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Exxon & Chevron record profits: Gas price gouging hit Californians

Exxon made $19.7 billion from July to September, more profit than ever before in its history, while Chevron reported profits at $11.2 billion

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Screenshot/YouTube (Yahoo Finance)

Editor’s note: The following is a statement provided by Governor Newsom’s office:

SACRAMENTO – From July to September alone, Exxon and Chevron reported Q3 profits of $30.9 billion, all while Californians were paying higher gas prices despite the cost of crude oil being down. For Exxon, the $19.7 billion is the highest quarterly profits in its history, while Chevron’s $11.2 billion were its second-highest in history.

This follows Valero’s $2.82 billion in profits that were 500% higher than the year before, PBF Energy’s $1.06 billion that was 1700% higher than the year before, and Shell’s $9.45 billion haul that sent $4 billion to shareholders for stock buybacks.

“As Californians were getting ripped off at the pump, big oil companies like Exxon were making record profits – literally the most ever in a single quarter. Oil companies said high prices were because of war, state taxes, and maintenance, but now we know that was all a facade – these high prices went straight to their bottom line. It could not be more clear that a price gouging penalty is needed to hold big oil accountable and put those profits in the pockets of Californians,” said Governor Gavin Newsom.

Following these record-breaking Q3 profits, big oil executives seem to be acknowledging the need to put money into the pockets of consumers. While Shell directly acknowledged it, Exxon did it in their own special, out-of-touch way:

  • Shell CEO: “I think we should be prepared and accept that our industry will be looked at for raising taxes in order to fund the transfers to those who need it most.”
  • Exxon CEO: “There has been discussion in the US about our industry returning some of our profits directly to the American people. That’s exactly what we’re doing in the form of our quarterly dividend.”

This comes on the heels of a report showing that refiners like PBF energy are making more profits off of Californians than any other state – $0.78 per gallon compared to the national average of $0.50, a 56% differential: 

“PBF reported making 78 cents per gallon refining crude oil into gasoline in California in the third quarter – the greatest raw profits anywhere in the nation or world. By contrast, PBF’s profits per gallon were 48 cents on the Gulf Coast, 49 cents per gallon on the East Coast, 55 cents per gallon in the Midwest – an average of 50 cents across the rest of America.”

Big oil was making these record profits at a time when Californians were seeing gas price hikes at the pump, despite the fact that the cost of crude oil was down:


Governor Newsom has taken action to lower prices at the pump, ordering the switch to winter-blend gasoline and demanding accountability from oil companies and refiners that do business in California, leading to record relief at the pump for consumers. Since California’s record high gas prices of $6.42, the Governor’s actions have reduced those prices to $5.62 most recently – a decrease of 80 cents.

Exxon, Chevron are ‘cash bulls’ on earnings, analyst says:

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California

Governor Newsom launches resources website: ready.ca.gov 

With the unofficial start of summer, Newsom today is highlighting how the state is preparing for summer emergencies, extreme heat, and fires

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Governor Newsom with emergency managers at Cal OES. (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)

SACRAMENTO – With seasonal challenges on the horizon as temperatures increase and Californians head outside, Governor Gavin Newsom visited the California Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) today to announce ready.ca.gov – a new, one-stop shop for Californians to prepare for emergencies and extreme weather.

The new website is part of Listos California, which is a state effort that connects communities with resources before, during and after emergencies. 

During his visit to Cal OES, the Governor was briefed by emergency managers on the administration’s preparedness for summer and peak wildfire season, including progress made in building forest resilience to catastrophic wildfires, firefighter staffing levels and firefighting fleet readiness, and the administration’s Extreme Temperature Response Plan that was developed to coordinate an all-hands response by government to mitigate the state’s most deadly natural weather event.

“California is prepared for summer and peak wildfire season — with a surge in firefighters and equipment, better forest management, and one of the most tried and tested emergency management systems in the world. Make sure your family is prepared too. Visit ready.ca.gov — a new resource to help keep Californians safe this weekend and all summer long,” said
Governor Newsom.

Combined with a comprehensive suite of translated messaging and materials, Listos California at Cal OES continues to uplift life-saving messages through interactive, community-based tactics, including peer-to-peer phone banking efforts, in-person events, and door-to-door engagements. 

