Photo: California Governor Gavin Newsom at General Hospital in Los Angeles to sign two major bills for housing and mental health treatment for the homeless. Photo by Lila Brown CBM
WRITTEN BY TANU HENRY, ANTONIO RAY HARVEY AND JOE W. BOWERS JR. | CALIFORNIA BLACK MEDIA
Conservatorship Is Coming to California: Gov. Newsom Signs Bill Transforming California’s Mental Health Care System
Californians with relatives suffering from severe mental illness or chronic substance use disorders, including alcoholism, will soon be able to make decisions on their behalf after Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill (SB) 43 into law Oct. 10.
In some instances, conservatorship may be assigned to county health departments, courts or other third parties to temporarily direct the care of affected persons, connect them to treatment or involuntarily detain them.
“California is undertaking a major overhaul of our mental health system,” said Gov. Gavin Newsom in a statement. “The mental health crisis affects us all, and people who need the most help have been too often overlooked. We are working to ensure no one falls through the cracks, and that people get the help they need and the respect they deserve.” Under current law, the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act (LPS Act), which former Gov. Ronald Reagan signed into law in1967, authorities may serve as conservators for no more than 72 hours.
“The LPS Act was adopted at a time when public policy was essentially to warehouse people that were mentally ill. The Act established strong and important civil liberty protections to ensure individual rights are protected,” said Sen. Susan Eggman (D-Stockton), who authored the bill. “Like many things that are decades old, it has long been time to make some adjustments to the law to address the realities we are seeing today on our streets.”
While some advocates are applauding the passage of SB 43, some disability rights groups are concerned that authorities may abuse the rights of patients.
SB 43 will take effect Jan. 1, 2024.
Gov. Newsom Signs Sen. Bradford’s SB 51 Which Promotes Diversity in California’s Cannabis Market
Sen. Steve Bradford (D-Inglewood)
Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed Senate Bill (SB) 51, which promotes greater diversity in California’s cannabis industry. The bill is authored by California Legislative Black Caucus vice chair Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Inglewood).
Specifically, SB 51 will allow the California Department of Cannabis Control to issue provisional licenses for local cannabis retail equity applicants.
A provisional license allows applicants to operate their business while completing the requirements for an annual license, and eventually become fully licensed participants in the cannabis retail market.
“For California’s legal cannabis market to succeed, it must look like California,” Bradford stated. “Right now, it doesn’t. Time and time again, I hear from community members who are being boxed out of the industry. Equity applicants deserve an opportunity to stand up a business, obtain a license, and participate in the market.”
So far, the legal cannabis industry in California has lacked diversity. A 2017 survey conducted Marijuana Business Daily found that 81% of cannabis business owners and founders in America were White. Hispanic/Latino and Blacks made up only 10% of cannabis business founders.
While Black people make up approximately 13% of the U.S. population, they represent 1.2% to 1.7% of business owners in the cannabis industry, according to Leafly’s Jobs Report of 2021.
In 2018, Bradford introduced SB 1294, the California Cannabis Equity Act. This law facilitates the participation of individuals from diverse backgrounds and underserved communities in California’s legalized cannabis industry. However, the regulations for an annual license have proven to be a challenge for equity applicants, demonstrating a need for the provisional licensing program authorized by SB 51.
SB 51 will become law on Jan. 1, 2024.
“Equity applicants, who bore the brunt of California's failed history of cannabis prohibition, are disproportionately impacted by a lack of access to capital and technical support, steep licensing fees, lengthy land-use approvals, environmental requirements, and more,” Newsom said in an Oct. 8 statement.
“While I support the author's effort to bring temporary relief to equity applicants, this bill does not address the fundamental issues that continue to increase costs and uncertainty for those seeking to participate in the legal market,” Newsom stated.
National Union of Healthcare Workers Hosts U.S. Senate Candidate Forum
The top three Democrats running to become the next U.S. senator to represent California participated in a candidate’s forum at the National Union of Healthcare Workers’ Leadership Conference on Oct. 8, at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles.
The participants were U.S. Reps. Barbara Lee (D-CA-12), Katie Porter (D-CA-47), and Adam Schiff (D-CA-30). They are all running for the Senate seat previously held by Sen. Dianne Feinstein and is currently occupied by Sen. Laphonza Butler, who Gov. Gavin Newsom appointed after Feinstein passed away on Sept. 28.
