Newsom proposes modernizing state’s behavioral health system
Newsom proposed a 2024 ballot initiative to improve how California treats mental illness, substance abuse, and homelessness
SAN DIEGO – Governor Gavin Newsom, in partnership with state Senator Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Stockton), has proposed the next step to modernize how California treats mental illness, substance use disorders, and homelessness.
Governor Newsom proposed a 2024 ballot initiative to improve how California treats mental illness, substance abuse, and homelessness: A bond to build state-of-the-art mental health treatment residential settings in the community to house Californians with mental illness and substance use disorders and to create housing for homeless veterans, and modernize the Mental Health Services Act to require at least $1 billion every year for behavioral health housing and care,
An initiative would go on the 2024 ballot that would:
- Authorize a general obligation bond to:
- Build thousands of new community behavioral health beds in state-of-the-art residential settings to house Californians with mental illness and substance use disorders, which could serve over 10,000 people every year in residential-style settings that have on-site services – not in institutions of the past, but locations where people can truly heal.
- Provide more funding specifically for housing for homeless veterans.
- Amend the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA), leading to at least $1 billion every year in local assistance for housing and residential services for people experiencing mental illness and substance use disorders, and allowing MHSA funds to serve people with substance use disorders.
- Include new accountability and oversight measures for counties to improve performance.
The MHSA was originally passed 20 years ago; it is now time to refresh it so it can better meet the challenges we face. Key changes that the Governor is proposing include: Creating a permanent source of housing funding of $1 billion a year in local assistance funds to serve people with acute behavioral health issues, focusing on Full Service Partnerships for the most seriously ill; and allowing MHSA to be used for people with substance use disorders alone.
“This is the next step in our transformation of how California addresses mental illness, substance use disorders, and homelessness – creating thousands of new beds, building more housing, expanding services, and more. People who are struggling with these issues, especially those who are on the streets or in other vulnerable conditions, will have more resources to get the help they need.”
According to the Governor’s office, the Administration plans to work in close partnership with legislative leaders in this space including Senator Eggman and Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin (D-Thousand Oaks), as well as with the California State Association of Counties, other critical local government stakeholders, community-based service organizations, advocates, and people with lived experience as bill language is developed.
FACT SHEET (Link)
Previous initiatives include:
- $2.2 billion for the Behavioral Health Continuum Infrastructure Program.
- $1.5 billion for Behavioral Health Bridge Housing.
- $1.4 billion to expand and diversify the behavioral health workforce.
- $4.7 billion Master Plan for Kids’ Mental Health, of which the Children and Youth Behavioral Health Initiative is the central component.
- $1.4 billion to build out a Medi-Cal benefit for mobile crisis response, as well as $38 million to expand 9-8-8 and CalHOPE crisis call center.
- Over $600 million to support community-based alternatives to state hospitalization for those who commit felonies who are incompetent to stand trial.
- Over $1 billion to address the opioid epidemic.
- $7 billion to reform CalAIM – enhanced care management for people with serious mental illness, a no wrong door approach to care, and more.
- $1.6 billion proposed to implement the California Behavioral Health Community-Based Continuum Demonstration to strengthen services and supports for those who are at risk of homelessness, incarceration and foster care placements.
- $50 million for the California Veterans Health Initiative (CVHI) for veteran suicide prevention and mental health.
CHP implements statewide Maximum Enforcement Period
Beginning May 26, the CHP implemented a statewide Maximum Enforcement Period in anticipation of increased traffic for this holiday weekend
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Memorial Day weekend is quickly approaching, and many Californians are preparing to kick off the summer with a holiday gathering or road trip.
Forty-five people were killed in crashes in California during last year’s Memorial Day weekend, nearly a 30 percent increase from the same period in 2021. The California Highway Patrol (CHP) has a plan to help people arrive to their destinations safely, while reducing the number of deadly crashes on the state’s roads.
Beginning at 6:01 p.m. on Friday, May 26, the CHP will implement a statewide Maximum Enforcement Period (MEP) in anticipation of the increased traffic that often accompanies a holiday weekend. The MEP will continue through 11:59 p.m. on Monday, May 29.
“The core mission of the CHP is to provide the highest level of Safety, Service, and Security to the communities we serve,” said CHP Commissioner Sean Duryee. “This holiday, motorists can expect to see additional CHP officers patrolling California’s roadways. All available uniformed members of this Department will be on patrol during this Memorial Day MEP. Our primary focus will be to enhance public safety, deter unsafe driving behavior, and when necessary, take appropriate enforcement action.”
In addition to assisting motorists and looking for traffic violations that often lead to serious injury or death, such as failure to wear a seat belt, speed, and distracted driving, CHP officers will be paying close attention to people who are suspected of driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs and/or alcohol.
CHP officers made nearly 900 DUI arrests during the Memorial Day MEP in 2022. Keep yourself and others who are on the road safe by designating a sober driver or using a ride-share service.