Preparing for Memorial Day weekend & summer

Extreme heat preparation: Listos California recently kicked off its summer season campaign efforts, beginning with its Wildfire Awareness Campaign in rural communities. Community leaders are encouraged to sign up for local emergency alerts and share these resources with family, friends and neighbors to build resiliency and help communities stay safe this summer.

Snowmelt & swift water preparedness: California’s waterways can conceal dangers below the surface. With a melting snowpack, the volume and speed of the water are creating hazardous conditions. Across the Administration, state departments and agencies are promoting swift water safety and drowning prevention messaging in honor of the summer season. Water safety messages in more than a dozen languages can be found at Listos California.

Wildfire & emergency preparedness: CAL FIRE has worked to reduce the risk of fires all year round, including increased fire prevention efforts, better firefighting technology and resources, and community preparedness initiatives. In 2023, there was a 93.87% reduction in structures destroyed compared to 2022. Potential mega-fires were kept small, protecting communities and limiting smoke impacts and CAL FIRE met its 100,000-acre goal for fuel reduction activities for the fourth straight year. Through the Ready for Wildfire initiative, Californians can learn the necessary steps to prepare their homes to be better prepared if a wildfire strikes.

Roadway safety: Heading into Memorial Day, the California Highway Patrol is initiating a statewide Maximum Enforcement Period from Friday to Monday to address the expected surge in holiday travelers on California roads. In 2023 over the holiday weekend, 46 people were killed in crashes and more than 1,100 arrested for driving under the influence throughout the state.

ready.ca.gov

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1,000+ reported acts of hate in first year of Calif. vs hate hotline

This reporting system is 1st of its kind – operating separately from law enforcement & partnering with community organizations across Calif.

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California Civil Rights Department officials and other stakeholders come together for a press conference on May 22, 2023 to launch CA vs Hate. (Photo courtesy of the California Civil Rights Department)

SACRAMENTO – The California Civil Rights Department (CRD), alongside state and community partners, today released new data highlighting the impact of California vs Hate in its first year of operation and announced new and ongoing initiatives to combat hate across the state.

Officially launched a year ago this month by Governor Gavin Newsom, CA vs Hate is the state’s first-ever multilingual statewide hotline and online portal that provides a safe, anonymous reporting option for victims and witnesses of hate acts. In the first full year of operation, initial data submitted to CRD shows approximately 1,020 acts of hate reported to the hotline.

“CA vs Hate is about recognizing and protecting the incredible diversity of our state and sending a clear message that hate will never be tolerated,” said Governor Newsom.

“When California was confronted by an alarming increase in hate, we didn’t just sit back and hope it got better,” said CRD Director Kevin Kish. “We came together and launched an array of nation-leading programs to ensure all our communities feel welcome and protected. I’m incredibly proud of our state’s resilience and commitment to a California for all. This work is only just beginning, but it would not be possible without the advocacy of our community partners and the foresight of our state’s Administration and Legislature. With CA vs Hate, we’re doing our part to ensure that when people report they get support.”

Many hate crimes have historically gone unreported due to a variety of factors, including fear of retaliation, lack of culturally competent resources, concern around potential immigration consequences, and distrust of law enforcement. CA vs Hate aims to help address some of these issues by offering people targeted for hate — and their communities — additional resources to report acts of hate through a community-centered approach that does not require engagement with the criminal legal system.

Hotline services are confidential and provided for free, regardless of immigration status. CA vs Hate accepts all reports of hate and is not limited to only receiving reports that are criminal in nature. Whether individuals report to CA vs Hate online or by phone, they are eligible to receive ongoing care coordination to ensure people impacted by hate are able to access resources and support, including legal, financial, mental health, and mediation services.

As part of the effort to make CA vs Hate as inclusive and easy-to-use as possible, individuals who report an act of hate can remain anonymous and, recognizing that hate can target multiple aspects of a person’s identity, may select multiple bias motivations related to the report. To the extent that individuals who report are comfortable doing so, CA vs Hate staff engage extensively with them through initial contacts over the phone or follow up care coordination to better understand the incident and services needed.

In the first full year of operation, initial data submitted to CRD shows approximately 1,020 acts of hate reported to the hotline, across nearly 80% of the state’s counties. 

