CCSWG Policy & Advocacy
The California Commission on the Status of Women and Girls advocates for public policy and resource allocation that centers the economic needs of women and girls. Our agenda meaningfully addresses the role of poverty in women’s overall circumstances and advances the broader interests of women and girls as central to the vitality of California’s economy.
2023 Legislative Priorities
The California Commission on the Status of Women and Girls for the last 58 years has advocated for State public policies and resource allocation that centers the economic needs of California women and girls. For the 2023-24 legislative session, CCSWG took a support position on a total of 50 bills. Many of these proposals were backed by the research led and conducted by CCSWG outlined in the California Blueprint for Women’s Pandemic Economic Recovery and help further the State’s gender equity agenda.
Of the 50 supported proposals, 29 were sent to the Governor’s desk. A total of 20 proposals that were supported and prioritized by CCSWG this legislative session were ultimately signed by the Governor. While this is a tremendous feat there is still a lot of work to be done to support working women to close the gender wage gap, to ensure women of color achieve parity in our State, to guarantee moms are fully supported and compensated fairly when returning to the workforce and to protect a woman’s right to choose.
Thank you, as always, to the incredible women of the California legislature and especially to our Commissioners. When women succeed, we all benefit.
Accountability and Transparency
Reliable information is needed to build trust and create real change; the Commission’s supported policies strive to achieve this.
- SB 702 (Limon) This bill requires the office of the Governor to publish a report containing the demographic information of individuals who have applied to or been appointed to a state board or commission. Additionally, the bill creates a working group to discuss and provide recommendations on ways to diversity state boards and commissions. VETOED
- AB 273 (Ramos) This proposal seeks to build on past efforts by requiring notification to family members, court appointed counsel, tribes and tribal representatives, and the court of jurisdiction when a child or non-minor dependent is missing and requiring collaborative efforts and due diligence by county social workers/probation officers, courts and other supportive adults to locate, place and stabilize children and youth when they return, with a particular focus on the inclusion of tribes and tribal representatives to address the crisis of missing indigenous youth. VETOED
- AB 933 (Aguiar-Curry) This bill would include among those privileged communications a communication made by a complainant, without malice, regarding a complaint of sexual assault, harassment, or discrimination and would specify the attorney’s fees and damages available to a prevailing defendant in any defamation action brought against that defendant for making that communication. SIGNED, Chapter 670, Statues of 2023
As we continue to see massive rollbacks nationwide it is paramount that California continue to foster inclusive environments; the Commission’s supported polices protect fundamental rights for all Californians.
- ACA 5 (Low) is a constitutional amendment to protect marriage equality for LGBTQ+ couples and remove Proposition 8 from the state’s constitution. SIGNED, Chapter 125, Statues of 2023
- AB 957 (Wilson) This bill will update California law to clarify that affirming a child’s gender identity is in the best interests of the child for purposes of legal name change and child custody decisions. VETOED
- SB 407 (Wiener) This bill will strengthen protections in existing law to ensure that LGBTQ+ foster youth in California are placed in homes that are affirming of LGBTQ+ identities. SIGNED, Chapter 226, Statues of 2023
Accessibility and affordability of menstrual products is crucial; the Commission’s supported policies eliminate additional barriers faced by menstruating people.
- AB 230 (Reyes) This bill would require public schools maintaining any combination of classes from grades 3 to 12 to provide menstrual products for free. SIGNED, Chapter 421, Statues of 2023
Equity in the Workplace
Women wear many hats, often at the same time; the Commission’s supported policies provide individuals with fair access to opportunities in the workplace by meeting their individual needs and counteracting systemic barriers.