If you see or suspect an impaired driver, call 9-1-1 immediately. Be prepared to provide the dispatcher a description of the vehicle, the license plate number, location, and direction of travel. Your phone call may save someone’s life.
The CHP’s Memorial Day MEP coincides with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s ongoing Click It or Ticket campaign, which continues through June 4. Seat belts save lives. Take two seconds to secure your safety and buckle up.
The mission of the CHP is to provide the highest level of Safety, Service, and Security.
UC Santa Cruz students celebrate Hitler’s birthday with cake
Gov. Newsom weighed in calling both incidents sick & disgusting adding that these “kinds of acts” have no place in California
SANTA CRUZ, Calif. – According to Akirah Bradley-Armstrong, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs at UC Santa Cruz, a group of unidentified students met on campus on April 20, Hitler’s birthday, and reportedly sang “Happy Birthday” to the Nazi leader and served cake “adorned with hateful and horrific symbols.”
“White supremacy has no place at UC Santa Cruz,” Bradley-Armstrong said in a press release statement adding that the university “unequivocally condemns” the incident. “Nor does any action intended to degrade, dehumanize, or intimidate another based on identity.”
The incident has been referred to student conduct officials for “follow-up and adjudication,” she noted.
In another hate incident the following day on April 21, a student “found an antisemitic and anti-LGBTQIA+ flyer on their car’s windshield” downtown, the university said. The flyer included “despicable and degrading claims” about Jews and LGBTQIA+ people.
University officials are following up with Santa Cruz city officials about that incident.
“These disturbing incidents follow a national trend of increased antisemitic rhetoric and violence,” Bradley-Armstrong said. “Whatever the purpose and wherever they take place, we reject any and all acts of antisemitism.”
California Governor Gavin Newsom weighed in on Twitter angrily calling both incidents sick and disgusting adding that these “kinds of acts” have no place in California.
This is absolutely sick. These kinds of disgusting acts have no place in California. https://t.co/rqXo933kLy— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) May 4, 2023
UC Santa Cruz had an enrollment of 19,478 for fall 2022, according to the university, which is located about 75 miles southwest of San Francisco.
New statewide hotline to report hate acts in California launched
Visit CAvsHate.org or call 833-8-NO-HATE for resources and to report acts of hate. Callers can receive assistance in over 200 languages
SACRAMENTO – In response to a rise in hate crimes and at the start of Asian & Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Governor Gavin Newsom, along with the California Civil Rights Department (CRD), today, announced the official launch of CA vs Hate, a new multilingual statewide hotline and website that provides a safe, anonymous reporting option for victims and witnesses of hate acts.
CA vs Hate is in direct response to the rise in reported hate crimes in California, which in recent years, reached their highest levels since 2001 – jumping almost 33% from 2020 to 2021.
“Here in California, we are sending an unequivocal message that hate will not be tolerated,” said Newsom. “We stand firm for a California for All and it is important that we hold perpetrators accountable for their actions and provide resources for those individuals victimized by hate crimes. Now, Californians have another tool to ensure that not only justice is served, but that individuals have access to additional resources to help deal with the lingering wounds that remain after such a horrendous crime occurs.”
Report a Hate Crime Here
“In California, our diversity is what makes the nation’s most populous state a beautiful and vibrant community,” said First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom at an event in Sacramento launching this new program.
“It’s horrifying that hate crimes are on the rise, and so let it be made clear: we stand with our diverse communities, and we are committed to ensuring they feel safe and heard. There is no room here for bigotry and hate-fueled violence.” Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance) started the conversation to create a state hotline to report hate crimes in 2021 – this program will help individuals and communities targeted for hate including Asian Americans, Latinos, Black Americans, LGBTQ+ individuals, religious minorities, and other communities that make up California’s diversity and strength. Hotline services are confidential and provided for free, regardless of immigration status. These services are offered in a culturally competent manner and will help people identify options and next steps after a hate incident or hate crime has occurred. Hate acts can be reported in 15 different languages through the online portal and in over 200 languages when calling the hotline.“
With the launch of the Ca vs Hate Resource Line and Network, we unequivocally state that there is no home or place for hate in California,” said Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency Secretary Lourdes Castro Ramírez.
“We are doubling down on our commitment to combat hate by embracing the strength of our diversity and empowering Californians with resources and support to prevent and end hate in all forms.”“
California is strong because of our diversity but hate-fueled violence remains a persistent and growing threat,” said CRD Director Kevin Kish. “With the launch of CA vs Hate, we’re taking action to help put a stop to hate and to provide support for victims, survivors, and their families. In the face of hate across the nation, we stand united in declaring: California is for everyone. I urge all Californians to know their rights and to take advantage of these important resources.”