For a subset of 560 reports where data were further validated by CA vs Hate staff, the most cited bias motivations included:

  • race and ethnicity (35.1%)
  • gender identity (15.1%)
  • sexual orientation (10.8%)

Most common reasons for reporting: 

  • Discriminatory treatment 18.4% 
  • Verbal harassment 16.7% 
  • Derogatory names or slurs 16.7%

Most common locations where incidents occurred: 

  • Residential 29.9% 
  • Workplace 9.7% 

More granular data verified through that process is also included below. While CA vs Hate data serves as an important indicator, the hotline is new, and the data should not be treated as being representative of all acts of hate in California. In all, people who reported to CA vs Hate were directed to more than 100 different forms of resources and support. In the first full year of operation, CA vs Hate:

  • Had 2,118 contacts from members of the public seeking assistance — including non-hate related reports — and directed people to resources, regardless of whether a report was tied to an act of hate. Of those contacts:
  • The most common reasons cited for the reports were discriminatory treatment (18.4%), verbal harassment (16.7%), and derogatory names or slurs (16.7%).
  • The most common location types for where an incident occurred were residential (29.9%), workplace (9.7%), and public facilities (9.1%).
  • Received 1,020 actual reports of hate based on the information provided by the individual reporting the act. Of those reports:
  • Roughly four out of six people agreed to follow up for care coordination services, including direct and ongoing support accessing legal aid or counseling.
  • Nearly 80% of California’s counties were represented, including all 10 of the state’s most populated counties.
  • Further validated bias motivation information for 560 reports through additional CA vs Hate staff review. Of those reports:
  • Race and ethnicity (35.1%), gender identity (15.1%), and sexual orientation (10.8%) were the most cited bias motivations.
  • Anti-Black (26.8%), anti-Latino (15.4%), and anti-Asian (14.3%) bias were the most cited reasons for reports related to race and ethnicity.

As reported hate crimes have risen in recent years, California has led the charge in responding through increased grant funding, innovative programs, and expansive outreach efforts across state government and in collaboration with community-based organizations.

These partnerships — whether through the Stop the Hate Program or Ethnic Media Outreach Grants — are critical to CA vs Hate’s success. As CA vs Hate continues to grow, the program is launching new initiatives and building on existing efforts aimed at strengthening the hotline’s statewide support network and improving access to resources for all of California’s diverse communities. These ongoing or upcoming efforts include:

Outreach Campaigns

  • Kicking off CA vs Hate’s first-ever billboard campaign to support increased awareness of the hotline and available resources across half a dozen cities.
  • Launching targeted outreach materials to support increased access to CA vs Hate resources for historically hard-to-reach and underserved Californians, including new digital assets developed in coordination with tribal partners and members of the AAPI community.
  • Developing new pathways to reach members of the public, including through a digital ad partnership with the California Department of Motor Vehicles and in-person event engagement with California-based sports teams.

Capacity Building

  • Launching a partnership with UC Berkeley’s Possibility Lab to support increased data collection and analysis going forward.
  • Exploring the launch of a text-responsive reporting option to support increased access to the CA vs Hate hotline.
  • Stepping up statewide coordination efforts through ongoing collaboration with United Against Hate Week.

Community Engagement

  • Bolstering community-specific engagement through the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act grant to ensure communities most targeted for hate have access to resources, including a new partnership with California Black Media.
  • Establishing new quarterly meetings with city and county government partners to support increased responsiveness to local communities and build on existing feedback mechanisms in place for community-based organizations.
  • Standing up a coalition of faith-based leaders from a range of backgrounds to better address acts of hate targeting Californians on the basis of religion.

Information about the hotline and online portal:

CA vs Hate is 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.

Hate acts can be reported in 15 different languages through the online portal and in over 200 languages when calling the hotline.

For individuals who want to report a hate crime to law enforcement immediately or who are in imminent danger, please call 911.

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

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Rick Zbur nominates Nancy Sutley for Latino Spirit Awards honoree

Assemblymember Rick Zbur honors LGBTQ+ Latina Nancy Sutley for her outstanding achievement in public service during the Latino Spirit Awards

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Nancy Sutley honored on the California Assembly Floor Monday, May 6, 2024. From Left: Assembly Minority Leader James Gallagher, Assembly Majority Leader Cecelia Aguilar-Curry, Nancy Sutley, Asm. Rick Chavez Zbur, Asm. Sabrina Cervantes, Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas. (Photo Credit: Office of Assemblymember Zbur)

SACRAMENTO — Assembly Democratic Caucus Chair Rick Chavez Zbur (D-Hollywood) nominated Nancy Sutley as a recipient for the Latino Spirit Awards.

