May 2, 2023
Ann Noel, CAHRO Legislative Liaison
Here are the legislative bills that CAHRO is tracking this year.
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 either in the Assembly or Senate. Here’s the URL: https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billSearchClient.xhtml
AB 32 (Nguyen) Classifying Hate Crimes as “Violent Felonies”: AB 32 would add hate crimes to existing California law which classifies certain felonies as “violent felonies” for purposes of various provisions of the Penal Code, imposing an additional one-year term for a sexually violent felony and a 3-year term for a violent felony for each prior separate prison term served for a violent felony.
CAHRO Position: CAHRO has not taken a position on this bill.
Bill Status: This bill was introduced December 5, 2022, and it still has not passed out of its first policy committee, the Assembly Public Safety committee.
AB 443 (Jackson) Setting Standards for Police Recruitment Free of Bias: AB 443 requires the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) to establish a definition of “biased conduct” for law enforcement officers and to develop guidance for law enforcement agencies when screening applicant social media accounts for bias in their potential recruits. POST already has physical, mental, and moral standards for law enforcement officers’ recruitment. AB 443 adds that officers also must be free from bias against race or ethnicity, gender, nationality, religion, disability, or sexual orientation that might adversely affect the exercise of the powers of a peace officer. (Gov. Code, § 1031, subd. (f).)
Here’s the author’s statement about the need for this bill:
California’s work to elevate the conduct of our law enforcement professionals and protect our citizens is not over. That is why this bill requires all of California’s POST certified peace officers to follow the same definition of “biased conduct”. It is essential that in the most progressive and diverse state ensures that peace officers are held to the same standard of conducting themselves free of bias without room for interpretation.
Every person in California should have confidence that any contact with a peace officer is based on the need for service or intervention. But most importantly, they should be sure that their contact with any officer is free from fear that bias might dictate the level of professionalism and service they receive.
In April of 2022, the State Auditor released a report asking for the Legislature to adopt this simple change, but it should not have taken a state audit to arrive at this conclusion. AB 443 is another step to ensuring that Californians receive the level of service and justice they deserve.
Here’s a full analysis of the bill:
CAHRO Position: CAHRO has not taken a position on this bill.
Bill Status: AB 443 is in the Assembly Appropriations suspense file.
AB 449 (Ting) Training Law Enforcement to Enforce Hate Crimes Laws: AB 449 attempts to get local law enforcement agencies, the state Department of Justice (DOJ), and the state’s police training agency, the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) to train law enforcement to enforce hate crimes laws by:
- requiring all local law enforcement agencies to adopt a hate crimes policy, and schedule hate crimes trainings;
- requiring the state DOJ to collect from law enforcement agencies info about hate crimes, and post this info on their internet website; and
- requiring POST, if it updates its guidelines for law enforcement agencies addressing hate crimes, to consult with subject matter experts.
CAHRO Position: On April 4, 2023, CAHRO voted to support this bill.
Bill Status: AB 449 has passed the Assembly Public Safety Committee and is in Assembly Appropriations.
AB 1064 (Low) Defining Bias Motivation: AB 1064 attempts to clarify when a perpetrator has targeted a victim because of bias motivation. Existing law defines “hate crime” as a criminal act committed, in whole or in part, because of actual or perceived characteristics of the victim, including, among other things, race, religion, disability, and sexual orientation.
AB 1064 seeks to make the targeting clearer to prove by defining a hate crime as a criminal act that is motivated in whole or in part by a bias against one or more of the protected characteristics. The bill would define “bias against” and would specify that evidence of bias against a perceived characteristic of the victim may include instances when the person has taken specified actions, including using a slur based on the actual or perceived characteristic, vandalizing property using words or symbols commonly associated with a hate group or that show bias motivation based on the actual or perceived characteristic, selectively targeting victims based on the actual or perceived characteristic, or posting on social media or other media blaming persons with the actual or perceived characteristic for a societal problem.
CAHRO Position: At the Board’s April 4, 2023, meeting, the Board voted not to support this bill.
