SB 2: The Building Homes and Jobs Act, SB 2, creates a permanent source of funding for affordable housing by imposing a modest fee on the recording of certain types of real-estate documents – not including the sale of residential or commercial property. California’s housing crisis is getting worse day by day, and too many people are spending most of their income on housing. This bill, an important piece of the Senate’s housing package, will generate roughly $250 million to help thousands of struggling families every year. SB 2 was signed by the Governor on Sept. 29.
SB 179: The Gender Recognition Act, SB 179, would make California the second state in the country, behind Oregon, to allow nonbinary residents – those who self-identify as neither male nor female – to choose a third gender marker on driver’s licenses and the first to allow it on other state-issued identity documents, such as birth certificates. It would also make it easier for transgender, intersex or nonbinary Californians to obtain state identification documents that accurately reflect their gender, removing several barriers that make it onerous for people seeking name- and gender-change court orders or seeking a gender change on birth certificates, driver’s licenses, and identity cards. SB 179 was signed by the Governor on Oct. 15.
SB 214: In 2015, the governor signed AB 392, my bill to make the San Diego River Conservancy permanent. SB 214 builds on that, strengthening the conservancy’s capacity to protect and enhance historic, cultural, and natural resources within the watershed along the 52-mile San Diego River. SB 214 adds representation from the city of Santee and the Kumeyaay Diegueño Land Conservancy to the conservancy’s Board of Directors and provides the conservancy with greater ability to enter into joint-powers agreements. SB 214 was signed by the Governor on Sept. 26.
SB 223: When it comes to healthcare regulation, state and federal laws are not completely in alignment. In some ways, the federal Affordable Care Act is stronger than state law in nondiscrimination protections and language-services standards. SB 223 would require health plans in California to meet the highest standards in nondiscrimination measures, consumer protections, and language-assistance services – no matter what changes might occur to the Affordable Care Act. It would ensure equal access to affordable healthcare regardless of race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, age, sex, sexual orientation, or disability. SB 223 was signed by the Governor on Oct. 13.
SB 230: Right now, a prosecutor attempting to convict an accused sex trafficker is not allowed to bring up the defendant’s past sex-trafficking crimes as evidence in trial. That is not the case for certain other types of sex crimes. SB 230 would add sex trafficking to the list of offenses for which prosecutors may, with a judge’s permission, share this type of information with the jury. This will make it easier to convict sex traffickers. SB 230 was signed by the Governor on Oct. 14.
SB 285: Currently, public employers are barred from interfering with, intimidating, restraining, coercing, or discriminating against employees while those employees are exercising their right to have union representation. SB 285 strengthens the law by making it clear that not only do public employees have the right to form a union or engage in union activities without interference – they also have the right to remain as members of a union without interference, intimidation, or coercion. SB 285 was signed by the Governor on Oct. 7.
SB 310: Transgender people who are incarcerated should have the same right as anyone else to legally change their name or gender and to be recognized for who they are. SB 310 – the Name and Dignity Act – establishes the right of people incarcerated in state prisons and county jails to access the courts to obtain a name or gender change. It also requires corrections officials to use the new name of a prisoner who has successfully obtained a name change. In addition to providing transgender prisoners with a sense of dignity while incarcerated, SB 310 will increase the chances for them to successfully reenter society. SB 310 was signed by the Governor on Oct. 15.
SB 379: This bill makes minor changes to current law that could have major impacts on our children’s oral health in the future. SB 379 allows schools to facilitate dental screenings by requiring parents to opt-out if they do not want their children to receive an assessment. However, any treatment of students would still require prior consent. It also adds data on tooth decay to the list of data that must be reported to the county and encourages schools to send oral-health data to the state. The bill will allow us to screen more children, which will in turn lead to more treatment, better collection of statewide data, and improved overall oral-health strategies. SB 379 was signed by the Governor on Oct. 13.
SB 437: This bill improves the effectiveness of a joint working group of the Department of Managed Healthcare and the Department of Insurance. It does this by requiring the group to review two new topics: grievance and consumer-complaint processes that pertain to timely access to care, and state implementation of federal healthcare reforms.
SB 462: This modest but necessary bill clarifies that probation departments may access juvenile case files in order to comply with reporting requirements. It also allows courts to authorize probation departments to engage third-party researchers for limited access to juvenile case files to conduct research on juvenile-justice populations and the programs that serve them. SB 462 ensures that no personally identifying information from a juvenile case file may be released, disseminated, or published. SB 462 was signed by the Governor on Oct. 3.
SB 548: Unfair labor practice charges in the public sector are generally handled by the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB). However, despite the important role that PERB plays in resolving labor disputes, the organization’s staffing has not kept pace with its workload, and it can take up to six months for a claim to be resolved. SB 548 addresses this problem by ensuring that cases related to bad-faith bargaining are eligible to be expedited within PERB. Under the bill, if an organization files a relevant charge, PERB must determine whether the case is eligible to be expedited within five days. If so, PERB must render a final decision within 150 days of the request.
SB 562: This bill, the Healthy California Act, would create a single-payer healthcare system in California.
SB 587: Currently, probation officers are not permitted to display blue warning lights on their certified emergency vehicles, as other law-enforcement officers are. But probation officers at times are called on to respond in emergency situations, and without blue lights, they’re not able to alert other officers and the public when responding that they are peace officers and are there to assist. The bill would allow probation officers, after completing appropriate training, to display blue warning lights on their emergency vehicles. SB 587 was signed by the Governor on Sept. 25.
SB 625: This bill would reestablish an “honorable discharge” program for juvenile offenders who meet certain criteria, paving an easier path for them to access higher education or vocational training or get a job after their release from incarceration. SB 625 was signed by the Governor on Oct. 11.
SB 667: The Riverine Stewardship Assistance Program (RSAP) was created in the 2016-17 state budget. SB 667 enables the program to move forward. The RSAP provides technical and financial support for stream restoration, reduced flood risk and improved habitat corridors, empowering communities to reconnect with and take pride in their neighborhood waterways. SB 667 was signed by the Governor on Oct. 6.