- AB 1 (McKinnor) This bill provides employees of the Legislature the right to form, join, and participate in the activities of employee organizations of their own choosing for the purpose of representation on all matters of employer-employee relations. SIGNED, Chapter 313, Statutes of 2023
- AB 524 (Wicks) This bill would prohibit employment discrimination on account of family caregiver status, as defined, and would recognize the opportunity to seek, obtain, and hold employment without discrimination because of family caregiver status as a civil right. VETOED
- AB 521 (Bauer-Kahan) This bill requires the standard board to consider regulations to require at least one women’s restroom at construction jobsites. SIGNED, Chapter 529, Statutes of 2023
- AB 1356 (Haney) This bill will ensure workers have fair notice in the event of a mass layoff. This bill increases the notice requirement from 60 to 90 days, decouples severance negotiations from meeting WARN Act obligations, and expressly includes client employers, third-party agencies, and labor contractors in the definition of “covered employers” to ensure contract workers directly impacted by a mass layoff receive the same protections as direct employees. VETOED
- SB 525 (Durazo) This bill would increase the state’s minimum wage to $25 for health care workers. SIGNED, Chapter 890, Statues of 2023
- SB 616 (Gonzalez) This bill will expand the state’s paid sick leave from 3 days to 5. SIGNED, Chapter 309, Statues of 2023
- SB 686 (Durazo) This bill would make community based organizations responsible for developing and consulting with the Division of Occupational Safety and Health regarding the core education and outreach materials regarding health and safety standards, retaliation, and the division’s workplace safety complaint and retaliation process, including specific issues that affect the domestic work industry differently. VETOED
Social Safety Net
Families depend on a wide array of social safety-net programs to provide basic needs like food, healthcare, and housing; the Commission’s supported policies improve access to these programs to not only lift families out of poverty, but improve employment, educational and health outcomes.
- AB 904 (Calderon) This bill would require a health care service plan or health insurer to develop a maternal and infant health equity program that addresses racial health disparities in maternal and infant health outcomes through the use of doulas. SIGNED, Chapter 349, Statues of 2023
- AB 1015 (Calderon) This bill would create a statewide diaper and wipe distribution program under the Department of Social Services. VETOED
- AB 1203 (Bains) This bill will provide a sales tax exemption for breast pumps, breast pump collection and storage supplies, breast pump kits and breast pads. SIGNED
The Commission is proud to support the FAB Council’s legislative priorities that protect bodily autonomy and the right to privacy.
- AB 254 (Bauer-Kahan) Adds CMIA/HIPAA protections for data collected by menstrual, fertility, and sexual health apps and websites. SIGNED, Chapter 254, Statues of 2023
- AB 352 (Bauer-Kahan) Enhances privacy protections for medical records related to abortion, pregnancy loss, and other sensitive services through electronic health record sharing and health information exchanges. SIGNED, Chapter 255, Statues of 2023
- AB 571 (Petrie-Norris) Ensures that medical malpractice insurance includes coverage for comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care. SIGNED, Chapter 256, Statues of 2023
- AB 576 (Weber) Aligns Medi-Cal coverage of medication abortion with evidence-based clinical guidelines. VETOED
- AB 1194 (Carrillo) Ensures that California Privacy Rights Act protections always extend to accessing, procuring, or searching for services regarding contraception, pregnancy care, and perinatal care, including abortion services. SIGNED, Chapter 567, Statues of 2023
- AB 1432 (Carrillo) Requires every health insurance policy or certificate that is issued, or delivered to a resident of California, regardless of the situs of the contract, to comply with California laws that require coverage of abortion services and gender-affirming care. VETOED
- AB 1481 (Boerner-Horvath) Clarifies Presumptive Eligibility for Pregnant Individuals (currently called PE4PW) coverage policies and ensures PE4PW patients can access abortion services regardless of other health coverage. SIGNED, Chapter 372, Statues of 2023
- AB 1646 (Nguyen) Expands access to abortion and gender-affirming care by allowing out-of-state medical school graduates to practice in California for up 90 days. SIGNED, Chapter 257, Statues of 2023
- AB 1707 (Pacheco) Prohibits a healing arts board from disciplining, or a health care facility from denying staff privileges to, a licensed health care professional as a result of an action in another state that is based on the application of a law in that state that interferes with a person’s right to receive sensitive services lawful in California. SIGNED, Chapter 258, Statues of 2023
- SB 345 (Skinner) Provides legal protections for medication abortions and gender-affirming care. SIGNED, Chapter 260, Statues of 2023
- SB 385 (Atkins) Seeks to extend many of the updated training rules from SB 1375 last year to additional providers (i.e. physician assistants, etc.) SIGNED, Chapter 178, Statues of 2023
- SB 487 (Atkins) Provides additional safeguards for California abortion providers and other entities and individuals that serve and support abortion patients that reside in states with hostile abortion laws. SIGNED, Chapter 261, Statues of 2023
Women are Essential — The 2023 Budget Must Reflect That
As the Governor issued his 2023 proposed budget, and as the legislature works to prepare theirs, the Commission on the Status of Women and Girls seeks to share insight on the proposed budget through a gender lens. Gender lens approaches to analysis can help generate perspective; for instance, that the economy is not gender neutral and that women, especially women of color and mothers, have been more impacted by the pandemic and economic downturn. This is a necessary and vital point of understanding when prioritizing investments and resources essential to California maintaining its role as the leader of a thriving and globally relevant economy.