In an Assembly Floor ceremony Monday, the California Legislative Latino Caucus honored Sutley, who currently leads Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass’ environmental, energy, and sustainability policy and programs as her Chief Sustainability Officer.

“As an LGBTQ+ Latina, Nancy Sutley has shattered glass ceilings while implementing some of the most important environmental and sustainability policies and legislation of our century,” said Assemblymember Zbur. “Her expertise has guided mayors, governors, and former President of the United States Barack Obama. It is an honor to recognize her for an outstanding achievement in public service, and as my nominee for the Latino Spirit Awards.”

Nancy Helen Sutley, born in New York City in 1962, was raised in Queens by parents who immigrated from Argentina. She holds a master’s degree in public policy from Harvard University and a bachelor’s degree in government from Cornell University.

Currently, Sutley is the Senior Assistant General Manager of External and Regulatory Affairs and Chief Sustainability Officer at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP). In this capacity, she supervises departments such as customer service, energy efficiency, water conservation, and environmental regulations.

During her tenure at LADWP, she has initiated sustainability projects, led the establishment of the LaKretz Innovation Campus, and advocated for cleaner transportation. Before joining LADWP in 2014, Sutley chaired the White House Council on Environmental Quality, making her the first prominent LGBTQ+ person named to a senior role in the Obama Administration.

There, she played a pivotal role in environmental initiatives, including the 2013 Climate Action Plan. She has also held various positions in public service, including Deputy Mayor for Energy and Environment for Los Angeles and roles in state and federal environmental agencies.

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2024-25 Race to Submit: Cash for College- FAFSA

California is leading a statewide campaign to support students in completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid

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Los Angeles Blade/ABC News Screenshot

SACRAMENTO – With fewer high school students across the country filing for federal student aid so far this year, California is promoting a statewide campaign to mobilize local partners and engage high school seniors in completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or the California Dream Act Application (CADAA). 

From tuition to textbooks and other costs of attendance, financial aid is essential to making college more accessible and supporting student success.

In light of delays and issues impacting the federal rollout of the 2024-25 FAFSA, Governor Gavin Newsom in March signed an urgency measure by Assemblymember Sabrina Cervantes (D-Riverside) to support students navigating the process by extending the application deadline for state financial aid programs from April 2 to May 2.

Students bound for four-year institutions should complete the FAFSA or CADAA by the May 2 priority deadline to be eligible for various state financial aid programs, including the Cal Grant and Middle Class Scholarship. For community college students and foster youth, the deadline is September 3, 2024.

APPLY FOR STUDENT AID HERE

The Governor issued the following letter highlighting the state’s outreach efforts to ensure students don’t leave money on the table for college, including financial aid workshops scheduled across the state through May 2 for students, high school counselors and other partners.

A copy of the Governor’s letter can be found here and the text is below:

2024-25 Race to Submit: Cash for College
California is committed to helping students – our future leaders and innovators – pursue their college dreams and reach their full career potential. Financial aid helps hundreds of thousands of students in our state to achieve their higher education goals, and it’s critical that everyone who could benefit has the opportunity to enroll. The first step in accessing financial aid is timely submission of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which unlocks federal, state and institutional aid.

This year, California passed an urgency measure to extend the application deadline for state financial aid programs from April 2 to May 2, meaning students have an additional month to submit their FAFSA by the state’s priority deadline. This action was taken to help students who have been impacted by challenges in the federal rollout of changes to the FAFSA.

The California Department of Education and the California Student Aid Commission are teaming up with local partners throughout the state to offer financial aid workshops for students, counselors and others in the community, among other resources to support outreach and training.

We’ll keep working with partners throughout the state to get the word out and help students and their families unlock these crucial opportunities to get them on the path to college success.

Click here to learn more about changes to the FAFSA and CADAA this year.
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Judge & AG Bonta: Ballot measure attacks rights of trans youth

“California should be a safe and welcoming place for everyone, which is why we have longstanding laws to protect the rights of LGBTQ+ youth”

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California Attorney General Rob Bonta speaking in 2023. (Los Angeles Blade file photo/Office of the Attorney General)

By John Ferrannini, Assistant Editor | SACRAMENTO – A judge has sided with the state of California in the matter of a conservative group that sued over the title and summary Attorney General Rob Bonta assigned to its ballot measure that would strip rights from transgender minors.

