CFA-sponsored bills move to final votes in CA Legislature

As the August 31 deadline to pass bills out of the California State Legislature approaches, two CFA-sponsored bills are out of final committees and headed for State Assembly floor votes. If approved, they go to the Governor to sign into law.

SB 968 (Pan) would increase the number of mental health counselors to help students on California State University campuses. The professionally recommended ratio is one counselor for a maximum of 1500 students, which the bill would instruct the CSU administration to honor. Typically, the ratio on CSU campuses is far higher, in some cases as many as one counselor per 3000 or more students.

Mimi Bommersbach, a mental health counselor at Chico who chairs the CFA Counselor Faculty Committee, said in a CFA news release:

“At the very time students’ anxiety is rising over debt and cost of living, students are facing longer wait times to see a counselor on the campuses. There are too few mental health counselors to keep up with student need. On most campuses, administrators are replacing full-time, experienced counselors with counselors on temporary or part-time appointments, which makes it even harder for students to get timely and consistent care. Passage of this bill is a necessary step.”

SB 1421(Skinner) is a “Right to Know” bill that would modify the special secrecy afforded police officers, making the record public in cases involving sexual assault or dishonesty in criminal investigations. It would only apply when accusations had been sustained after due process. The bill also would make records available related to police shootings and other serious uses-of-force incidents. A coalition of groups developed a community fact sheet explaining the reasons behind this bill.

PHOTO: San Francisco State students express support for SB 968 at the CFA Counselor Faculty Committee’s art installation, “Tissues for Issues.” The display illustrates the severe shortage of mental health counselors on campus with a chair representing a counselor surrounded by thousands of tissue boxes representing the number of students who rely on that counselor. Docents discuss with passersby and local news reporters the role of mental health counseling in student success. Leading up to votes in the legislature during the spring, the display also traveled to CSU Chico, Cal Poly Pomona, CSU East Bay, CSU Long Beach, and CSU San Bernardino. Expect to see Tissues for Issues at more CSU campuses this fall.