As a service to our member programs, we want to share the following information about California bills in this session. Please feel free to share this information with your staff.
If you would like to set up an alert on any of these bills, search for the bill, then click subscribe. You will get occasional updates when the bill’s status has changed. You or your staff can also write a letter of support or opposition to your legislator.
LAAC gets a lot of our information from Around the Capitol. We highly recommend you check out the site and their daily newsletter, the Nooner, if you want to follow Sacramento politics. Another great way to find out about current and relevant California legislation is the California Association of Nonprofits’ legislation tracker.
If you work at an LSC-funded program, as a reminder, staff is prohibited from lobbying a legislator without a specific invitation to comment from that legislator. Many legislators have requested comments from LSC-funded programs, and LAAC tracks all legislator letters requesting information–to the best of LAAC’s knowledge. If you have any questions, please contact Salena Copeland, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SB 6 (Hueso) Immigrants: removal proceedings: legal services
Status: Introduced on 12/5/16; Referred to Judiciary and Human Services Committees on 1/12/17.
This bill will provide universal access to counsel for immigrants facing deportation and currently in detention. Specifically, it would require the State Department of Social Services to contract with qualified nonprofit legal services organizations to provide legal services to detained individuals in removal proceedings who are not otherwise entitled to representation. It would also authorize the Department to provide funding for legal services for individuals in removal proceedings who are not detained if sufficient funds are appropriated.
SB 16 (Wieckowski) Wage garnishment restrictions: exempt earnings: student loans
Status: Introduced on 12/5/16.
This bill will limit the portion of wages that private student loan companies can garnish from borrowers. It will require that the private garnishment maximum equal the current Federal garnishment maximum of 15% of wages.
Increasing the Equal Access Fund (Budget Item)
Status: Governor’s Budget Released on 1/10/17.
Once again, LAAC’s main advocacy priority is to secure more funding for legal aid programs. It is a priority this year, as it was last year, to secure an increase to the Equal Access Fund. The Equal Access Fund was established in 1999 with a $10 million line in the court’s budget. Last year we were successful in obtaining a one time increase of $5 million to that item. Other than last year’s one time increase, however, the Equal Access Fund hasn’t increased in the 15 years since it was created, though the total amount has increased due to the addition of filing fees. The Equal Access Fund funds California’s legal services organizations and innovative partnerships between legal services and the courts. An increase to the Equal Access Fund is needed now to help address the legal needs of the increasing population of Californians living in poverty.
As was the case during last session, LAAC plans to coordinate the legal aid community throughout the budget process, to be present in force at hearings and at meetings with legislators to speak in support of an increase to the Equal Access Fund.
Last year’s one-time increase in the Equal Access Fund was not included in the Governor’s recently released budget. In fact, NO one-time funding for anything was included in that budget. By the end of the budget process, we hope to repeat last year’s success and again gain an increase in the Fund.
LAAC watches a lot of bills that are relevant to our members’ work and to the interests of our members’ clients. Many of the following bills we support (or oppose) generally, but our Advocacy Committee has not made a final decision to support or oppose as we wait for amendments.
SB 54 (De Leon) Law enforcement: sharing data
Status: Introduced on 12/5/16; Referred to Committee on Public Safety on 1/12/17.
This bill will prohibit state and local law enforcement from using resources to investigate, detain, or report people for immigration purposes. It will also prohibit assisting in the investigation or enforcement of any federal program requiring registration on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or national or ethnic origin. Additionally, the bill will require state agencies to review their confidentiality policies and identify changes necessary to ensure that any information they collect is limited to that necessary to perform agency duties and is not disclosed for any other purpose. It will also repeal existing law which provides that whenever an individual who is arrested for violation of specified drug laws is suspected of not being a citizen, the arresting agency shall notify the appropriate federal agency in charge of deportation.The bill includes several other protections for immigrants, particularly with respect to information and data.
AB 3 (Bonta) Public defenders: legal counsel: immigration consequences: grants
Status: Introduced on 12/5/16.
This bill will create state-funded regional centers to train defense attorneys and public defender’s offices on immigration law and the consequences of criminal convictions. The bill aims to ensure that attorneys competently represent noncitizen defendants in current criminal cases and obtain relief for prior invalid convictions.
None at this time.
LAAC is not taking a position on the following bills
LAAC’s Advocacy Policy often guides the Advocacy Committee to not take an official position on a bill, even when we as an organization support or oppose a bill based on our work. We have posted fact sheets and other resources if we have access to them.
There are no bills at this time on which LAAC is explicitly taking no position.
LAAC Supported Bills
SB 308 (Wiecowski) Debtor Exemptions
Status: Failed to pass.
This bill will allow additional protections for personal property and vehicles for people declaring bankruptcy. It will help citizens by increasing the homestead exemption in recognition of the increasing costs of real estate in California. LAAC supports this bill because it broadly protects low-income individuals with high debts, keeping them from spiraling into poverty.
SB 881 (Hertzberg) Vehicles: violations
Status: Passed and chaptered.
This bill will stop courts and counties from suspending driver’s licenses as a means of collecting court-ordered debt associated with non-safety traffic offenses. This bill may be heard in Committee on Tuesday, June 28th.
AB 2581 (Medina) Higher Education: campus closures: Corinthians College, Inc.
Status: Failed to pass.
This bill aims to help low-income Californians who have been victimized by unscrupulous practices employed by some for-profit colleges and importantly includes legal services to serve individuals with student loan debt that they need help to discharge or have re-negotiated. A very similar bill was vetoed last session by Governor Brown.
AB 2192 (Salas) Court Reporters Board of California: Shorthand reporters fees:Transcript Reimbursement Fund
Status: Passed and chaptered.
This bill will reauthorize the Transcript Reimbursement Fund, currently schedule to sunset this year. The Transcript Reimbursement Fund provides funds for low-income, self-represented litigants and legal aid organizations to obtain court transcripts.
LAAC Opposed Bills
AB 2855 (Frazier) Charitable solicitations: financial disclosures
Status: Held under submission in Appropriations Suspense file on 5/27/16.
This bill would require disclosure of administrative and overhead expenses, as well as a copy of the most recent Form 990 IRS filing, on a nonprofit’s webpage. Violating these requirements would be a crime subjecting an organization to revocation of tax-exempt status.
LAAC recommends resources from the following organizations and agencies.
California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform CANHR has updates in its e-newsletter and on its website.
Center for Elder Abuse and Neglect at the University of California, Irvine published an issue brief on elder abuse and related legislation.
California Partnership to End Domestic Violence CPEDV tracks California legislation on its website and offers fact sheets and its position on bills.
Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law has updates for both California and federal bills.
Judicial Branch of California, Office of Governmental Affairs, has updates on court-related legislation.
Western Center on Law and Poverty Western Center’s legislative blog has great resources and updates on both California and federal legislation.