The hotline will also be complemented by a multilingual outreach campaign, emphasizing community engagement. The campaign aims to support efforts that encourage reporting and access to resources through targeted public service announcements, direct marketing, and other activities. CA vs Hate also seeks to overcome reporting challenges – whether due to fear of retaliation, lack of trust, or other issues – by offering people targeted for hate a community-centered approach that does not require engagement with the criminal legal system.
The CA vs Hate Resource Line and Network 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.
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.
Calif. Dept. of Public Health slammed over LGBTQ data collection
Outside of LGBTQ circles, the issues impeding SOGI data collection had largely flown under the radar until the COVID pandemic hit in 2020
By Matthew S. Bajko | The state’s auditor has faulted the California Department of Public Health for being sclerotic with its efforts to collect LGBTQ demographics and criticized the agency for having inconsistent policies on how local health officials should be gathering such information.
In a report released Thursday, the auditor suggested lawmakers need to take additional legislative steps to address the ongoing issues with the collection of sexual orientation and gender identity data.
“The lack of consistent SOGI data collection procedures, and ultimately the low number of Public Health forms that currently collect SOGI data, indicate that changes to state law may be warranted to compel more consistent and useful SOGI data collection practices,” concluded California State Auditor Grant Parks in an April 27 letter he submitted to state leaders.
Titled “The California Department of Public Health: It Has Not Collected and Reported Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Data as State Law Intended,” the 45-page report detailed myriad problems with the state agency’s SOGI data efforts. Out of 129 forms used by CADPH, 105 were exempted from collecting SOGI data because a third party, such as a local health jurisdiction, oversees them, found the audit.
“This exemption severely limits the amount of SOGI data the department is required to collect,” Parks noted in a fact sheet accompanying his report.
Even with the 24 forms that are required to collect SOGI data, the auditor found only 17 “do so in a complete manner.” Parks’ report also noted that “because of resource and technical limitations,” CADPH is unable to export the SOGI data it collects for over 100 of the 128 reportable disease conditions to an electronic database it oversees.
“Public Health has only made SOGI data available to the public from 17 of the forms we reviewed, and it has not reported directly to the Legislature any SOGI data from the forms we reviewed,” noted Parks.
As the Bay Area Reporter has noted in numerous articles over the years, SOGI data collection remains woefully inadequate and plagued with technical problems at every level of government. Even in San Francisco, where the city’s public health department has been on the forefront of LGBTQ health issues, the local agency has been criticized for its inability to collect the SOGI data of the people it treats and provides services to across its multiple health centers and programs.
San Francisco officials and state lawmakers nearly a decade ago had mandated that health officials begin collecting SOGI data. But almost immediately the efforts ran into problems, from how to word the questions asked of patients to needing to update the electronic data record systems health agencies use so the SOGI data could be entered.
Outside of LGBTQ circles, the issues impeding SOGI data collection had largely flown under the radar until the COVID pandemic hit in 2020. The global health crisis brought to the fore just how blind health officials remain about the needs of LGBTQ people.
Despite a California law signed by former governor Jerry Brown that had mandated the state’s departments of health care services, public health, social services, and aging begin gathering SOGI data in 2016, state health officials did not know how many LGBTQ residents of the Golden State were infected with the deadly coronavirus when it began ravaging the state three years ago. To this day, no such data is available.
Nor is it known how many LGBTQ people died from COVID or have gotten vaccinated for it. The lack of such data persists despite state lawmakers adopting a bill in 2020 requiring health officials to collect it.
Fed up with the situation, a number of LGBTQ state lawmakers in 2021 had called for an audit of the SOGI data collection efforts. Among them was gay state Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), who has been a vocal critic about the lackluster LGBTQ demographic data collection in California for the last three years and authored the 2020 bill requiring SOGI data collection pertaining to communicable diseases.
Wiener could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday regarding the auditor’s report. But in a statement he called the audit findings “extremely concerning” and renewed his demands on health officials that they do a better job on SOGI data collection.
“The Department of Public Health continues to use an overly narrow approach to SOGI data collection, which prevents us from understanding the full health needs of the LGBTQ community,” stated Wiener. “The Department needs to institute a centralized, comprehensive approach to collecting this data, update its data collection and analysis systems, and require data collection from third parties. I’m seriously considering legislation to implement the Auditor’s recommendations.”
In a response to Parks dated April 7 and released publicly Thursday, state Public Health Officer Dr. Tomás J. Aragón pledged that the statewide health department would address the SOGI data issues raised in the auditor’s report.
“We believe in the importance of collecting SOGI data to identify disparities and acting to change inequities in California’s health systems,” wrote Aragón, who is also director of the state public health department and formerly worked for the San Francisco public health department. “Best practices related to SOGI data collection are evolving. Public Health will continue to strive to achieve and improve compliance in our data collection efforts and overall use of data to advance health equity in California.”
