By ONME Newswire
SACRAMENTO, Calif.--At the end of July, Governor Gavin Newsom signed 35 bills and one vetoed. Here are five key bills ONME News felt would directly affect Black and people of color communities throughout California positively: AB 358, AB 925, AB 466, AB 1226 and AB 1325. Here's a brief on each bill:
Governor signs housing bill to accommodate homeless students - AB 358
A bill by Assemblymember Dawn Addis (D-Morro Bay) to tackle student homelessness and meet housing demand was signed by Governor Newsom this past July. Assembly Bill 358 – known as the California Community College Housing Act– is the first of Assemblymember Addis' authored bills to be signed into law.
"I am thrilled that Governor Newsom has signed the California Community College Housing Act. Housing insecurity is a worsening and pervasive problem across our campuses. This bill will help boost the housing supply at our community colleges, providing much-needed housing to thousands of students across the state."
Assembly Bill 358 allows community colleges to accommodate student housing needs by exempting architectural plans from the required approval by the Department of General Services' (DGS) Division of State Architect (DSA), creating parity with faculty campus housing.
This bill will become law on January 1, 2024.
Why it was important Gov. Newsom signed bill AB 925 – Vehicle removal, expired registration:
Last year, over 1 million vehicles were reported stolen, according to National Insurance Crime Bureau data. According to the data, California leads the nation with about 200,000 cars being stolen in 2022. Thieves usually find a goldmine for the catalytic converters and registration vehicle decals for resale in the black market.
Although California Vehicle Code 4463 VC is the statute that makes it a crime to engage in fraud or forgery regarding vehicle registration certificates, tags or stickers, license plates, or a smog test certificate, sticker theft remains a big problem in California. Prosecutors can charge this crime as a misdemeanor or a felony, called a “wobbler.”
However, the vehicle owners often pay for their registration but are still cited if their plates do not display the sticker. AB 925 would prevent cities & local governments (and those they employ, i.e., parking enforcement) from being able to tow a vehicle based solely on if a vehicle has expired registration tags. This bill would prevent extreme hardship for people who may not have the funds to retrieve their vehicle from an impound lot. Currently, drivers are subject to a fine, penalties, and replacement fees of over $500. AB 925 will require a parking enforcer to check DMV records before towing the vehicle.
New AB 466 signed bill reveals overlooked racial disparities among Black and Latino drivers stopped by police officers
About 5 to 6 million drivers in California get ticketed for a 1–point violation every year, for speeding (22350 VC), running a red light (21450 VC), failing to stop at a stop sign (22450(a)), or another vehicle-related instance, according to criminal defense attorneys, Wallin & Klarich. Most ticketed drivers manage these violations by attending traffic school if they are eligible, which is a cost.
However, studies from the Public Policy Institute of California shows that data on 3.4 million traffic stops made in 2019 by California’s 15 largest law enforcement agencies to examine racial disparities in stop outcomes and experiences across time of the day, type of law enforcement agency, and type of traffic violation, found the following regarding racial bias:
Racial disparities are particularly notable in stops by police departments, where Black drivers make up about a third of traffic stops in the hours around midnight, roughly twice the share of white drivers. Local law enforcement officers are especially likely to search Black and Latino drivers during nighttime stops, but discovery rates for contraband or evidence are lower than those of white drivers. →
A not-insignificant proportion of traffic stops lead to no enforcement or discovery—suggesting that gains in efficiency are possible. Officers spent a total of 80,000 hours in 2019 on 211,000 traffic stops that did not lead to any enforcement or discovery of contraband or evidence. These stops represent 6 percent of all traffic stops and 7 percent of total officer hours spent on traffic stops. For local law enforcement agencies, almost one in three stops of Black drivers in the hours before and after midnight result in no enforcement or discovery. →
Improving no-enforcement/no-discovery stops may also lead to gains in equity. Most stops (76%) with no enforcement and no discovery are limited to verbal communication, but thousands involve intrusive actions—such as being searched (37,400 stops), detained (35,700), or handcuffed (15,000). Black and Latino drivers are overrepresented in stops involving intrusive actions. →
While difficult to pinpoint, traffic stop data suggest that racial bias may be a contributing factor to disparities in traffic stops for Black and Latino drivers. Our “veil of darkness” analysis of the likelihood of being stopped for a traffic violation indicates that the ability to identify drivers’ race/ethnicity may play a role in officers’ stopping decisions.