As the Bay Area Reporter previously reported, Protect Kids California is gathering signatures for a ballot measure that would ban trans minors from receiving gender-affirming care; ban trans girls from female competitive sports, locker rooms and bathrooms; and require public schools to disclose students’ gender identities to parents if they say they are different than their sex at birth.

Protect Kids California has until May 28 to collect some 550,000 valid signatures in order to place the measure before state voters on the November 5 ballot. Most LGBTQ leaders doubt it will be successful in reaching that threshold.

In preparing a ballot title and summary for the measure, Bonta titled it “Restricts Rights of Transgender Youth.” It prompted the Liberty Justice Center to file a lawsuit February 13 in Sacramento County Superior Court on behalf of Protect Kids California that alleged Bonta’s personal beliefs led to a biased title and summary. Therefore, the center contended the ballot measure proponents should be given 180 additional days for signature gathering without discounting signatures already collected.

“Respondent [Bonta] has demonstrated that he personally, and in his official capacity, is opposed to any kind of notification by a public school to a parent or guardian that his or her child is exhibiting signs of gender dysphoria when the child asks the school to publicly treat him or her as the opposite sex with a new name or pronouns, and to allow the child to use the sex-segregated facilities of the opposite sex,” claimed the groups in their lawsuit.

But a Sacramento Superior Court judge sided with Bonta in a ruling that was first issued tentatively April 19 and was made final April 22. Judge Stephen Acquisto ruled that Bonta’s title and summary are accurate.

“Under current law, minor students have express statutory rights with respect to their gender identity,” Acquisto stated. “A substantial portion of the proposed measure is dedicated to eliminating or restricting these statutory rights. … The proposed measure would eliminate express statutory rights and place a condition of parental consent on accommodations that are currently available without such condition.

“The proposed measure objectively ‘restricts rights’ of transgender youth by preventing the exercise of their existing rights. ‘Restricts rights of transgender youth’ is an accurate and impartial description of the proposed measure,” Acquisto added.

The attorney general’s office has some leeway when it comes to determining ballot titles, the judge noted.

Bonta is “afforded ‘considerable latitude’ in preparing a title and summary,” Acquisto ruled.

He found, “The court’s task is not to decide what language best captures the essence of the proposed measure, but to decide whether the language chosen by the Attorney General is ‘untrue, misleading, or argumentative.’ The Court finds that the Attorney General’s use of the term ‘restricts rights’ does not render the title and summary untrue, misleading, or argumentative.”

A spokesperson for Bonta stated April 23, “We are pleased with the court’s decision to uphold the Attorney General’s fair and accurate title and summary for this measure.”

In an April 19 statement posted to its Facebook page, the Liberty Justice Center said it was “evaluating next steps” in light of the judge’s decision.

“While we are disappointed that the court precluded evidence establishing AG Bonta’s bias, we appreciate that the matter has been taken under submission by the judge,” stated center officials.

In a statement provided to the B.A.R. on April 24, after news that the decision had been made permanent, Protect Kids California attorney Nicole Pearson stated, “The mental gymnastics used to justify this prejudicial title and summary are not only an egregious abuse of discretion that entitles our clients to an appeal, but a chilling interpretation of law that jeopardizes the very foundation of our constitutional republic. We are reviewing our options for an appeal of these clear errors and will announce a decision shortly.”

Tony Hoang, a gay man who is the executive director of statewide LGBTQ advocacy organization Equality California, stated to the B.A.R. that “we are pleased with the judge’s ruling.”

“California should be a safe and welcoming place for everyone, which is why we have longstanding laws in effect that protect and preserve the rights of LGBTQ+ youth and their families,” Hoang stated. “This proposed initiative seeks to undo these critical protections and make our schools and communities less safe for all youth.”

Politico’s California Playbook newsletter reported last month that the Protect Kids California measure is struggling. “The campaign has so far collected less than a fifth of what it would need to qualify for the ballot,” Politico reported. “It does not appear on track to meet a May 28 deadline.”

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The preceding article was previously published by the Bay Area Reporter and is republished with permission.

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New California law requires bars & nightclubs to offer ‘roofie’ tests

Bars & nightclubs who do not comply with the new law could face administrative actions impacting their licenses

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Screenshot/YouTube ABC7 Bay Area

SACRAMENTO – A new law mandating certain alcoholic beverage license holders to offer drug testing devices for sale or at no cost to patrons will take effect across California beginning July 1.