Aragón noted that the state health agency had “substantially complied” with the original SOGI legislation Assembly Bill 959, known as The LGBT Disparities Reduction Act. He listed, for example, CADPH adding SOGI questions to its Confidential Morbidity reports and updating the California Reportable Disease Information Exchange known as CalREDIE so it could receive data from local health jurisdictions.
Nonetheless, he acknowledged that the auditor’s report highlighted other issues that need to be addressed “that go beyond the requirements” of AB 959, which had been authored by San Francisco City Attorney David Chiu when he served in the state Assembly. Aragón committed to reviewing the auditor’s recommendations and to reporting on the state health department’s progress within 60 days as well as in six months and next April.
“We acknowledge and appreciate the insights shared in the audit report. Public Health will both work to improve our own efforts, as well as support local health jurisdictions and health care providers to collect this data,” he wrote.
The state auditor’s full report can be downloaded here.
Matthew S. Bajko is the Assistant Editor of The Bay Area Reporter
The preceding article was previously published by the Bay Area Reporter and is republished by permission.
Trans parole seekers in California face misgendering
43% of parole hearings for transgender and nonbinary people included misgendering and/or insensitive comments
LOS ANGELES – A new study of California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) parole hearings by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law and the Social Justice Legal Foundation finds 43% of parole hearings for transgender and nonbinary people included misgendering and/or insensitive comments.
For instance, one nonbinary 44-year-old individual asked to be addressed by name, rather than any pronoun, but the commissioners pushed the parole seeker to choose a pronoun. On another occasion, a commissioner questioned whether a parole seeker would remain sober because the “LGBTQ community has big parties.”
In January 2021, California enacted the Transgender Respect, Agency, and Dignity Act (TRADA), which requires, among other things, that CDCR use proper gender pronouns and honorifics for transgender/nonbinary people in CDCR custody.
For the first time since the enactment of TRADA, researchers reviewed transcripts of 42 parole hearings from January 1, 2021 – February 28, 2022 in which the individual seeking parole identified as transgender or nonbinary. They aimed to understand how transgender and nonbinary individuals fare in parole hearings.
Results also show that about one-third of transgender/nonbinary parole seekers were granted parole, at about the same rate as the general population of parole seekers during that time period.
Having an explicit housing plan was an important factor in granting parole—56% of transgender/nonbinary people with a housing plan were granted parole as compared to 13% of individuals who did not have an explicit housing plan.
“Finding appropriate transitional housing is extraordinarily challenging for transgender individuals,” said study author Ilan H. Meyer, Distinguished Senior Scholar of Public Policy at the Williams Institute. “Often transitional housing is gender segregated and many facilities simply do not accept transgender individuals despite California law that bars discrimination in housing. Excluding transgender individuals from this already scarce resource only increases the already steep challenges they face to re-entry.”
“This brief provides an important first glimpse into the treatment of transgender and nonbinary individuals seeking parole in California, but more data is needed,” said lead author Claire Simonich, a public interest attorney who worked as a Senior Attorney at the Social Justice Legal Foundation at the time the research was conducted. “The California Parole Board should develop protocols to assess the experiences and monitor the treatment of transgender, nonbinary, and intersex parole seekers.”
Read the report
Newsom surveys Tulare Basin flooding, highlights state response
California is shifting focus to flood prevention and recovery efforts and will support local response in the coming weeks
TULARE BASIN – Governor Gavin Newsom joined state and local officials and community leaders in the Tulare Basin Tuesday to survey recent flooding brought on by major storms earlier this year and outline actions the state is taking to support the region as it faces long-term flooding.
Flooding impacts in the region are expected to worsen in the coming weeks as snowmelt escalates due to higher temperatures in the Sierra Nevada.
The Governor visited several locations in the Tulare Basin to see flooding impacts firsthand, including the Allensworth community center, a project spearheaded by CAL FIRE to raise a critical access road to Alpaugh, and a dairy that has been partially submerged by flood water.
“California is here for the Tulare Basin, the Central Valley and all parts of our state still dealing with the impacts of the historic deluge of atmospheric rivers we experienced and preparing for future flooding due to snowmelt,” said Governor Newsom. “Our focus is keeping these communities safe, and we’re working with our federal and local counterparts to provide on-the-ground assistance and the support locals need. This weather whiplash is what the climate crisis looks like – and that’s why California is investing billions of dollars to protect our communities from weather extremes like flooding, drought and extreme heat.”
State officials have been on the ground since storms first started hitting, supporting and coordinating emergency response. Now, California is shifting focus to flood prevention and recovery efforts and will support local response in the coming weeks, months and years.
The state response to flooding, both in the Tulare Basin and across California, includes:
- Over 1.7 million sandbags and roughly 20,000 supersacks distributed to help prevent flooding;
- 12,000 feet of muscle walls constructed;
- Over 49 million pounds of rock and sand used to shore up rivers and levees;
- Over 60 shelters opened for folks who got displaced by flooding and snowfall;
- Over 600 comfort kits distributed to impacted families;
- Over 3 million miles of California roads plowed or maintained.
