February 25, 2021 The California Catholic Conference (CCC) is currently reviewing more than 2,500 bills introduced by last week’s legislative deadline, despite the fact that each lawmaker will likely have only a few bills advance because of a needed focus on pandemic-related issues this legislative year. While hundreds of bills will be on the CCC tracking chart, many of these will not even reach the hearing stage. Many are “spot bills” without specifics but designed to be filled in with details at a later time. Nevertheless, they must be monitored in the event they are amended. Most will also show a “No Position” for much the same reason. Once the bill’s details and legislative trajectory are clearer, support or opposition from the CCC will be noted. Some of the bills the CCC will be tracking include: Reverence for Life The CCC will oppose SB 380 (Eggman, D – Modesto), which would allow physicians to waive the 15-day waiting period for doctor-assisted suicide if a patient is not expected to live long enough to complete it. The waiting period would remove one of the few “safeguards” proponents of physician-assisted suicide said would prevent abuse of the law. The bill would also remove the sunset provision of the End of Life Options Act and make the law permanent – again contradicting the safety precautions proponents used to reassure that physician-assisted suicide law would not be abused. The CCC is opposed to this bill and will be providing updates as they are available. The CCC is also opposing SB 245 (Gonzales, D – Long Beach), the Abortion Accessibility Act, which would remove insurance co-pays for abortions, requiring private insurance companies to cover 100 percent of the procedure costs. Stay tuned for alerts and other ways you can help defeat this bill. Education While several hundred bills at least tangentially impacting education have been introduced, SB 86, which contains the Legislature's most recent school reopening proposal, is currently front-and-center in the education policy-making space. The bill was heard in the Assembly Budget Committee this week, but no vote was taken, and it was not moved to the Assembly Floor for a full house vote amidst concerns raised by several education management groups. While education is always a major focus of the Legislature, until an agreement materializes between the Legislature and Governor on how to reopen schools and get kids back in the classroom, other proposals – both legislative and budget – may remain on the back burner. For instance, two key bills have emerged early this legislative session as ones to watch in the effort to expand access to Early Learning and Care programs. AB 22, authored by Assembly Member Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento), seeks to expand access to preschool by requiring, upon budget appropriation, all eligible children who are not enrolled in transitional kindergarten to have access to a California state preschool program the year before they enter kindergarten. In addition, SB 246 (Leyva, D-Chino) would direct the State Department of Social Services to implement a reimbursement system plan that establishes reasonable standards and assigned reimbursement rates that would vary with certain factors for childcare providers. It is clear the mental health of students has become a top priority for legislators as California continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic. Two bills to note early on are SB 14 and SB 224, both authored by Senator Anthony Portantino (D-Pasadena), who chairs the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee. SB 14 would add mental and behavioral health to the list of reasons a student may be granted an excused absence from school and seeks to provide training in youth mental and behavioral health to certificated and classified school staff. SB 224 would require students, at least once in each grade span (elementary, middle, and high school), to receive age-appropriate education in mental health. Economic Justice On the homelessness and housing front, AB 71 (Rivas, Luz, D - Arleta), known as the Bring CA Home Act, would require that any revenue from increased taxes on businesses with annual profits of $5million or more would be used to prevent families from falling into homelessness, expand emergency shelters, create more affordable housing and fund services including employment support for unhoused people. And AB 362 (Quirk-Silva, (D – Fullerton) would declare the intent of the Legislature to improve conditions of shelters by complying with health and safety regulations. In combatting hunger and food insecurity, bills include SB 464 (Hurtado, D – Sanger) to make a noncitizen applicant eligible for the CA Food Assistance Program if they satisfy all eligibility criteria for participation in the CalFresh program; SB 107 (Wiener, D- San Francisco) that would increase client access to CalFresh for seniors 60 years of age or older and people with disabilities; and AB 221 (Santiago, D-Los Angeles), which provides food assistance to low-income CA residents regardless of their immigration status. Additionally, AB 509 (Nguyen, R - Orange) would increase and expand the federal child tax credit and make that credit refundable. Finally, we are pleased to report that SB 88, a budget bill allocating $600 in stimulus monies for low-income working people who qualify for CalEITC, was signed by Governor Newsom this week. Restorative Justice In the restorative justice arena, the CCC is monitoring SB 71 (McGuire, D-Healdsburg), which would authorize the court to allow a person to participate in educational programs to satisfy community service hours; SB 300 (Cortese, D- San Jose), which would repeal the provision requiring punishment by death or life without parole for a person convicted of murder in the first degree who is not the actual killer; and SB 481 (Durazo, D-Los Angeles), which expresses the intent of the Legislature to enact legislation to provide for the early parole of inmates, including those serving indeterminate life sentences. Environmental On the environmental justice front, SB 54 (Allen, D-Santa Monica) would significantly reduce the amount of disposable packaging and food ware waste entering into California’s streams and oceans; SB 289 (Newman, D-Orange) would add nickel metal hydride and lithium-ion batteries to the definition of household batteries to be recycled, and SB 751 (Gonzalez, D, Long Beach) is intended to ensure that disadvantaged communities of color do not continue to be overburdened with unfair shares of pollution. More Legislation Other bills of note include SB 17 (Pan, D-Sacramento), which is asking state agencies to address racism as a public health crisis, and AB 616, (Stone, D – Monterey Bay), the Agricultural Labor Relations Voting Choice Act, which would extend voting for farmworkers in their union elections by allowing mail-in ballots or in-person voting at the Agricultural Relations Labor Board. Assemblymember James C. Ramos (D – Highland) has introduced AB 338 to replace the recently toppled statue of Saint Junipero Serra, which was overturned by protestors on July 4, 2020 during demonstrations following the murder of George Floyd. The original placement of the sculpture was created pursuant to legislation and its placement on Capitol grounds is articulated in California law. The monument to Saint Junipero Serra been on the State Capitol Grounds since April 1967. Budget bills being tracked include a one-time ask of a $20 million investment to the One CA program allocated over two years to assist those underrepresented communities impacted by COVID-19. You can visit our Legislation Page to track the progress of bills and the CCC position. The page will be updated over the next few weeks as bills are reviewed. By rule, hearings cannot be held on a bill unless it has been in print for 30 days.