SACRAMENTO—The Assembly Appropriations Committee has approved several bills by Assemblymember Mark Stone (D-Monterey Bay) that would stimulate regional economies, improve the lives of impoverished and vulnerable Californians, address threats to the environment, promote transparency for consumers, and improve public safety. The following bills will be sent to the Assembly Floor for consideration by the full Assembly:
AB 2002 (Stone/Atkins/Levine) Coastal Commission Transparency: As evidenced by the decision to remove Dr. Charles Lester as the Executive Director, the actions of the Coastal Commission have a profound impact on the lives of Californians. It is without question that decisions of such gravity should be held to the highest standards of public disclosure. However, current law lacks the transparency that Californians clearly expect and deserve regarding who is working to influence decisions that commissioners make. This measure requires that people lobbying Coastal Commissioners become registered as lobbyists and become subject to public disclosure laws, and it helps ensure that future commissioner decisions have higher standards of disclosure and public scrutiny.
AB 2251 (Stone) Student Loan Borrowers’ Bill of Rights: This measure protects student borrowers from confusing loan practices that can create crushing, insurmountable debt and can create a drag on the economy. It requires loan servicers to provide reliable information about loan repayment options, quality customer service and fair treatment, and meaningful access to federal affordable repayment and loan forgiveness benefits. Attorney General Kamala Harris is sponsoring these key reforms.
AB 1826 (Stone) State Organic Farming Program: This bill updates California’s organic farming program to ensure that California’s organic producers are not participating in unnecessary, duplicative bureaucratic processes. This bill helps ensure that the information that a producer provides is shared with both the national and state organics programs so that the producer does not have to submit paperwork repeatedly.
AB 1742 (Stone) Restoring Critical Benefits: To fight California’s appalling poverty rate, it’s time to expand successful safety net programs that were drastically cut during the Great Recession. In spite of a strong economy today, an overwhelming number of California families continue to face tremendous obstacles to exiting poverty and establishing better futures for themselves. This bill provides more support for impoverished families whose adults are transitioning into full employment by extending the lifetime limit to receive CalWORKs benefits, and it allows working family members to save more of the wages they earn before their public benefits are reduced.
AB 1847 (Stone) State EITC employee notification: This bill builds on the 2015 creation of the statewide California Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), which provides a new tax credit to the state’s poorest working families whenthose families file taxes and claim the credit for which they are eligible. This measure requires employers to notify employees of possible eligibility for the state EITC in order to encourage more families to file taxes and receive the credits to which they are entitled.
AB 1997 (Stone) Reforming Group Care for Foster Youth: This bill builds on 2015 legislation that comprehensively reformed the foster care placement system to make sure that youth in foster care have their day-to-day physical, mental, and emotional needs met; that they have the greatest chance to grow up in permanent and supportive homes; and that they have the opportunity to grow into self-sufficient, successful adults. The bill supports the new law to phase out of group homes, provides for recruitment and training of additional resource families, and expands upon requirements to provide appropriate mental health care to youth.
AB 2057 (Stone) Domestic Violence Victims and CalFresh Benefits: This measure helps ensure that victims of domestic violence can quickly gain access to CalFresh benefits when using a shelter out-of-county to escape their abusers.
AB 2099 (Stone) Safe drinking water for EBT users: This bill calls for the Administration to create a temporary, interim solution to uphold the right of all Californians to have safe drinking water. The measure makes good on the intent of the Legislature when it passed the Human Right to Water Act of 2013, which states that “every human being has the right to safe, clean, affordable, and accessible water adequate for human consumption”.