Women’s Policy Institute (WPI)

Social change: Not for the faint of heart. The perfect job for a community leader.

Since 2003, nearly 450 fellows have helped develop and support numerous bills and gained invaluable experience navigating complex legislative processes. With 32 of our fellows’ policy projects signed into law, and various resolutions and administrative wins at both the state and county levels realized because of our fellows’ hard work, we’ve seen how a single leader’s actions can have an enormous impact on communities.

Legislative Wins: 32 Bills Signed Into Law

Senate Bill 310 was signed into law on October 15, 2017

Author: Senator Toni Atkins

Makes it easier for incarcerated trans people to petition for a legal name and/or gender marker change. The first piece of legislation written by currently and formerly incarcerated transgender people.

Assembly Bill 273 was signed into law on on October 12. 2017

Author: Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry

Increases access to opportunities for families across the state by allowing parents to qualify for subsidized child care during the time they take English as a Second Language and High School Equivalency courses.

Assembly Bill 523 was signed into law on October 7, 2017

Author: Assemblymember Eloise Gómez Reyes

Allocates 35 percent of California’s renewable energy fund to projects located in and benefiting disadvantaged and low-income communities.

SB 1000 was signed into law on September 24, 2016

Author: Senator Connie Leyva

Started as a WPI-Local project, this bill requires cities and counties to address environmental justice in their general plans.

SB 1015 was signed into law on September 12, 2016

Author: Senator Connie Leyva

Removes the sunset provision on the successful AB 241 from 2013 (below), making permanent the overtime labor protections for domestic workers.

AB 2057 was signed into law on September 30, 2016

Author: Assemblymember Mark Stone

Provides expedited CalFresh for survivors of domestic violence.

AB 1603 was signed into law on June 17, 2016

Author: Committee on Budget

Repeals the Maximum Family Grant rule that prohibited additional aid to children born into a family receiving aid under the CalWORKs program.

SB 219 was signed into law on October 11, 2015

Author: Senator Carol Liu

Expands access to the Alternative Custody Program (ACP), which currently allows eligible incarcerated people to finish their sentences outside of prisons in order to care for their families. (This bill started with the Class of 2014 WPI fellows and continued by the alumnae.)

AB 420 was signed into law on September 27, 2014

Author: Assemblymember Roger Dickinson

This bill limits the number of California students who are suspended and expelled, particularly for relatively minor behavioral problems that do not threaten school safety. Until this bill passed, the “willful defiance” offense was used disproportionately to discipline and expel minority students.

AB 1579 was signed into law on September 26, 2014

Author: Assemblymember Mark Stone

Known as the Healthy Baby Act of 2014, this bill gives pregnant women access to lifesaving CalWORKs cash and healthcare benefits in their second (as opposed to third) trimesters of pregnancy. It will particularly affect women facing domestic violence because abuse often starts or escalates during pregnancy.

AB 2102 was signed into law on September 18, 2014

Author: Assemblymember Phil Ting

The bill facilitates the collection of demographic data within allied health professions. This data will help create a workforce that's better equipped to meet our communities’ diverse health needs. This law will go a long way towards helping us develop a dynamic workforce capable of helping everyone, in particular the state’s growing Latino population.

AB 1468 a budget bill, was signed into law on June 20, 2014

Author: Committee on Budget

This budget bill included an authorization for a sheriff or a county director of corrections to implement a voluntary alternative custody program for male and female inmates who have been committed to a county jail for a felony or misdemeanor and to additionally include confinement to a mental health clinic or hospital that offers appropriate mental health services.

AB 422 was signed into law on October 1, 2013

Author: Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian

This bill updates the information provided to parents about the National School Lunch Program to include information about the new low-cost health care coverage through the California Health Benefit Exchange and the Medi-Cal programs. By updating information provided to parents through schools, the parents will be better informed to take advantage of new and lifesaving health care coverage options.