AB 1013 requires establishments with a license from the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) to have signage displayed in a prominent and conspicuous location, letting patrons know that drug testing kits are available to test for common date-rape drugs, often referred to as ‘roofies.’

The required signage displays a message reading, “Don’t get roofied! Drink spiking drug test kits available here. Ask a staff member for details.” A sample sign is available on ABC’s website and can be downloaded and printed by licensees.

The new law impacts approximately 2,400 licensees across California. Type 48 licenses are issued to bars and night clubs. The license authorizes the sale of beer, wine, and distilled spirits for consumption on the premises where sold. Minors are not allowed on the premises, and food service is not required.

Licensees will be responsible for procuring testing kits. ABC does not sell or provide kits, and does not recommend or endorse any specific company that does.

Additionally, Type 48 licensed premises must either offer the drug testing devices for sale to customers at a price not to exceed a reasonable amount based on the wholesale cost, or be given to customers free of charge.

Drug testing devices could include test strips, stickers, straws or other devices that can detect the presence of controlled substances in drinks. These substances could include flunitrazepam, ketamine, and gamma hydroxybutyric acid.

License holders who do not comply with the new law could face administrative actions impacting their licenses. For more information please visit ABC’s industry advisory Type 48 Licenses New Signage and Product Requirements page.

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Philanthropist Mackenzie Scott donates to Calif. LGBTQ non-profits

About $137 million went to organizations that serve Californians including LGBTQ+ groups like the LGBTQ Center Long Beach

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Philanthropist Mackenzie Scott (Screenshot/YouTube NBC News)

LOS ANGELES – Billionaire philanthropist Mackenzie Scott announced last week she would donate about $640 million to 341 charities nationwide. The 53-year-old with an estimated personal wealth of $36.3 billion has given away $16.5 billion from the fortune she gained after her divorce from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos in 2019.

In a statement posted to her Yield Giving website on March 19, Scott said:

“From a pool of over 6,000 applicants, each of these 361 community-led non-profits was elevated by peer organizations and a round-2 evaluation panel for their outstanding work advancing the voices and opportunities of individuals and families of meager or modest means, and groups who have met with discrimination and other systemic obstacles. Grateful to Lever for Change and everyone on the evaluation and implementation teams for their roles in creating this pathway to support for people working to improve access to foundational resources in their communities. They are vital agents of change.”

In California, her gift giving organization on its website listed that about $137 million went to non-profits that serve the Golden State’s residents including several LGBTQ+ organizations.

The Associated Press reported the philanthropist typically donates to organizations after privately researching them, but this time, she partnered with the philanthropic group Lever for Change to analyze over 6,000 applicants after announcing an open call.

What started as a plan to donate $1 million each to 250 charities nationwide ended up doubling, with about 279 organizations receiving a $2 million donation and the rest receiving $1 million.

Among those receiving funding were: LGBTQ Center Long Beach which received $2 million, Equal Rights Advocates $2 million, Sacramento LGBT Community Center $1 million, Openhouse $2 million, Pacific Center for Human Growth $2 million, and The Wall Las Memorias $1 million.

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Legislation to protect consumers against medical debt unveiled

Medical debt continues to increase and is a barrier to employment, housing, and the promotion of health care access and equity

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Photo Credit: U.S. Census Bureau

SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Rob Bonta, Senator Monique Limón (D- Santa Barbara), and a coalition of prominent consumer advocacy organizations today unveiled Senate Bill 1061 (SB 1061), legislation seeking to protect consumers from having their credit ruined by prohibiting medical debt from being reported on credit reports.

Credit reports are meant to gauge an individual’s ability to repay future debt. Medical debt is often unforeseen and not a reliable indicator of financial risk, yet it can unfairly prevent consumers from getting loans, renting an apartment, or getting a job.

“California families should not need to suffer from the harmful and unnecessary impacts resulting from having their credit damaged by medical debt. We have a straightforward solution and need to implement it here in California, just as we have seen some of our sister states do successfully,” said Attorney General Bonta. “There is no need for medical debt to appear on credit reports and we can stop the harmful spiral where people have unforeseen, catastrophic medical debt and become unhoused, unemployed, or without a vehicle to get to work. To reduce homelessness, to reduce food insecurity, and to address many of California’s other systemic issues, we must utilize upstream interventions that get to the crux of these problems. This is exactly what SB 1061 does.”