The slowdown impacting the state’s economic and revenue outlook this year underscores more than ever the critical need to sustain and build upon earlier investments in the economic well-being of California’s women and girls, reflecting the values and priorities of Californians and acknowledging that when it comes to the workforce, communities, and business – women are essential.
The pandemic obliterated decades of progress toward gender equity, which, according to Fortune magazine, has drained an estimated $3.1 trillion from our national economy. There are still nearly two million women missing from the labor force overall, and the rapidly evolving workforce is leaving women far behind. The gender pay gap has grown substantially, leaving more women in poverty, and generating a bigger drain on our collective resources. If women were simply paid equitably in California, we would reduce the poverty rate for working women by an estimated 40%. California should be looking to level up on impactful investments that yield long-term economic impact for women who have been burdened by generational poverty and who were disproportionately impacted over the last several years of collective crisis.
California must not wait until the next economic emergency before tackling the opportunity to use the lessons from this one to build more equitable and comprehensive support systems for the long term. Public policy should reinstitute, expand, and invest in proven social safety-net programs that alleviate poverty and support economic recovery for women. This includes but is not limited to, enhancing Unemployment Insurance, Paid Family Leave, and Low-Income Housing Tax Credits, expanding Child Tax Credits, and supporting long-term disability experiences – all while increasing investment in and support of women-owned small businesses.
We support California’s continued commitment to transform education with the highest state education per-pupil funding in history, free school meals for every child, and universal transitional kindergarten, but we also must acknowledge that these supports in no way are enough to make up for a broken and patchwork childcare system.
The Commission also supports steps taken to rectify a broken care system for California’s families. The additional investment of over $2 billion annually to expand subsidized childcare slot availability will provide thousands more slots that are more affordable for parents. An immediate next step still needed is extending the current state policy waiving family fees for child care and development programs which is set to expire on June 30, 2023. The 2022-23 budget package used one-time federal funds to waive family fees, which can be unaffordable for families who are living paycheck to paycheck. We further support the action of allocating $200 million in General Funds to support access to family planning and related services and sustainability of California’s reproductive health safety net.
When it comes to truly investing in women however, we must look beyond their traditional role as caregivers. The economy of the future demands gender equity now. Women are needed not only to perform the essential but low wage workforces they dominated at the start of the pandemic, but also to innovate and ideate, to implement and engineer, to develop and to lead the advanced digital systems that will be the future of California and the world.
This includes readying California’s workforce and creating structural change in sectors that historically undervalue women’s work, but where women are essential to the industry – essential women workers in healthcare, education, hospitality, and retail among others are what kept us afloat during the apex of the crisis, and they deserve our investment now.
The Governor’s proposed budget continues advancing programs like College Corps, Cal Grant, Middle Class Scholarships, and college savings accounts to cut costs of higher education which is critical for the advancement of women. It also proposes $1.65 billion to create new apprenticeships, bolster training opportunities for jobs that are leading the clean energy transition, workforce development efforts for justice-involved populations, and to create new opportunities for a diverse health and human services workforce.
However, the extensive cuts proposed to key workforce programs is deeply concerning and will directly negatively impact the future economic participation of women specifically. The proposed $49.8 million in General Fund cuts over four years for various public health workforce development programs will have an immediate gendered impact. Women in the healthcare field, in particular, suffer from a doubled burden with the closure of pandemic response jobs. According to the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration, women comprise roughly 92% of medical assistants, 90% of nurses and medical record technicians, 87% of nursing and home health aides, 78% of health practitioner support techs, and 74% of medical and clinical lab techs. As pandemic response winds down, the women staffing this overburdened field are dealing with burnout, lower wage rates, chronic understaffing, persistent challenges to their health and safety, and shaky economic futures.
