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Newsom rides with Fresno homeless outreach & crisis response teams

“The experience of folks struggling with mental health-substance abuse issues shines a light on the need to shift away from the status quo”

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Governor Gavin Newsom, (sitting) & Secretary of Health Dr. Mark Ghaly (Far R standing) in Fresno (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)

FRESNO – Governor Gavin Newsom’s Administration today visited a health and wellness center in Fresno and hosted a roundtable to discuss the new CARE Court proposal.

Unveiled by the Governor earlier this month, and following the inaugural roundtable in Los Angeles last week, CARE Court is a new policy framework for providing community-based mental health and substance use disorder treatment services to Californians with the most acute challenges, many of whom are experiencing homelessness.
 
Earlier in the day, Governor Newsom participated in a ride-along with the Fresno joint City-County homeless outreach and crisis response teams to get first-hand experience of their work. 
 
“The lived experience of folks struggling with mental health and substance abuse issues shines a light on the need for a paradigm shift away from the current status quo,” said Newsom. “There’s nothing compassionate about continuing to allow the current cycle of homelessness and incarceration to continue. My Administration will continue hosting CARE Court roundtables across the state listening to impacted Californians and stakeholders about their experiences and needs.”
 
The Newsom Administration convened today’s roundtable at the Fresno County Health and Wellness Center. Today’s roundtable is the second in a series of statewide convenings that the Administration will host, bringing together Californians who would benefit from the new framework, health care providers, first responders, outreach workers, representatives from the courts, local officials and other stakeholders.

“Fresno County is grateful for the opportunity to welcome Governor Newsom and Secretary Ghaly to Fresno County Department of Behavioral Health and our Fresno community as they continue to listen to stakeholder perspectives on CARE Court,” said Susan Holt, LMFT, Interim Director of Behavioral Health Department and Public Guardian. “We look forward to highlighting our crisis response and outreach services. We are hopeful that the CARE Court framework will support our efforts engaging and serving persons with behavioral health needs.”
 
“On behalf of the families, their loved ones, and community members affected by the challenging journey of living with serious mental illnesses, I am grateful to see Governor Newsom taking steps to prioritize options to access treatment to achieve recovery with the proposal of CARE Courts,” said Chris Roup, Executive Director of NAMI Fresno. “This diversion opportunity will help add to a cadre of options for those individuals who need the additional support, such as the supporter role, often needed when they are unable to navigate their way on their own to recovery, while resources continue to be developed and made available at the earliest stages possible.”
 
The Governor last week also announced the launch of a new CARE Court website by the California Health and Human Services Agency, which will serve as a one-stop resource for the public and stakeholders to learn more about the framework, provide their input, and keep abreast of developments.

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California

Newsom announces Project Homekey funds another 370 homes

Newsom announced 6 new Homekey projects, creating 370 affordable homes to serve individuals experiencing homelessness throughout the state

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Gov. Gavin Newsom announced new Homekey grant awards for six new projects that will create an additional 370 homes for Californians at risk of or experiencing homelessness. (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)

OAKLAND – Today, in Oakland, Governor Gavin Newsom announced new Homekey grant awards for six new projects that will create an additional 370 homes for Californians at risk of or experiencing homelessness, including several developments focused on young people transitioning to adulthood.

Communities benefiting from these new awards include Oakland, Fresno, San Diego, Yuba City, and Los Angeles.

“Homekey continues to deliver needed housing faster for Californians struggling with homelessness,” Newsom told reporters at a press conference. “By utilizing existing facilities including hotels, motels and former office spaces, properties are being quickly transformed into housing — helping to solve the homelessness crisis while creating welcoming places for Californians to call home,” the governor added.

Today’s $99.9 million in grants is administered by the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) and will create new affordable housing in the cities  of Oakland, Fresno, San Diego, Yuba City, as well as the city and county of Los Angeles. To date, this innovative program has funded 250 projects that will include 15,319 homes, serving more than 167,164 Californians over the projects’ lifetimes.

“The homes created through the Governor’s Homekey initiative will change lives for generations,” said Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency Secretary Tomiquia Moss. “Through the projects awarded so far, more than 167,000 vulnerable Californians will be relieved of the burden of housing insecurity, providing them with a solid foundation – and critical services – from which to explore opportunities that once may have seemed out of reach.”

“Homekey continues to deliver needed housing faster for Californians struggling with homelessness,” Newsom told reporters at a press conference in Oakland Friday. (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)

“The evolution of Homekey has inspired creativity among localities and developers to embrace new building models that bring critical affordable housing online more quickly,” said HCD Director Gustavo Velasquez. “Through Homekey, we are now able to provide the foundation of housing stability to young people entering adulthood without the family support so many take for granted, as demonstrated through several projects today.”

