Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Hearing on Health?

Today the Assembly Health Committee held an informational hearing on the governor's proposed Health Care Security and Cost Reduction Act. It's been one year since the administration first began to hold stakeholder meetings to put together a proposal for health care reform and we are just now seeing proposed legislative language for the plan. The reason for the delay is partly due to the fact that no legislator thus far has been willing to author the proposal, meaning that the governor's plan has never been introduced as a bill. Thus, the hearing today was not the typical policy hearing where a bill is presented and voted out or killed by the committee. Instead, a broad range of stakeholders came forward to discuss their principles on health care reform, using the governor's plan only as a point of reference. The result was over 5 hours of discussion, with many repeated verbal commitments to continue working towards reform, and no final verdict on the governor's plan. What does this mean for those of us who have worked tirelessly towards reform? Well, it means a few things.

First, the desire for reform is still there. At this point, the naysayers can kindly step aside and let those with the stomach for it get the job done. Second, the areas of consensus were broad. Over and over, differing groups repeated the same principles, proving that we are much closer to reform than many people would like us to think. Finally, and this is the stickler, those few key issues that challenged advocates early this summer are - surprise surprise - still there waiting to be resolved. Affordability and the individual mandate were on nearly everyone's lips. Even some of the governor's most ardent supporters acknowledged the need to limit out of pocket costs for consumers and expand access to the purchasing pool. And countless organizations provided compelling testimony on the negative impact of a broad individual mandate that does not take into account the financial situtation of the consumer. It seems that consumers have done their fair share in terms of working towards compromise. For a variety of coalitions, committed to universal single-payer, to have spent the past year coming to a compromise that increases access to care without compromising our core principles says a lot. It says that its time for this administration to meet us half way and make the changes necessary to make health care reform work.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Fall Bill Update

California Immigrant Policy Center

October 17, 2007

Governor Signs Landmark Immigrant Rights Legislation,
Vetoes Other Key Immigrant Bills
Special Session on Health Continues

In September, the Legislature delivered a number of bills to the governor’s desk
that were favorable to immigrant communities. Of these, the governor signed a
significant bill, AB 976, which prohibits cities from enacting ordinances that would
require landlords to ask their tenants or prospective tenants about their
immigration and citizenship status. This bill, the first of its kind in the nation,
protects immigrants and others and is a significant victory for the entire

In a wave of anti-immigrant sentiment, many local governments, such as Escondido,
have adopted or considered ordinances banning housing rentals to undocumented
immigrants. Landlords complain that they should not be required to act like
immigration agents; residents say the ordinances result in discrimination based on
looks or a person’s accent. These types of laws have been challenged repeatedly by
residents and property owners and the courts have consistently ruled against these
ordinances. For more information about AB 976, see the following AP article: T0AKfwa634lV H qYRtIwKYvMgD8S7SKJG7

Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed many more bills that would have benefited immigrants,
including a health reform proposal developed by legislators this year. The governor
has suggested an alternative measure and called a special legislative session to
continue deliberation on health care reform. Consumer advocates and labor have
expressed dissatisfaction with the governor’s proposal, saying it lacks consumer
protections and affordability measures contained in the Legislature’s bill. The
California Immigrant Policy Center (CIPC) and our allies are actively working to
secure a positive reform proposal that will increase access affordable, quality
health care for all Californians. Stay tuned for more updates.


AB 8 (NÚÑEZ) - Health Care Coverage - This bill proposes a broad plan to expand
public and private health coverage for California residents, including an expansion
of eligibility for the Medi-Cal and Healthy Families program by allowing all
California children regardless of status with family incomes at or below 300% of the
federal poverty level to qualify. The bill also expands eligibility for these
programs to low-income parents and, in the future, childless adults. This bill
requires employers to provide health insurance to their employees or pay 7.5% of
payroll into a purchasing pool from which employees can buy health insurance. The
bill does not require individuals to obtain health insurance, known as the
individual mandate, but does require workers to enroll in either their employer’s
plan if offered or the plans offered through the purchasing pool. The bill also
includes various insurance market reforms. The governor vetoed this measure.


AB 1382 (LENO) – Food Stamps: Statewide Fingerprint Imaging System – This bill
eliminates the requirement that applicants for and recipients of Food Stamp benefits
submit to fingerprint imaging as a condition of eligibility unless they also apply
for or receive general income assistance. The bill moves the responsibility for
implementing and maintaining the statewide fingerprint imaging system from the
Health and Welfare Data Center to Office of Systems Integration. The governor
vetoed this measure.


