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State

ACA 25 – Oppose Unless Amended

Update: ACA 25 was pulled from the legislative process by the author’s office on June 18, 2020.

None of our work matters if we cannot participate in the legislative process.

Assembly Constitutional Amendment 25 (ACA 25) is a provision to allow for remote and proxy voting in case of an emergency. But ACA 25 was drafted quickly and lacks key specifications and protections to ensure that the democratic process is not compromised. Along with a coalition of organizations in the Green California and Building the California Dream Alliance, we oppose this bill unless amended.

Read the Bill Text Here.

Background and Requests of Advocates
Remote proceedings present significant obstacles to transparency and public engagement, two cornerstones for accountable democracy enshrined in our State Constitution. As such, remote participation should only be authorized in exceptional cases, when absolutely needed, and for only as long as needed. Unfortunately, ACA​ ​25 falls below that standard and incorporates related provisions, like unconstrained proxy voting and pro tempore appointments, which could be abused in a manner that undermines representative democracy.

The decision to amend the constitution is a momentous one that it is crucial to get right, so we respectfully request the following amendments:

Remove or Limit Proxy Voting: ​ACA 25 authorizes either House to use proxy voting, which is left undefined. Proxy voting is harmful to representative democracy because it diminishes the deliberative process and weakens the electorate’s ability to hold their officials accountable for votes they did not personally take.

1.

ACA 25’s authorization for legislators to vote remotely should render proxy voting largely unnecessary. If it is absolutely crucial to provide a proxy voting option, ACA 25 should ensure that it is only done as a last resort and in a way that makes clear legislators’ intent regarding specific votes or actions, using similar safeguards to those recently enacted by the House of Representatives and other states like Arkansas.

As currently drafted, nothing in ACA 25 would stop rules allowing a single person, who is not even required to be a legislator, to act as proxy for as many legislators as desired while being given carte blanche to vote however the proxy wants on any item. Moreover, neither the proxies nor the legislators would be

accountable to voters, because the proxy wouldn’t share an electorate with the legislator for whom they placed votes, and the legislator would be able to tell their electorate they did not instruct their proxy as to how to vote.

If ACA 25 is not amended to remove proxy voting, we believe it needs to be amended so that it is (1) allowed only when a legislator is unable to vote remotely because of the emergency, (2) allows only other legislators to be designated as proxies, (3) allows proxies to vote as instructed only on specifically-designated bills or actions, and (4) requires the proxy authorization and vote instructions to be recorded. The record of roll-call votes should also clearly indicate when and how a member has voted by proxy.

2.

Specify Rules for Pro Tempore Appointments in Emergencies​: In the catastrophic scenario where one-fifth of the members of a House are “deceased, disabled, or missing,” during a state of emergency, ACA 25 allows appointment of pro tempore members by a process to be determined by a majority-vote statute.

As unlikely as this situation will hopefully be, the openness of this provision invites abuse, which may be particularly tempting in an emergency situation. For example, in a future Legislature the majority party could pass a statute over the minority party’s objection allowing appointments of individuals that neither live in the district nor are even of the same party as the legislator they are replacing.

The simplest solution would be to incorporate provisions similar to Government Code Section 9004, which applies to pro tempore appointments during or following a war or enemy-caused disaster and states in relevant part:

“The appointments shall be so made that each assembly or senatorial district in which a vacancy exists shall be represented, if possible, by a pro tempore member who is a resident of that district and a registered elector of the same political party as of the date of the disaster as the last duly elected member from such district.”

The terms “disabled” and “missing” should also be more precisely defined or replaced with clearer terms, such as “incapacitated” and “presumed deceased.” Legislators with disabilities can and do cast votes on a regular basis. ACA 25 should not theoretically allow them to be replaced due to their being “disabled,” as may be implied to voters by the current language. And “missing” should be defined in a way that does not theoretically allow legislators to be replaced in circumstances where they are, for example, purposefully boycotting votes in protest as legislators have done in other states.

3.

Eliminate Quorum Reduction​: ACA 25 automatically lowers the quorum requirement, and presumably the vote threshold to pass bills, to a majority of members “able to attend” when more than one-fifth of a House’s members have been incapacitated. However, a small minority of the state should not be able to make laws of permanent duration affecting the whole state. For example, if an earthquake hits Southern California and Los Angeles County’s 24 Assembly member delegation was missing, this provision would allow the Assembly to pass any majority vote bill with just 29 votes – none of them representing Los Angeles County.

Representational concerns aside, this provision is also unnecessary if the pro tempore appointment power is enacted, which would at least give representation to residents of those areas. This provision is not justified and we believe should be removed, or at a minimum narrowed to only apply to votes regarding the state of emergency.

