Jackson and Stern Bill to Expand Emergency Alerts Passes Senate Floor

June 11, 2020

SACRAMENTOSenate Bill 794, jointly authored by Senators Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) and Henry Stern (D-Calabasas), to expand and improve the state’s emergency alert systems and ensure local governments reach their most vulnerable residents passed off the Senate floor today with unanimous support. The bill now moves to the Assembly.

SB 794 would allow cities and universities to automatically enroll residents in their emergency alert systems, while allowing them to opt out of receiving the notifications. The bill expands upon Jackson’s Senate Bill 821, which was signed into law in 2018 to allow counties to automatically enroll residents in emergency notifications, while preserving their ability to opt out. 

The bill also allows local governments to identify residents with access and functional needs, such as those facing disabilities, residents with limited English proficiency, lack of housing or transportation, or older residents, for the purpose of sending them specialized emergency alerts.

“California’s risk of devastating wildfires remains high and with the coronavirus pandemic creating additional evacuation challenges, it is especially critical that all residents receive the most up-to-date and accurate information available. SB 794 will help ensure all our residents—including those most vulnerable—receive the life-saving information they need in the event of an emergency,” said Senator Jackson, Vice Chair of the Joint Legislative Committee on Emergency Management.

"From Woolsey to Saddleridge, to the mudslides in their wake and the power shutoff crisis they've wrought, we know that emergency notification is a life or death issue,” said Senator Stern. “During last year's power shutoffs, too many vulnerable people and families were not only literally left in the dark, but were not given ample warning to prepare. SB 794 will ensure our emergency officials can reach you in these dire moments."

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