A new law authored by Assemblymember Mike Gipson (District 65) and signed by Governor Newsom this past July will amend the existing law which authorizes a court to permit or order a person who has been convicted of, or plead to, a traffic violation, as specified, to attend traffic violator school. Under existing law, such a person who completes traffic violator school shall have their conviction remain confidential and shall not be assessed traffic violation points, as specified. Under existing law, the willful failure to attend traffic violator school if so ordered by the court is punishable as a misdemeanor. Gipson's bill would remove provisions making the failure to attend traffic violator school a misdemeanor and would clarify that the failure to attend traffic violator school is not punishable as a new offense. The bill would further clarify that the underlying conviction of a person who fails to attend traffic school shall not be confidential and the person shall have traffic violation points assessed as applicable.
California AB 1226 bill helps place incarcerated persons in facilities that are closer to their children's living location
The current law requires the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to conduct assessments and examinations of all inmates who are newly committed to a state prison that include investigation of all pertinent circumstances of the person’s life, including, but not limited to, data regarding the inmate’s history of substance abuse, medical and mental health, education, family background, criminal activity, and social functioning. The existing law also requires the Secretary of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to assign a prisoner to the institution of the appropriate security level and gender population nearest the prisoner’s home, unless other classification factors make such a placement unreasonable.
The bill, AB 1226, helps an incarcerated person who is a parent with a child under 18 years of age, as specified, or who is a guardian or relative caregiver of a child, as defined, requires the secretary to place the person in the correctional institution or facility that is located nearest to the primary place of residence of the person’s child, provided that the placement would be suitable and appropriate, would facilitate increased contact between the person and their child, and the incarcerated parent gives their consent to the placement. The bill would authorize the department to reevaluate an incarcerated person’s placement to determine whether existing orders should be modified, including whether the person’s child has moved to a place significantly nearer to an otherwise suitable and appropriate institution. The bill would allow an incarcerated person to request a review of their housing assignment when there is a change in the primary place of residence of the person’s child upon which the person’s housing assignment was based.
Favorite 'back-home' cooks now have a reprieve to make money from cooking meals out of their own kitchens from home - AB 1325
Gov. Gavin Newsom signed AB 1325—a bill that expands California’s Microenterprise Home Kitchen Operations (MEHKO) program—into law. AB 1325, which was sponsored by the Institute for Justice (IJ) and the COOK Alliance, and authored by Assembly Members Marie Waldron and Eduardo Garcia, will open doors and ease arbitrary restrictions for homemade food entrepreneurs.
California has long been a hub of culinary diversity and creativity, and this legislation is another step in the right direction towards fostering small business growth and empowering culinary entrepreneurs. Adopted in 2019, the MEHKO program allows Californians in certain jurisdictions to prepare meals at home and sell them in their communities.
Recognizing the vital importance of this legislation, the legislature adopted the reforms without a single vote in opposition and specified that the new provisions are effective immediately.
“This legislation is a game-changer for California’s home-based cooks and entrepreneurs,” said IJ Assistant Director of Activism Jennifer McDonald. “By embracing innovation and entrepreneurship, California is a national leader in empowering individuals to pursue their dreams and create economic opportunities for themselves and their communities.”
Under the expanded MEHKO program, home cooks have greater flexibility to turn their kitchens into thriving enterprises. The new law doubles the gross annual sales cap from $50,000 to $100,000 (adjusted for inflation each year) and frees home cooks to serve up to 90 meals weekly, up from 60 previously. The bill also gives clarity to the definition of a “meal,” allowing artisans to sell appetizers, beverages, desserts and other foods that were arbitrarily prohibited prior to these reforms. All of these common-sense changes will make it easier for entrepreneurs to enter the food industry, provide unique culinary experiences to consumers, and allow MEHKOs to earn more money to support their families right away.
“AB 1325 allows my family to expand our beloved BBQ operation to serve more people in our community,” said Malcom Suggs, owner of the Chula Vista-based MEHKO, Smoke ‘N Peppers BBQ, and active-duty service member. “It also creates a vehicle to supplement our income, which is crucial for my family because my wife was recently laid off.”
California now has an opportunity to expand the improved MEHKO program to the entire state. Currently, 30% of Californians live in a county where they can participate in the MEHKO program. Over 40 counties have yet to opt to the program, including the state’s largest, Los Angeles County. By expanding the MEHKO program statewide, the Golden State can again become the gold standard for the rest of the country and demonstrate the tremendous potential of harnessing the power of home-based entrepreneurship. .
“This legislation represents a major step forward in recognizing the value of home-based food businesses and their role in shaping California’s vibrant culinary landscape,” said Roya Bagheri, Executive Director for The C.O.O.K. Alliance. “By supporting and nurturing the talents of home cooks, we are fostering economic growth, diversity and culinary innovation throughout the state.”