Legislative bills that determined the courage score
Bill: AB 67
Requires double-time pay for workers on Thanksgiving.
Black Friday shoppers generate large revenues for companies. As a way to increase their revenues, many large companies have begun an earlier start for consumers by starting holiday sales as early as 5pm on Thanksgiving Day, asking and, in some cases, forcing workers to miss spending the holiday with their families. Many retail workers are part-time and do not have a stable income due to their low pay rate and inconsistent and minimal work hours. As a result, they cannot afford to take a day off to celebrate a national holiday with family and friends, because losing one day’s worth of pay can make or break their ability to pay for their rent or even bills. AB 67 will require employers to pay at least two times the regular rate of pay to an employee that works on Thanksgiving, ensuring that workers are paid their fair share for working during the holiday.
Bill: AB 356
Increased protections for groundwater around oil industry projects (including fracking).
California’s oil and gas wells produce over 130 billion gallons of wastewater laced with toxic chemicals annually. With inadequate oversight and exemption from federal hazardous waste requirements, such wastewater has been found to have cancer causing benzene levels that are up to 1,500 times the legal limit for drinking water. A 2014 study found the presence of methane in 82% of groundwater wells that were in close proximity to a gas well. AB 356 would help protect underground sources of drinking water from oil and gas wastewater disposal and enhanced oil recovery treatment by requiring monitoring near injection wells.
Bill: AB 357
Requires fair scheduling for retail workers.
Large food and retail companies are using ‘just in time’ and ‘on-call’ scheduling practices, where workers are expected to be available but don’t know if they’ll actually be called in for a shift, making it impossible for people to plan their lives. These real-time scheduling practices cause workers who are already struggling with low wages to live in a constant state of insecurity about when they will work or how much they will be paid on any given day. It also places an additional pressure on parents who have to arrange for last-minute child care. AB 357 requires large food & retail companies to provide at least two weeks scheduling notice for their workers and additional pay for last minute scheduling changes. This bill would address discrepancies on how much workers take home in pay, clarify whether or not they receive health benefits, and improve their ability to balance life and work.
Bill: AB 359
Protects grocery workers from being fired because of changes in store ownership.
Supermarkets and other grocery retailers are the primary providers of food for California residents. Experienced grocery retail workers have a knowledge of proper health, safety laws and regulations associated with grocery operations, and an experience-based understanding of the clientele and communities in which the retailer is located. AB 359 will protect grocery employees working in stores of at least 15,000 square feet from being fired during the 90-day transition period if the grocery store is undergoing a change in ownership. Such a protection will not only protect grocery workers from losing their jobs, but also, will sustain the strength and flow of food access throughout the State, especially in places with little to no access to a grocery store.
Bill: AB 465
Protects workers from being forced to give up fundamental rights by their employers.
The California labor movement has worked to pass strong worker protection laws, but now many employers are denying them access to justice and due process by requiring them to sign away their rights. Many employers require mandatory waivers of rights as a condition of employment and prohibit a worker from filing a claim to a state agency or court. Instead they are required to file any potential claim to the employer’s arbitrator. Such agreements are problematic because low-wage and immigrant workers do not have a real choice or any real power when deciding between giving up their rights or losing their job and income to support their family. AB 465 protects workers from being forced to give up their fundamental rights by their employers, making any decision of waiving their rights voluntary, rather than mandatory.
Bill: AB 533
Protects consumers from unexpected charges from out-of-network doctors.
In the past two years, nearly a third of privately insured individuals received a surprise medical bill when their health plan paid less than was expected. Nearly a quarter got a bill from a doctor they did not expect to get a bill from, according to a national survey from the Consumer Reports National Research Center. Many of these surprise bills, which range from hundreds to thousands of dollars, are expected to be covered by one’s insurance plans because they come from regular hospital visits, scheduled surgeries, and ER visits at hospitals that are in-network. However, when certain functions of the hospital are contracted to entities that are out-of-network (i.e. when insurers don’t have their own in-network medical specialists to provide needed care), patients recieve unexpected charges. AB 533 protects consumers from these “surprise bills” from out-of-network medical specialists.
Bill: AB 708
Requires ingredient disclosure on cleaning products to improve safety.
Household cleaning products have many chemicals that are detrimental to our health. Although many have warning labels about misuse or potential dangers associated with the product, there’s little information on what exact chemicals are present in the products. Some of these cleaning products contain chemicals like formaldehyde, which is known to cause cancer, along with other potentially toxic chemicals that are not always disclosed or listed on the product label. AB 708 will would require companies to disclose the chemicals used in their cleaning products on both its label and Internet website, improving consumer safety and increasing awareness of the toxic chemicals in consumer products and allowing them to make healthier consumer choices.
Bill: AB 953
The Racial & Identity Profiling Act of 2015.
