Coming off a historic victory last year with the signing of Assembly Bill 1460, the law that requires CSU students to take an Ethnic Studies course before graduation, how could CFA top its own advocacy during this legislative session?
By going bigger and bolder by advocating for more higher education funding and securing more systematic changes across the state of California.
CFA faculty members secured some major reforms across the state. Five of CFA’s seven co-sponsored/sponsored bills were signed by the Governor, with two bills becoming “two-year” bills, held in committee for additional work next year.
Some of the major victories this year came in the form of commonsense police reforms. Governor Newsom signed Assembly Bills 8 and 490, and Senate Bill 2 two weeks ago. AB 89 – the PEACE Act – now requires the office of the Chancellor of the California Community Colleges to develop a modern policing degree program and increases the minimum age to serve as a police officer to 21 years old.
AB 490 prohibits any law enforcement agency from using restraints that cause positional asphyxia. It’s also known as Angelo’s Law, after 30-year-old Angelo Quinto, an Asian-American Californian who died in December after police knelt on his neck, placing him in a prone restraint. AB 490 is a follow-up to AB 1196, which banned any type of chokehold, a measure that CFA also sponsored.
SB 2 now creates a statewide decertification process for bad-acting police officers, preventing them from moving state agency to agency after being fired for serious misconduct. California was one of a handful of states without this process in place before this year.
Governor Newsom also signed AB 48 in September, which prohibits the use of kinetic energy projectiles or chemical agents by police to disperse any type of assembly, protest, or demonstration. This bill came forward after police shot rubber bullets in the face of a teen during in Sacramento last summer’s protests of police murder of George Floyd.
CFA also advocated for and co-sponsored SB 4, which advances digital equity and provides high-speed internet to more Californians. It extends California Advances Services Funds (CASF) through 2032 and expands projects eligible for these grants that now include broadband deployment at unserved locations for emergency responses and where internet is limited. The Governor signed SB 4 into law over the weekend.
“CFA had a very successful legislative season, and our member-led advocacy now makes vote by mail the default for all Californians, protects the health insurance of striking employees, including immigration status in hate crime definitions of nationality, and facilitates high school student completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA),” said Steven Filling, CFA Political Action and Legislative Committee Chair. “Our work is far from over. Several of our supported bills have become two-year bills, and a number were not voted out of committee.
“We believe this is appropriate: we firmly believe that a 100 percent success rate would be evidence that CFA is taking overly cautious stances on issues and thus not providing leadership on educational and social issues that reflect our core principles.”
Additionally, a number of bills that faculty members supported were also signed into law, including AB 312 (exempts teachers who earn at least a letter grade of “B” from the basic skills proficiency test requirement), AB 338 (authorizes tribal nations in Sacramento to help plan, construct, and maintain a monument to Native people of the area on State Capitol grounds), and AB 1377 (an affordable student housing plan to be developed at the CSU and UC system).
With a historic surplus, legislative leaders passed, and the Governor signed, a massive budget for the CSU earlier this year. Faculty and student advocacy helped restored last year’s $299.1 million budget cuts to the CSU and secured $185.9 million in new funds. The CSU’s budget also increased base funding by five percent, with some caveats like maintaining resident undergraduate tuition and fees at current levels.
“We are in the process of developing our legislative agenda for 2022,” said Filling. “If you have an idea for legislation that CFA should advocate for, please fill out the Legislation Idea Suggestions Form. This is critical to our continuing tradition of being a member-led union.”
Click here to read a full legislative update.