The state also announced a new flood outreach effort to reach one million Californians in flood-threatened communities. Through Listos California, a program of the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES), the state will mobilize teams of phone-bankers to conduct direct outreach to Californians living in high-risk flood areas in Fresno, Kern, Tulare, Kings, Merced, Madera, Mariposa and San Bernardino counties.
Modeled after “Get Out the Vote” efforts, Californians in the target counties will receive information and resources in English, Spanish, Korean, Tagalog, Vietnamese or Mandarin, depending on their language.
The calls will include flood awareness and preparedness information while encouraging residents to sign up for local emergency notifications and offering suggestions on how best to prepare and respond should it be necessary. These direct outreach efforts add to the work of the 90+ CBOs funded by the program.
Last week, Cal OES, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) met with county officials and emergency response personnel in the Tulare Lake Basin to help organize flood response plans to prepare for snowmelt in the coming months.
The state, in partnership with USACE and local entities, is prioritizing snowmelt forecasting, reservoir operations, flooding assessments and flood response support. California is also working closely with county partners to share the latest advance planning tools DWR has used to support other flood prone areas of the state and to help local agencies in the basin prepare for flooding. DWR has also launched a $5 million program to provide temporary pumps to local water districts for groundwater recharge basins to increase flood diversions.
Last month, Governor Newsom signed an executive order to support the ongoing response to flooding by expediting levee repairs, floodwater diversion and other emergency response activities. California also secured a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration to support storm response and recovery in Tulare County and other impacted counties. Following the Disaster Declaration, Disaster Recovery Centers across the state are now open, serving as central hubs to connect community members and businesses with support.
With DWR projecting flooding impacts for the next 16 weeks, the state continues to support and conduct operations to forecast flood impacts, provide technical assistance and flood fighting materials, and divert river flows into groundwater basins all in an effort to protect communities and infrastructure.
Leveraging the more than $8.6 billion committed by Governor Newsom and the Legislature in the last two budget cycles to build water resilience, the state is continuing to take aggressive action to prepare for the impacts of climate-driven extremes in weather on the state’s water supplies. In the 2023-24 state budget, the Governor is proposing an additional $202 million for flood protection.
Business owners that were impacted by storms in Kern, Mariposa, Monterey, San Benito, San Bernardino, Santa Cruz, Tulare, and Tuolumne counties can register for federal assistance to help them repair or replace damaged property that was destroyed.
Through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) offers low-interest disaster loans to help cover disaster-caused damage or mitigation to help prevent future storm damage. Businesses can register online at disasterassistance.gov.
Additionally, the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) is mobilizing existing funds from the state’s Rapid Response Fund to provide disaster recovery services to undocumented Californians ineligible for FEMA individual assistance due to immigration status. These efforts also include ensuring mixed-status families are accessing federal and state resources that they may be eligible for.
The Labor and Workforce Development Agency is coordinating with local partners and nonprofits to mobilize and provide assistance, particularly to farmworkers.
On Earth Day, working to grow impact of Farm to School program
Earth Day event attendees connected on strategies and tangible ways to scale up the Farm to School program’s impact
RANCHO CORDOVA, Calif. – On Earth Day, Saturday, April 22, California First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom convened stakeholders to explore opportunities to build upon California’s nation-leading Farm to School program, which connects local farmers and food to California students while creating a more sustainable and equitable food system for the betterment of the planet.
“California’s Farm to School program presents endless possibilities to address so many priority issue areas: the health and well-being of children, moving the food and agriculture industry towards regenerative practices to combat climate change, creating sustainable career pathways, bolstering local economies, and building partnership within communities,” said Newsom. “Given the state’s unprecedented investments in universal school meals and unparalleled agricultural production, California is uniquely positioned to scale up Farm to School and create a healthier, more equitable future for ALL Californians.”
Through Farm to School, California school districts are developing new markets for California farmers and food producers – including small farmers, women, and people of color who have historically been left out of the massive school food marketplace – catalyzing broader food systems change towards greater climate-smart practices, and implementing educational programming that connects traditional curriculum with hands-on learning opportunities like cultivating school gardens, cooking classes, and farm field trips.
The Earth Day event was held at Soil Born Farms in Rancho Cordova, and included school superintendents, Farm to School program grantees, farmers, members of California Native communities, chefs, and labor representatives. The group came together for a creek clean up project led by California Chief Service Officer Josh Fryday and a lunch curated by renowned chef and longtime farm to school champion Alice Waters.
“California is laser-focused on creating healthier communities with our nation-leading Farm to School efforts – leveraging our unique position as the bread basket of the nation to bring more sustainable and healthy options to our schools,” said her husband the governor. “We’re taking real action that makes a difference in the lives of thousands of California families, giving kids access to healthier meals that fight climate change and support our agricultural communities.”
