Each year, the Women’s Foundation of California trains up to 30 women on the legislative process as part of the Women’s Policy Institute. WPI fellows learn how to write bills, educate legislators and organize community support to pass proposed legislation.
We sat down with WPI fellow Stella Kim (Policy and Communications Specialist at *California Partnership) to learn about her experience this past year and to find out more about the bill she is helping develop.
1) Why did you decide to do WPI?
I decided to pursue WPI because I knew the experience would enrich my professional development and contribute to my organization. At California Partnership, our policy focus centers on the budget policies that affect low-income communities of color. This fellowship was a chance to engage in the legislative process, both as an individual and as a woman of color.
2) What is one thing you’ve learned going through WPI?
We can all be engaged. The legislative process is not as foreign or difficult or distant as I thought it might be. I am continuously learning that you can just throw yourself in there and actually do it. You can feel ownership over the goals you’re pursuing. All of the members of our team are forging key relationships, becoming experts in the process and learning how to be strong advocates for necessary change.
3) What is your team working on and why is it important?
Our team is working on AB828, authored by Assembly member Swanson. Currently, people with a prior drug-related offense cannot get food stamps or CalFresh in our state. Yet, California is one of the states with the lowest food stamp participation rates in the country. Many people are going hungry and we don’t have to let that happen.
In addition, research shows that Calfresh benefits are critical for successful community re-entry and self-sufficiency. Denying benefits to individuals who have already paid their debt to society prevents them from providing basic food and nutrition for their families.
Federal dollars fund the food stamps program, so changing this policy means that we would bring federal money to our state. It also allows a population that is mainly women to re-enter society and feed their children and rebuild their lives.
Our first policy committee hearing is Tuesday, April 5th. Stay tuned!
*California Partnership is a statewide coalition of community-based groups, organizing and advocating for programs and policies that reduce and end poverty. The organization is spear-heading campaigns to develop electoral power in low-income communities, give local communities a voice in creating a more just state budget and build a movement for healthcare for everyone.