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Friday, October 11, 2019

Governor Signs Ting’s Bill to Expand California’s Red Flag Gun Law(Sacramento, CA) – California is expanding its red flag gun law. Governor Newsom signed AB 61, a bill by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), which gives more people access to a court process that could temporarily take away someone’s firearms through a Gun Violence Restraining Order (GVRO), if they pose a danger to themselves or others. Ting’s law enables educators, employers and co-workers to also use the tool. Current law only allows law enforcement and immediate family members to file a GVRO.

“Thoughts and prayers are no longer enough. GVROs are a proven gun violence prevention tool that can help save lives. With school and workplace shootings on the rise, it’s common sense to give the people we see every day the power to intervene and prevent tragedies,” said Ting.

The Governor’s approval comes just a few months after researchers at the Violence Prevention Research Program at UC Davis closely examined a sample of individuals who were subjected to a GVRO and found none were involved in subsequent gun-related violence. While the study cited how difficult it is to say how many incidents were prevented, it is reasonable to conclude GVROs play a role in reducing the chance of gun-related violence. From 2016 (when California’s red flag law took effect) through 2018, more than 600 people had weapons removed from their possession via GVROs.

Seventeen states have a version of red flag laws on the books. Twelve enacted their measures after the 2018 Parkland, FL shooting. In California, there are two ways a GVRO can be granted:

  • For a duration of 21 days, immediately, which can be extended for up to one year after a court hearing; or,
  • For a duration of one year, after a court hearing.

For GVRO requests in the latter category, Ting has a companion bill, AB 1493, which the Governor also approved. It allows the subject of a GVRO to surrender their firearms to authorities without contesting the order. Under current law, even a subject who agrees guns should not be in their possession must still go through a court hearing, wasting time and resources.

AB 61 & AB 1493 will take effect September 1, 2020.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Today is World Mental Health Day. Just this week, the California Peer-Run Warm Line launched to provide free emotional support all year long to those not in crisis, but still in need of help. It's peer-run, meaning the person on the other end of the line has experienced similar challenges.The number 1-855-845-7455. Please reach out if you need to. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Governor Signs Ting Proposals to Increase  California’s Affordable Housing

Los Angeles – Backyards and surplus government land are now prime real estate for the development of more housing units in California, thanks to two proposals by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) signed by Governor Newsom today. AB 68 eases local red tape to encourage a greater number of homeowners to build Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), commonly known as backyard cottages, “in-law units” or “granny flats,” on their properties. The other bill, AB 1486, prioritizes construction of affordable housing projects when local public land is no longer needed.

“One of the quickest ways to ramp up our housing supply is to build more Accessory Dwelling Units. They also enable homeowners to be part of the solution in helping us address California’s unprecedented housing crisis,” said Ting. “Regarding surplus land, I can’t think of a better use for property the government no longer needs than to build affordable housing on it.”

What is an ADU?By some estimates, California is nearly four million units short of meeting its housing demand. After the state relaxed some barriers to ADU construction in 2017, there was an immediate boost to their numbers. Los Angeles, for example, has approved more than 10,500 ADUs since the change, compared to only a few hundred ADUs in years prior. But some obstacles remain. Ting’s bill would:

  • Speed up the approval process to 60 days;
  • Prohibit restrictive local requirements pertaining to lot size and parking; and,
  • Allow more types of units, such as units in multi-family dwellings, to be approved with less bureaucratic review.

The Governor also signed other ADU bills that:

  • Reduce local government construction fees;
  • Suspend local rules for five years requiring the homeowner to live on site; and,
  • Forbid homeowners associations from banning ADUs.

“California YIMBY is proud to have sponsored AB 68, which will create many thousands of new homes each year,” said Brian Hanlon, President and CEO of California YIMBY. “This bill empowers homeowners to help end the housing crisis by building Accessory Dwelling Units, which fit seamlessly into existing neighborhoods. These granny flats help keep multi-generational families together, and enable homeowners to make some extra money while providing more affordable homes for people who need them. We’re grateful to Asm. Ting for his strong leadership on this issue.”

