Jackson Bills, Including New Parent Leave Act, To Become Law on January 1

December 20, 2017


SACRAMENTO – Among the numerous bills authored by Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) this year, the following will take effect on January 1, 2018:

Senate Bill 63, the New Parent Leave Act: SB 63 will provide 12 weeks of job-protected maternity and paternity leave for California parents who work for smaller companies with 20 to 49 employees, allowing up to 2.7 million more Californians to take time off during the first year to care for a newborn without fear of losing their jobs. Up until now, only those who have worked for an employer of 50 or more have been eligible for job-protected parental leave. This law also will ensure that more Californians who are already paying into the Paid Family Leave Program are able to use their benefits without risk of losing their jobs. California’s Paid Family Leave Program, the first in the country when it passed in 2002, is entirely employee funded and provides six weeks of partial wage replacement to workers for caregiving responsibilities, including for bonding with a newborn.

Research shows that the first 12 weeks of life are critical to a child's early brain development, and that parental leave is associated with improved maternal and child health, a longer duration of breastfeeding, and improved mental health in new mothers.

“With more women in the workforce, and more parents struggling to balance work and family responsibilities, our policies must catch up to the realities of our economy and the daily lives of working families. We are in the midst of a paradigm shift right now, one in which both parents often work and shoulder caregiving responsibilities,” said Jackson. “This law will help millions more families take the needed time off to bond with their newborn without fear of losing their job. It’s the right thing for families, for California, for businesses and our economy.”

Senate Bill 44, the Coastal Oil Well Clean Up and Remediation Act: Authored in response to years of problems and a significant release of oil onto Summerland Beach in 2015, which resulted in health warnings and beach closures, this bill directs the California State Lands Commission to monitor and plug “orphaned” oil wells in state waters where the original company that operated the well no longer exists and cannot, therefore, be held liable. The bill redirects up to $2 million dollars annually from state mineral leases to fund remediation of these abandoned legacy wells, with priority placed on wells with the highest risk for future leaks. The Commission has identified approximately 200 legacy wells off the coast of Santa Barbara County. A majority of these wells- 192- have been identified at Summerland Beach and another eight have been identified near the Ellwood and Rincon fields.

“Leaks and fumes from these abandoned oil wells pollute our beaches and ocean waters, affecting our children, visitors, birds, fish and other marine life. This law is a vital step toward protecting our environment, as well as our public health and coastal economy,” said Jackson.

Senate Bill 331, Campus Domestic Violence Counselor Confidentiality: Domestic violence and dating violence are prevalent on our college campuses, with women aged 16-24 experiencing the highest per capital rate of intimate partner violence of any age group. This bill guarantees confidentiality in communications between domestic violence victims and their campus counselors. The law establishes trust between counselors and victims while alleviating the fears victims may have with seeking help.

Senate Bill 36, Bar, State Bar Dues: This bill enacts robust reforms to the State Bar of California so that it can more readily focus on its primary mission – to protect the public. This bill authorizes the State Bar of California to collect membership dues for 2018 and 2019, and implements a series of reforms that include separating its 16 specialty law groups to form their own nonprofit corporation. These sections include specialty organizations currently affiliated with the bar that focus on areas of legal practice including labor and family law, antitrust law and intellectual property. The bill ends the practice of allowing attorneys to elect some members of the bar’s board of trustees, and cuts the number of trustees from 19 to 13. All board members will now be appointed by the Supreme Court, the Legislature and the Governor. The Supreme Court will also appoint the board’s chair and vice-chair, which were previously elected by the board itself.

Became law earlier this year:

Senate Bill 725, Military Diversion: This law ensures that military service members and veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health disorders associated with their service in the military will be eligible for pretrial diversion programs for misdemeanor DUIs. This ensures they get the help they need sooner and more effectively to address substance abuse and mental health issues. Senate Bill 725 clarifies contradicting language in California law that had previously resulted in different state appeals courts’ rulings at a time when courts were experiencing an influx of requests from veterans charged with these misdemeanors. Further, by ensuring these veterans get treatment instead of jail time, this law protects public safety and prevents repeat DUI offenses, while giving veterans a more hopeful future toward recovery.

Jackson represents the 19th Senate District, which includes all of Santa Barbara County and western Ventura County.