In 2019, RAC-CA set gun violence prevention and housing as our two top issues. This agenda was created by our lay-led issue research teams and input from 179 social justice leaders from 45 Reform congregations and communities.
Now that the Legislature has concluded its business for the year, and Gov. Gavin Newsom has finished signing and vetoing bills, we can take a moment to assess RAC-CA’s legislative agenda. In short, we had another successful year of advocacy: we won more funding for CalVIP local gun violence prevention programs, addressed the housing and homeless crises through a package of bills, and passed a number of bills addressing other issues.
RAC-CA and allies, including Giffords Law Center, Mom’s Demand Action and the Brady Campaign, more than tripled the funding for proven local GVP programs in the California communities most affected by gun violence. California’s budget now includes $32 million for CalVIP local GVP programs – short of the $39 million we sought, but a huge and remarkable increase that more than tripled last year’s funding. More than 861 Reform Jews called Governor Newsom’s office seeking the GVP funds, shutting down the switchboard. The new funding for GVP won by RAC-CA and our allies will save lives in California.
To address the related housing affordability and homelessness crises, RAC-CA endorsed a package of housing and homeless bills that combined three strategies for addressing the crises:
- Building new affordable housing;
- protecting tenants;
- and removing barriers to housing production.
Four of the five bills in the package that RAC-CA worked on have been signed into law and will go into effect on January 1. RAC-CA and our allies passed bills that prevent rent gouging, remove barriers to building affordable housing, give developers of affordable housing priority in purchasing surplus government land, and prevent landlords from discriminating against tenants who receive government rental subsidies. These bills and RAC-CA’s combined approach are a significant step toward solving the housing affordability and homeless crises.
In addition to these victories, RAC-CA also endorsed eight other bills and budget proposals. One of our two endorsed climate/environmental justice proposals won, as well as a healthcare budget proposal, one of two additional gun violence prevention bills, and a criminal justice bill. We had a partial victory on one of the two immigration bills/budget proposals we worked on.
A hearty mazel tov to all the RAC-CA leaders, including rabbis, cantors, lay leaders, and teens across the state who worked to make the 2019 legislative year such a success for RAC-CA.