The Junior League of San Diego’s State Public Affairs Committee supports legislation that will aide our focus areas of aiding transitional age foster youth (TAY) as they make the critical move into independent adulthood and eradicating human trafficking. Please see the list below to learn more about the legislation we are currently supporting.
Transition Aged Foster Youth (Tay)
AB 1849: MediCal For Emancipated Foster Youth (Gipson)
AB 1849 will allow emancipated foster youth to transition out of foster care more easily by ensuring that they have accurate and up-to-date information regarding their Medi-Cal eligibility. AB 1849 will also amend Welfare and Institutions Code (WIC) § 391 and 16501.1. Currently, WIC § 391 and 16501.1 require social workers to provide assistance to foster youth in completing Medi-Cal applications and to provide information about options for health care coverage. This bill will clarify that child welfare and probation workers must ensure that the youth have their Medi-Cal benefit cards and other information regarding their eligibility for Medi-Cal until age 26. Finally, this bill will require child welfare workers to verify that the youth has been transitioned into the Medi-Cal program for former foster youth with no interruption in coverage and no new application.
SB 906: Public Postsecondary Education: Priority (Beall)
In 2011, to improve educational outcomes for vulnerable students, the California State Legislature established priority registration for foster youth, through passage of AB 194 (Beall), and in 2013, for students with disabilities and low-income students through AB 595 (Gomez). Priority registration enables students to register for courses before the larger student population, thereby allowing them to secure required courses, shorten the time to degree completion, and reduce financial aid utilization. As the statute stands, priority registration for the three groups will end effective January 1, 2017. SB 906 will remove the sunset date for the three categories of students. This bill will also change the eligibility criteria for priority registration for foster youth to align with existing programs serving foster youth in community college: currently, foster youth are eligible for priority registration if they were in foster care on or after their 18th birthday and under age 23; under this bill, foster youth will be eligible for priority registration if they were in foster care on or after their 16th birthday and under age 26.
AB 1708: Disorderly Conduct: Prostitution (Gonzalez)
AB 1708 updates California’s penal code to improve the state’s handling of the growing epidemic of sex trafficking. AB 1708’s reforms would also increase penalties for purchasers of sex by establishing a minimum fine of $1000 and mandatory 72 hours of jail time, clarify provisions in the Penal Code to distinguish between those receiving money for commercial sexual activities and those purchasing them, and increase penalties for sex trafficking at or near a school.
AB 1731: Statewide Human Trafficking Task Force (Atkins)
AB 1731 will create the California Statewide Interagency Human Trafficking Task Force. The task force, among other things, will be responsible for: gathering statewide data on sex and labor traffickers, sex buyers, and human trafficking victims; recommending interagency protocols and best practices for training and outreach to law enforcement, victim service providers, and other state and private sector employees likely to encounter sex trafficking; and evaluating and implementing approaches to increase public awareness about human trafficking.
AB 1761: Trafficking Victims Affirmative Defense (Weber)
AB 1761 will create an affirmative defense for human trafficking victims as additional protection to ensure they are not convicted of crimes their traffickers forced them to commit as a direct result of being a human trafficking victim at the time of the offense and when the person had a reasonable fear of harm. For those trafficking victims who are convicted of any crimes that are not serious or violent crimes, this bill will create a higher defense standard to allow those charges to be dismissed and sealed. This bill will also strengthen the ability of the judicial system to more fully describe the complexity of these crimes through expert testimony.
AB 1822: Sex Trade Buyer First Offender Program (Irwin)
AB 1822 focuses on reducing the demand for sex trafficking in California by reducing recidivism of persons convicted of soliciting or buying sex. Specifically, this bill will establish statewide standards for local Sex Trade Offender Programs (STOP) that educate convicted sex trade buyers about the harms of the sex trade. This education will include the legal consequences of subsequent offenses; health education including the increased risk of HIV and other STDs; effects of the sex trade on sellers, victims, and survivors; dynamics of sex trafficking; community effects of the sex trade, including drug use, violence, and the buyers’ vulnerability to robbery and assault.
AB 2723: Juvenile Dependency: Prostitution (Chavez)
Existing law allows the juvenile court to adjudge certain children to be dependents of the court under certain circumstances, including when the child is abused, a parent or guardian fails to adequately supervise or protect the child, as specified, or a parent or guardian fails to provide the child with adequate food, clothing, shelter, or medical treatment.
It also declares that a child is within the dependency jurisdiction of the juvenile court if the child is a victim of sex trafficking, or receives food, shelter, or money in exchange for specified sexual acts, as a result of the failure or inability of his or her parent or guardian to protect the child.
While children that are victims of sexual trafficking can be adjudged as a dependent of the juvenile court system, there is a loophole that leaves out children soliciting or engaging in any act of prostitution or loitering in a public place with the intent to commit prostitution, and the child’s parent or guardian has failed to protect the child. Including this unintentionally left out group of minors allows the juvenile court system to remove them from these additional harmful and neglectful situations.
SB 823: Clean Slate for Human Trafficking Victims (Block)
SB 823 will give victims of human trafficking a fresh start by creating a pathway to have their arrests and convictions erased from their records and prohibited from being distributed to state licensing boards. This bill will allow victims of human trafficking to petition the court to vacate and seal the records of any arrest or conviction committed as a direct result of them being a trafficking victim. SB 823 will also require courts to provide other protections for victims including anonymity in the process for vacating their convictions and allowing them to appear in court electronically.