Since the police killings of Mike Brown, Eric Garner, Ezell Ford, and so many others, the Movement for Black Lives has shined a bright light on the desperate need for systemic changes to policing nationwide, particularly in California. But rather than leading the nation against police brutality, California had the highest number of officer-involved killings in 2015. A 2015 report by a California police department found that blacks were stopped twice as often as their peers, and that Black people and Latinos were searched at three and two times the rate of white people, respectively. AB 953 — the Racial and Identity Profiling Act — establishes a statewide system for collecting data on police stops and creates an advisory board to develop solutions to address and prevent racial profiling in the State.
Bill: AB 1017
Help secure equal pay for women.
In California, women earn 84 cents for every dollar men earn and 77 cents for every dollar men earn, nationally. Latina women earn 54 cents, while African American women earn 64 cents for every dollar white men earn. When prospective employers ask for an individual’s salary history, they often use past salary history as a way of reducing the job seeker’s bargaining power when negotiating their salaries. AB 1017 would remove salary history as a factor in hiring decisions, improving gender pay equity over time.
Bill: AB 1351
Allows pre-trial diversion into drug treatment programs for certain nonviolent, misdemeanor offenses.
The United States government regularly targets for deportation immigrants who have convictions for drug offenses, including offenses that are decades old or resulted in little or no prison time. This bill allows people charged with minor drug possession for personal use to enter a not guilty plea before starting a drug rehabilitation program — giving minor drug offenders the opportunity to not plead guilty, still attend a drug rehabilitation program and have the opportunity to become participating and productive members of the community. For immigrants, that means a focus on rehabilitation, not deportation.
Bill: AB 1352
Prevents unintended deportation of immigrants for minor drug offenses.
Over the past five years, 260,000 individuals have been deported from the U.S. for often minor drug offenses. These individuals, both undocumented and residents with green cards, are increasingly being deported without regard to their strong family ties in the U.S., the amount of years they have lived in the country, the relative triviality of their crimes. AB 1352 would prevent the deportation of immigrants for minor drug offenses if they successfully complete drug treatment programs as an alternative to a criminal court proceeding.
Bill: AB 1357
Places a 2 cent per ounce fee on sugary drinks (soda, energy drinks, etc.) to fund diabetes and chronic disease prevention.
During the course of 24 years, adult obesity rose from 9.9% in 1990 to 24.7% in 2014. Sugary drinks are the main contributor of 43% of new calorie intake between 1977-2001, and they play a central and unique role in the prevalence of obesity and diabetes in communities throughout California. Because of the large health costs associated with obesity and obesity-related diseases, AB 1357 directly addresses the issues associated with sugary drinks by placing a 2 cent per ounce fee on sugary drinks to fund diabetes and chronic disease prevention.
Bill: ACA 4
Amends the California constitution to allow cities, counties, and special districts to impose special taxes (including sales and parcel taxes) to fund local transportation projects with a vote of 55% or more.
Currently, the California Constitution allows for a special tax by a city, county, or special district upon the approval of 2/3 of the voters of the city, county, or special district voting on that tax to fund a local transportation project. Many cities and counties throughout the state have been underfunded, leaving large funding gaps to fix these aging systems. ACA 4 will amend the California Constitution to allow cities, counties, and special districts to impose special taxes (including sales and parcel taxes) to fund local transportation projects with a vote of 55% or more, rather than a 2/3 vote. This reduction in voter threshold makes it easier to pass increases in revenue via the form of local sales taxes dedicated to transportation purposes.
Bill: SB 3
Increases the minimum wage to $11 per hour in January 2016 and $13 per hour in July 2017.
Although we have shifted to a $10 an hour minimum wage at the beginning of this year, the cost of living throughout California is incredibly high, with LA and San Francisco having the highest costs of living in the country. People simply cannot provide for their families and get by on the current minimum wage. Increasing the minimum wage is the key to providing workers with a liveable wage. SB 3 will increase the minumum wage to $11 per hour and move it to $13 per hour in July 2017. SB 3 will pave the way to establish a $15 an hour minimum wage by 2020.
Bill: SB 7
Improves water conservation and consumer protections for renters and commercial tenants.
Given the extent of the drought and the need for greater water conservation in California, all of the state’s residents should be armed with the knowledge of how much water they are using, in order for them to take steps to reduce their usage. SB 7 phases in water sub-metering for residents of new apartment complexes and for commercial building tenants in order to enhance efforts to conserve water consumption and appropriately and equitably bill tenants for the water they use. When installed and read, sub-metering encourages water users to be more aware of their usage, giving them a financial incentive to conserve.
Bill: SB 32
Sets climate pollution reduction target for 2050.
California is home to 6 of the 10 most polluted cities in the country. Reducing our emissions would drastically improve the health of our state and make us climate leaders for the nation. SB 32 would reduce greenhouse gases even further, requiring emissions to drop by 40% from 1990 levels by the year 2030. It is also known as the child of AB 32, California’s signature climate change law from 2006 that required the Air Resources Board to formulate a plan that by 2020 would bring greenhouse gas emissions down to where they had been in 1990.