The project the Governor toured in Oakland today is a former Quality Inn that was previously awarded $20.4 million and will be converted to housing with a total of 104 permanent units serving individuals experiencing or at risk of homelessness, as well as homeless youth. In total, the community of Oakland has received $133.5 million in Homekey funding.

Homekey originated as Project Roomkey early in the COVID-19 pandemic as an effort to provide shelter to unhoused Californians in a non-congregate setting. While early Homekey projects focused on hotel and motel conversions, projects in the third round of Homekey have included a hospital conversion, new builds, and innovative modular construction models. The program goal remains to rapidly expand availability of affordable housing to help Californians exit or prevent homelessness.

To learn more about today’s awardees, click here.

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Gov. Newsom & First Partner induct 17th California Hall of Fame

Gov. Newsom & Jennifer Siebel Newsom yesterday joined the California Museum to induct the 17th class of the California Hall of Fame

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California Hall of Fame 17th Class 2024. (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)

SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom and First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom yesterday joined the California Museum to induct the 17th class of the California Hall of Fame.

California Hall of Famers Los Lobos (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)
California Hall of Famer Leon E. Panetta (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)
California Hall of Famers The Go-Go’s (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)
California Hall of Famer Thelton E. Henderson (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)
California Hall of Famer Helene An (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)
California Hall of Famer Cheryl Miller (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)

The inductees of the California Hall of Fame 17th class are:

  • HELENE AN: Master chef and the Mother of Fusion Cuisine
  • WILLIE L. BROWN, JR.: History-making Mayor of San Francisco and Speaker of the California Assembly
  • VINTON G. CERF: Renowned computer scientist and a Father of the Internet
  • AVA DUVERNAY: Visionary storyteller and award-winning filmmaker
  • THE GO-GO’S: Chart-topping all-female pop punk band
  • THELTON E. HENDERSON: Revered federal judge and civil rights leader
  • LOS LOBOS: Iconic Chicano rock band
  • CHERYL MILLER: Legendary basketball player and sports broadcaster
  • LEON E. PANETTA: Former U.S. Secretary of Defense and dedicated public servant
  • BRENDA WAY: Celebrated artistic director and choreographer

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Major storms forecast with heavy rain, flooding & mountain snow

The first in a series of storms will bring rain and mountain snow Wednesday, a second and likely much stronger storm will arrive Sunday

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National Weather Service/KTLA satellite/radar composite screenshot of U.S. West Coast showing the atmospheric river moving toward California on Jan. 30, 2024.

OXNARD, Calif. – The National Weather Service has issued a storm warning for the vast majority of California Tuesday as the likelihood of heavy rain, thunderstorms and localized flooding is expected as two separate storm systems will impact the state starting late Tuesday.

“This is a big storm,” says KTLA 5 News meteorologist Henry DiCarlo. “The cold front stretches all the way from Canada into Mexico.”

This series of storms will hit the state for the next 10 days and is expected to bring significant rain, high winds, deep snow as well as potential flash flooding and power outages.

The atmospheric river is slated to bring cooler temperatures with rain totals of two to three inches are forecast for the San Francisco Bay Area and Southern California’s coastal areas and inland valleys. The Weather Service said the Central Coast, foothills and mountains could see four to five inches of rain with a likelihood of thunderstorms and localized flooding.

Several inches of snow are likely across the higher mountain elevations late Wednesday night and into Thursday. Snow levels during the main rain band are expected to be at 7000 feet or higher, then drop off Thursday afternoon and evening to around 6000 feet.

Gusty south to southeast winds expected in the mountains of up to 60-70 miles per hour. 

This weather pattern will continue in the next few weeks, with above normal precipitation likely statewide, especially across Southern California. At the direction of Governor Gavin Newsom, the State Operations Center in Mather is being activated to coordinate a unified response to these storms across state, local and federal agencies.

“The state is working around the clock with our local partners to deploy life-saving equipment and resources statewide. With more storms on the horizon, we’ll continue to mobilize every available resource to protect Californians,” Governor Gavin Newsom said in statement released by his office Tuesday afternoon.

The Governor has also directed the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) to lead an early, proactive push to preposition state personnel and equipment into the communities most at risk of damage before the worst of the storms arrive. The state is also taking action to prepare for potential flooding by activating the Flood Operations Center for increased coordination and utilizing California’s spillways where necessary.  

Storm Timing

A chart showing expected rain timing and intensity. Jan. 30, 2024. (Graphic/NWS)

“This storm has a large range of outcomes,” the National Weather Service acknowledged in its daily bulletin. The second round will impact California sometime between Sunday and Tuesday.

KTLA 5 News meteorologist DiCarlo cautioned that one possible outcome, shows the storm stalling off the Central Coast and bringing 12 to 24 hours of steady rain, which would increase the risk of flooding.