4.

Ensure Remote Voting and Proxy Voting Transparency​: ACA 25 does not require any approval of a member’s request to appear remotely or vote by proxy, any public findings of fact that the state of emergency prevents a particular member or members from safely attending the proceeding in person, or any notice to the public that such a request has been granted. Adding these basic requirements would provide a measure of public accountability to ensure that remote or proxy voting is truly necessary and not being abused as a matter of convenience or simply to avoid appearing in the Capitol. It should also be necessary that remote participation by a legislator occur in a public place or their district office, if possible, so that the public can both see and have access to their legislators, and to ensure that legislators are not influenced by the presence of lobbyists or others while they are conducting public business. This is consistent with current rules prohibiting lobbyists from being present on the floor of the chamber, as well as the Senate rule saying that to the extent practicable, a Senator participating remotely shall participate from the Senator’s district office. Finally, any remote technology employed should, so far as is possible, ensure that the public can not only view but participate in proceedings conducted by remote participation.

5.

Time-Limit Remote Voting and Proxy Voting​: ACA 25 appropriately revokes the authority to vote remotely or by proxy once an emergency declaration has ended. However, some emergency declarations may last for years, and may extend well past the point when the Legislature, for reasons of health or safety, is no longer able to meet. We believe ACA 25 should be amended to end any authorization to vote remotely once a legislator is able to safely appear in person or automatically after 30 days, whichever is sooner, unless the authorization is extended for up to another 30 days by majority vote of the affected House. Periodic re-examination of the need for remote proceedings will help ensure they are used no longer than necessary.

And lastly, ACA 25 specifies that the Legislature (or each house) adopt rules by resolution. Because these rules are critical to ensuring accountability and access to the public, we also request an amendment to guarantee that the rules only be adopted after being heard in committee with opportunity for public comment.

Although ACA 25 is important to ensure that the Legislature can function during future pandemics or other emergencies, without these amendments there is a serious risk of these procedures being abused or used without transparency by future Legislatures at the worst possible times. Although we understand there is now a narrow window for placing measures on the ballot, we believe the Senate should have the opportunity to review and address issues with ACA 25 before agreeing to propose such an enduring and permanent change to California’s constitution without the necessary safeguards.

 

Categories
AiQ State

AiQ: Oppose ACA 25

June 17 Action Items

  1. Call your Senator to tell them why you oppose Assembly Constitutional Amendment 25 unless amended to protect public participation and retain legislative transparency. The amendments we support are:
    1) Remove or Limit Proxy Voting;
    2) Specify Rules for Pro Tempore Appointments in Emergencies;
    3) Eliminate Quorum Reduction​;
    4) Ensure Remote Voting and Proxy Voting Transparency;
    5) Time-Limit Remote Voting and Proxy Voting​.
    Learn More Here.
  2. ACA 5 – Support by calling the Senate Labor Committee at (916) 651-1556 or email.
June 17, 2020 Events
  1. Emanuel Nine Commemoration and Pledge
  2. Learn about World Refugee Day 
RACIAL EQUITY BILLS
  1. ACA 5 (Weber) Opportunity for All: repeals the ban on affirmative action in higher education, employment and contracting
  2. ACA 6 (McCarty) Free the Vote: restores voting rights for people on parole
  3. AB 901 (Gipson) Juveniles: ends the practice of putting youth on probation when they have not committed a crime (yes, that’s a thing we do)
  4. AB 1950 (Kamlager) Probation Reform: limits probation terms
  5. AB 2054 (Kamlager) CRISES Act: creates an alternative emergency response to the police
  6. AB 2147 (Reyes) Conservation Camps – Expungement: creates a process for people who served as firefighters while in prison to expunge their convictions and obtain jobs
  7. AB 2342 (McCarty) Parole Reform: limits terms paroles
  8. AB 3070 (Weber) Anti-Discrimination in Jury Selection: addresses racial discrimination in jury selection
  9. AB 3121 (Weber) Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans: creates a task force to study awarding reparations
  10. SB 144 (Mitchell) Debt Free Justice: eliminates the most burdensome fees in the criminal justice system
  11. SB 555 (Mitchell) Phone Justice: limits the cost of phone calls and commissary in jail
Categories
AiQ State

AiQ: Budget

June 10 Action Items

  1. Check out CA’s budget: Assembly Version; Senate Version.
  2. Keep this bill moving forward with us! SB 882 is sitting on the suspense file – which is just what it sounds like. This is the only thing stopping it from being voted on on the Senate floor.  Let’s move it to the floor!
  3. Watch Webinar: Detention, Family Separation, and Asylum in the Era of COVID-19 for Communities of Faith
Categories
AiQ State