AB 241 was signed into law on September 26, 2013*

Author: Assemblymember Tom Ammiano

This bill, better known as the California Domestic Worker Bill of Rights, provides overtime pay to an estimated 100,000 California housekeepers, child care providers and caregivers when they work more than nine hours in a day or forty-five hours a week. More than 90 percent of domestic workers in California are women.

*Worked on by two previous WPI teams and passed on the third try.

SB 612 was signed into law on August 19, 2013

Author: Senator Mark Leno

California law currently allows survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and elder or dependent adult abuse to break their residential leases with documentation limited to either a court-issued protective order or a police report. This bill expands the type of documentation allowed as proof of abuse to include reports from domestic violence and sexual assault counselors, human trafficking case workers and other mental health and health care professionals.

SB 73 (originally SB 39) was signed into law on June 27, 2013*

Author: Senator Kevin De León

SB 73 outlines how the Proposition 39 funds will be allocated to California's K-12 schools and community colleges and it ensures that those funds deliver the expected energy efficiency and cost savings. Because of SB 73, some of the Proposition 39 funding will be allocated to school districts based on the proportion of their low-income student population as well as to small school districts in pollution-impacted regions.

* SB 39 went through the traditional legislative process but was subsumed in the state budget's last minute negotiations, becoming SB 73, a budget trailer bill.

AB 2530 was signed into law on September 30, 2012*

Author: Assemblymember Nancy Skinner and Assemblymember Holly Mitchell

AB 2530 is a bill to ensure that incarcerated pregnant women are restrained in the least restrictive way possible when being transported to and from a state or local correctional facility (reintroduction of AB 568 and AB 1900).

*Worked on by two previous WPI teams and passed on the third try.

AB 2015 Calls for Kids Act was signed into law on September 30, 2012

Author: Assemblymember Holly Mitchell

This bill would state the intent of the Legislature to enact legislation that would ensure that the right of an arrested custodial parent to make telephone calls or otherwise arrange for the care of a minor child or children during his or her absence is applied without regard to immigration status or language of the person arrested.

AB 138 was signed by the Governor on October 9, 2011

Author: Assemblymember Jim Beall

AB 138, the Elder Economic Planning Act of 2011, requires the California Department of Aging and the local area agencies on aging to use the Elder Economic Security Standard Index as a guide in making resource allocation decisions and in crafting statewide and local area plans. The Elder Economic Security Standard Index quantifies the costs in the private market for meeting the basic needs of elders, including, but not limited to, the costs of essential household items, food, health care, shelter, transportation, and utilities.

SB 897 was signed by the Governor on September 30, 2011

Author: Senator Mark Leno

SB 897, the RCFE Residents Foreclosure Protection Act would protect elderly residents living in Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly (RCFEs) from the physical and emotional upheaval that results from unexpected and abrupt foreclosures. Under this bill, California’s 8,000 RCFEs must provide timely notification to residents, their legal representatives, and the state should the facility fall into severe financial distress or foreclosure, thereby preventing the forced eviction of vulnerable RCFE residents through no fault of their own.

SB 1440 was signed by the Governor on September 29, 2010

Author: Senator Alex Padilla

SB 1440, the California Community Colleges Student Transfer bill guarantees admission to the California State University System with junior standing. The law will allow thousands of community college students with an associate's degree to have a more streamline path for transfer to the California State University system. This bill would enact the Student Transfer Achievement Reform Act, which, commencing with the 2011–12 academic year, would require a student that receives an associate degree for transfer to be deemed eligible for transfer into a California State University baccalaureate program when the student meets prescribed requirements.

AB 1963 was signed by the Governor on September 27, 2010

Author: Assemblymember Pedro Nava

AB 1963, the Farm Worker Health Act, provides oversight and structure to a program aimed at protecting farm workers from overexposure to dangerous pesticides. This law protects farm workers from pesticide poisoning - before it occurs - and will lead to workplace safety improvements, ensuring long-term protections to farm workers and their families.