According to the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at UC Berkeley, applications for ADU permits have jumped significantly since the Legislature eased some regulations a few years ago, but homeowners still face challenges when it comes to building codes, limiting the full potential of ADUs.

Under AB 1486, Ting’s surplus land legislation gives more affordable housing projects the first right of refusal to build on public surplus land, taking advantage of strategically located sites next to transit, schools and jobs that have remained dormant for decades.

AB 68 & AB 1486 will take effect January 1, 2020.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Sacramento, CA – California has become the largest state to ban facial recognition software in police body cameras, in a move to protect civil liberties over use of technology prone to mistakes. Governor Newsom today signed AB 1215, a proposal by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) that prohibits law enforcement from equipping body cameras with facial recognition software and other biometric scanners for three years.

“The public wanted their officers and deputies to use body cameras to provide accountability and transparency for the community. The addition of facial recognition technology essentially turns them into 24-hour surveillance tools, giving law enforcement the ability to track our every move. We cannot become a police state,” said Ting.

California Law Enforcement Prohibited from Using Facial Recognition Technology in Body Cameras Under Ting Bill Signed by the GovernorTo prove that facial recognition isn’t ready for prime time, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) recently put the technology to the test, running photos of all 120 members of the state Legislature through a mugshot database. It falsely matched 26 lawmakers, including Ting. More than half of those falsely identified are lawmakers of color, illustrating the biases and risks associated with the technology’s dangerous inaccuracies if allowed to subject people to perpetual police line-ups. A similar test conducted on members of Congress last year also produced 28 mismatches.

“Face-scanning police body cameras have no place on our streets, where they can be used for dragnet surveillance of Californians, our locations, and our personal associations,” said Matt Cagle, Technology and Civil Liberties Attorney for the ACLU of Northern California. “AB 1215 helps ensure Californians don’t become test subjects for an invasive and dangerous tracking technology that undermines our most fundamental civil liberties and human rights.”

False matches led Axon, one of the largest manufacturers of police body cameras, to bar facial recognition programs in its products. Microsoft also had the same concerns, particularly the high error rate among women and people of color, when it declined to sell facial recognition software to a California law enforcement agency.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Governor Signs Ting’s Criminal Justice Reform Bill Sacramento, CA – Clean slate legislation signed by the Governor today will give hundreds of thousands of Californians a second chance in life after they have served their time and successfully completed probation. Even after rehabilitation, a criminal record typically prevents people from getting jobs and housing, or attending school. AB 1076 by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), uses technology to automate arrest and conviction relief for those already entitled to record clearance under existing law. The current paper system is burdensome and expensive, and it discourages individuals from going through the process.

“People shouldn’t have to pay for their mistakes for the rest of their lives. A fresh start improves an individual’s chances of succeeding and reduces the likelihood of recidivism. Automating the record clearance process will enable former offenders to get back on their feet and lead productive lives,” said Ting. “Our economy and society pay the price when job-seeking workers are shut out.”

In its amended form, AB 1076 would automate record clearance for individuals whose arrest occurs after January 1, 2021. A new California Policy Lab analysis found that of the estimated 1.1 million people who will have a new detention, arrest, or conviction during the first five years of the law’s implementation, about 44% will be eligible to have one or more cases automatically cleared. Studies show that lack of access to jobs and housing are primary factors that drive individuals to reoffend.

The obstacles to successful re-entry also disproportionately impact communities of color and those who are socio-economically disadvantaged. By requiring no additional action by petitioners, AB 1076 can make the records clearance system more fair and equitable.

