California State Legislature Postponed
California State Legislature will not reconvene on April 13th as previously planned
- The Legislature is now currently planning to reconvene on May 4.
- Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins said: “Given what the governor and our public health officials have stated, it has become increasingly clear that the April 13th return date the Legislature envisioned isn’t feasible. Our top priority has to remain helping flatten the COVID-19 transmission curve to prevent our health care systems from being overwhelmed. I will continue working with Speaker [Anthony] Rendon on a bicameral path forward, and I hope that in short order we will be conducting our business in a way that ensures the public’s participation and protects the public’s health.”
- The Legislature went into recess on March 16, 2020, with a planned return date of April 13, 2020. Before recessing, the Senate unanimously agreed to change its rules allowing the Legislature to meet remotely. But the state Assembly did not do that because leaders questioned the legal authority for the Legislature to meet remotely.
- When the Legislature does reconvene, it will focus primarily on the state’s COVID-19 response and passing a budget. Earlier this week, for example, Assembly Budget Chairman Philip Ting asked his colleagues not to provide him with a list of their budgetary priorities unless they related to COVID-19. Ting also cautioned that state revenues will likely be dramatically reduced in the coming year and said he did not believe the state will have the resources to fund many member priorities this year.
Governor Newsom Signs Executive Order to Provide Expanded Access to Child Care for Essential Workers During COVID-19 Response
On April 4, 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order that will facilitate child care for children of essential critical infrastructure workers by allowing the California Department of Education and California Department of Social Services the flexibility to waive certain programmatic and administrative requirements in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The order also allows the state to take advantage of new federal flexibility to provide pandemic Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to children. Specifically, the California Department of Social Services and the California Department of Education will share data and information to identify students who may be eligible for the pandemic SNAP benefit, to reduce food insecurity and ensure children receive nutritious meals at low or no cost.
Read the full press release here.
First 5 LA Signs Nationwide Letter Urging Congress to Include Immigrant Families in COVID-19 Relief Package
On Monday, March 23, 2020, First 5 LA joined over 600 national advocacy organizations in signing-on to a nation-wide letter urging Congress to include immigrant families in their third COVID-19 relief package, as they were excluded from two key provisions of the legislation. The first being, a proposed Medicaid state option for the uninsured. This exclusion would keep several immigrant classifications, including some green card holders and DACA recipients that have children, from accessing crucial COVID-19 health services. The second being, a proposed federal tax rebate program. This exclusion would prevent immigrant families that file their taxes with an Individual Tax Identification (TIN) number, as opposed to a social security number, from accessing needed economic relief for their families in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.
Excerpt from the letter:
"We cannot protect the nation from the Coronavirus and its economic impact if we deny health care and financial relief to a large segment of our communities. The virus and its effects do not discriminate based on immigration status, and neither should relief efforts. Immigrants are front-line workers leading the response to the pandemic in the arenas such as public health, agriculture, food preparation and delivery, and cleaning and maintenance. Moreover, effective public health responses require attention to all community members, as a pandemic response that excludes any members of our communities will weaken its effectiveness. None of us can be healthy if any of us is denied access to testing and care. "
To read the full letter, click here.
COVID-19 Policy Updates as of 3/17/20
CA COVID-19 Response Budget Package
On March 16, Governor Newsom requested emergency legislation to fight COVID-19. Due to the State of Emergency, the 72-hour print rule was waived, and the legislature passed a budget package containing funding up to $1 billion to respond to the current pandemic. The legislature then passed a resolution to adjourn from March 20 until April 13th.
Below is a summary of the COVID-19 Budget Package:
AB/SB 89, Budget Bill Jr.
Appropriates $500 million from the General Fund for any purpose related to the COVID-19 Proclamation of Emergency. Expenditure require 72 hour written notice from the Director of Finance to the Joint Legislative Budget Committee (JLBC). This timeframe can be shorten with JLBC written notice.
● Additional funding in $50 million increments can be appropriated with notice to the JLBC. Expenditures will not exceed $1 billion.
● The bill is intended to assist individuals, nonprofit organizations, and small businesses experiencing economic hardships due to the impacts of COVID-19. Expected expenditures include, but not limited to:
- Leasing and activating two hospitals;
- Providing hotel beds for people experiencing homelessness;
- Supporting local government to reduce spread of COVID in homeless population;
- Acquiring hospital and public health surge equipment;
- Assisting hospitals, nursing homes, and other facilities manage;
- Cleaning of child care facilities so they remain open; and
- Funding IHSS/APS strike teams to support senior isolation.
● Appropriates $84 million for Camp Fire tree removal cleanup costs. This wildfire emergency related action has been expected to be part of any “early budget action,” but is not related to the COVID-19 crisis.
AB/SB 117, Education Trailer Bill.
The provisions in this bill largely align and codify the Governor’s Executive Order issued on March 13, ensuring that schools receive funding in the event of closure. Specifically, this bill:
● Appropriates $100 million Proposition 98 General Fund for Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) to purchase protective equipment and supplies and labor related to cleaning school sites. An eligible local education agency shall not receive less than $250 per schoolsite. It appears that this will not apply to non-school based child care sites.
Provisions Specific to Early Learning:
● Attendance and reporting requirements imposed on childcare and development programs are waived to ensure continuity of payments.
● The Superintendent of Public Instruction shall develop informal directives and bulletins to address contractual and reporting requirements applicable for the 2019-20 fiscal year for impacted childcare and development programs. This means that additional details will be provided in due time by CDE.
Provisions Focused on K-12:
● Ensures that LEAs continue to receive funding for a full school year, regardless of closures due to COVID19. This includes apportionments made on the basis of average daily attendance and funding for the After School Education and Safety Program. The bill waives penalties related to instructional days and minute requirements, and ensures that employees and contractors are compensated and paid during the period of time a school is closed.
● Provides time extensions for student assessments and a variety of other educational requirements.
- English language assessment extended by 45 days
- The testing window for other assessments is extended by the length of time a school is closed or until the end of the testing window, whichever comes first.
● For charter schools that do not have an independent study program or a distance learning program currently-approved, it is not required to submit a request in order to offer a program that can be completed remotely during the school closure.
● In order to determine an LEA’s compliance with the required special education timelines, CDE shall consider the days a school is closed due to COVID-19 as days between a pupil’s regular school session, up until the time the school reopens and the regular school session reconvenes.
● This does not waive any federal requirements imposed under the federal Individual with Disabilities Education Act.