CFJC Legislative Priorities

The Community Food and Justice Coalition supports the work of our partners and community leaders on the ground. After discussing focus areas with our organizational members and community partners, CFJC has identified our legislative priorities for 2014. The below legislative priorities support CFJC’s Policy Principles, and may change throughout the year to provide continuous support to our community partners and legislative champions. Please check back frequently for updates. For questions related to the below legislative priorities, or requests to contribute to CFJC’s policy work behalf of you or your networks moving forward, please contact CFJC’s Policy Specialist Jessy Gill at or (510) 547-1547. This list was last updated August, 2014, bills may have been amended since their initial introduction.

CA Assembly Bills

AB 1452 – Temporary Homeless Assistance Held under Submission, Senate Appropriations Committee 
Assemblymember Mark Stone (D-Monterey Bay), 29th District

Under existing law, after a family has used all available liquid resources in excess of $100, the family is entitled to receive an allowance for nonrecurring special needs, including homeless assistance. Currently, homeless assistance is $65 per day for families of up to 4 members, with an additional $15 provided for the 5th family member and each additional member, up to a daily maximum of $125. This bill would increase the amount of homeless assistance to $75 per day for families of up to 4 members, and would increase the daily maximum to $135.

AB 1654 – Reducing Childhood Poverty  Held under Submission, Senate Appropriations Committee 
Assemblymember Susan Bonilla (D-Concord), 14th District

This bill would increase that amount to $100 for a family with one child and $200 for a family with 2 or more children, or a greater amount if authorized by federal law. Because each county is required to pay for a share of CalWORKs aid grant costs, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program. The bill would also provide that no appropriation would be made for purposes of the bill pursuant to the provision continuously appropriating funds for the CalWORKs program.

AB 1789 –  Neonictinoid Pesticide Reevaluation
Assemblymember Das Williams (D-Santa Barbara), 37th District

Sponsored by the Pesticide Action Network, AB 1789 sets a firm deadline for the state Department of Pesticide Regulation to finish its review and reevaluation of harmful neonicotinoid pesticides to ensure the process stays on track. California began its review of bee-harming neonicotinoid pesticides back in 2009, but has yet to finish and develop an action plan.

AB 1930 – CalFresh: Student Eligibility
Assemblymember Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), 15th District

This bill would improve low-income students’ access to CalFresh nutrition benefits, which would help support them through school. Currently, students who are enrolled in college or other institutions of higher education at least half time are not eligible for SNAP benefits unless they meet one of several exemptions, including working at least 20 hours a week. AB 1614 would establish specified protocols for screening low-income college students for federal exemptions. This bill would improve students’ likelihood for success by supporting their access to proper nutrition and helping them focus on education.

AB 2449 – Lunchtime Supports Learning: Students Need Adequate Time to Eat   Held under Submission, Senate Appropriations Committee 
Assemblymember Raul Bocanegra (D-Pacoima), 39th District

Sponsored by the California Food Policy Advocates, SB 2449 proposed to amend the state meal mandate to ensure students have adequate time to eat their lunch after being served. School lunch is a critical resource that helps students learn, grow and achieve. California’s implementation of the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act has improved foods served in schools, and districts are working hard to make school lunches more healthful and appealing to students. However, students across the state miss out on the benefits of school lunch every day because they don’t have enough time to eat it, impacting the student’s ability to achieve in school, in and out of the classroom.

AB 2561 – Neighborhood Food Act
Assemblymember Steven Bradford (D-Gardena), 62nd District

Sponsored by the Sustainable Economies Law Center, AB 2561 seeks to ensure the rights of renters and homeowners to use their backyards for growing food. The bill requires that tenants of single family homes and duplexes be able to grow produce in portable containers on the property they rent for personal use or for donation. The California Neighborhood Food Act also makes it illegal for a homeowners’ association contract to unreasonably prohibit the use of private (not shared) backyard property for growing produce.

CA Senate Bills

SB 1002 – Medi-Cal & CalFresh: Aligning Opportunities for Health Act of 2014   Appropriations Suspense File, in Assembly
State Senator Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles), 22nd District

Co-sponsored by California Food Policy Advocates and Western Center on Law and Poverty, SB 1002 would allow counties to align a household’s Medi-Cal redetermination date with the household’s CalFresh certification date, in circumstances where the household’s Medi-Cal coverage would not be negatively impacted. This bill seeks to strengthen alignment between Medi-Cal and CalFresh reporting periods; streamlining benefit delivery and ensuring access to federally funded nutrition and health benefits for low-income Californians so that they may avert hunger and improve their overall health and well-being.