Monday, October 7, 2019

California Launches First Statewide Mental Health LineDebut coincides with World Mental Health Day on Oct 10th

San Francisco – The California Peer-Run Warm Line officially opened today, offering free non-emergency emotional support and referrals to anyone in the state via telephone or instant messaging. This service is made possible because of a state budget allocation of $10.8 million over three years, championed by Governor Newsom, State Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and Assembly Budget Committee Chair Phil Ting (D-San Francisco).

“When addressing issues surrounding health, the conversation must also include emotional wellness. This new state resource builds on our current mental health system by serving a population that is not in crisis but still in need of support,” said Ting.

“Too many Californians are struggling with mental health and emotional well-being challenges. Peer-to-peer support is a proven way of helping people stay healthy and get the help they need. The California Peer-Run Warm Line is an important resource for so many people, and I’m thrilled we were able to get it funded,” said Wiener.

According to Mental Health America, about one in five adults in the U.S. experiences mental health challenges in a given year. In peer-run or peer-to-peer engagement programs, someone who has personally gone through similar mental health challenges is providing support to callers. It’s a model that helps prevent the need for more expensive, crisis-based interventions, such as hospitalizations. In addition, the term “warm line” illustrates the step before “hotline,” which typically serves people in crisis. Warm lines aim to reach those who are not quite at that stage, but still need some emotional assistance.

The California Peer-Run Warm Line is toll free: 1-855-845-7415 and will initially be staffed for most of the day:

Mondays to Fridays: 7:00 am – 11:00 pm

Saturdays: 7:00 am – 3:00 pm and Sundays: 7:00 am – 9:00 pm

The call center is scheduled to ramp up to 24/7 service by the end of the year and expects about 25,000 calls a year. This new mental health line builds upon the city-funded San Francisco Peer-Run Warm Line, which opened in 2014 and is run by the Mental Health Association of San Francisco (MHASF). Past callers expressed concerns over interpersonal relationships, anxiety, panic, depression and alcohol/drug use.

“The Warm Line saves lives by providing preventative care for those in distress,” said Mark Salazar, the Executive Director of MHASF. “At the same time, the Warm Line saves money for the community by helping our callers to stay out of crisis and the need for emergency resources like ER visits, hospitalization and police intervention. We are very pleased to be partnering with the state of California to create what we believe is the first comprehensive state run Warm Line,” says Salazar.

The debut of the California Peer-Run Warm Line coincides with Thursday’s World Mental Health Day and its suicide prevention theme this year.

The complete announcement can viewed here.

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Friday, October 4, 2019

(Sacramento) – As a result of Governor Newsom’s signature today on AB 697, California will soon begin requiring colleges to disclose preferential admissions practices to the state. Under the legislation by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), the data must detail whether any of the school’s admitted students have a relationship to a donor or alumni, and how many of these students did not otherwise meet the criteria for admission.

“We must strive for a level playing field in the college admissions process, so there can be equal opportunity for all,” said Ting. “We should know how prevalent donor and alumni-based preferential treatment is in California, so we can compare that to the amount of state-funded benefits, like CalGrants, flowing toward the school.”

alifornia's First College Admissions Reform Bill  Sent to the Governor Is SignedIn March, a handful of Assembly Democrats unveiled a package of six college admissions reform proposals in response to the scandal dubbed “Operation Varsity Blues.” That investigation found that well-connected families used a side door to get their typically unqualified children admitted into elite schools through illegal bribes, donations and/or falsified SAT scores. Additionally, the scandal shed light on the many legal ways that wealth and relationships skew the college admissions process.  AB 697 was California’s first reform measure to reach the Governor’s desk.

Two other bills from that package were also signed by the Governor today:

  • AB 1383 - strengthens checks and balances on special admissions by exception (McCarty)
  • AB 136 - prohibits fraudulent tax write-offs for individuals charged in the scandal (Quirk-Silva)

Ting’s AB 697 will take effect January 1, 2020, with data from the 2019-20 school year required to be released by June 30, 2020.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Publication: Making Contact (airing on numerous radio stations across the country)

Despite the recent increase in mass shootings in the United States, the majority of gun injuries and deaths are in fact a result of suicides, homicides, accidental shootings, and intimate partner violence. In this documentary, we hear the story of one woman’s experience of domestic violence, and how some Californians are working to prevent harmful and deadly shootings.

