FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 16, 2023
Contact: Maya Polon, [email protected]
Sacramento, CA – The Building the California Dream Alliance today announced a unified policy agenda that nearly 60 progressive organizations will stand behind in 2023. The sweeping package of legislation aims to rebalance California’s priorities, putting people and communities ahead of profits and politics.
While corporations amassed even greater power and profits during the COVID-19 pandemic, everyday Californians are grappling with relentlessly rising costs for rent, utilities, and groceries; workers face a stark imbalance of power that leaves them vulnerable in most workplaces; and the systems that should support Californians’ needs too often perpetuate racism.
“Californians are living the consequences of a corporate agenda that has dominated in California for too long,” said Amber Baur, Executive Director, United Food and Commercial Workers Western States Council. “Massive layoffs, higher grocery prices, and out of control health care costs have one thing in common: corporate mergers concentrate power in the hands of a few, with workers and consumers left to pay the price.”
“Uncertainty in the economy isn’t a reason to maintain the status quo, it’s a clear call to action: California must commit to a more secure future for hard-working people and our families,” said Erica Martinez, Policy Advocate, Community Partnerships Program, Earthjustice. “There are no excuses: California can and must take action this year to eliminate outdated and racist policies, to ensure our public systems serve our Black and Brown, immigrant, LGBTQ+ and disability communities equitably, and ensure the people’s agenda – not the corporate agenda – guides the policy choices that shape our future.”
The Building the California Dream Alliance was founded in 2015 to further a progressive, positive vision for California, offering a sharp contrast to the Chamber of Commerce’s cynical, anti-worker, anti-environment agenda. Each year the coalition outlines an ambitious agenda to uplift families, empower workers and communities, and expand opportunities for all Californians to take part in the California Dream.
The Dream Alliance’s 2023 California Legislative priorities include:
SB 838 (Menjivar) – Would ensure no victim of crime is locked out of receiving the support they need to address trauma and heal simply because of who caused them harm. This is particularly important for victims of police violence – people who historically have faced such steep barriers to accessing services through the state’s Victim Compensation Program that they’re effectively disqualified from receiving.
SB 94 (Cortese) – Would allow judges to review sentences of death and life without parole from before 1990. A judge would be able to consider mitigating factors such as whether the individual experienced childhood trauma, was a victim of sexual violence, age related factors, and racial bias in the case.
Civil Rights (Disability Rights)
AB 93 (Bryan) – Would prohibit police officers from pursuing searches that are based solely on a person’s purported consent, rather than evidence of criminal activity. These intrusive, dangerous, and traumatizing fishing expeditions have been shown to be racially discriminatory and ineffective at uncovering crime, but have significant social and civic costs.
SB 365 (Wiener) – Would protect workers and consumers from the delay tactics corporations use when a trial court rules that a forced arbitration agreement is invalid. Current law allows corporate defendants to effectively pause a worker’s or a consumer’s case – sometimes for years at a time – by simply filing a meritless appeal. Specifically, this bill would allow a worker or consumer’s case to move forward even if a company files an appeal, instead of putting their case on hold for 1-3 years.
Education (Early care and education through higher education)
AB 1323 (Kalra) – Would eliminate state mandates that require educators to notify police of a broad range of student behaviors and incidents.
AB 596 (Gomez-Reyes) – Would ensure that child care providers are paid justly, that families can afford child care, and would eliminate racist child care policies. Specifically, this bill would require California to adopt an “alternative methodology,” which sets subsidy payment rates based on the actual cost of providing child care, including the cost of eliminating family fees for those who can least afford it.
Environmental Quality and Justice
SB 253 (Wiener, Gonzalez, and Stern) – The Climate Corporate Data Accountability Act would mandate the largest corporations that do business in California – those with revenues in excess of $1B – be transparent about their emissions. More specifically, this bill requires such corporations to annually report their full carbon footprint, including Scope 1 emissions (direct emissions), Scope 2 emissions (indirect emissions from purchased energy), and Scope 3 emissions (emissions from the business product chain which are up to 11 times higher than scopes 1 & 2).
SB 674 (Gonzalez) – The Refinery Air Pollution Transparency and Reduction Act would strengthen protections for the fenceline communities living next to CA’s refineries and increase oversight of refinery operations. The bill will improve CA’s fenceline monitoring program and provide nearby EJ communities with transparency into toxic pollution entering their neighborhoods and the basic protections they deserve and are legally entitled to.