The California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) issued the following tips:

  1. Stay connected. Californians are reminded to dial 311 to get help or ask questions. If you have a critical emergency, call 911. Stay informed by signing up for emergency alerts including warnings and evacuation notices. Go to CalAlerts.org to sign up to receive alerts from your county officials. Check in with loved ones and neighbors.
  2. Get your information from trusted sources. During a disaster, it’s critical to have accurate information. Check state and local government or emergency management websites and social media accounts for trusted information specific to your area. Local news outlets and meteorologist are also a good source of information. Be wary of posts from unknown sources on social platforms or from online ‘experts’ without credentials.
  3. Prepare for high winds. Before a high wind event: remove any dead trees or overhanging branches near structures, remove loose roofing material, bring in unsecured objects from patios and balconies, secure outdoor objects that could blow away, shutter windows securely and brace outside doors. During a high wind event: take cover next to a building or under shelter, stay away from windows, stay clear of roadways and train tracks, avoid elevated areas such as roofs, watch for flying debris.
  4. Travel safely. Avoid non-essential travel during the peak of the storm expected Sunday and Monday. If you must drive, download the QuickMap app or visit QuickMap (ca.gov)  to learn up-to-the-minute information on road conditions, traffic, closures, and more. Do not walk, swim or drive through flood waters. Turn Around, Don’t Drown! Remember, just six inches of moving water can knock you down, and one foot of moving water can sweep your vehicle away.
  5. Be ready in case of power outagesTake inventory of the items you need that rely on electricity. Keep your devices charged. Plan for batteries and other alternative power sources to meet your needs if the power goes out such as a portable charger or power bank. Have flashlights for every household member. Also, plan accordingly for the potential of water outages.

Get more tips here.

Additional Resources

  • Storm Season Safety Guide: the state is sharing multilingual resources, deploying a network of community-based organizations through the Listos California campaign, and highlighting other work underway to protect at-risk communities this rainy season.
  • Prepare Yourself through Texts: Californians can sign up for a 5-lesson text message course through Listos California on what to do before, during and after floods, high winds, debris flows and other storm impacts. This course is available in English, Spanish, Hmong and Punjabi. Text “CAWINTER” to 20202 via SMS to sign up.
  • Visit National Weather Service for current weather patterns in your area.
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California vs Hate project: New informational materials released

CA vs Hate operates as a non-emergency, multilingual hate crime and incident reporting hotline and online portal

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Graphic by the California Civil Rights Department.

SACRAMENTO – In response to the surge in reported hate crimes, the California Civil Rights Department (CRD) has unveiled new informational materials aimed at connecting Californians with support through California vs Hate, the state’s anti-hate hotline and resource network.

As incidents of hate continue to rise, CA vs Hate offers a safe and anonymous platform for victims and witnesses to report acts of hate and access assistance, including mental health, financial, and legal services.

Governor Gavin Newsom expressed his commitment to eradicating hate from California, stating, “Hate does not belong in California. By expanding resources and tools, the California Civil Rights Department is making our communities safer and promoting healing. Report and find assistance using these resources today.”

CRD Director Kevin Kish emphasized California’s leadership in combating hate, urging citizens to take advantage of CA vs Hate. “Whether it’s at a place of worship, in a classroom, or anywhere else, there is no place for hate in our state. I encourage everyone to take advantage of California vs Hate to report and get support. Together, we can help ensure all of California’s communities get the assistance and healing they need.”

Officially launched by Governor Newsom last year, CA vs Hate is a direct response to the alarming increase in reported hate crimes in California. Recent years have seen hate crimes reach their highest levels since 2001, escalating by over 20% from 2021 to 2022. The conflict in the Middle East has further exacerbated the situation, with CA vs Hate noting a significant uptick in preliminary reports of hate in the three months following the conflict’s onset.

CRD’s efforts extend beyond the hotline, encompassing a multilingual digital, print, and radio ad campaign, community-specific outreach initiatives, and support for statewide civic action during United Against Hate Week. The newly highlighted informational materials include a one-page infographic outlining the reporting process and available resources, translations of CA vs Hate posters and social media graphics into over 20 languages, a fictional case study example for better understanding services, and virtual backgrounds for online meetings to promote awareness.

Historically, many hate crimes have gone unreported due to various factors, including fear of retaliation, lack of culturally competent resources, concerns about immigration consequences, and distrust of law enforcement. CA vs Hate addresses these challenges by offering a community-centered approach that allows individuals to report hate acts without engaging with the criminal legal system. The hotline services are confidential and free, irrespective of immigration status.