Bill Status: The bill is in Assembly Appropriations. AB 1064 has been amended and now provides:
AB 1064 defines a hate crime as a criminal act that is motivated in whole or in part by a bias against one or more of the protected characteristics. The bill would define “bias against” and would specify that evidence of bias against a perceived characteristic of the victim motivation may include include, among other things, instances when the person has taken specified actions, including using a slur based on the actual or perceived characteristic of the victim, vandalizing property using words or symbols commonly associated with a hate group or that show bias motivation based on the actual or perceived characteristic of the victim, selectively targeting victims based on the actual or perceived characteristic of the victim, or posting on social media or other media blaming persons with the same actual or perceived characteristic as the victim for a societal problem. selectively targeted the victim based on the actual or perceived characteristic of the victim. By changing the definition of a crime, this bill would impose a state-mandated local program.
AB 1079 (Jackson) Community Interventions to Stop Hate: AB 1079 requires California’s Department of Public Health (DPH), by July 1, 2025, to establish a Hate Crimes Intervention Unit (Unit) to implement research-based community interventions working with community leaders and organizations in communities where a hate crime has been confirmed by the Department of Justice (DOJ). AB 1079 also requires the Civil Rights Department (CRD) (formerly the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH)) to establish the California Ad Council (Ad Council) to create and implement statewide media campaigns to discourage discrimination.
The Judiciary Committee bill analysis file:///C:/Users/Ann/Downloads/202320240AB1079_Assembly%20Judiciary.pdf asks some important questions quoted below:
Is the Department of Public Health the best agency to establish a Hate Crimes Prevention Unit? While hate crimes certainly impact public health – as the ACP and other health professionals maintain – it is not clear that the problem has a public health solution or if it is one best addressed by an agency like DPH. To be sure, hate crimes create serious and obvious public health problems when they directly cause death and bodily injury, and also more subtly create unhealthy levels of stress and anxiety in targeted communities. However, while hate crimes may have public health consequences, it is not clear that the causes of hate crimes are public-health related. Addressing hate crimes may not require public health expertise so much as it requires the expertise of local community leaders and organizations working in conjunction with local law enforcement. Although the bill does not define “research-based community interventions,” the term is fairly widely-used and usually refers to collaborative, multi-pronged approaches to improve the lives of people living in a given community. As applied to hate crime prevention, the U.S. Office of Justice Programs (within the U.S. Department of Justice) provides grants to fund community-based approaches to hate crime. According to its website, this program furthers the mission of the U.S. Department of Justice by developing “community-informed model policies, practices, and trainings for law enforcement and prosecution entities regarding how hate crimes are reported, investigated, and prosecuted.”
If the bill moves out of this Committee, the author may wish to consider whether a Hate Crimes Prevention Unit should be located somewhere other than the Department of Public Health, such as the California DOJ, which may have greater expertise on crime and crime prevention.
Combatting discrimination through a statewide media campaign. In addition to establishing the Hate Crimes Prevention Unit, this bill would establish a new California Ad Council within the Civil Rights Department (formerly the Department of Fair Employment and Housing). The CDR, like the former DFEH, is responsible for enforcing civil rights and anti-discrimination law under the Fair Employment and Housing Act as well as enforcing the state’s major civil rights statutes, most notably the Unruh Civil Rights Act and the Ralph Civil Rights Act. The bill directs the new Ad Council to create and implement statewide and regional radio, social media, and television campaigns to discourage discrimination based upon, but not limited to, disability, gender, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation. The bill also specifies that the percentage of ads focused on combating hate crimes should be designed and distributed so as to reflect the rate of hate crimes committed against each protected group, as determined by the most recent Hate Crime in California report released by the Attorney General. The bill provides for the appointment of an eleven-member Ad Council and requires that members have expertise in marketing and messaging and that they reflect the geographic and demographic diversity of the state.