 CFJC-supported CA Bills that did not pass out of their House of Origin

AB 1961 – Sustainable Farmland Strategy Act
Assemblymember Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Stockton), 13th District

Sponsored by the California Climate and Agriculture Network; Community Alliance with Family Farmers; and American Farmland Trust, AB 1961 would require counties to develop a Sustainable Farmland Strategy (SFS), which includes maps of agriculturally-zones lands and local goals, policies and ordinances for the retention and mitigation of agriculturally-zoned lands. The Sustainable Farmland Strategy Act creates opportunities at the county level to discuss and plan for the long-term retention of farmland, while maintaining flexibility and local control of land use planning decisions.

AB 2345 – Nutrition and Critical Assistance for Lawfully Present Californians
Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), 80th District

Co-Sponsored by California Immigrant Policy Center, California Partnership, and Latino Coalition for a Healthy California, AB 2345 would extend crucial pathways to opportunity for California families who are currently fighting economic pain. CalWORKs, a temporary cash aid and job-related services program, and California Food Assistance Program (CFAP), a nutritional assistance program for individuals, help many California families overcome serious economic challenges. But current law excludes several categories of even “lawfully present” immigrants from these important services, including recipients of Deferred Action (including Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and longtime residents who are in the process of securing lawful permanent residence. AB 2345 would extend these services to all otherwise eligible, lawfully present immigrants.

AB 2505 – Home Dairy Farm Raw Milk Safety Act
Assemblymember Mariko Yamada (D-Davis), 4th District

This bill establishes special standards for the harvesting and sharing of raw milk from home dairy farms with no more than three lactating cows or no more than 15 lactating goats on the premises. Current regulations require these small home dairies to comply with standards designed for large scale, retail production if they wish to sell any of their extra milk. AB 2505 will provide California’s small family farms a legal method for putting their milk to use instead of throwing it away.

AB 2602 – Farm to School
Assemblymember Steven Bradford (D-Gardena), 62nd District

This bill would establish the Farm to School Program within the Department of Food and Agriculture, to provide for the allocation of grants and technical assistance to school districts and county offices of education for specified purposes, including serving healthy meals in school cafeterias. The bill would authorize the Secretary of Food and Agriculture to distribute grants of up to $5,000 per school site to eligible school districts and county offices of education purposes including, among others, food literacy education.

SB 1029 – CalWORKs and CalFresh Eligibility: End the Lifetime Ban ** this bill was pulled by the author, the content of the bill was accepted in the CA budget as of midnight on June 15th 2014 in a historic decision**
State Senator Loni Hancock (D-Oakland), 9th District

Currently California maintains an optional lifetime ban on receiving aid through the California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) and CalFresh programs for people with a prior drug-related felony conviction. Co-sponsored by the Western Center on Law and Poverty and the County Welfare Directors Association, SB 1029 will allow individuals who meet all other eligibility rules to receive basic needs assistance, employment training and work supports through CalWORKs and CalFresh programs provided that they are complying with the conditions of their release, or have successfully completed their probation or parole.

SB 1381 – GE Food Labeling
State Senator Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa), 2nd District

This bill would require foods containing genetically engineered (GE) ingredients to list those ingredients on the label, including: all packaged food that is entirely or partially produced with GE products; and in the case of GE raw food commodities that are not separately packaged for retail would require the retailer to label on the shelf.

SB 899 – Repealing the Maximum Family Grant Rule in the CalWORKs Program
State Senator Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles), 26th District

Co-sponsored by several groups including Western Center on Law and Poverty, East Bay Community Law Center, and ACCESS Women’s Health Justice among others. Under current law, the California Work Opportunities and Responsibility to Children (CalWORKs) Maximum Family Grant (MFG) rule prohibits parents from receiving assistance for any child born to the household while any member of the household is receiving aid under the CalWORKs program, denying infants basic needs assistance, leading to poorer coutcomes and ultimately increased costs to the state. SB 899 will repeal the MFG rule in CalWORKs program to protect newborns’ health and safety while prohibiting the state from inserting itself into the private reproductive and medical decisions of families just because they are poor.

SB 1132 – California Fracking Moratorium
State Senator Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles), 26th District
State Senator
 Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), 11th District

Co-sponsored by several environmental groups including Food and Water Watch, Environmental Working Group, and Center for Race, Poverty and the Environment among others, SB 1132 builds on current law by augmenting the required study to look at additional issues surrounding the impacts of fracking and well stimulation on public health and the environment. This bill also requires a moratorium on fracking and well stimulation, including acidization, onshore and offshore, until that study is completed and the Governor affirms that fracking and well stimulation are not harmful to California’s public health and environmental and economic sustainability.

Local and National Policy Work

The Community Food and Justice Coalition sees policy as a tool for social change and a platform by which we can work to shift the paradigm. CFJC pursues policy initiatives that support the whole individual and environmental and food justice, including: healthy food access, economic development, access to land, nutrition and physical activity, our climate, and food and farm workers, among others. View CFJC’s  2013 Policy Priorities