’s priorities. However, some of StateStrong’s priority bills and other high-priority bills still have a chance to pass this year, if they’re voted on by the end of August. This full list of priority bills includes those mentioned above, plus others:
In the Assembly:
- SB 144: Repeals administrative fees related to arrests, trials, incarceration, and probation that burden people with thousands of dollars of debt to the government just for interacting with the criminal justice system. Awaiting hearing in the Assembly Public Safety Committee: Assemblymembers Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, Bill Quirk, and Buffy Wicks are members.
- SB 852: Requires California to start manufacturing generic prescription drugs. Currently in the Assembly Committee on Health: Assemblymember Rob Bonta is a member.
- SB 1079: Authorizes local governments to rent properties vacant for more than 90 days for affordable housing. Bill introduced by Senator Nancy Skinner; awaiting hearing in the Assembly Judiciary Committee.
- SB 973: Requires larger employers to submit pay data to promote compliance with equal pay and employment discrimination laws. Currently in the Assembly Committee on Labor and Employment.
- AB 345: Requires regulations near oil & gas extractions. In the Assembly Committee on Natural Resources.
- SB 29: Expands medicaid to cover undocumented immigrants of all ages. Awaiting Assembly floor vote.
In the Senate:
- AB 2054: The CRISES Act to prevent unnecessary deaths associated with police officers acting as first responders. In the Senate Committee on Governmental Organization: Senator Glazer is a member.
- AB 646: Companion bill for ACA-6 to restore voting rights to people on parole. In the Senate Committee on Elections and Constitutional Amendments.
- AB 1185: Authorizes counties to establish sheriff oversight boards. May be voted on soon by the full Senate.
- AB 1611: Prohibits surprise bills from out-of-network ERs and caps healthcare prices. In the Senate Health Committee.
On a disappointing note: AB 1839, which local Assemblymember Rob Bonta authored and championed, would have established a Green New Deal council to develop a Green New Deal implementation plan for California; the bill died earlier this year. But in good news, ACA 6, a constitutional amendment to restore voting rights to people on parole, has already passed the Legislature – keep an eye out for this as Proposition 17 on the November ballot!
Anne Spevack is Indivisible East Bay’s liaison to California StateStrong.
Taj Herzer-Baptiste contributed to this article.
Photograph: The State Capitol Dome, Sacramento, CA, by Ryan Flores