Earth Day event attendees connected on strategies and tangible ways to scale up the Farm to School program’s impact on students, communities, and the agricultural sector while minimizing negative climate impacts through innovative, community-centric school food procurement practices.
“If public schools purchased food from local organic regenerative farms and ranches, we could take care of the earth and eat healthy, ripe food at the same time,” said chef Alice Waters. “What a delicious solution!”
The First Partner led the work – in partnership with the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) – to develop the innovative California Farm to School grant program. Farm to School works in tandem with California’s first-in-the-nation universal school meals initiative to ensure California’s two free school meals are also locally sourced, nutritious, and delicious.
Under the First Partner’s leadership and in partnership with CDFA, Farm to School has touched over 1.5 million students, 163 school districts and educational entities, over 50 farms and four food hubs.
“As we celebrate Earth Day 2023, we also celebrate the enthusiasm of California school leaders, students and farmers to embrace the farm to school movement and Farm to School Incubator Grant Program championed by First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom, Governor Newsom and the California Legislature,” said CDFA Secretary Karen Ross. “There is clear excitement from students about building lifelong relationships with nutritious food, and we’re just as excited to encourage an equitable, healthy, local food system that creates community around what we eat and celebrates the bounty of a healthy Earth through the curious minds and hands of children.”
IRS extends tax deadline to Oct. 16 for disaster areas in California
For Californians who don’t live in any of the 50 counties listed, their tax filing deadline is still April 18
WASHINGTON – The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has extended tomorrow’s tax deadline for filing until October 16 for residents in California that were impacted by the disasters caused by historic recording breaking weather-related events.
Californians have received a federal tax filing extension due to the severe weather in 50 of the state’s 58 counties which includes all of Southern California.
The IRS continues to offer free tax filing services for anyone needing help with their returns.
Taxpayers who made $73,000 or less in 2022 can use the IRS Free File service. More information about the different programs is available on the government website.
To avoid processing and refund delays, Americans are encouraged to have all the necessary information before filing their tax returns and visit the IRS website for answers to commonly asked questions.
Once submitted, Americans can use the Where’s My Refund? link on the IRS website to know when they should expect their refund.
The agency expects that most people will get their refund within 21 days if their returns were filed electronically, chose direct deposit as the refund method, and have an error-free return.
People who need to file 2022 returns can check the agency website for the latest information.
Affected counties are:
- Contra Costa
- Del Norte
- El Dorado
- Los Angeles
- San Benito
- San Bernardino
- San Diego
- San Francisco
- San Joaquin
- San Luis Obispo
- San Mateo
- Santa Barbara
- Santa Clara
- Santa Cruz
For Californians who don’t live in any of the counties listed above, their tax filing deadline is still April 18.
California announces emergency stockpile of abortion medication
The state has secured an emergency stockpile of up to 2 million pills of Misoprostol, a safe and effective medication abortion drug
SACRAMENTO – Governor Newsom announced Monday that California has secured an emergency stockpile of up to 2 million pills of Misoprostol, a safe and effective medication abortion drug, in the wake of U.S. District Court Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk’s ruling seeking to block Mifepristone, a critical abortion pill.
California shared the negotiated terms of its Misoprostol purchase agreement to assist other states in securing Misoprostol, at low cost.
“In response to this extremist ban on a medication abortion drug, our state has secured a stockpile of an alternative medication abortion drug to ensure that Californians continue to have access to safe reproductive health treatments. We will not cave to extremists who are trying to outlaw these critical abortion services. Medication abortion remains legal in California,” said Governor Newsom.
California officials still believe Mifepristone is central to the preferred regimen for medication abortion, the State negotiated and purchased an emergency stockpile of Misoprostol in anticipation of Friday’s ruling by far-right federal judge Kacsmaryk to ensure that California remains a safe haven for safe, affordable, and accessible reproductive care.
More than 250,000 pills have already arrived in California, and the State has negotiated the ability to purchase up to 2 million Misoprostol pills as needed through CalRx. To support other states in securing Misoprostol at a low cost, California has shared the negotiated terms of the purchase agreement with all states in the Reproductive Freedom Alliance.
For decades, medication abortion has been a reliable, affordable, and accessible way for people to get abortion care. Mifepristone, which the FDA first approved in 2000, is taken in combination with Misoprostol. This regimen has been used in more than half of abortions nationwide and is widely considered the standard of care.
California announced that it has taken the following actions:
- Purchasing Misoprostol, through CalRx, to ensure California providers can continue to provide medication abortions without disruption. Pharmacies facing shortages can go to Abortion.CA.GOV to find out how to access the stockpile.
- Informing Medi-Cal providers about continued reimbursement for medication abortion using a Misoprostol-only treatment regimen.
- Reminding health plans of California statute that requires the coverage of all other types of abortion and abortion-related services with no cost-sharing or utilization management, including misoprostol.
