California Governor Signs 9 Bills to Improve Women and Children's Lives
By Melody Gutierrez
California will extend workplace protections to 2.7 million more people who now will be able to take 12 weeks of parental leave without fear of losing their job.
The New Parent Leave Act was one of nine bills Gov. Jerry Brown signed Thursday that were aimed at improving the lives of women and children. Other bills give diaper subsidies to parents in the welfare-to-work program, require schools with low-income students to provide free tampons and pads in campus bathrooms, and bar employers from asking salary history of prospective workers in an effort to end a cycle of underpaying women.
"The actions today will have a real difference on women, children and families," Brown said in a news conference attended by some of the Capitol's most influential women. Female legislators wore red Wonder Woman T-shirts under blazers as their bills were signed.
SB63 by state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, allows new mothers and fathers working for smaller businesses to receive 12 weeks of job-protected parental leave. Brown vetoed a similar measure by Jackson last year.
Companies with 50 or more employees already are required to provide 12 weeks of leave. SB63 requires businesses with 20 to 49 employees to offer parental leave.
The bill does not require parental leave to be paid. The workers already pay into the state's family leave program, but have often had a difficult time accessing the program because they feared losing their jobs if they took the time off.
"We know that when a mother spends those critical first 12 weeks with their newborns, it reduces postpartum depression by a third," Jackson said. "Can you imagine being able to eliminate a disease or health care problem just by giving a person the opportunity to love and nurture a newborn?"
Brown signed AB10 by Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, D-Bell Gardens (Los Angeles County), which requires schools that serve students from sixth grade and up and receive Title 1 funding for low-income students to provide free tampons and pads in at least half of the restrooms on campus. Many schools already provide free feminine hygiene products in their front office, but Garcia said campuses need to do more.
Other bills signed Thursday:
--SB500 by Sen. Connie Leyva, D-Chino (San Bernardino County), expands the crime of extortion to include demands for sex and intimate photos.
--AB168 by Assemblywoman Susan Eggman, D-Stockton, bans employers from asking about a prospective employee's salary history.
--AB273 by Assemblywoman Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, D-Winters (Yolo County), expands child care subsidies to parents taking English-language courses or earning their high school equivalency.
--AB480 by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, D-San Diego, provides diaper subsidies to parents in the welfare-to-work program.
--AB1312, by Gonzalez Fletcher, creates additional protections for rape victims, including a requirement that police keep rape kits in evidence for at least 20 years, and makes emergency contraception available at no cost to a victim.
--AB557 by Assemblywoman Blanca Rubio, D-Baldwin Park (Los Angeles County), makes victims of domestic violence immediately eligible for financial and housing assistance through Calworks homeless benefits.
--AB1386 by Assemblywoman Marie Waldron, R-Escondido (San Diego County), provides information about breast cancer susceptibility gene, or BRCA, mutations to newly diagnosed cancer patients.
(c)2017 the San Francisco Chronicle