CWLC Advocacy and Legislative Updates from 2016

On September 28, 2016, Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 813, the Justice for Victims Act. SB 813 eliminates the statute of limitations for rape and other felony sex crimes in California. Introduced by Senator Connie Leyva (D-Chino), CWLC co-sponsored this landmark bipartisan measure with San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael A. Ramos. The passage of SB 813 ensures that victims of sexual violence will no longer be limited in their search for justice by an arbitrary time period.

Governor Brown also signed AB 1661, a bill co-sponsored by CWLC and introduced by Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento), which requires local elected officials to complete sexual harassment and education courses, thereby helping to ensure our government offices are free from sexual harassment.

CWLC also strongly supported SB 384, to set aside a portion of veteran housing funding for underserved veterans, including female veterans. Unfortunately, SB 384 did not make it out of the Senate Appropriations Committee this legislative term. However, the bill’s author, Senator Connie Leyva (D-Chino), is committed to continued support of female veterans and their unique housing needs.

Governor Brown signed two other very important bills which close loopholes in California’s sexual assault laws. AB 2888 prohibits judges from sentencing convicted offenders to probation if the sexual assault was perpetrated against a victim who was unconscious or intoxicated. AB 701 expands the legal definition of rape to include non-consensual sexual assault. Previously, California law only defined rape as “an act of sexual intercourse.”

Governor Brown also approved AB 1761, which created an affirmative defense for human trafficking victims who are prosecuted for certain non-violent crimes.

CWLC was disappointed that the Governor did not sign AB 1561 to follow other states like Maryland, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania in eliminating the “luxury” sales tax on tampons and other feminine hygiene products, even though the legislature unanimously approved the bill. Governor Brown vetoed six other tax-related bills, including AB 717, which would have exempted diapers from California sales tax, stating that these bills would negatively affect the state budget.

In a victory for consistent and effective access to reproductive health care, SB 999, co-sponsored by Planned Parenthood Los Angeles, was signed into law by Governor Brown. This bill allows women to obtain a year-long supply of hormonal contraceptives when requested by their healthcare provider. State law previously barred pharmacists from dispensing more than three months’ supply at once.

On the federal level, CWLC strongly supports the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance (EACH Woman) Act (HR 2972). The EACH Woman Act extends abortion coverage to women who are enrolled in a government health insurance plan or government-managed health insurance program, or who receive health care from a government provider. This Act would ensure abortion coverage for all women on Medicaid, regardless of their income.

To view all legislation CWLC has supported and opposed in the 2016 session, click here.