This legislative session CAHRO tracked seven bills dealing with harassment or hate crimes, summarized below.  In mid-August, it’s make or break it time for bills for this legislative session – bills needed to pass out of appropriations by August 12, and now might get last minute amendments before being passed or not passed by the Legislature.

Here are applicable deadlines for 2022 bills:

Aug. 12 Last day for appropriations committees to meet and report bills to the Floor (J.R. 61(b)(14)).

Aug. 15 – 31 Floor Session only. No committees, other than conference and Rules, may meet for any purpose (J.R. 61(b)(15)).

Aug. 25 Last day to amend bills on the Floor (J.R. 61(b)(16)).

Aug. 31 Last day for each house to pass bills (Art. IV, Sec. 10(c)), (J.R. 61(b)(17)). Final Recess begins at end of this day’s session (J.R. 51(b)(3)).

Sept. 30 Last day for Governor to sign or veto bills passed by the Legislature before Sept. 1 and in the Governor’s possession on or after Sept. 1 (Art. IV, Sec. 10(b)(2)).

Note: to track a bill’s progress, utilize the California Legislature’s excellent website, which gives you information of the latest version of any bill, how it amends current law, excellent analyses by Assembly and Senate analysts, the bill’s current status and all votes taken about the bill.  Just enter the number of the bill and whether it’s in either in the Assembly or Senate.  Here’s the URL:

AB 2549 – (Bonta, Weber, Muratsuchi) Street harassment prevention

AB 2549 requires the Department of Public Health (DPH), through its Office of Health Equity, to conduct research and a 5-year, statewide, public campaign to raise awareness and understanding of street harassment as a public health problem in the state with the purpose of preventing its occurrence.

“Street harassment” is defined as words, gestures, or actions directed at a specific person in a public place without the consent of that person, based on the person’s actual or perceived race, color, ethnic group identification, ancestry, national origin, religion, mental disability, physical disability, medical condition, genetic information, age, marital status, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation, that the person experiences as intimidating, alarming, terrorizing, or threatening to their safety. The bill requires DPH:

  • to conduct the research through surveys and focus groups, identifying subpopulations at disproportionate risk of experiencing street harassment;.
  • to prepare two reports, proposing strategies and policies to prevent and respond to street harassment;
  • to submit the reports to the Legislature and the Governor, and to publish them on the department’s internet website, no later than January 1, 2024, for the first report, and no later than June 30, 2027, for the second report;
  • to commence the public campaign on January 1, 2023, conducting it online and in physical locations; and,
  • to, among other things, develop culturally relevant content, annually evaluate the effectiveness of the campaign, and prepare and publish on its internet website an annual report describing the campaign’s activities, effectiveness, and gaps, as specified.

CAHRO Position:  CAHRO voted to support this bill in May 2022, and we sent a letter to that effect to the authors.

Bill Status:  AB 2549 did not pass out of Senate Appropriations and is dead.

SB 1161 – (Min) Transit operators: street harassment plans

SB 1161 was substantially amended in the Assembly on August 23, 2022.  It now requires the Mineta Transportation Institute at San Jose State University (rather than U.C.’s Institute of Transportation Studies) by December 31, 2023, to inform efforts to improve safety of riders and reduce street harassment on public transit.  Previous versions of the bill had required transit agencies to develop and to implement a plan to reduce the street harassment experienced by its riders and to consider the safety concerns and needs of riders impacted by street harassment when planning, designing, and operating their systems.

CAHRO Position:  CAHRO voted to support this bill in May 2022, and we sent a letter to that effect to the authors.

Bill Status:  SB 1161 is now in the Assembly for its third reading.  If it passes the Assembly, it’ll go back to the Senate for approval before passing the Legislature and going to the Governor’s desk.

AB 2448 – (Ting) Civil rights: businesses: discrimination & harassment: customers: third parties

AB 2448 has also been substantially amended in the Senate.  It still requires DFEH, by January 1, 2025, to establish a “business recognition pilot program” that recognizes businesses for creating safe and welcoming environments free from discrimination and harassment of customers. The bill requires the DFEH to develop criteria for a business to qualify for recognition, including, but not limited to the following:

  1. Demonstrating compliance with the Unruh Civil Rights Act, the Ralph Civil Rights Act, and the reporting and training requirements listed above.
  2. Offering additional training to educate and inform employees or build skills.
  3. Informing the public of their rights to be free from discrimination and harassment and how to report violations.
  4. Outlining a code of conduct for the public that encourages respectful and civil behavior. e. Any other actions designed to prevent and respond to discrimination and harassment regardless of the identity of the perpetrator.