This program was produced as a project for the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism’s 2019 California Fellowship. Click on the "Read More" button below to listen to this episode.

Featuring:

  • Sofia García, survivor of intimate partner violence
  • Richard Martinez, Survivor Network at Everytown for Gun Safet
  • Kendra Thomas, family law attorney and Trustee with Los Angeles County Bar Association’s Domestic Violence Legal Services Project
  • Mara Elliott, San Diego City Attorney
  • Jacqui Irwin, CA Assembly member, 44th District
  • Phil Ting, CA Assembly member, 19th District.

Warning: Contains sensitive language. Please find milder version here.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Ting Statement Regarding the Climate Executive Order Signed by Governor NewsomAssemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), author of AB 40 and other legislation intended to address the climate crisis, released the following statement about the Governor’s Climate Executive Order. Ting’s statement is as follows:

“I applaud the Governor for taking aggressive action to address the climate crisis. We know the transportation sector accounts for nearly 40% of greenhouse gas emissions in California; so to focus a number of directives on cleaner cars and other green transportation technologies will help us reach a tipping point. I see my bill, AB 40, as complementary to these efforts to address our impact on global warming.”

AB 40 (Ting) encourages automakers to sign onto the deal struck by Governor Newsom and four automakers in July to increase the fuel efficiency of their gas-powered fleet, regardless of actions taken by the federal government.  Under AB 40, only those automakers committed to California’s public health and climate goals could benefit from the state’s clean car rebate program.

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Thursday, September 19, 2019

Ting Proposes Changes to California’s Clean Car Rebate Program; Ramps Up Fight with Trump AdministrationAmidst today’s action by the Trump Administration revoking the federal waiver that permits California to set its own strict air pollution controls, Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) called on California to step up its effort to further reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by proposing changes to how the state’s clean car rebates are given out. Ting’s measure, AB 40, represents a legislative effort that comes as the United Nations Climate Action Summit begins Monday, where world leaders are expected to bring concrete action plans to accelerate the progress they are making on addressing climate change. 

Under AB 40, only those automakers who have committed to increase the fuel efficiency of their gas-powered fleet - regardless of what the federal government does - would be eligible to participate in the state’s Clean Vehicle Rebate Project (CVRP). In other words, to qualify for a clean car rebate, the vehicle must be made by car companies that voluntarily agreed with Governor Newsom in July to buck any federal rollback of Obama-era tailpipe regulations in favor of California’s tougher standards. Higher fuel efficiency regulations are key to reducing emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases that contribute to global warming. So far, Ford, Honda, BMW and Volkswagen are on board, with more expected to join.

“California should not be incentivizing the purchase of vehicles manufactured by companies that don’t want to help us achieve our state’s public health and climate goals,” said Ting. “You’re either with us, or you’re not helping to save people’s lives and the planet.”

A recent California Air Resources Board report found the state has reduced GHG emissions overall, except in the transportation sector, which accounts for nearly 40% of the pollution. Then-Governor Jerry Brown issued an Executive Order last year, calling for five million zero emission vehicles (ZEVs) to hit the road by 2030. AB 40 adds the goal of ten million ZEVs by 2035. But, California still has a long way to go. As of August 6, 2019, there were only 626,000 clean cars estimated on its roads. AB 40 also limits rebates to ZEVs, making hybrids no longer eligible for CVRP, while requiring a higher rebate for longer range ZEVs. These changes would make CVRP more efficient in promoting California’s clean air goals.

Ting will continue work on AB 40 through the fall recess, as automakers consider joining the California agreement for more fuel efficient vehicles. The Legislature reconvenes in January, when the proposal would await a committee hearing.

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