CA vs Hate operates as a non-emergency, multilingual hate crime and incident reporting hotline and online portal. Reports can be made anonymously by calling (833) 866-4283 or 833-8-NO-HATE, Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. PT, or online at any time. The online portal supports reporting in 15 different languages, and the hotline accommodates reports in over 200 languages. Individuals in immediate danger or those wanting to report a hate crime to law enforcement immediately should call 911.

For more information on CA vs Hate, please visit CAvsHate.org.


The California Civil Rights Department (CRD) is the state agency charged with enforcing California’s civil rights laws. CRD’s mission is to protect the people of California from unlawful discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations, and state-funded programs and activities, and from hate violence and human trafficking. For more information, visit calcivilrights.ca.gov.

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210,000 Latinx LGBTQ+ immigrants live in California

Latinx LGBTQ+ immigrants to the U.S. may experience barriers to employment associated with legal status as well as added challenges

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East LA Library presents Mariachi Arcoiris during Hispanic Heritage Month. On National Coming Out Day, the first LGBTQ+ mariachi in the world performs & discusses the sensitive topic that is very taboo in the Hispanic community. (Photo: Mayra B. Vasquez/Los Angeles County)

LOS ANGELES – A new study by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law finds that there are 211,000 Latinx LGBTQ+ immigrants in California, including 68,800 who do not have Green Cards. An estimated 85% of immigrants without Green Cards are undocumented.

The majority of Latinx LGBTQ+ immigrants without Green Cards live in Southern California, including 32% in Los Angeles and 34% outside of Los Angeles. Three-quarters (76%) of California’s Latinx LGBTQ+ immigrants without Green Cards have lived in the U.S. for more than 10 years, and 42% have spent over half of their lives in the U.S.

Using data from the California Health Interview Survey, researchers examined the demographic, socioeconomic, and health characteristics of Latinx LGBTQ+ immigrants. Results show that Latinx LGBTQ+ immigrants without Green Cards are older, have less education, and have fewer economic resources than U.S.-born Latinx LGBTQ+ people.

Nearly two-thirds (64%) of Latinx LGBTQ+ immigrants without Green Cards live at less than 200% of the federal poverty level compared to 43% of their U.S.-born LGBTQ+ peers. Most (93%) Latinx LGBTQ+ immigrants are in the workforce, with nearly one-third (32%) working in service occupations.

“Latinx LGBTQ+ immigrants to the U.S. may experience barriers to employment associated with legal status, as well as added challenges related to LGBTQ+ stigma and racism,” said lead author Rubeen Guardado, Policy Analyst at the Williams Institute. “It’s critical that policies and programs address the intersectional needs of a heterogeneous Latinx LGBTQ+ immigrant population—particularly those who are most vulnerable due to lack of documentation.”

KEY FINDINGS

  • Half of Latinx LGBTQ+ immigrants without Green Cards (cisgender and transgender) identify as bisexual (49%), 48% as gay/lesbian, and 3% identify as heterosexual and are also transgender.
  • Two-thirds (66%) of Latinx LGBTQ+ immigrants without Green Cards were born in Mexico, 24% are from Central America, and the remainder are from other parts of Latin America (9%) or elsewhere (1%).
  • About half (49%) of Latinx immigrants without Green Cards are under the age of 35 compared to three-quarters (76%) of U.S.-born Latinx LGBTQ+ people.
  • Latinx LGBTQ+ immigrants without Green Cards are twice as likely as their U.S.-born peers to have only a high school degree or less (73% vs. 34%, respectively).
  • Latinx LGBTQ+ immigrants without Green Cards are more likely to rent (as opposed to own) their homes compared to U.S.-born Latinx LGBTQ+ people (77% vs. 54%) even though are older, on average, than their U.S.-born counterparts.
  • More than four out of 10 (44%) Latinx LGBTQ+ immigrants without Green Cards have no health insurance, compared to 11% of their U.S.-born LGBTQ+ peers.


“More research on Latinx LGBTQ+ immigrants is needed, including studies that explore differences in quality of life and access to support among undocumented LGBTQ+ Latinx immigrants by gender identity,” said co-author Kerith J. Conron, Research Director at the Williams Institute. “Research on the discrimination, harassment, and violence against Latinx LGBTQ+ immigrants experienced in their countries of origin, during migration, and within the U.S. would also be valuable, given the negative effects of such exposure on mental health.

Read the report

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California’s Project Homekey hits milestone: 15,000 homes created

Since the start of Homekey, the state has rapidly transformed office spaces, hotels, and other unused buildings into housing

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HCD Director Gustavo Velasquez & Gov. Gavin Newson toured a former Motel 6 that has been converted into 40 permanent Homekey units. (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)

COSTA MESA, Calif. — Today, at a Homekey property in Costa Mesa, Governor Gavin Newsom announced the state has created 15,000 housing units as part of Homekey, an effort launched in 2019 to rapidly house individuals experiencing homelessness. Approximately 163,260 individuals will be assisted with housing throughout the course of this program.