AB 2070 was signed by the Governor on September 28, 2008

Author: Assembly Speaker Karen Bass

AN 2070 gives social workers more discretion to extend the timeline before parental rights are terminated in the case of a parent’s incarceration. This bill also expands the reunification services available to families following incarceration.

AB 2695 was signed into law by the governor on September 26, 2006

Author: Assemblymember Jackie Goldberg

This bill strengthens protections from physical assault for frontline workers dealing with domestic violence, reproductive rights, and human rights. The bill permits employers to obtain protective orders for the entire worksite when an individual or a group of employees experiences violence or a credible threat of violence in the workplace.

SB 1569 was signed into law on September 29, 2006

Author: Senator Sheila Kuehl

This bill serves victims of human trafficking by extending certain public benefits including refugee cash assistance, Medi-Cal, and employment social services — to qualified victims of trafficking, domestic violence, and other crimes.

SB 148 was signed into law on September 29, 2006

Author: Senator Jack Scott

This bill creates safer and more livable communities by increasing local control over liquor store licensing.

AB 450 (Changed to AB 1179) was signed by the Governor on October 7, 2005

Author: Assemblymember Leland Yee

This bill prohibits the sale or rental of violent video games to minors.

SB 484 was signed by the Governor on October 7, 2005

Author: Senator Carole Migden

This bill establishes the California Safe Cosmetics Act of 2005 and requires cosmetics manufacturers to disclose to the Department of Health Services (DHS) a list of ingredients in their products that are chemicals that have been identified to cause cancer or reproductive harm.

AB 1285 was signed by the Governor on October 7, 2005

Author: Assemblymember Cindy Montañez

This bill expands the family childcare retention program in Los Angeles County, thereby increasing working families’ options for affordable quality childcare.

SB 1441 was signed by the Governor on July 15, 2004

Author: Senator Sheila Kuehl

This bill provides that a victim of domestic violence or abuse has the right to have a domestic violence counselor and a support person of his or her choosing present at any interview by law enforcement authorities, district attorneys or defense attorneys, as specified, and shall be notified orally or in writing by the attending law enforcement authority or district attorney of that right prior to the commencement of an initial interview.

SB 1639 Education Works! was signed by the Governor on September 22, 2004

Author: Senator Richard Alarcón

This bill improves access to education to community college for CalWORKs students whose primary language is not English and increases access to higher education for foster care youth by requiring that they receive information about educational opportunities. The bill also establishes the intent of the Legislature to enable residents to reach self-sufficiency, to develop a Student Parent Scholar grant program to assist low-income parents with postsecondary education, increase access to higher education for foster care youth and ensure that programs operated with federal TANF funds promote education and training for jobs that offer self-sufficient wages.

AB 1796 was signed by the Governor on Sept 29, 2004

Author: Assemblymember Mark Leno

This bill provides that a convicted drug felon, with certain exceptions, shall be eligible for aid under the Food Stamp Program. The bill will require these Food Stamp Program applicants to have proof of completion or other affiliation with a government-recognized drug treatment program, or other evidence that the illegal use of controlled substances has ceased.

Additional Wins: Resolutions and Administrative

Increased access to CalFresh Employment & Training program in 2015

This administrative win helped the state seek clarity from the federal government that parents receiving both CalWorks and CalFresh will be allowed to receive the highest level of employment and training program assistance.

AJR 6 ‘Elder Economic Dignity Act’ was sent to the White House in August 2009

Author: Assemblymember Jim Beall

A resolution to ensure that the United States is working to achieve the economic security of the aging population in California and beyond by modernizing the way in which poverty among seniors is calculated.

Increased Housing Opportunities in Riverside County in 2017

This WPI-Local win decreased barriers to housing aid for the formerly incarcerated. It reduced the “look back period” for criminal convctions from 7 years to 3 years, allowing more persons to qualify for help from the Housing Authority.