AiQ: Black Lives Matter

June 3 Action Items

  1. How can you support Black liberation in your community? Use this list of bail funds to find ways to support the movement with your dollar and find resources to learn, support, and give.
  2. Voice your support for racial equity in urging an Aye vote on AB 3070 (Weber) – Anti-discrimination in Jury Selection.
  3. Urge your Assemblymember to vote yes on AB 3073 (Wicks) to make CalFresh preenrollment possible for people exiting the criminal justice system.
Categories
State Updates

Bishop Eaton Addresses LOPPCA Followers

A message from Presiding Bishop of the ELCA, Elizabeth A. Eaton, to California advocates on what would have been our second annual Lobby Day today. We are grateful for her unwavering support of our work. This year’s Lobby Day has been postponed to September given the special circumstances of the legislative session during COVID-19.

In other news, we received approval for our permit to gather at the Capitol for Lutheran Lobby Day 2021. We are looking forward to gathering in person next year on May 19, 2020. You can mark your calendars!

Categories
AiQ State

AiQ: CalFresh Access for Seniors

May 20 Action Items

  1. Mark your calendars for May 19, 2021 for next year’s Lutheran Lobby Day. We just got our permits approved and pray we will once again gather in person to advocate together.
  2.  God’s Work, Our Hands, Our Voices: Let us know what your church is doing for Sunday, Sept. 13 2020. What sort of advocacy component would you imagine? Email us at Regina.Banks@elca.org and Nicole.Newell@elca.org or just reply to this email.
  3. Call the Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee to support Calfresh Access for Seniors.

Why?
Calfresh applications have gone up 243% compared to last year. Eligible California seniors have very low participation rates due to barriers in access and retention. SB 882 removes these barriers for seniors and adults with disabilities.

Prioritize your outreach to Senator Anthony Portantino (D-Glendale, Burbank, Pasadena), the Chair of the Committee on Appropriations. This should take you just a few minutes.

Please also spend a few minutes contacting your Senator if they are listed below as members of the committee:

Sample script:

Hi, my name is _____ and I live in ______. I’m calling to urge Senator ______ to support SB 882, a bill that will make it easier for people to access CalFresh, our most powerful anti-hunger program. It is urgent that we simplify the CalFresh application process as more and more people are out of work and need help putting food on the table. SB 882 will make permanent improvements to the program, especially for older adults and people with disabilities. Please vote yes on SB 882. Thank you. [Or choose one or more of the following reasons or tell them your own]

  • Californians struggling to make ends meet during the COVID-19 crisis need quick access to CalFresh, but the process is often overly complicated. We need SB 882 to simplify access to food assistance.
  • Only 19% of eligible adults age 60+ receive CalFresh. SB 882 make it easier for people, especially seniors, to enroll and stay connected to our most powerful anti-hunger program.
  • CalFresh applications are up more than 200% due to spiking unemployment. We need SB 882 to simplify access and keep people connected to food assistance during and after this crisis.

Sample tweets:

  • Californians struggling to make ends meet during the #COVID19 crisis need quick access to CalFresh, but the process is often overly complicated. We need #SB882 to simplify access now! @Portantino @SenatorPatBates
  • Only 19% of eligible adults 60+ receive #CalFresh. Let’s make it easier for people, especially seniors, to stay connected to our most powerful anti-hunger program. Plz support #SB882! @Portantino @SenatorPatBates
  • #CalFresh is a proven positive public health intervention and powerful economic stimulus. #SB882 will help maximize its dual role in California’s immediate and long-term COVID-19 response. Plz support SB 882! @Portantino @SenatorPatBates
  • #CalFresh applications are up more than 200% due to spiking unemployment. We need #SB882 to simplify access and keep people connected to food assistance. Let’s cut the red tape to put food on their plates! @Portantino @SenatorPatBates

Thank you to the California Food Policy Advocates for this action alert text and information.

Categories
AiQ State

AiQ: Community Development Funds

April 29 Action Items

1. Register for Lobby Day

We will gather virtually with Lutherans from around the state for our second annual advocacy day. Our advocacy will focus on COVID-19 relief for California’s most impacted communities. Following a morning briefing, you will be scheduled for a virtual meeting with your California legislators.

Prior to Lobby Day, we will host two advocacy training webinars on Wednesday, May 6 at 12pm and 6pm PDT.

For more information, click here.

Lutheran Lobby Day
Wednesday May 20, 2020
9:00am – 2:15pm

2. Use Community Development Block Grant Funds for Rental Assistance

Contact your California Senators and Assemblymembers (call, email, tag on social media) and urge them to use CDBG funds from the CARES Act to provide rental assistance. 

