- Sean Porter
SACRAMENTO, CA – After another year of uncertainties, and a reduced bill package, Assemblymember Mark Stone (D - Monterey Bay) was able to get 8 bills signed by Governor Newsom that will go into effect on January 1, 2022, and one, AB 424, which goes into effect on July 1, 2022. These bills will help protect student loan borrowers, improve outcomes for kids in foster care, and reduce barriers to rehabilitative programming in prisons.
AB 260 Limiting Hidden Foster Care: This bill will limit hidden foster care cases by ensuring that guardianship laws and the probate court operate seamlessly with juvenile court laws and the dependency court. This will ensure that those cases the probate court refers for a child welfare investigation are evaluated by the dependency court without limiting the probate court’s ability to take immediate action to protect the child during the period of the investigation and evaluation. This will help protect children’s health, safety, and welfare and provide due process to children, parents, and guardians.
AB 292 Access to Programming Act: AB 292 will expand upon the success of Proposition 57 by increasing access and reducing barriers to rehabilitative programming. Lockdowns and administrative barriers often make it difficult for people in prison to take advantage of programming and credit-earning opportunities. This bill requires CDCR to expand program offerings, including developing and implementing programming that is not solely based in-person, and requires them to work to minimize wait times. AB 292 also requires CDCR to prioritize returning a person to rehabilitative programming if they transfer the person away from their program.
AB 315 Streamlining Critical Habitat & Ecosystem Restoration Projects: AB 315 seeks to encourage landowners to voluntarily permit government-funded habitat and streambed restoration work to take place on their property by providing property owners limited liability protection for any harm that may occur due to the restoration project.
AB 424 Private Student Loan Court Reform: This bill will protect private student loan borrowers from unsubstantiated lawsuits and collection on illegitimate debts by requiring private student loan lenders and debt collectors to comply with specified evidentiary standards when bringing a case against borrowers. When a borrower falls behind on loan payments, student loan lenders and debt collectors pursue aggressive litigation, often winning their cases automatically because borrowers are unfamiliar with the judicial system, and lack legal representation. By requiring lenders and collectors to abide by specified evidentiary standards, AB 424 will reduce the amount of illegitimate lawsuits filed against private student loan borrowers.
AB 1283 Continuum of Care Reform: The Continuum of Care (CCR) reform initiative is an ongoing effort to advance California’s long-standing goal to move away from the use of long-term group home care. This will be accomplished by increasing placements in family settings and transforming group homes into places where youth, who are not ready to live with families, can receive short-term, intensive treatment. Specifically, AB 1283 would improve the implementation of CCR by clarifying the effect of a no-show at a Resource Family Approval appeal hearing, extending the date of final implementation of the CCR rate structure, and cleaning up the Welfare and Institutions Code by removing unnecessary references. In addition, the bill would streamline the adoptions process by bringing Tribally Approved Home background checks up to an adoptions-level clearance.
AB 1318 Transition Age Youth Pilot Program Sunset Extension: This bill would extend the sunset for the Transition Age Youth Pilot Program to January 1, 2024. The Transition Age Youth Pilot Program is a deferred entry of judgement pilot program that allows young adult offenders age 18-25 to be housed in a juvenile detention facility instead of adult county jail. The counties currently authorized to enact these deferred entry of judgement programs are Alameda, Butte, Napa, Nevada, Santa Clara, and Ventura. Extending the sunset ensures transition age youth will continue to have the best opportunity to receive age appropriate intensive services.
AB 1578 Civil Law Omnibus: AB 1578 is an omnibus measure containing various non-controversial and technical changes to the California Codes generally within the jurisdiction of the Judiciary Committee. Among the provisions of this bill are several sunset extensions to ensure that critical state programs can continue to operate as well as the codification of several procedures developed during the pandemic to aid in the efficient operations of state government and the courts.
AB 1579 Family Law Omnibus: This is the Assembly Judiciary Committee’s annual family law omnibus bill. This year’s legislation simply corrects inaccurate cross-references in the Family Code, which will ensure that the statutes work as intended.
AB 1580 Service of Corporate Officers: A defendant who loses a court case and owes a money judgment to a plaintiff is called a "judgment debtor." If the judgment debtor does not pay its judgment, the plaintiff has the right to examine the debtor under oath in court as to its assets. When a judgment debtor is an organization, and the organization does not designate anyone to appear on its behalf, or no one shows up at the debtor’s examination, there is no way to hold to organization accountable. AB 1580 establishes a system by which either an officer, manager, or general partner at the judgement debtor organization will be identified as the natural person who must appear at a debtor’s examination. This bill will eliminate a commonly exploited loophole by identifying which individual is required to appear at a debtor’s examination on behalf of a corporation, partnership, association, trust, LLC, or other organization, and will allow the court to hold that individual accountable if they fail to appear.
Successfully Adopted Budget Proposals
Supporting Foster Youth in California: The language of Assemblymember Stone’s AB 808 was adopted in budget measure SB 153. The bill and the associated $100 million investment requested by Assemblymember Stone will ensure that California’s continuum of care can serve foster youth with complex care needs in California, rather than sending them out of state for treatment. The investment will go towards expanding placement options for youth with complex care needs and establishing a highly individualized system of care to service foster youth experiencing mental health crises. The language also includes a prohibition on the use of out of state placements starting on July 1, 2022.
Housing Navigation & Shelter Beds in Santa Cruz: Assemblymember Stone successfully secured $14 million to the City of Santa Cruz to improve and expand the city’s capacity to house and provide services to those experiencing homelessness. These funds will allow the City of Santa Cruz to acquire properties and convert them into interim and permanent navigation services, as well as 100 permanent shelter beds.
Shaded Fuel Break & Emergency Access: Assemblymember Stone also secured $3 million for the Warrenella Road Shaded Fuel Break and Emergency Access project in Santa Cruz County. This project is critical to saving lives and property in the event that another catastrophic wildfire goes through this region. The funds will be used to improve Warrenella Road to provide essential year-round emergency access for medical and other first responder vehicles, and to expand the shaded fuel break to protect local communities from future wildland fires.