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2016 Legislative Preview

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March 10, 2016

The deadline for submission of new legislation arrived on Feb. 19 and the Capitol was inundated with new bills.  Hearings will start soon on more than 2,100 bills introduced this year.

The California Catholic Conference (CCC) staff is evaluating each of the bills and designating them significant, major or monitor.  Many in the latter category will drop off as their details become more apparent.   Others have already been marked ‘support’ or ‘oppose.’  For those that do not indicate a position, it usually means that the staff is working with legislators to understand the intent and scope of the legislation before making a recommendation.

Below is our assessment of trends in key legislative areas.  You can see specific bills and their status on the Legislation page of our website:

Reverence for Life                      

Bills dealing with the reverence for life cover a wide range of topics such as abortion, women’s health, pregnancy care, newborn screenings and end of life issues. Currently pregnancy clinics are to comply with recent laws passed in the last session, new legislation will now have abortion clinics follow suit.

Pregnancy clinics continue to remain an issue and instead of helping Californians with palliative care options at the end of their life, the state is moving to promote and expand physician-assisted suicide.  Some of the more important bills we are watching include:

AB 2775- Abortion services facilities: pregnancy center notice
AB 2810- Aid-in-dying prescription drugs
SB 1002- End of Life Option Act: telephone number

Immigration

With an uptick in awareness of the evil of human trafficking and its ties to the immigrant community, this issue is being addressed in many immigration-related bills this session.  There is also a concentration on health care and educational opportunities.  A sample:

AB 1593- Pupil attendance: excused absences; naturalization ceremony
AB 1942- Employment; human trafficking training; hotels and motels
SB 997- Health care coverage: immigration status

Marriage and Family Life

Committed to helping families thrive, the Conference is especially concerned with looking out for some of the most vulnerable in society, foster children. There are many bills aimed at protecting these children and helping them succeed, among them are:

AB 1001- Child abuse: reporting: foster family agencies
SB 1005- Marriage
SB 1014- Pupil rights: pregnant and parenting pupils

Education

Learning in California’s classrooms is imperiled by a widening shortage of professionally prepared teachers. Ensuring well-prepared and exceptionally qualified K-12 teaching force serving all California's students in our public and private schools is a very high education priority. Another priority is to further expand access to quality, affordable early childhood.  Here are just a few the Conference is watching:

AB 1756         Teacher credentialing: integrated programs of professional preparation
SB 915            Teacher recruitment: California Center on Teaching Careers
AB 2660         Early education: three-year plan

Restorative Justice

California is pursuing historic changes to its corrections system.  These changes are having a substantial impact at the state, county and community levels and are the subject of many bills.  One bill that the CCC in conjunction with the faith-based advocacy community is sponsoring and helped to author is AB 2590 (Weber, D- San Diego.)  This would provide resources for sentencing to ensure public safety is achieved through accountability, rehabilitation and restorative justice programs.  Others include:

AB 1597- County jails: performance milestone credits
SB 1157- Inmates: visitation
SB 1404- Victims of violent crimes: trauma recovery centers

Promotion of Human Dignity

This legislative session we will be looking at several ways to alleviate poverty among people in our state.  The Conference continues its opposition to the Maximum Family Grant (MFG), rule which penalizes CalWORKs families if they have another child. To combat homelessness, many affordable housing options are being considered to alleviate this burden on the working poor.   Bills include:

AB 1874- Earned Income Tax Credit Information Act: California Earned Income Tax Credit
AB 2054- Nutrition Assistance: Summer Electronic Benefits for Children
SB 23- CalWORKS eligibility