AB 524 (Wicks) – Would prohibit employers from discriminating against employees based on their status as a caregiver by adding “family caregiver status” to the list of protected characteristics (e.g., race, sexual orientation, marital status, religion, etc.) that are already prohibited bases of discrimination under the employment provisions of the Fair Employment and Housing Act. “Family caregiver status” means a person who contributes to the care of one or more family members.
AB 1094 (Wicks) – Would require that a pregnant or perinatal person provide written and verbal consent prior to the administration of a drug test, alcohol test, or screen to either them or their baby. Additionally, it would require the test or screen to be medically necessary to provide care.
Healthcare And Long-Term Care Access For All
AB 1091 (Wood) – Would provide health merger oversight to help protect access to care and prevent inflated costs. More specifically, this bill would give the Attorney General the authority to review and place conditions on health industry mergers (not just those with nonprofit hospitals), including for-profit hospital chains, medical groups, private equity and hedge funds, and more. This bill will also prohibit specific anti-competitive contracting provisions, aligning the rest of the healthcare industry with the pro-consumer conditions of the landmark 2021 Sutter Settlement.
SB 525 (Durazo) – Would establish a $25 per hour minimum wage for healthcare workers in an effort to attract and retain these workers. Healthcare workers are leaving the industry at a high rate, causing delays in care for patients.
Housing, Homelessness and Tenant Rights
SB 594 (Durazo) – Would amend Limited Liability Company (LLC) registration requirements so property rental companies have to provide the name(s) of the owner or person(s) with substantial control. Many LLCs are owned in the name of another LLC, creating additional layers of anonymity that enable unlawful conduct – such as tenant harassment, aggressive evictions, and Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) fraud. Anonymity is not necessary to achieve the legal and financial protection afforded by forming an LLC or Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT).
SB 567 (Durazo) – Would help prevent homelessness by increasing stability and affordability for renter families by lowering the rent cap and no-fault evictions. In addition, it would increase the number of families covered and scope of enforcement protections.
Immigrant and Refugee Justice and Integration
AB 617 (Jones-Sawyer) – Would ensure that immigrant Californians can access high-quality, holistic immigration legal services regardless of their ability to pay, geographic location, or past contact with the criminal legal system. The REP4All Act will update and strengthen California’s immigration legal services program which assists thousands of Californians annually with accessing critical immigration services such as DACA, U.S. citizenship, and deportation defense services.
AB 1306 (W. Carrillo) – The HOME Act would end transfers between the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) and Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) for individuals who have served their time and been paroled. The bill focuses on previous restorative justice legislation that has been signed into law and ensures individuals under those policies are able to return home and restart their lives, regardless of their citizenship status.
Income and Food Security
SB 725 (Smallwood-Cuevas) – Would require a grocery establishment that conducts layoffs as a result of a merger or acquisition to provide workers with one week of severance pay for every year of service. This legislation is especially important as Kroger and Albertsons have announced a $25 billion mega-merger, the largest proposed grocery merger in US history, that could lead to the closure of 115 stores and the loss of over 6,000 grocery worker jobs in just the Los Angeles and Orange Counties alone. Without severance pay protections, the loss of this many jobs in one region will have ripple effects through the local economy and further burden an already tattered social safety net.
SB 245 (Hurtado)/AB 311 (Santiago) – Would expand access to the California Food Assistance Program (CFAP) to income-eligible immigrants of all ages, regardless of immigration status. By removing racist and xenophobic policies that exclude some immigrants from receiving critical food assistance, Food4All will bring equity to our food safety net and build upon California’s growing movement towards immigrant inclusion.
LGBTQ Equality and Rights
SB 729 (Menjivar) – Would require health plans to provide coverage for fertility care and ensure that LGBTQ+ people are not excluded from coverage. For the LGBTQ+ community, fertility care and family-building are just as important as they are for anyone. Unfortunately, current law is still being interpreted in a heteronormative way that often excludes LGBTQ+ people.
SB 760 (Newman) – Would require K-12 schools statewide to provide at least one accessible all-gender restroom for students to use safely and comfortably during school hours. Survey data shows that 45% of LGBTQ+ and non-binary students actively avoid using gender-segregated school restrooms because it makes them feel unsafe or uncomfortable.