Bill: SB 203
Requires soda companies to print warning labels about the negative health consequences of consuming sugary drinks.
An estimated 14 percent of Californians have diabetes, a number that has nearly tripled over the past thirty years as sugary drink consumption doubled. SB 203 requires soda companies to print warning labels about the negative health consequences of consuming sugary drinks — giving Californians a chance to make healthier, better informed choices about what they purchase and consume.
Bill: SB 260
Expands Medi-Cal managed care protections to enrollees in County Organized Health Systems.
More than 80% of Californians with Medi-Cal are enrolled in and receive healthcare through a Medi-Cal health plan, with different models of Medi-Cal managed care in each county. One of those models is the County Organized Health System (COHS), which are plans that are created or otherwise authorized by the county board of supervisors to serve as the county’s plan for all of the Medi-Cal consumers in the county. Other Medi-Cal managed care plans are licensed by the Department of Managed Health Care under the Knox-Keene Act, which provide major consumer protections. COHS plans are not. Some of these consumer protections that are not granted to those on COHS plans, but are to those who are licensed by the DMHC that people in COHS plans are missing out on, are as follows: appealing of denials of care to independent medical experts; an external review by the DMHC to dispute whether a service is a covered benefit; and the continuation of care for consumers with particular health conditions from an out-of-network provider. SB 260 will ensure greater equity across Medi-Cal managed care plans by removing the COHS exemption to Knox-Keene consumer protections.
Bill: SB 308
Allows debtors to retain enough assets after a bankruptcy to make a fresh start.
Current bankruptcy law does not leave debtors with enough assets to stay on their feet and realistically make a fresh financial start. This bill allows debtors to retain enough of their assets (like their home and cars) to become self-sufficient again, rather than assuming more debt, filing for bankruptcy again, or depending on public assistance.
Bill: SB 347
Expands list of persons prohibited from purchasing firearms.
Existing law generally prohibits a person who has been convicted of certain specified misdemeanors from possessing a firearm within 10 years of the conviction. SB 347 would add to the list of prohibited misdemeanors which result in a ban from possessing firearms the following firearm-related offenses: theft of a firearm, knowingly receiving a stolen firearm, and bringing ammunition onto school grounds. SB 347 would have helped protect public safety because individuals who commit gun-related crimes are more likely than law-abiding citizens to commit future offenses, including acts of violence.
Bill: SB 406
Expansion of the Paid Family Leave Program under the CA Family Rights Act.
California has the second highest percentage of multi-generational households in the country. In a recent study of caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients, over 40% of caregivers were not covered under the narrow definition of family in the California Family Rights Act (CRFA). SB 406 would expand the California Family Rights Act, which currently only allows workers to take up to 12 weeks off to care for sick children, parents or spouses, to include sick siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, domestic partners and parents-in-law.
Bill: SB 443
Requires due process before law enforcement can seize personal property.
SB 443 would limit the use of a controversial federal law, dating to the 1980s drug war, that allows law enforcement agencies to keep money, vehicles and other assets if they suspect they were used to commit a crime or are the proceeds of illegal activity. The owner need not be convicted or even charged with a crime. SB 443 restores due process and reinforces constitutional protections to prevent law enforcement from seizing an individual’s property without a conviction — an issue that unevenly harms people of color and low-income individuals.
Bill: SB 546
Protects large employers and workers from unjustified increases in the cost of health insurance by requiring the rates be reviewed and approved.
In the last decade, health insurance premiums paid by employers and workers climbed 185% in California, and employers shifted the increasing costs to workers. SB 546 protects large employers and workers from unjustified increases in the cost of health insurance by requiring the rates be reviewed and approved. By requiring justification of rate increases, SB 546 will encourage insurers to set prices in a reasonable way.
Bill: SB 641
Requires consumer protections against unfair debt collection tactics.
Certain debt collectors intentionally delay notifying a consumer of a default judgment on a debt in order to more easily go after the consumer’s wages. This bill gives consumers, in limited circumstances, the ability fight back against abusive debt collection tactics by asking a court to set aside default judgments and hear the case on the merits within 180 days after the first actual notice of the lawsuit. It ensures that consumers can defend themselves in situations where they received no initial notice that they were being sued, through no fault of their own.
Bill: SB 654
Prevents facilities that produce hazardous waste from poisoning communities and evading enforcement of common sense regulations.
Exide Technologies, the battery plant behind the toxic pollution that has poisoned many residents in Southeast Los Angeles, operated under an interim permit for decades. Exide is just one of the many examples of what can go wrong with the lack of adequate permits and poor oversight and inspection of hazardous waste facilities. When factories and industries that process hazardous materials lack adequate permits, it’s detrimental to the health of the surrounding communities. SB 654 would help prevent future problems by increasing enforcement of common sense regulations, specifically creating a five-year permit renewal process overseen by the Department of Toxic Substance Control (DTSC).