“Homekey is a national model for rapidly creating affordable housing for Californians in need. In a few short years, this initiative has created more than 15,000 homes, to help over 163,000 people. Homekey demonstrates what is possible when people think outside the box and refuse to accept the status quo,” said Governor Newsom

Governor Newsom toured a former Motel 6 that has been converted into 40 permanent Homekey units, primarily for veterans at risk of homelessness with an additional 10 units for individuals that meet the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) eligibility criteria. Each unit includes kitchenettes, appliances, and furniture among other features.

At this stop, the Governor also announced the latest awardees to receive grant funding from the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD). These communities include Oakland, San Bernardino, Santa Cruz, San Luis Obispo and the counties of Lassen and Marin. This funding will support six projects in total at a cost of nearly $95.6 million and will create 396 affordable homes.

Gov. Gavin Newson toured a former Motel 6 that has been converted into 40 permanent Homekey units. (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)

“Over a three-year period, Homekey has funded projects that will provide housing security to more than 163,000 Californians over the decades to come,” said HCD Director Gustavo Velasquez. “The current set of awards includes housing dedicated to veterans, and the conversion of a shuttered hospital to shelter those experiencing homelessness. This program has allowed jurisdictions to get creative with adaptive reuse of existing spaces, and with providing a full array of services that help make homelessness rare, one time, and non-recurrent.”

Originally launched months into the COVID-19 pandemic as an extension of Project Roomkey – to curb the spread of disease among Californians in congregate shelters – Homekey funds additional building types and supports a broader population of people experiencing or at risk for homelessness. This includes young people transitioning to adulthood from foster care or an unsafe environment.

Homekey Round 3 grant funding – administered by HCD – is available to local public entities including cities, counties, tribes, and housing authorities to develop a broad range of housing types including hotels, motels, hostels, single-family homes, multifamily apartments, adult residential facilities, and modular housing, and to convert commercial properties and other existing buildings to permanent or interim housing.

HCD continues to review Homekey applications, and grants will be announced on a rolling basis until all funds are exhausted.

To learn more about today’s announcement and awardees, click here.

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Medi-Cal set to expand & cover undocumented immigrants

The move is hailed as California’s largest healthcare expansion since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act in 2014

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Los Angeles Blade graphic

SACRAMENTO – California is set to provide free healthcare coverage to over 700,000 undocumented immigrants living in the state, marking one of the most ambitious healthcare expansions in a decade. 

Starting January 1, 2024, all low-income adults between ages 26-49, regardless of immigration status, will gain access to Medi-Cal, the state’s Medicaid program. This initiative, led by Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, represents a significant step towards achieving universal healthcare for California’s approximately 39 million residents.

Newsom, alongside lawmakers, allocated an estimated $3.1 billion annually to support the initiative. The move comes as part of California Democrats’ larger goal of ensuring comprehensive healthcare for all residents.

The expansion is not without its critics. With California facing a record $68 billion budget deficit, concerns have been raised about the economic impact of the initiative. Republican Sen. Roger Niello expressed skepticism about adding to the deficit, emphasizing the need for fiscal responsibility.

Immigration and healthcare advocates, however, view this expansion as a crucial step in closing the healthcare access gap. Dr. Efrain Talamantes, COO at AltaMed in Los Angeles, stated that the comprehensive care provided would keep communities healthier, emphasizing the long-term benefits of preventive care.

The move is hailed as California’s largest healthcare expansion since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act in 2014. The expansion targets a previously excluded group: adults aged 26 to 49 living in the U.S. without legal permission. This demographic, ineligible for most public benefit programs, can now enroll in the state’s Medicaid program, potentially benefiting more than 700,000 individuals.

Despite the positive aspects, challenges loom. Republicans and conservative groups worry about the strain on an already overloaded healthcare system and criticize the high cost of the expansion. State officials estimate an initial cost of $1.2 billion for the first six months, with an annual cost of $3.1 billion thereafter.

Furthermore, fear and distrust present barriers to enrollment. Many immigrants fear participating in public programs due to concerns about the “public charge” rule. Sarah Dar, policy director for the California Immigrant Policy Center, stressed the need for additional resources to reach this population and dispel fears around legal consequences.

The state acknowledges the challenges and emphasizes privacy protection for all applicants, assuring that applying for Medi-Cal will not impact residential status, with limited exceptions.

A recent Zoom meeting hosted by Sandy Close, founder of Ethnic Media Services featuring frontline healthcare providers and patients discussed the transition and addressed concerns. Louise McCarthy, President & CEO of the Community Clinics Association of LA County, shared a personal story highlighting the significant impact of medical coverage on her life. The meeting also stressed the availability of helpers to guide individuals through the enrollment process.