- Updating Abortion.CA.GOV, California’s abortion resource website, to address questions regarding the Texas court decision and its potential impact on their access to medication abortion.
- Proactively working with other states through the Reproductive Freedom Alliance to protect access in advance of Friday’s decision.
In reaction, state Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis said in a statement: “Today’s announcement reaffirms California’s commitment to lead the fight against extremist attempts to take away the fundamental right to reproductive care. I applaud Governor Newsom’s swift action to ensure that Californians and those who seek care here can continue to access safe abortions.”
“We are continually looking for ways to stay ahead of the curve on reproductive access in California. I applaud Governor Newsom on his leadership to ensure decisions made in other states on medication abortion do not prevent Californians from getting reproductive care. I look forward to continuing to work with the Governor and my colleagues in the Legislature on additional efforts to safeguard abortion access in California,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins.
Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon also stated: “I applaud this effort by Governor Newsom to ensure that critical abortion medication is available for every woman in need, even while other states fight to strip away that right to bodily autonomy. With the legal future of mifepristone uncertain, taking early action to make sure we are well-supplied with misoprostol will mean continued access to reproductive healthcare for Californians across the state.”
In September 2022, Newsom signed into law a budget and legislative package that invested more than $200 million in new funds to protect and expand access to sexual and reproductive health care, including abortion care. Of this, $40 million is to cover provider costs for people who cannot afford care (known as uncompensated care), and $20 million is for an “Abortion Practical Support Fund” to help cover the costs associated with abortion care, including travel and lodging both for people in California and people forced to come to California due to restrictions in their home state. These investments will make it easier for people experiencing barriers to care to access critical health care services.
Newsom recently led 21 Governors in creating the Reproductive Freedom Alliance – a first-of-its-kind nonpartisan coalition to protect and expand access to reproductive health care, including abortion. The Alliance facilitates proactive and swift coordination across reproductive freedom states so that they can put up effective firewalls to protect and expand access to reproductive care.
Newsom signs gas price gouging law: “Calif. took on Big Oil & won”
Following record gas price hikes and profits, Governor Newsom signed his special session bill to hold Big Oil accountable
SACRAMENTO – Surrounded by legislators and community leaders in the rotunda of the California State Capitol, Governor Gavin Newsom signed legislation Tuesday to implement the strongest state-level oversight and accountability measures on Big Oil in the nation – bringing transparency to California’s oil and gas industry, shining new light on the corporations that have for decades operated in the shadows while ripping families off and raking in record profits.
It is the latest instance in which the Governor has successfully taken on the historically powerful industry for putting profits over people. Last year, Governor Newsom signed legislation adding new reporting requirements to oil refiners, as well as a law protecting neighborhoods and schools from oil drilling.
“With this legislation, we’re ending the oil industry’s days of operating in the shadows. California took on Big Oil and won. We’re not only protecting families, we’re also loosening the vice grip Big Oil has had on our politics for the last 100 years,” the governor said.
Authored by Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), co-sponsored by Attorney General Rob Bonta and approved by a supermajority in both the Senate and Assembly, SBx1-2 creates a dedicated, day-in and day-out, independent watchdog to root out price gouging by oil companies and authorizes the California Energy Commission (CEC) to create a penalty to hold the industry accountable. The law will go into effect on June 26, the 91st day after the end of the special session.
When the law’s new transparency and oversight requirements go into effect at the end of June, the state will begin receiving more information than ever before, including last year when it appeared that oil producers suppressed supply to drive up prices and rake in record profits. Industry knows that the new independent watchdog division will be closely monitoring them and will refer any violation of law – including industry misconduct or market manipulation – to the Attorney General for prosecution.
Remarks from stakeholders and co-sponsors:
- Attorney General Rob Bonta: “Record high retail gas prices — and record-breaking profits for Big Oil — hurt those who can least afford it most of all. For too long, Californians have been left in the dark when it comes to the practices of the gas industry. And while oil companies have been lining their pockets, many Californians are struggling to make ends meet. I proudly stand with the Governor as he signs into law our cosponsored bill to bring accountability and transparency to the gas industry. Together, we are fighting to even the scales for California consumers and take this burden off their shoulders.”
- Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego): “This bill provides important tools to help Californians get the answers we deserve about oil company profits and price gouging. Through the leadership of Senators Skinner, Bradford, Limón, and McGuire, and our colleagues in the Assembly and the Administration, these new reforms are strong on transparency and accountability. That’s a big part of what it will take to stop any wrongdoing and protect California consumers.”
- Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood): “Assemblymembers deserve praise for developing and passing this legislation, collaborating with the Governor and the Senate in the face of oil company intransigence. Our deliberations have been rigorous and transparent. Transparency is what we need now from the gas pricing system. That’s what this bill is about.”
- Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), author of SBX1-2: “I am proud of my colleagues for passing this first-in-the-nation protection against price gouging by Big Oil. Californians faced outrageously high gas prices last year, prices that strained family budgets an extra $600 or more a month. In calling for immediate action, Governor Newsom responded decisively in proposing SBX 1-2, the strongest, most effective transparency and oversight measure in the nation. This landmark law will allow us to hold oil companies accountable if they pad their profits at the expense of hard-working families. With SBX 1-2, California has sent a clear message to the oil industry: Open your books and prove you’re not price gouging, otherwise Big Oil will pay the price — not consumers.”
- Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin (D-Thousand Oaks): “A supermajority of the Legislature, in partnership with the Governor, has just delivered for Californians struggling to afford gasoline. Not only will this new law provide real transparency and oversight with dedicated expertise to oversee the gasoline market, it will also create a plan to achieve our low carbon and clean air future. While the work is just beginning, experts will now have the tools they need to address outrageous prices at the pump.”
- Dwayne Crenshaw, President, Greater Sacramento Urban League: “For far too Iong, Californians have been wrongly taxed at the pump by Big Oil. This tax has especially impacted those in low-income, urban communities of color, where residents struggle to pay for basic needs and can’t afford price gouging at the pump. Governor Newsom’s bold proposal addresses economic, environmental health and racial justice, while holding Big Oil accountable.”
- Mary Leslie, President, Los Angeles Business Council: “The key to creating a clean energy economy that’s good for business and consumers is ensuring transparency and accountability in our fuel markets. Governor Newsom’s price gouging law protects California families and workers, while supporting our clean energy transition which is a big win for all of us. We thank the Governor and the Legislature for their quick action to bring much-needed transparency to the industry.”
- Max Vargas, VP of Economic Justice, Latino Community Foundation: “We applaud Governor Newsom’s leadership to tackle gasoline price gouging in California. Latino workers and small businesses are the backbone of local economies, but they’re still reeling from the pandemic’s disproportionate fallout, which oil company price hikes are further exacerbating. The creation of an independent watchdog for an industry this powerful is especially affirming for grassroots community leaders across the state who serve the working families directly affected by this price gouging.”
- Melanie Morelos, California Strategy Senior Program Manager, The Greenlining Institute: “We applaud Governor Newsom, and the California State Legislature’s swift action to tackle Big Oil’s ongoing corporate greed. Too many California families are forced to choose between filling up the tank in order to get to work, over essential expenses like rent and childcare while oil executives line their pockets with record-breaking profits. This landmark legislation sends a clear message that we will not allow corporations to take advantage of our communities and that the reign of unchecked Big Oil is coming to an end.”
- Teri Olle, California Campaign Director, Economic Security Project Action: “Finally, California called Big Oil’s bluff and won. The real reason this handful of massive corporations charge California twice as much for gas is that they can. We applaud Governor Newsom and the legislature for taking significant steps in addressing the unchecked corporate concentration which has been keeping our gas prices so high and in creating a more equitable and fair economy.”
- Jamie Court, President, Consumer Watchdog: “This landmark reform makes California the first state in the nation to authorize a windfall profits cap on oil refiners so that they can no longer gouge consumers at the pump. Combined with unprecedented transparency measures and a new watchdog bureau, this price gouging penalty will prevent Californians from enduring the price spikes and profits spikes that have plagued the gasoline market last year. Governor Newsom has balanced the scales on behalf of millions of Californians who no longer will have to choose between $6 per gallon gas and putting food on their tables.”
- Matt Petersen, CEO, LA Cleantech Incubator: “The small business owners and startup founders we support–and the workforce they employ–are the engine of our state’s growing cleantech innovation economy, yet they all suffer from price gouging at the pump that is enriching oil companies. We applaud Governor Newsom and the Legislature’s leadership for pushing back to keep money in our cleantech workers’ and small business’ pockets while growing our economy–the fourth largest in the world–while putting in place bold, equitable climate action.”
- Irvine Mayor Farrah Khan: “I’ve supported the Price Gouging Penalty bill (SBX1-2) from the beginning because I saw first-hand the effect high gas rates had on our residents. Thanks to Governor Newsom’s fast action, Californians will no longer be charged unfairly at the gas pump by big oil companies.”
- Meghan Sahli-Wells, California Director, Elected Officials to Protect America (EOPA), Former Culver City Mayor: “I am proud to join over 150 local elected officials throughout California who support transparency and accountability for an industry that has put their profits over our health, safety and wellbeing for far too long. We represent communities on the frontlines of fossil fuel pollution, unbreathable air and climate disaster, that, to add insult to injury, Big Oil has held hostage by unprecedented price hikes at the pump. We applaud the Governor for heralding, the and legislature for passing, this first in the nation bill to hold multi billion-dollar corporations accountable for price gouging, and laying the groundwork for a healthier, more just and economically vibrant California for all.”
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