Transforming the Halls of Power, WPI-State Class of 2018

by Tania Flores

It’s been a pretty exciting year for the 30 community leaders who make up our Women’s Policy Institute (WPI) – State Class of 2018! With five out of six teams making it to the Governor’s desk and three bills signed into law, we are reminded once again that we are the ones we’ve been waiting for and that we have what it takes to advance gender, racial, and economic justice and transform the halls of power at the state level.

With your support, we will continue to mobilize, build our communities up, and sustain pressure on our lawmakers to ensure that we advance gender justice.

This year, our WPI fellows advocated for policy solutions in the areas of criminal justice, health justice, economic justice, trauma justice, and reproductive justice. From advocating for groundbreaking policies that sought to expand access to abortion and lactation accommodations for college students to fighting to reform the sentencing policies that fuel mass incarceration, this year’s WPI fellows truly stepped into their power and their contributions are rippling throughout the state.

WINS: New State Laws! 

AB 2785 (Assm. Blanca Rubio) will allow student parents at California Community Colleges and California State Universities to pump milk or feed infants in clean and accessible lactation rooms.

AB 2413 (Assm. David Chiu) strengthens housing protections for survivors of violence who are threatened with eviction as a result of their calls for emergency services.

SB 1393 (Sen Holly J. Mitchell) will help to reduce the damage and harm caused by mass incarceration by giving judges the option to strike an enhancement that adds an additional 5 years of incarceration to the sentence of a person convicted of a serious offense for each prior serious offense.

Valiant Efforts
Both AB 2299 (Assm. Kansen Chu) and SB 320 (Sen Connie Leyva) were vetoed by Governor Jerry Brown. These bills would have ensured that people could easily read and understand Medi-Cal information documents (AB 2299) and that all students at public universities have access to medication for early pregnancy termination at their campus health centers (SB 320). The Foundation and Senator Leyva have already announced that they will continue to work with campus organizers to reintroduce this bill in 2019. Stay tuned!

SB 1233 (Sen Mike McGuire) would have expanded alternatives for people who face financial hardship in paying traffic fines and fees and SB 1392 (Sen Holly J. Mitchell) would have helped eradicate harsh sentencing practices by removing an enhancement that adds an additional year of incarceration for each prior prison term or felony county jail term.

While we are disappointed that SB 1233 and SB 1392 did not reach the Governor’s desk and that SB 320 and AB 2299 were vetoed, we have prepared all 30 fellows to continue shaping California’s legislative landscape—and have passed 3 pieces of progressive policy that make California a more just place in the meantime. This brings the total number of WPI bills that have been signed into law over the last 15 years to 35! As Senator Holly J. Mitchell said to the incoming class of WPI fellows this week, “WPI has been responsible for passing more legislation than any other effort of its kind in Sacramento.”

Our journey to transform the halls of power continues. This week, we welcomed our newest class of 25 WPI-State fellows to Sacramento. As we head into a new legislative cycle, we are depending on your continued support.

You can help us and our fellows celebrate our recent wins and shape a new set of laws this year by making a gift today. Together, we will continue to advance gender, racial, and economic justice across the state.

Onward,

Tania Flores, Senior Program Associate
Marj Plumb, Chief Strategist – Policy Advocacy and Training


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