Despite the challenges, California is making strides toward universal healthcare coverage, with advocates emphasizing the importance of supporting communities in times of economic downturn. The expansion is set to create new jobs and bring transformative changes to the state’s healthcare system, solidifying California’s commitment to accessible and comprehensive healthcare for all.

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California AG warns school districts against forced outing policies

Attorney General Bonta stresses that forced gender identity disclosure policies infringe on several state protections

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Attorney General Rob Bonta listens intently to a member of the LGBTQ+ community in a August 2023 presentation. (Photo Credit: Office of the Attorney General)

OAKLAND — California Attorney General Rob Bonta today issued a legal alert addressed to all California county, school district, and charter school boards and superintendents, warning them against forced gender identity disclosure policies detrimental to the privacy, safety, and well-being of transgender and gender-nonconforming students.

Forced disclosure policies require schools to inform parents whenever a student requests to use a name or pronoun different from that on their birth certificate or official records, even without the student’s permission or when doing so would put them at risk of physical, emotional, or psychological harm.

Such policies also require notification if a student requests to use facilities or participates in programs that do not align with their sex on official records. In today’s alert, Attorney General Bonta reminds all school boards that these forced gender identity disclosure policies violate the California Constitution and state laws safeguarding students’ civil rights.

Today’s announcement comes after Attorney General Bonta secured a ruling from the San Bernardino Superior Court preliminarily enjoining the Chino Valley Unified School District Board of Education’s mandatory gender identity disclosure policy in October 2023.

“Unconstitutional school policies that forcibly out and endanger the psychological and emotional well-being of transgender and gender-nonconforming students have no place in our classrooms,” said Attorney General Bonta. “Today’s alert serves as a reminder to all school officials of their duty to ensure a safe and inclusive learning environment, particularly for our most vulnerable student populations susceptible to violence and harassment. At the California Department of Justice, we will continue safeguarding the civil rights of all students.” 

In today’s alert, Attorney General Bonta stresses that forced gender identity disclosure policies infringe on several state protections safeguarding students’ civil and constitutional rights, including:

  • California’s Equal Protection Clause: These policies unlawfully discriminate against and single out students who request to identify with or use names or pronouns different from those on their birth certificates, or who access programs or facilities that, in the view of the board, are not “aligned” with the student’s gender.
  • California’s Education and Government Code: Education is a fundamental right in California, and California Education Code Sections 200 and 220 and Government Code section 11135 also ensure equal rights and opportunities for every student by prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity and gender expression. Forced disclosure policies violate these fundamental anti-discrimination protections.
  • California’s constitutional right to privacy: California’s constitution expressly protects the right to “privacy,” including both “informational privacy,” and “autonomy privacy,” and policies that mandates outing transgender and gender-nonconforming students against their wishes or without their consent violates that right.

Research shows that protecting a transgender student’s ability to make choices about how and when to inform others is critical to their well-being, as transgender students are exposed to high levels of harassment and mistreatment at school and in their communities when those environments are not supportive of their gender identity. 

  • One-in-10 respondents in a 2015 national survey said that an immediate family member had been violent toward them because they were transgender, and 15% ran away from home or were kicked out of their home because they were transgender. Fewer than one-in-three transgender and gender nonbinary youth found their home to be gender-affirming.
  • Nearly 46% of transgender students reported missing at least one day of school in the preceding month because they felt unsafe or uncomfortable there and 17% of transgender students reported that they left a K-12 school due to the severity of the harassment they experienced at school.
  • Seventy-seven percent of students known or perceived as transgender reported negative experiences such as harassment and assault, and over half of transgender and nonbinary youth reported seriously considering suicide in the past year.

Equality California, the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ+ civil rights organization, released the following statement from Executive Director Tony Hoang in response to legal alerts issued by California Attorney General Rob Bonta:

 “As LGBTQ+ students head back to school in the new year, Attorney General Bonta is reassuring them that the California Department of Justice has their backs. In 2023, we saw an increase in anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric from far-right extremists in California that led to direct attacks on our youth in the form of forced outing policies that out transgender students without their consent and attempts to censor or ban books and curriculum that so much as mention LGBTQ+ people. Already vulnerable young people should not be subject to even greater harassment and harm in their learning environments..
 
These legal alerts put those who seek to violate or roll back the rights of LGBTQ+ youth on notice that doing so violates these students’ constitutional and legal protections and will not be tolerated in California.

The Attorney General has been a steadfast ally in combating these efforts by anti-LGBTQ+ extremists, and we are grateful to him and to our legislative allies in Sacramento who have consistently worked to improve the lives of LGBTQ+ students in California.”  