“Today a staggering 1 in 5 Californians has reported having medical debt with a disproportionate impact on women and mothers. This debt negatively impacts Californians credit history making it harder to secure a loan, buy a house, or be approved for a credit card,” said Senator Limón. “Without a robust health care system that covers necessary and often lifesaving medical expenses in a timely, accurate and comprehensive manner, medical debt should not be included on consumer’s credit reports.”

“We’ve known for years that medical debt doesn’t predict credit defaults, nor does it accurately predict a person’s desire and willingness to pay off loans,” said Jenn Engstrom, State Director of CALPIRG. “We’re hopeful that the legislation introduced by Senator Limón and sponsored by Attorney General Bonta will help create a fair credit system that doesn’t penalize people for life events they can’t control like getting sick.”

“Frontline nurses know that patients with medical debt, especially low-income Californians, delay or avoid medical care because they worry about the impact on their credit reports,” said California Nurses Association President Cathy Kennedy, RN. “SB 1061 will help to ensure patients will get the care they need by removing medical debt from credit reports. Then we will have a fair credit system that will not penalize patients when they get the care they need and deserve.” 

“People can’t control when they will get sick or hurt, and they can’t control when billing disputes and insurance problems will cause debts for expensive medical care to end up in collections,” said Chi Chi Wu, senior attorney at the National Consumer Law Center. “This law is necessary to protect consumers from unmanageable and unpredictable medical debts and to address the disparate impact of medical debt on Black households.”

“Getting hit with medical debt isn’t like taking out a loan,” noted Ted Mermin, director of the California Low-Income Consumer Coalition. “It’s not voluntary, it doesn’t predict how creditworthy you are, and all too often the amount you’re charged is something the healthcare provider basically made up. But there’s nothing fictional about the serious negative impact medical debt can have on consumers’ credit reports.”

“The Consumer Federation of California is pleased to be a co-sponsor of SB 1061 and work with Senator Limón, Attorney General Bonta and all the other fine groups working to enhance consumer protection when it comes to medical debt,” said Robert Herrell, Executive Director of the Consumer Federation of California. “Simply put, California is falling behind in consumer protection in this area. States like New York and Colorado are leading the way. Those states have realized that medical debt shouldn’t be an anchor dragging consumers down, both personally and via their credit worthiness. California must do better for consumers and this bill is an important step in that direction. This bill will put California back at the front of the line when it comes to consumer protection against medical debt ruining their lives.”

“Health care costs are rising, forcing more and more Californians to delay or skip care in fear of getting an expensive medical bill that can lead to debt,” said Katie Van Deynze, policy and legislative advocate for Health Access California, a co-sponsor of the bill. “Black, Latino and low-income Californians disproportionately have medical debt, and counting it against credit exacerbates inequities in health, housing, employment and more. SB 1061 will give all Californians more peace of mind to seek the care they need knowing it will not negatively affect their credit and their future.”

The bill sponsored by Attorney General Rob Bonta, the National Consumer Law Center, the CA Nurses Association, Health Access CA, Consumer Federation of CA, CA Low Income Consumer Coalition, Cal-PIRG, and authored by Senator Limón states that:

  • Health care providers should not provide information regarding a patient’s medical debt to a credit reporting agency. 
  • Health care providers should include a provision in any contract entered into with a collection agency that prohibits the reporting of any information regarding a patient’s medical debt to a consumer credit reporting agency.
  • Credit reporting agencies should not accept, store, or disclose any information concerning a medical debt.

Medical debt continues to increase and is a barrier to employment, housing, and the promotion of health care access and equity. The Urban Institute reported 7.8% of California consumers with a credit report had a medical debt listed on it, increasing to 8.5% for Black Californians.

People with medical debt are more likely to say debt has caused them to be turned down for a rental or a mortgage than people with student loans or credit card debt, increasing their risk of homelessness or being forced to live in substandard housing.

Debt can also create barriers for finding employment as employers often use credit reports as a basis for hiring decisions, which in turn, makes it even more difficult to pay off medical debt. Both Colorado and New York have passed laws that prohibit medical debt from appearing on credit reports. In September 2023, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced a rulemaking process to remove medical bills from consumers’ credit reports.