A $40 million proposed General Fund cut over two years to the Apprenticeship Innovation Fund designed to invest in and expand non-traditional apprenticeships as well as a $30 million General Fund cut over two years to the Department of Industrial Relations’ Women in Construction Unit, which promotes and supports women and non-binary individuals in skilled trade careers, will also have a deep impact. These apprenticeship programs are key to building pathways for women to attain stable, reliable jobs and are critical at a time that those jobs are seeing labor shortages. Women require training and support to fill these essential roles that, in turn, can provide higher wages and additional stability for families. In 2023, gender should not be a barrier to this type of employment.
Additionally, the proposed plan to recapture $92 million from the Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant Program from unused funds will directly impact female small business owners. This is concerning considering the findings in the report, 2022 COVID-19 Impact on Women-Owned Businesses, which highlights, “since March 2020, women-owned/led businesses have faced significant disadvantages compared to men-owned/led businesses in accessing critical resources for sustainability and success. In addition to juggling greater non-work-related demands on their time, women of color and primary caregivers benefited less from available funding than other groups.” The report specifically noted that women of color received 13% less assistance from banks or financial institutions as compared to 22% of men and relied more heavily on friends and family for assistance (58%) as compared to white women (38%) or all men (40%). We know that the participation of women in all economic areas is critical for growth and stability, and that systemic inequity makes the pathway for women entrepreneurs significantly more difficult.
Finally, the proposed budget does not address the lack of paid sick leave for California’s workers. By letting the supplemental paid sick leave expire and choosing not to expand the state’s inadequate paid sick leave policy, many workers are left with just three days of paid sick leave per year during an ongoing pandemic that presupposes annual infections and infection transmission times of 5-10 days, placing many workers in the untenable position of having to choose between their jobs and protecting public health.
We applaud the continued commitment to California’s Earned Income Tax Credit, Young Child Tax Credit, and Foster Youth Tax Credit that collectively help millions of families and individuals with low incomes pay for basic needs like food. But food insecurity remains a huge issue for millions of California’s households, especially with the rise in inflation and food staple prices like eggs and milk. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, CalFresh recipients have been receiving additional support through federal emergency allotments which are set to end in February 2023. In some cases, one-to-two person households will see their monthly benefits drop from $281 to just $23, even as food costs continue to increase significantly. The proposed budget does not include any additional food assistance to help support families during this transition which will directly impact California women.
While great efforts have been made and many milestone achievements accomplished over the past decade, there remains significant gender inequality in how we approach the fourth largest economy in the world. Women face gaps in pay, barriers to investment and promotion, gaps in research, and are often overlooked in economic issues that are unique to their gender.
By paying attention to the ways in which women are key drivers of innovation, workforce, and California’s global competitiveness, we can deliver better, more inclusive opportunities for economic growth, more innovative and diverse leadership, better quality data and insights; and targeted solutions for women that impact all of California’s communities.
The California Commission on the Status of Women and Girls looks forward to collaborating with the Governor, the Legislature, and communities to create a budget that works for women and a path forward out of crisis that prioritizes intersectional equity and economic opportunity for all.
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Have questions about CCSWG policy work? Contact me!
Michelle Teran-Woolfork, CCSWG Director of Policy and Legislation
Click below to find policy and legislation efforts supported and/or sponsored by the California Commission on the Status of Women and Girls from 2017 – 2022. Learn more here
Policy In a Pandemic
The California Commission on the Status of Women and Girls (CCSWG) has worked to construct the first California Blueprint for Women’s Pandemic Economic Recovery. The Blueprint describes the collective trajectories of groups of women who entered the pandemic already in economic difficulty and explores opportunities to chart new paths. These policy recommendations focus on potential solutions to pre-existing challenges that were exacerbated by the pandemic and are designed to generate ongoing discussions and debate among California’s leaders, advocates, and the public.
The CCSWG is a proud member of the ERA Coalition, comprised of 200 national and local organizations representing millions of advocates working for the equality. On February 13th, 2020 the House of Representatives voted to dissolve the time limit written in the amendment’s introduction. While it wasn’t taken up in the Senate last year, we’re hopeful it will pass both houses of Congress this year, since its 2021 bipartisan and bicameral introduction!
California Commission on the Status of Women and Girls Advocacy
Established as a state agency with 17 appointed commissioners in 1965, the Commission regularly assesses gender equity in a variety of public policy areas, including: health and health access, safety, employment, education, equal representation in the military and the media, and issues relative to the workforce and the economy.