A copy of the alert is available here.

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Slate of new LGBTQ laws & protections now in effect

These new laws aim to benefit LGBTQ+ parents, students, consumers, and ensure protections for LGBTQ+ Californians

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The dome of the California Capitol in Sacramento (Photo Credit: State of California)

SACRAMENTO – A law first signed by California Governor Gavin Newsom in the Fall of 2021, AB-1084, that requires a retail department store that is physically located in California and has a total of 500 or more employees across all of its California locations, which sells childcare items or toys to maintain a gender neutral section or area, took effect on Monday.

The bill set off a firestorm of critique from anti-LGBTQ+ groups angered by the trans friendly law.  California Family Council President Jonathan Keller, in a statement released after Newsom signed the law said: “We should all have compassion for individuals experiencing gender dysphoria. But activists and state legislators have no right to force retailers to espouse government-approved messages about sexuality and gender. It’s a violation of free speech and it’s just plain wrong.”

Assemblymember Evan Low the bill’s author had noted that in drafting the measure he was inspired by an 8-year-old girl who asked, “Why should a store tell me what a girl’s shirt or toy is?”

“Her bill will help children express themselves freely and without bias. We need to let kids be kids,” Low said.

Also taking effect on Monday were:

AB 223 “Transgender Youth Privacy Act,” sponsored by Assemblymember Christopher Ward, D-San Diego

This law requires courts to seal any petition for a change of gender or sex identifier filed by a minor to protect their privacy. This does not affect the petitioning process, but instead helps prevent online discovery of documents leading to outing and harassment.

SB 407 Foster care: resource families, sponsored by Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco)

Requires foster care officials ensure LGBTQ children in the system are placed with foster families that will be supportive of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

SB 760 School facilities: all-gender restrooms, sponsored by Senator Josh Newman (D-Fullerton)

Requires that all K-12 public schools in California must provide at least one easily accessible all-gender restroom for students “to use safely and comfortably during school hours.”

AB 783 All Single-User Restrooms, sponsored by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco)

This bill would require a city, county, or city and county that issues business licenses, equivalent instruments, or permits within its jurisdiction to provide written notice to each applicant for a new or renewed business license, equivalent instrument, or permit of the requirement that all single-user toilet facilities in any business establishment, place of public accommodation, or government agency be identified as all-gender toilet facilities.”

AB 2436  Requires parental fields on death certificates gender inclusive, co-authored by lesbian Assemblymember Sabrina Cervantes (D-Corona) and Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (D-Orinda)

Related

Calls for death certificates to list a decedent’s parents without referring to the parents’ gender (Requires the State Registrar to implement the changes by July 1.)

SB 372  Department of Consumer Affairs: licensee and registrant records, sponsored by Senator Caroline Menjivar (D-San Fernando Valley/Burbank)

Ensures that the public records kept by the state’s Department of Consumer Affairs don’t use the deadnames or disclose the home addresses of licensed mental health professionals

AB 760 California State University system and the University of California system requirements, sponsored by Assemblymember Lori D. Wilson (D-Suisun City)

The California State University system and the University of California system by the 2024-25 academic year must have campus systems that are “fully capable” of allowing current students, staff, or faculty to declare an affirmed name, gender, or both name and gender identification.

SB 857 LGBTQ+ Student resources expanded, sponsored by Senator John Laird (D-Santa Cruz)

Existing law requires the State Department of Education to develop resources or, as appropriate, update existing resources for in-service training on school site and community resources for the support of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBTQ) pupils, and strategies to increase support for LGBTQ pupils and thereby improve overall school climate. Existing law requires those resources to be designed for use in schools operated by a school district or county office of education and charter schools serving pupils in grades 7 to 12, inclusive.
This law will require the Superintendent of Public Instruction, on or before July 1, 2024, to convene an advisory task force to identify the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, and plus (LGBTQ+) pupils and to make recommendations to assist in implementing supportive policies and initiatives to address LGBTQ+ pupil education and well-being, as provided. The bill would require advisory task force members to be selected by the Superintendent, as provided. The bill would require the advisory task force to, on or before January 1, 2026, report their findings and recommendations to the Legislature, the Superintendent, and the Governor.

Additional reporting from Matthew S. Bajko, Assistant Editor, The Bay Area Reporter

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California

The Governor’s Digest: New laws going into effect January 1st

Newsom signed legislation to support reproductive rights, increase affordable housing, hold Big Oil accountable, protect safety & health

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Governor Newsom signing legislation. (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)

SACRAMENTO – In partnership with the Legislature, Governor Gavin Newsom this year signed landmark legislation to support the reproductive rights of Californians, increase affordable housing, hold Big Oil accountable, and protect the safety, health, and well-being of all Californians. 