Sample script: Hello. My name is ___. I live in ___, CA.   I am calling to ask Representative/Senator ___ to use Community Development Block Grant funds from the CARES Act to provide rental assistance to impacted renters.   This ensures that families can remain stably housed during and after the COVID-19 crisis. This is important because:

  1. Renters need immediate relief, as they have lower income and savings to weather economic crisis
  2. This is a necessary complement to Gov. Newsom’s moratorium on evictions, which still obligates people to pay rent for months they’ve missed
  3. Rental assistance allows money that people do have to go back into local economies
  4. It also supports rental owners in operating and maintaining properties

Rental assistance must continue until the economy improves. The provisions will not only help families stay housed during this crisis, but will also help to stimulate local economies.Thank you for your time.Goodbye.

3. Farmworker Justice in California

You can sign on to this letter to Governor Newsom and Jennifer Siebel Newsom highlighting the challenges California’s farmworkers are facing during COVID and recommendations to address them. The letter was prepared by Líderes Campesinas, a network of female farmworkers and their families working globally since the 1980s.

Categories
AiQ State

AiQ: SNAP Day of Action

April 22 Action Items

1. National Day of Action to Boost SNAP Benefits in Next COVID-19 Package

Contact your Senators and Representatives (call, email, tag on social media) and urge them to include SNAP in the next COVID-19 package. Include the White House in your Tweets and outreach.

On Wednesday, April 22, join the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC), California Food Policy Advocates, and other national allies and advocates across the country in a National Day of Action urging Congress and the Administration to enact SNAP benefit boosts in the next COVID-19 relief package. Recent reports indicate that the next package would include assistance for businesses and healthcare efforts, but not SNAP — we must insist that individuals and families need immediate relief, too.

Sample script: Hello. My name is ___. I live in ___, CA. I am calling to ask Representative/Senator ___ to boost SNAP benefits in the next COVID-19 relief bill. The next COVID-19 relief bill must include the following SNAP priorities:

  1. boost SNAP maximum benefits by 15 percent
  2. increase the minimum SNAP benefit from $16 to $30
  3. suspend all SNAP administrative rules that would terminate or cut benefits.

These temporary provisions must continue until the economy improves. The provisions will not only help households put food on the table during this crisis, but will also help to stimulate the economy.Thank you for your time.Goodbye.

Background from California Food Policy Advocates:

Millions of California families are facing serious hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While Congress has passed a few bipartisan laws that provide some relief – including the Families First and CARES Act – much more needs to be done to prevent increased hardships and support those who were largely or entirely left out of earlier relief packages. Federal negotiations on the next COVID-19 bill are moving forward quickly.

We are hearing the next relief package will include assistance for businesses and hospitals, but not a boost to people who have been left out of relief measures so far (such as immigrants and many people with very low incomes).

We are also hearing that SNAP – one of the largest and most effective anti-poverty programs in the country, and one of the most rapid and effective forms of stimulus we can enact – is also not included in the package. Speaker Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Schumer are already working on a proposal for another major relief bill, which we have learned could move in late May or June. Now is the time to reach out to Congress as they work to develop their policy priorities for that bill, in preparation for eventual bipartisan negotiations.  

Categories
State Updates

April 2020 Update

While COVID-19 has turned our world upside down in unprecedented ways, our advocacy work continues to be essential in developing coordinated and inclusive responses that support all Americans.

The California Legislature went on an extended recess beginning in mid-March which has been extended for the next month. Advocacy has therefore focused on urging the Governor to enact a true moratorium on evictions and mortgage protections, include Individual Taxpayer Identification Number filers in any relief at the state level, and more. Even so, we continue to support state bills related to COVID-19 relief, such as CalFresh, Simpler for Seniors and CalFresh, Prison Preenrollment and the Racial Justice Act for when the Legislature reconvenes. We are also assisting our partners in accessing federal CARES and Families First provisions and shifting our advocacy to the federal level when necessary.

The Lutheran Office of Public Policy – California instituted a new program to engage our Policy Council, pastors and members of Lutheran congregations in California. We call it Advocacy in Quarantine.

  • We set a weekly Wednesday Zoom meeting where LOPP-CA staff offer a roughly 25 minute overview of the federal government’s response to Covid-19, the State of California’s response, and pending state legislation we are following and sponsoring. We also highlight the work that our allies and ministry partners are doing in the state.
  • We then direct them to actions that would take them about 5 minutes to complete (I.e.; call or tweet the governor to release prisoners and ICE detainees on #FaithfulFridays)

We are grateful for an incredible response from our members, and we’re getting feedback from our ministry partners that the calls are already being noticed. We are seriously contemplating how this can become a part of our programing when we go back into session.

Categories
AiQ State

AiQ: April 4 Video