DFEH would provide a certificate to qualifying businesses that may be prominently displayed on site and publish on its internet website a database of businesses receiving that certificate. Thereafter, DFEH would develop criteria to evaluate whether the recognition is effective, including whether it affects customer behavior, incentivizes compliance with state discrimination and harassment laws among businesses, or reduces the incidence of discrimination and harassment at businesses. The pilot program ends on July 1, 2028.

The original version of AB 2448 had required all businesses with 100 or more employees to provide training to their employees about harassment and how best to respond and protect customers from harassment. The bill requires the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) to develop the training for businesses.  These requirements have all been stripped from the bill.

CAHRO Position:  CAHRO voted to support this bill in May 2022, and we sent a letter to that effect to the authors.

Bill Status:  Now substantially amended in the Senate, AB 2448, will go back to the Assembly for approval before being sent to the Governor’s desk.

AB 1947, as amended, Ting.  Freedom from Hate Act

In 2018, the State Auditor found that “law enforcement has not adequately identified, reported, or responded to hate crimes.” AB 1947 follows the auditor’s recommendations by requiring each law enforcement agency to adopt a hate crimes policy, including specific guidelines for recognizing, reporting, and responding to these crimes.

AB 1947 requires every law enforcement agency to adopt a detailed, specific policy instructing officers on how to identify, respond to, and report hate crimes. It also requires agencies to submit their hate crime policies, brochures, and training schedules to the Department of Justice to ensure compliance. This bill does not create or expand the definition of any crime, increase penalties for any crime, or preclude restorative justice sentencing for any crime.

This bill continues the work of a bill passed by the Legislature last year, AB 57 and carried by Assembly Member Gabriel.

CAHRO Position:  CAHRO previously voted to support this bill, and we sent a letter to that effect to the authors.

Bill Status:  AB 1947 ran into trouble in Senate Appropriations and has been dropped by Assemblymember Ting.

AB 557 , as amended, Muratsuchi. Hate crimes: vertical prosecution.

AB 557 requires the Department of Justice to establish a grant program for the purpose of creating, supporting, or expanding vertical prosecution units for the prosecutions of hate crimes. The bill would authorize DOJ to provide one-time grants, upon appropriation by the Legislature, to selected prosecutorial agencies in a manner and in an amount determined by the department. The bill would require DOJ to administer the grant program. The bill would require grant recipients to report specified information to DOJ by no later than July 1, 2028, and would require DOJ to compile that information and report to the Legislature by no later than July 1, 2029.

Recommended Action:  No recommendation at this time.

Bill Status:  AB 557 is on track to pass the Legislature and be sent to the Governor’s desk.

AB 587, as amended, Gabriel. Social media companies: terms of service.

AB 587, as amended, addresses the lack of transparency of social media platforms such as Facebook to address and prevent hate speech, disinformation, extremism, harassment, and foreign political interference. AB 587 requires social media platforms, starting January 1, 2024, to file reports disclosing their corporate policies on hate speech, disinformation, extremism, harassment, and foreign political interference; their efforts to enforce those policies; and any changes to their policies or enforcement practices. The bill also requires disclosure of key metrics and data regarding this content, including the number of pieces of content, groups, and users flagged for violation; the method of flagging, and the type and content of action flagged. The bill also requires platforms, in their reports, to identify what policies the social media company has for that platform to address that content, and data related to violations of the terms of service for each platform. The bill would require the Attorney General to make available all terms of service of social media companies in a searchable repository.

AB 587 states the intent of the Legislature that a social media company that violates the above provisions shall be subject to meaningful remedies sufficient to induce compliance with these provisions and would specify civil penalties that a company shall be liable for if the bill’s provisions are violated, and gives the Attorney General, a district attorney, or a city attorney authority to bring an action against violators. The bill specifies that the duties, obligations, remedies, and penalties imposed by the bill are cumulative to existing law.

Recommended Action:  No recommendation at this time.

Bill Status:  AB 587 is on track to pass the Legislature and be sent to the Governor’s desk.

AB 2282, as amended, Bauer-Kahan. Hate crimes: nooses, crosses, and swastikas.

AB 2282 expands current offenses on hate symbols to criminalize placing of those symbols on public property.  Currently, a person who places or displays certain symbols, marks, signs, emblems, and other physical impressions, including, but not limited to, a Nazi swastika, hangs nooses, or burns or desecrates crosses or other religious symbols on private and nonprivate property, as specified, with the intent to terrorize a person is guilty of either a misdemeanor or felony.  AB 2282 expands the list of places to include schools and other public places.

Recommended Action:  No recommendation at this time.

Bill Status:  The bill is ready to be sent to the Governor’s desk.