“California is more than just a state of dreamers, we’re a state of doers. Thanks to the Legislature’s strong partnership in 2023, the state is leading by example to create opportunity, and advance and protect the rights of all Californians,” Gov. Newsom said in a statement.

Here is a quick look at a few bills that will take effect on January 1, 2024:

California Capitol building in Sacramento. (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)

FIGHTING FOR REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS

What you need to know: As the country continues to reel after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, California is building on its nation-leading efforts to safeguard reproductive freedom for all Californians.

  • Assemblymember Bauer-Kahan’s AB 352 requires companies that manage electronic health records to protect all Californians’ and visitors’ electronic medical records related to abortion, gender-affirming care, pregnancy loss, and other sensitive services. This closes a major loophole in privacy protections for people traveling to California for abortion and gender-affirming care.
  • Senator Skinner’s SB 345 protects providers and people from enforcement action in California of other states’ laws that criminalize or limit reproductive and gender-affirming health care services. 

ADDRESSING THE OPIOID CRISIS

What you need to know: To combat the opioid crisis, California is expanding lifesaving treatment to communities in need. Assemblymember Haney’s AB 663 allows for more mobile pharmacies to be created in communities across the state and enables them to dispense treatment medications for opioid use disorder. 
Master Plan for Tackling the Fentanyl and Opioid C

WORKERS’ RIGHTS

Governor Newsom & Senator Lena Gonzalez  (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)

What you need to know: To help ensure Californians can take the time they need to care for themselves and their families, Governor Newsom signed Senator Gonzalez’s SB 616, which expands the number of sick days available to workers from 3 to 5. 

INCREASING VOTER ACCESS

What you need to know: California has some of the strongest voting laws in the nation and continues working to make elections more accessible for all. Assemblymember Pellerin’s AB 545 allows voters with a disability to complete a regular ballot outside of any polling place—known as curbside voting—and removes the requirement for a voter to declare under oath that they are unable to mark their ballot in order to receive assistance doing so.

TAKING ON BIG OIL

What you need to know: The Governor is committed to making big oil more accountable for fleecing Californians at the pump. Senator Skinner’s SBX1-2 grants the California Energy Commission new authority to penalize refineries and set a maximum gross gasoline refining margin if necessary to help combat price gouging. It also creates a new independent state watchdog to investigate market or price manipulation.

INCREASING AFFORDABLE HOUSING

California State Senator Wiener, (D-SF11) (Photo Credit: Office of Sen. Wiener)

What you need to know:  The state is increasing the amount of affordable housing available for Californians. Legislation signed this year aims to speed up the process to secure permits and meet housing goals.

  • Senator Wiener’s SB 423 extends and expands existing law, requiring local governments that are failing to meet state housing planning goals to streamline affordable housing projects. This will increase affordable housing throughout the state in uncooperative cities.
  • Senator Weiner’s SB 4, known as the “Yes in God’s Backyard” bill, allows housing to be developed on property owned by religious or independent higher education institutions. These groups are given this authority “by right,” which requires no discretionary local governance intervention.

ADDRESSING THE MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS

Governor Newsom (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)

What you need to know: Addressing our nation’s behavioral health crisis, the Governor signed legislation to improve health care delivery systems and make these services more accessible. These efforts will help tens of thousands of Californians and fill critical needs across the state, from homeless Californians with severe behavioral health issues to kids suffering from depression and everyone in between. Together, these reforms will be proposed to the voters for approval on the March 2024 ballot as Proposition 1. 

  • Senator Eggman’s SB 326 reforms the Mental Health Services Act—making better use of Mental Health Services Act funding to address today’s needs and increasing accountability to the public.
  • Assemblymember Irwin’s AB 531 would issue $6.38 billion in bonds to fund 11,150 new behavioral health beds and housing as well as 26,700 outpatient treatment slots.

PUBLIC SAFETY

What you need to know: In September, Governor Newsom signed Senator Grove’s SB 14 to steepen penalties for human trafficking of minors in California. The law designates human trafficking of a minor for purposes of a commercial sex act as a serious felony.

STREAMLINING THE UC TRANSFER PROCESS

Photo courtesy of US Santa Cruz Media Affairs

What you should know: AB 1291 by Assemblymember McCarty establishes the University of California (UC) Associate Degree for Transfer Pilot Program, beginning with UCLA, to prioritize admission of a student who earns an associate degree for transfer (ADT) from selected community colleges and to redirect a student who meets those requirements but is denied admission to the applicable campus and offer admission to at least one other campus. Expanding ADTs to the UC system allows qualified community college transfer students to fulfill the requirements of an ADT and meet the requirements for participating UC and CSU campuses, streamlining the transfer process and saving students money by being able to earn two degrees in four years.

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