Political Playback: California Capitol News You Might Have Missed

Political Playback: California Capitol News You Might Have Missed

WRITTEN BY TANU HENRY AND JOE W. BOWERS JR. | CALIFORNIA BLACK MEDIA

Gun Rights Advocates Speak Out Against Bill Proposing Annual Firearm Registration

Gun owners and gun rights activists across California are up in arms over a California bill introduced last week that proposes annual registration of each firearm in the state.

The legislation, Senate Bill (SB) 1160, authored by Sen. Anthony J. Portantino (D-Burbank), would help authorities monitor gun ownership, which would bolster public safety, advocates say.

“Apparently in California, exercising your Second Amendment rights is just another way for the government to reach into your pockets,” says Second Amendment rights advocate Craig DeLuz, who is running for U.S. Congress in the state’s 6th Congressional District in Sacramento County.

Every time a gun is passed around, the state's system tracks it like an overbearing mother, so why do gun owners have to pay an annual registration fee? It's just a sneaky way to penalize those who can't cough up the cash and disarm them. Seems like the only people feeling the heat are law-abiding citizens,” continued DeLuz.

Portantino says SB 1160 would help authorities track how many firearms are in the state and who owns them.

“Currently, we only have rough estimates on how many firearms there are in California. This important step toward registration will also increase accountability and responsible gun ownership as we collectively endeavor to increase public safety,” Portantino said Feb. 12

According to Portantino’s office, revenue raised from gun registration fees would be used to fund a state firearm registry that would become a resource for law enforcement agencies.

Los Angeles City Council Declares Shirley Weber Day

On Feb. 14 last week, Valentine’s Day, the Los Angeles City Council honored California’s first Black Secretary of State, Dr. Shirley N. Weber, with a heartfelt gesture of appreciation.

As part of its Black History Month celebration, the 15-member council declared Feb. 14 “Shirley Weber Day” in Los Angeles.

“We celebrate the homecoming of an undeniable force who emerged from the streets of South L.A. to the epitome, showing strength and grit,” said Councilmember Curren Price, who represents the city’s 9th District where Weber grew up.

Price introduced the resolution to honor Weber earlier this month, which acknowledged the Secretary of State for her “lifelong commitment to service within the realm of civil rights, voting rights, public safety, protections for those with disabilities, food insecurity and legislation on education.”

Councilmember Heather Hutt, who represents the 10th District, called Weber “an extraordinary woman who has made history and she really continues to inspire us all.”

Latricia T. Mitchell, NAACP Los Angeles President, congratulated Weber and praised the city council for its decision.

“Her unwavering dedication to the California dream, where hope, opportunity, justice, and fairness thrive, serves as an inspiration to all,” wrote Mitchell in a statement. “With unwavering integrity, she consistently prioritizes the needs of the public over any political agenda, fulfilling her responsibilities with utmost commitment.”

Weber, born in Hope, Ark, in 1948, moved with her family to Los Angeles as a young girl. She grew up in the Pueblo Del Rio housing projects and earned her undergraduate, master’s and PhD from UCLA.

Weber, a former Assemblymember who represented the 79th District in San Diego, thanked the councilmembers, recognized how growing up in L.A. contributed to her success, urged the audience to help build communities where young people can be motivated, feel supported and thrive.

Weber also remembered her parents.

"My only regret in life is that my parents are not here to see what they did, what they made, and see the contributions they made not just to my life, but to the life of California,” she said. “I always pay tribute to them.”

California Black Women’s Health Project Kicks Of 30th Anniversary Celebration

Last week, the California Black Women’s Health Project (CABWHP) announced that it is kicking off its 30th anniversary with special programs throughout 2024, and a continuing commitment to fighting for equity and pushing policies that help Black women and girls lead healthier and more fulfilling lives.

"Over the past 30 years, we've worked to support Black women and girls who are too often overlooked and neglected in the healthcare system and other systems that claim to serve us,” said Sonya Young Aadam, CEO of CABWHP, in a statement.

“Despite ongoing challenges, we will continue to unapologetically advocate for the improved health and well-being of Black women and girls across California from San Diego to Sacramento, Aadam continued.

CABWHP began anniversary celebrations with a fundraising drive under the theme Giving F.O.R.W.A.R.D. (For Our RIGHTS, WELLNESS, ADVOCACY, RESOURCES, and DESCENDENTS). The organization also hosted a fireside chat honoring its past five CEOs of the organization.

All proceeds from the drive will be used to “strengthen operations and support existing programs focused on training, educating, and building the capacity of Black women to become health advocates and activists,” according to a CABWHP press release.

“We know that it takes collective community efforts to address gaps, and we remain committed to fighting against inequities,” Aadam said.

For more information on CABWHP’s work and 30th anniversary events visit CABWHP.org.

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Calif. Black Caucus, Attorney Gen. Rob Bonta Back Bill to Address Maternal Mortality

On Feb. 12, Attorney Gen. Rob Bonta joined members of the California Legislative Black Caucus in Sacramento to announce they are backing a bill written to address the high maternal mortality rate among Black women.

The legislation, Assembly Bill (AB) 2319 – aims to ensure the successful implementation of SB 464, or the California Dignity in Pregnancy and Childbirth Act of 2019 (Act).

This act which took effect in 2020, mandates that all physicians in the state undergo implicit bias training every two years and requires hospitals to inform patients about their rights.