The debate was moderated by Lisa Matthews from The Associated Press. The panelists answered inquiries posed by members of NUHW and a team of journalists. On this team were Melanie Mason from Politico, Benjamin Oreskes from the Los Angeles Times, and Sandhya Raman from Roll Call.
The candidates responded to 20 questions on topics ranging from healthcare, minimum wage, the current Israel-Hamas war, and the potential of Butler joining the race.
During the forum, all three politicians expressed their disapproval and commented on Gov. Newsom’s decision to veto Senate Bill (SB) 799. The bill would have provided striking workers access to unemployment benefits.
“You get what you paid in,” Lee said of striking workers’ unemployment benefits.
“We need to make sure that the working people are protected,” Schiff said.
“Nobody should go hungry for using their legal rights to better themselves and better our entire country’s economy,” Porter said.
The National Union of Healthcare Workers represents more than 16,000 union members.
“Our union’s endorsement is in the hands of our members,” said NUHW President Sal Rosselli. “After we get a chance to hear from the candidates, we’ll take a transparent, democratic and informed vote, and the winner will have NUHW’s full support.”
State Superintendent Tony Thurmond Launches Statewide Paid Internships Effort as a Crime Prevention Strategy
The California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond launched a statewide paid internship effort at a summit he hosted in Sacramento on Oct. 10.
The event explored ways to design paid training and career coaching programs and reaffirmed the state’s commitment to preparing students for the jobs of tomorrow. Amid reports of a spike in crime, including crimes committed by juveniles, the effort’s objectives include helping connect youth to bright futures and helping prevent youth from engaging in crime.
“We have many young people who need an opportunity to earn and learn, and that is why we are launching a statewide paid internship strategy at a time where the need is very great,” said Thurmond. “We can build a statewide effort where we can serve more students, and we want them to not just put money in their pockets but to learn about a career path that will help them moving forward.”
New California Law Allows Nonprofits with State Grants and Contracts to Get Paid Early
Last week, Gov. Newsom signed Assembly Bill 590, which authorizes state agencies to advance up to 25% of the total amount of state grants or contracts to nonprofits.
The legislation, unanimously supported by members of both houses of the State Legislature, prioritizes nonprofits serving disadvantaged communities, according to Newsom’s office.
In a statement, CalNonprofits thanked Newsom for signing the bill and
Assemblymember Gregg Hart (D-Santa Barbara) for authoring it.
“It strongly impacts the access and ability of nonprofits to partner with the state or successfully pursue grant funding. What on its face may look like a minor technical change, authorizing advance payments to nonprofits signing government contracts is a major equity advancement,” read the CalNonprofits statement.
With upfront funds, nonprofits won’t be forced to float significant expenses until reimbursed or to take on high interest loans to get new programs going,” the statement continued.
LAO to the Legislature: Establish New Formula for Funding County-Level Corrections Program
The Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) released a report on Oct. 10 recommending that the State Legislature establish a new formula to provide funds to counties through the County Probation Grant Program.
The program was designed to help keep people convicted of felonies out of prison and reduce incarceration costs by supporting county-level community corrections programs.
The program was established by Senate Bill (SB) 678, introduced by former Sen. Mark Leno, who represented San Francisco. It became state law in 2009,
To make sure the program is effective and sustainable, the formula the LAO is advising the state to create would base the monies counties receive on state savings and established metrics used to assess the performance of local programs. It would also target funds to specific practices whose success is “evidence based.”
Assemblymember Mike Gipson Hosts Conference to Uplift Women and Build Sisterhood
Asm. Mike Gipson (D-Carson) photo by Antonio Ray Harvey (CBM)
Last week, Assemblymember Mike Gipson (D-Carson) announced that he held a leadership conference to empower teen girls and young women on Oct. 7 at Cal State Dominguez Hills.
“This is our first B.L.U.S.H. Conference,” said Gipson in a video that recapped the conference targeting girls in high school and college undergrads.
The acronym stands for Building Leaders and Uplifting Sisterhood.
“This is super, super important, especially in our society, that young girls and women be reminded who they are,” said Jhala Angelique, V.P. of California At-Risk Youth program and one of the participants.
Addressing the girls at the event, Gipson encouraged them to be role models.
“No matter which community you come out of, whichever community leaders on whose shoulders you stand, you don’t be ashamed. Elevate that community,” said Gipson. “That community helped to make you and shape you to be the person that you are today. You should let everyone know that you are proud.”