AB 742 (Jackson) – Would prohibit the use of police canines for arrest, apprehension, and crowd control, ending a deeply racialized, traumatic, and violent practice. First used by slave catchers, police canines have more recently been used in brutal attempts to quell peaceful civil rights demonstrations, from the Civil Rights Movement to Black Lives Matter protests. Police canines are trained to bite and maul people with enough force that 75-100 people in California are seriously injured or killed every year from their attacks. These canines often bite people who are surrendering or otherwise do not pose a threat — including police officers, young children, and people asleep in their own homes.
SB 50 (Bradford) – Would address racial profiling by limiting pretext stops by police, prohibiting police from stopping people for technical vehicle code violations unrelated to safety, and allow local governments to use non-police for traffic enforcement.
Financial Security (Retirement, Taxation)
AB 1082 (Karla) – Would end “poverty tows” by prohibiting towing a vehicle due to unpaid parking tickets, increase the number of unpaid tickets before registration can be held up, and improve parking ticket payment programs. When cars are towed due to outstanding debt, low-income Californians lose what is often their greatest asset and cities are even less likely to collect the debt – in short, everybody loses. These changes together will allow California to once again lead the way in ending poverty tows and helping working families continue to drive to work, pay their rent and bills, and provide for their families.
AB 1356 (Haney) – The Protect Laid Off Workers Act would expand California’s layoff protection law, the WARN Act, to strengthen economic security for Californians and meet the needs of workers today. It will extend the requirement to give notice of a layoff from 60 to 90 days, ensure that no workers’ safety net is tied up in severance negotiations, and include contract workers in these critical protections.
Voting Rights and Strengthening Our Democracy
AB 421 (Bryan) – Would reform the referendum process to balance the playing field and help fight corporate power.
ACA 4/AB 1594 (Bryan) – A ballot measure to restore the right to vote to persons held in state prisons.
SB 497 (Smallwood-Cuevas) – The Equal Pay and Anti-Retaliation Act would create a rebuttable presumption that a negative action against an employee is retaliatory if it occurs within 90 days of reporting a labor or equal pay violation. The bill would also allow whistleblowers who experience retaliation to collect a penalty of up to $10,000 that currently only the state may collect from lawbreaking employers.
SB 616 (Gonzalez) – Would guarantee seven days of paid sick leave for most workers in California. The COVID-19 pandemic has powerfully confirmed the need for more than the three days required by current law, Supplemental Paid Sick Leave and Cal/OSHA’s Exclusion Pay have both expired, and eight major cities in California now mandate 6-7 days or more.
# # #
ABOUT THE BUILDING THE CALIFORNIA DREAM ALLIANCE:
We are united in our commitment to the equal worth and dignity of every Californian, inclusive of race, gender, sexual orientation, immigration status, disability, health status, or age.
Together, we will fight for our communities – for broadly shared prosperity and economic security, educational and job opportunities, a clean environment and a healthy planet, quality and comprehensive healthcare for all, reproductive rights, responsive and democratic government, a strong safety net and justice for all.
California must do a better job of putting our communities and people first – ahead of profit or political gain, and we are working together in order to realize that goal.
THE BUILDING THE CALIFORNIA DREAM ALLIANCE INCLUDES:
ACCE, Alliance for Boys and Men of Color, ACLU California Action, Asian Americans Advancing Justice-CA, Black Women for Wellness Action Project , Breast Cancer Prevention Partners, California Attorneys For Criminal Justice (CACJ), California Calls, California Donor Table, California Domestic Workers Coalition, California Employment Lawyers Association (CELA), California Environmental Justice Alliance, California Environmental Voters, California Food & Farming Network , Californians for Safety and Justice, California Labor Federation, California Immigrant Policy Center, California NOW, California Pan-Ethnic Health Network, California Reinvestment Coalition, Catalyst California, Center for Responsible Lending, Child Care Law Center, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA), Consumer Attorneys of California, California Chapter (CAIR-CA), Courage California, Disability Rights California, Drug Policy Alliance, Earth Justice , Economic Security Project Action (ESPA), Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, End Poverty in California, Equality California, Equal Rights Advocates, Friends Committee on Legislation of California, GRACE/End Child Poverty CA, Harm Reduction Coalition, Health Access, Housing California, Housing Now!, Latino Coalition For A Healthy California , Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights of the Bay Area, Legal Aid at Work, Lutheran Office of Public Policy, NARAL Pro-Choice California, NextGen California , PICO California, PolicyLink, Public Advocates, SEIU California, Sierra Club California, Smart Justice,TechEquity Collaborative, The California Coalition for Worker Power, UFCW, Voices for Progress, Western Center on Law & Poverty, Worker-Owned Recovery California Coalition.