If the Legislature votes to approve it and Gov. Newsom signs it into law, AB 2319 will “provide clarity” on who qualifies to offer anti-bias trainings; designate state authorities to implement and enforce accountability measure; improve equity and inclusion; increase transparency around implementation; establish penalties for violators; among other provisions.

“It is a tragic reality that race continues to be a factor in maternal health and infant mortality rates not just in California, but across this country,” said Bonta.

“Together, we have made so much progress, and we must continue to address healthcare bias head-on. Today’s legislation does just that; it is designed to make transformational change in a system that has historically failed our mothers and babies, especially those of color,” Bonta added.

In California, ever year, Black women account for about 5% of pregnant women but make up an estimated 21% of pregnancy-related deaths, according to California Department of Justice.

Assemblymembers Lori Wilson (D-Suisun City) Chair of the CLBC: Mia Bonta (D-Oakland), chair of the Assembly Health Committee;

Corey Jackson (D-Moreno Valley); and Mike Gipson (D-Carson) attended the news briefing at the State Capitol about AB 2319.

“As a Black Mother and as Chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus, the fight to improve these outcomes is personal to me “I look forward to collaborating with our Attorney General Rob Bonta, Assemblymember Dr. Akilah Weber and other stakeholders to push this accountability measure across the finish line as we seek to make strides in improving Black maternal health outcomes throughout California,” said Wilson.

Republicans Speculate Pres. Biden Will not Seek Reelection; Newsom Will Contend for POTUS in 2024

A growing number of Republicans are speculating that President Biden will not seek reelection this year due to health concerns. Instead, they suggest that Gov. Gavin Newsom will be the Democratic Party Standard Bearer.

“In the words of Democrat Senator John Fetterman, Gavin Newsom is ‘running for President right now’ but doesn’t have the ‘guts to announce it’” wrote U.S. Rep. Kevin Kiley (R-CA-3) on his website’s blog. “He is thereby avoiding the standard vetting process. So, it is up to us to make sure Americans know the truth.”

Last week, Kiley published an initial list of Newsom’s worst failures on his page on the social media platform X.

Among the criticisms Kiley listed were California’s decreasing population; budget deficit; high rate of homelessness; increasing poverty; high gas prices, among others.

Newsom maintains he has “sub-zero interest” in running for President of the United States.

Sen. Bradford Introduces Legislation to Protect Consumers From Credit Union Fees

Last week, Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Inglewood) introduced Senate Bill (SB) 1075, legislation intended to cap the charges that credit unions can impose on consumers for overdrafts or non-sufficient funds (NSF).

“Financial institutions should act responsibly when imposing fees on their members. They should not build a business model that thrives on the misfortune of customers,” said Braford, who is Vice Chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC).

“That’s exactly what some credit unions are doing,” continued Bradford. “Fees should not be excessive or target the most vulnerable customers.”

According to SB 1075 language, the bill would require credit unions to extend a “five-day grace period” to customers to rectify a deficiency before a state-chartered credit union can assess a fee.

“Most credit unions charge between $20 and $35 for each fee,” reads a press release issued by Bradford’s office. “Overdraft protection is an opt-in program where the financial institution will provide funding to complete a transaction when the member has insufficient funds. Non- sufficient funds fees are charged when a transaction is denied by the credit union due to a low balance.”

According to a March 2023 Department of Financial Protection and Innovation Report (DFPI) report, credit unions are earning a significant amount of their revenue from fees.

“We have long known that overdraft fees can be a pernicious and often predatory practice that harms consumers who can least afford to pay them,” said Senator Monique Limón (D-Santa Barbara), Chair of the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee.

“I applaud Senator Bradford for taking the lead on this issue and look forward to working with him, consumer advocates, and financial institutions to collaboratively enact strong protections for users of overdraft services,” Limon added.

Foundation Announces Microgrant Funding for Leaders Making a Difference in Their Neighborhoods

San Francisco-based Nextdoor Kind Foundation has announced that it is awarding $500 hyper-local grants to leaders making a positive difference in the lives of people in their communities.

Focusing on Los Angeles for this particular round of funding, the foundation will provide 100 individuals with $500 microgrants.

According to Nextdoor Kind, “applications are open to individuals in Los Angeles County who have creative ideas, projects, or initiatives that contribute to their neighborhoods.”

The application period ends on March 29.

“Local leaders understand their neighborhoods best, and the actions that will have the greatest impact for their communities,” said Shireen Santosham, Executive Director, Nextdoor Kind Foundation. “These microgrants will provide civically engaged Angelenos the opportunity to advance their work and ideas and build connection and kindness in their neighborhoods.”

Grant recipients will be selected based on the creativity of their ideas, projects, or initiatives and other criteria, including community impact and how much their proposal fosters community collaboration. Other factors that will inform selection are measurable outcomes and how much submitted plans uplift under-resourced communities.

Visit Nextdoor Kind Foundation’s website for more information or to apply.

California Is Offering Tax Cuts for Residents Affected by Storm Damage

California homeowners and other property owners can apply for tax cuts if they are victims of severe storm damage amounting to more than $10,000.

According to the California Board of Equalization (BOE), the property owners must file an application with their county assessor’s office within 12 months after the incident.

Property the tax cuts cover may include business equipment and fixtures, orchards, olive groves, aircraft and boats, and certain manufactured homes. Storm survivors can also get a tax break for damaged furniture or appliances at their homes even if those items are not part of the assessed value,” according to the BOE.

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