Text for the proposed bill can be found here

Medical Debt in LA County Baseline Report and Action Plan, June 2023

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California

State launches 1st-of-its-kind council to create thousands of jobs 

The California Jobs First Council is an integral part of California’s broader strategy to prepare students and workers for high-paying careers

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California Governor Gavin Newsom greets workers at the Species Conservation Habitat Project in Southern California's Salton Sea region, 2024. (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)

SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom today announced the creation of the California Jobs First Council and operational plan focused on streamlining the state’s economic and workforce development programs to create more jobs, faster.

The Council and operational plan will guide the state’s investments in economic and workforce development to create more family-supporting jobs and prioritize industry sectors for future growth.

Co-chaired by Dee Dee Myers, Senior Advisor to Governor Newsom and Director of the Governor’s Office of Business & Economic Development, and Stewart Knox, Secretary of Labor & Workforce Development, the California Jobs First Council will bring together various state entities, including:

  • Director of the Governor’s Office of Planning & Research: promoting alignment with General Plan guidelines and land use policies
  • Secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency: representing nature-based solutions and clean energy industries
  • Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture: representing the agriculture industry
  • Secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency: representing the circular economy
  • Secretary of the California Health & Human Services Agency: representing the healthcare industry and promoting jobs for disabled and disadvantaged workers
  • Secretary of the California Department of Veterans Affairs: representing the more than 1.6 million former service members that reside in the state
  • President of the Public Utilities Commission: representing opportunities to advance California’s clean energy workforce of the future and economic opportunities for communities

 “California has created more opportunities, more jobs, and more businesses than any other state, but we need to ensure that we’re all moving forward together. Through this new council and these investments, we’re aligning all of our economic resources to create more jobs, faster for Californians in every community,” Governor Newsom said.

“The California Jobs First Council is another piece of the puzzle in the Governor’s pursuit of creating a California For All,” said Myers. “I am looking forward to working with my colleagues to align strategic investments that further economic growth and job creation in every region of California.”

Graphic via the Office of the Governor

The Council will coordinate the development of a statewide industrial strategy that includes a statewide economic snapshot and identification of priority sectors, a statewide projects portfolio, a business expansion, attraction, and retention strategy, and a workforce development strategy.

The California Jobs First Council will also support the regional Jobs First Collaboratives to expand industry and create jobs locally.

The California Jobs First Council is an integral component of California’s broader strategy to prepare students and workers for high-paying careers. The Council will work alongside the Council for Career Education and in line with the Governor’s 2023 Executive Order that directed the creation of a Master Plan for Career Education to ensure that Californians have career pathways, develop the skills and find even more opportunities to be full beneficiaries of our state’s economy. 

The Master Plan is largely aimed at aligning and simplifying the K-12, university, and workforce systems in California to support greater access to career education and jobs for all Californians. In connection with the Master Plan for Career Education, the Jobs First Operational Plan will highlight the ways in which workforce development can and should be a tool used by the State and the regional Jobs First Collaboratives to help Californians, particularly the most disinvested communities, in meeting the specific skillset needs of the State’s and our regions’ priority industry sectors.

In 2021, Newsom launched the $600 million Regional Investment Initiative (formerly the Community Economic Resilience Fund, or CERF) to create high-quality, accessible jobs and help build resilience to the effects of climate change and other global disruptions impacting the state’s diverse regional economies.

This investment has supported the creation of Jobs First Collaboratives in each of the state’s 13 economic regions, with representation from a wide variety of community partners including labor, business, local government, education, environmental justice, community organizations and more. These Collaboratives are in the process of developing roadmaps, including a strategy and recommended series of investments, for their respective regions.

Today, Governor Newsom announced that the state has awarded $14 million to each of the 13 Jobs First Collaboratives – $182 million total – to invest in sector-specific pre-development activities, enabling regions to take projects from exploratory and last-mile to ready-to-go projects that can access local, state, and federal funds, as well as private and philanthropic investments. The 13 Jobs First Collaboratives cover every region of the state: North State, Capitol, Redwood Region, Bay Area, North San Joaquin Valley, Eastern Sierra, Central San Joaquin Valley, Orange County, Los Angeles County, Kern County, Central Coast, Inland Southern California, and the Southern Border.

“California Jobs First represents a very intentional, inclusive approach to economic and workforce development,” said Stewart Knox, Secretary of the California Labor & Workforce Development Agency. “By maximizing state resources and investments, the state is empowering communities to chart their own futures in a manner that is inclusive and equitable.”

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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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