SACRAMENTO, Calif — Since 1973, the California Latino Legislative Caucus has been serving Latino people and their communities.
The mission of the Caucus is 'to identify, promote and advocate on behalf of the professional, educational, social, political and cultural interests of the Latino community.'
The Caucus is made up of members from the State Senate and Assembly and on Wednesday, the Caucus voted to prioritize 20 bills for this legislative session. Out of the 20 bills, nine of them focus on education.
"This package of bills aims to address issues that our communities feel every day - economic inequity, environmental injustices, inadequate healthcare, and the rights of immigrants, to name a few," said Caucus Chair Senator María Elena Durazo, D-Los Angeles. "Our mission is to put these inequities front and center and to fight for policies that will create better outcomes for all Californians."
Assemblymember Carlos Villapudua, D-Stockton, is pushing Assemby Bill 2132, also known as the California Future Physician Fund, to address California's shortage of physicians and medical professionals. The California Future Physician Fund is sponsored by the California Medical Association, which represents more than 50,000 physicians.
The bill creates a pilot program to provide scholarships to students in underserved communities from undergrad through medical school. Following the completion of their residency programs, these students will continue to provide care in the same communities they were educated in for a specified period of time.
"Although California continues to provide leading policies that ensure our residents can find healthcare insurance as needed, we remain vulnerable to the shortage of medical professionals across our state," Villapudua said. "The financial barriers to entry have created significant gaps in our workforce – thus hindering our access to care – for many of our rural and underserved populations. Our physician shortage is creating longer delays in healthcare service, drives to offices or hospitals, and wait times for patients, which in turn discourages people from seeking care until absolutely necessary."
Assemblymember Miguel Santiago, D-Los Angeles, is for Assemby Bill 2266. The legislation expands the California College Promise (CCP) program to provide two years of tuition free community college to all full-time students, whether they are first-time or returning students.
Currently, the program only provides two years of free community college for first time students and does not include returning students. AB 2266 removes the first-time requirement from the College Promise and allows all full-time students to receive two tuition-free years at any community college in the state.
“Community college changed my life," Santiago said. “It gave me choices, opportunities and it opened doors. I know that free community college will change the lives of all Californians. Educating communities empowers communities, plain and simple. That is why we are expanding CCP to provide two years of free tuition to all full-time community college students, regardless if they are a first-time or returning student.”
Senator Monique Limón, D-Santa Barbara, is promoting Senate Bill 952. It expands the number of schoolwide dual language immersion programs in California. Specifically, the bill provides $15 million over five years to a minimum of 20 schools seeking to convert to dual language immersion programs.
According to the California Department of Education, dual-language immersion schools are proven to promote strong academic performance among students from all backgrounds and are a way public schools experiencing declining enrollment can attract and retain students.
"I'm proud of the academic value that comes from speaking two languages," Limón said. "These are programs that teach students two languages simultaneously and research has shown that they're incredibly beneficial for student learning and growth. In the long term, we know that students who speak multiple languages, it's not just beneficial in terms of academics, but as a profession."
The Caucus is working to get the package of bills on Gov. Newsom's desk.
“Our priority legislation reaffirms our caucus’ commitment to challenging inequity and uplifting our most underserved,” said Caucus Vice-Chair Assemblymember Robert Rivas, D-Salinas). "While other states are making it harder for Latinos to vote, banning Latino and other history in schools, and demonizing our immigrant neighbors, our bills reflect California’s diversity and equity values.”
The Caucus' top 20 bills for the 2022 legislative session include:
Economic Equity/Tax Reform:
- AB 2750 (Bonta) State Digital Equity Plan – This bill directs the Department of Technology to create a state digital equity plan to identify barriers to digital equity faced by covered populations, document and promote digital equity among covered populations, and assess the impact of increasing digital equity.
- SB 860 (Rubio) Young Child Tax Credit Eligibility Expansion – This bill extends the eligibility for the Young Child Tax Credit to households with no earned income, including unpaid caregivers with children 6 years old and under.