AB 295 (LIEU) – State Agencies: Collection of Demographic Data – This bill ensures
that state data reflects the diversity of the Asian and Pacific Islander American
community by having state agencies that affect health, human services, education,
employment and civil rights begin to collect data for additional APIA ethnic groups,
including Hmong, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Sri Lankan and Taiwanese. The governor
vetoed this measure.

AB 394 (LEVINE) – Safe Schools: Discrimination and Harassment – This bill requires
the State Department of Education to monitor adherence to the anti-discrimination
and anti-harassment requirements of local educational agencies, including whether
agencies have adopted a policy that prohibits discrimination and harassment and
created a process for receiving and investigating complaints. The department would
be required to display information on curricula and other resources that
specifically address bias-related discrimination and harassment on specified
Internet Web sites. The governor signed this measure.

AB 614 (ENG) – Voting Rights: Language Assistance – This bill highlights effective
practices in voter outreach to California’s limited English proficient citizens and
enables organizations to advise and collaborate with local registrars of voters in
order to increase and target needed voter assistance services. The governor vetoed
this measure.

AB 976 (CALDERON) – Tenancy: Prevent Discrimination Based on Status - This bill
prevents a city or county from passing an ordinance that would require landlords to
inquire about or disclose the immigration or citizenship status of a tenant or
prospective tenant. The bill also prohibits landlords from making these inquiries,
with limited exceptions for information necessary to establish financial
qualifications or to verify identity. The governor signed this measure.

SB 1 (CEDILLO) – California Dream Act - This bill establishes procedures and forms
that enable persons who are exempt from paying non-resident tuition under AB 540 to
apply for, and participate in student aid programs administered by these
institutions to the full extent permitted by federal law. The governor vetoed this

SB 382 (OROPEZA) – Extended Voter Registration for New Citizens - Support –
Currently, only new citizens can register to vote up until seven days before the
first election following the date they became citizens; however, immigrants who
naturalize during this seven day period are denied the opportunity to participate in
the democratic process. This bill allows a new citizen to register and vote until
the close of polls on the election day following the date on which that person
becomes a citizen. The governor vetoed this measure.

For more information on the bills listed above, please visit or call Layla Razavi at 916.448.6762, ext. 202.

The California Immigrant Policy Center is a partnership of the Asian Pacific
American Legal Center, the National Immigration Law Center, Services Immigrant
Rights and Education Network (SIREN) and the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights
of Los Angeles.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

A Quick Rundown - Immigrant-Related Policies in CA

This past year has generated a flurry of activity around immigrant issues at the federal level, but most people don't know that there's a lot going on in California as well. The deadline has recently passed for the Governor to sign or veto bills from this last legislative session, and the outcome was a mixed bag for immigrant communities.

In an important victory for immigrant communities, the Governor signed AB 976, a landmark bill sponsored by apartment owners, that restricts landlords from checking the immigration status of would-be renters. This legislation is in direct response to local ordinances passed throughout the country, including in Escondido, CA, that try to ban landlords from renting to undocumented immigrants. Although Escondido backed down from enforcing this ordinance due to litigation and related controversy, this legislation prohibits other localities in California from passing similar ordinances. It sends a clear message to cities that requiring laypersons to check something as complex as immigration status will result in profiling, discrimination, and fear among immigrant communities. Immigrant advocates and landlord groups also hope this legislation paves the way for other states to pass similar legislation, ensuring people who look or sound like immigrants don't face undue discrimination. You can check out some recent articles written about AB 976 by taking a look at some of the following links -

Despite his support for AB 976, the Governor mostly vetoed legislation that would have benefited immigrants, including the California Dream Act, which would have allowed immigrant college students eligible for resident tuition rates to access state-funded financial aid; SB 1, which would have established an Office of Immigrant Affairs to facilitate immigrant integration into California; AB 295 which would have enhanced state data to reflect the diversity of Asian and Pacific Islander communities; and SB 382, which would have allowed newly naturalized citizens to register to vote on the day of an election.

The California Immigrant Policy Center (CIPC) was particularly disappointed by the Governor's veto of AB 8. The healthcare reform proposal that passed out of the legislature would have benefited many low-income California families and workers, including immigrants. The proposal represented a real step forward for low-income individuals who are currently uninsured or underinsured. The legislature continues to consider healthcare reform in a special session called by the Governor, but it is unclear what the outcome will be. The Governor's proposal, which he put forward after stating he would veto AB 8, lacks a lot of the consumer protections and affordability measures present in AB 8 and is not an alternative that consumer groups and labor are likely to support. To learn more about the healthcare reform debate, take a look at the Health Access blog at