SACRAMENTO - Assemblymember Mark Stone (D-Monterey Bay) wrote a number of new laws that will take effect on January 1, 2017.
Improving the Economic Security of Students and Working Families
AB 2251 (Stone) Student Loan Servicing Act: 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 (and Senator-Elect) Kamala Harris sponsored these reforms.
AB 1847 (Stone) State EITC employee notification: This new law builds upon 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 - if those 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.
Improving the Lives of Vulnerable Californians
AB 1997 (Stone) Reforming group care for foster youth: This measure, sponsored by the California Department of Social Services (CDSS), follows up on years of policy changes to improve outcomes for youth in foster care. In 2015, Stone authored a law to comprehensively reform foster care placement and treatment options (AB 403), and AB 1997 builds upon this new law to ensure its successful implementation. Together, these measures will provide youth the support they need to return to their families or to find a permanent home.
AB 1702 (Stone/Maienschein) Protections for sexually exploited foster youth: This bipartisan law adds the sexual exploitation of a child for commercial purposes to the list of circumstances under which family reunification is foregone when a child is brought into foster care. This narrow, targeted measure provides additional legal protections to foster youth who have been victims of commercial sexual exploitation at the hands of their own parent or guardian.
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.
Improving Public Safety and Reducing Recidivism
AB 1597 (Stone) Reducing recidivism: This new law expands education opportunities to prisoners who are awaiting trial in jails. The measure builds upon Stone's previous work to address jail overcrowding and reduce recidivism. This new law will allow more prisoners to participate in programs that teach critical community re-entry skills and will give county sheriffs an additional tool to provide rehabilitative services in jails.
AB 1682 (Stone) Prohibiting confidentiality agreements in sex abuse cases: This new law prohibits secret settlements of sexual abuse cases in order to make all offenders accountable to the public and law enforcement. While most serious sex crimes are felonies, a significant number are either misdemeanors or can be charged as misdemeanors. Existing law prohibits confidential settlement agreements in cases of sexual abuse that may constitute a felony as being against public policy, but such agreements are not barred in misdemeanor cases.
AB 1684 (Stone) Helping human trafficking victims: This measure gives human trafficking victims the opportunity to seek justice through a civil action and be awarded damages for their suffering. The measure provides clear authority to the Department of Fair Employment and Housing to bring civil actions on behalf of a victim of human trafficking. While existing law allows victims to bring civil action against perpetrators for actual and punitive damages, many victims lack the resources to do so.
AB 1843 (Stone) Privacy protections for employees: AB 1843 extends protections that exist for adults concerning criminal records to juveniles in order to support chances of employment. Specifically, it ensures that employers may not ask prospective employees about arrests that did not lead to a juvenile adjudication or regarding sealed or expunged adjudications when that prospective employee was a minor.
AB 1945 (Stone) Juvenile record sealing: This law ensures that child welfare agencies have appropriate, limited access to valuable information necessary for making the best foster care placements and service recommendations for a child's safety and well-being.
Promoting Good Government Practices
AB 1826 (Stone) State Organic Farming Program: This new law updates California's organic farming program to ensure that California's organic producers do not participate in unnecessary, duplicative bureaucratic processes. It ensures that information a producer provides to the program is shared with both the national and state organics programs so that the producer does not have to submit paperwork repeatedly.
AB 2265 (Stone/Dahle) Ballot statement transparency: This bipartisan law ensures that counties may provide the most accurate information in the clearest possible way to voters. The measure authorizes county counsels to provide an unbiased summary of a ballot measure in a format that answers the questions "What does a ‘yes' vote mean?" and "What does a ‘no' vote mean?" for the measure.
Promoting Workplace Safety
ABX2-7 (Stone) Workplace smoking prohibitions: This law protects California's workers and business patrons from the dangerous health effects of secondhand smoke by ending several long-standing exemptions to workplace smoking laws. The much-needed law bans smoking in hotel lobbies, hotel meeting and banquet rooms, warehouses, employee break rooms, gaming clubs, and bars and taverns. The measure also prohibits smoking in the public areas of owner-operated businesses and lowers the percentage of allowable available smoking rooms in hotels from 65% to 20%. This new law went into effect on June 9, 2016.