- AB 288 (Calderon) Ban on Scholarship Displacement Act – This bill prohibits the displacement of financial aid awards due to receipt of private scholarships by students who are eligible for a Federal Pell Grant and/or CA Dream Act financial aid.
- AB 1703 (Ramos) CA Indian Education Act – This bill encourages school districts, county offices of education and charter schools to form Indian Education Task Forces with tribes local to their region or historically located in their region.
- AB 1746 (Medina) Cal Grant Reform Act – This bill modernizes the Cal Grant program to expand eligibility, guarantee certain access awards, remove barriers for adult learners and support students with dependent children.
- AB 2004 (C. Garcia) California DREAM Loan Program – This bill strengthens the California Dream Loan Program by requiring loan borrowers to receive financial education, creating loan forgiveness and discharge provisions that mirror federal loan programs, and increasing the amount students can borrow for graduate programs.
- AB 2132 (Villapudua) Medical School Tuition for Medical Service Pilot Program – This bill establishes a pilot program that provides up-front funding for the undergraduate, medical school, and residency education for individuals underrepresented in medicine and committed to practicing in rural or medically underserved areas.
- AB 2266 (Santiago) Free Community College For All – This bill expands the California College Promise program to allow all full-time community college students to receive two tuition-free years at any California community college.
- AB 2489 (Salas) Neighborhood Teacher Incentive Grant Program – This bill provides $50 million in grant funds to supplement the pay of teachers who agree to live within the boundaries of the respective priority school they teach at for five years.
- AB 2806 (Rubio) Suspension and Expulsion in Early Learning and Care & Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation – This bill prohibits suspension and expulsion in state preschool and childcare programs and it strengthens early childhood mental health consultations (ECMHC).
- SB 952 (Limón) Dual Language Immersion Schools – This bill provides $15 million over five years to twenty schools seeking to convert to dual language immersion (DLI) programs.
- AB 2108 (R. Rivas) Water Boards: Environmental Justice – This bill requires the State Water Resources Control Board and each of the nine Regional Water Boards to fill one seat with an environmental justice or tribal community member. It also requires the Water Boards to incorporate environmental justice analysis and community outreach into their permitting process.
- AB 2238 (L. Rivas) Advance Warning and Ranking System for Extreme Heat Waves – This bill establishes the development of a statewide heat-ranking process, based on their projected health impact and meteorological data.
Health Care Access:
- AB 4 (Arambula) *** Health for All – This bill extends eligibility for full scope Medi-Cal benefits to anyone regardless of age, and who is otherwise eligible for those benefits but for their immigration status.
- AB 2217 (Gómez Reyes) Affordable Homeownership Production Act – This bill authorizes the Department of Housing and Community Development to set higher per unit and total project caps within the Cal Home program to promote construction of affordable homes in high-cost areas.
New Americans/Immigrant Rights:
- AB 937 (Carrillo) Vision Act – This bill precludes law enforcement agencies from providing notification of the release of inmates to or facilitating inmate transfers with federal immigration authorities, and prohibits state and local agencies from assisting in the detention, deportation, interrogation, of an individual by immigration enforcement. (Two Year Bill)
- AB 1631 (Cervantes) Multilingual Polling Place Workers – This bill requires county registrars to assign polling place workers who speak languages other than English to specific precincts with certain numerical thresholds of voters who speak that other language.
Worker Rights/Workplace Safety:
- AB 2847 (E. Garcia) Excluded Workers Act – This bill establishes the Excluded Workers Pilot Program to provide undocumented workers with $300 per week (up to 20 weeks) for each week of unemployment occurring between January 1, 2023, and December 31, 2023.
- SB 951 (Durazo) Paid Family Leave and Disability Insurance Benefits – This bill increases wage replacement rates for lower income workers to 90% of income for the first 12 weeks of State Disability Insurance and all 8 weeks of Paid Family Leave.
- SB 972 (Gonzalez) Enhancing Safety of Sidewalk Food Vending – This bill modernizes the CA Retail Food Code to include sidewalk food vendors and updates the Microenterprise Home Kitchen Operation and the Cottage Food Operation laws to allow sidewalk food vendors to access these existing programs.