Is a new Ad Council necessary? As noted in the Assembly Health Committee’s analysis of this bill, CRD recently conducted a statewide, multi-lingual public education campaign, called “Keep California Fair,” which focused on people’s right to employment and housing free of discrimination. The campaign included radio spots, posters, social media, and videos, among other campaign initiatives. In April 2023, CRD will launch a similar statewide, multi-lingual public education and outreach campaign to promote its new anti-hate initiative, the CA vs. Hate Resource Line and Network. It has also launched a campaign to educate the public about the name change from the Department of Fair Employment and Housing to the Civil Rights Department, and how the new name better reflects its enforcement responsibilities. In other words, it appears that the CRD already has the ability to engage in media campaigns, and already has a director of education and outreach who, presumably, has similar responsibilities. In addition, AB 1126 (Chap. 712, Stats. 2021) recently established the Commission on the State of Hate to provide policy recommendations and public resources to respond to and reduce hate crimes. The law requires the Commission to hold a minimum of four virtual community forums each year, and authorizes the Commission to seek sources of funding from other than the General Fund. It is not clear how the work of the Ad Council proposed by this bill will interact with the existing media campaigns already conducted by CRD and the public outreach work of the Commission on the State of Hate.
If the bill moves out of this Committee, the author may wish to consider ways in which both the Hate Crimes Intervention Unit and the Ad Council will interact with these existing agencies and programs so as to promote the most efficient use of resources and avoid duplication.
At its May 2, 2023, Board meeting, the Board discussed the following.
The CAHRO Board noted that AB 1079 requires the State Department of Public Health to propose what a “Hate Crimes Intervention Unit” might look like including how much it would cost. The only mission detail requires it to implement research-based community interventions in conjunction with community leaders and organizations in communities where a hate crime has been confirmed by the Department of Justice.
CRD Already has 3 Efforts to Address Hate and Discrimination
The California Civil Rights Department (CRD) already has 3 efforts to address hate, discrimination, and violence: 1) California versus Hate; 2) the Community Conflict Resolution Unit (CCRU); and 3) the Commission on the State of Hate.
CA v Hate
CA v Hate is both a state-wide reporting resource for hate incidents and hate crimes, and a resource available in multiple languages for people who are the victims of hate which connects them to culturally competent organizations who can provide some kind of assistance. CRD has two staff doing this work, one of whom has other responsibilities leading CCRU’s work, see below.
The Community Conflict Resolution Unit (CCRU) promotes peaceful relations by assisting communities experiencing fear, conflict, or tensions relating to discriminatory practices, hate incidents, or hate crimes. CCRU designs and facilitates conflict resolution processes, mediates, educates, and provides technical consultations. CRD has three staff assigned to the unit, and a supervisor.
Commission on the State of Hate
The Commission collects data on hate, concerns from affected communities, makes proposals to legislators, and compiles resources for the public. The commission has a few subcommittees, and also has a requirement to have 4 public forums a year. CCRU provides them with assistance with their forums and with other similar community engagement efforts. There is one Assistant Deputy Director providing the bulk of the Commission’s work in addition to other responsibilities. CCRU provides some assistance as well.
Outside the State Models w/ Similar Efforts
CAHRO notes that in California, the Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission, and Orange County Human Relations, have led the way for California to follow and duplicate their types of services at a state level to ensure all counties have access and can benefit from resources that address hate and discrimination. Both organizations have taken steps to ensure their counties had a way to report hate incidents and hate crimes like CA v Hate, both organizations provide conflict resolution services similar to CCRU, and both organizations have in function fulfilled a similar role to the CA Commission on the State of Hate. It should be noted that these two organizations engage in these functions through a single organization, and both have a significant budget and several staff members to carry out the mission of their organizations.
Educational and Process Considerations for State Leaders on Developing a “Hate Crimes Intervention Unit”
- Consult with other state efforts to address hate incidents, hate crimes, community conflict, systemic discrimination, disparities, diversity, equity, and inclusion, on hate crime prevention efforts, such as with:
- Civil Rights Department (CRD)
- Department of Social Services (CDSS)
- State Library
- Department of Justice (DOJ)
- Department of Education
- Consult with non-state organizations like the LA County Human Relations Commission, and Orange County Human Relations on hate crimes prevention efforts to narrow the mission, goal, and objectives of a “Hate Crimes Intervention Unit”; Also consult with the U.S. Department of Justice;
- Consider strategies outside of a pure law enforcement focus on “community policing” and other strategies that over-rely on only working with law enforcement to prevent hate crimes;
- Consider the need to address hate in schools separately;
- Consider overlap and duplication concerns if any across the state;
- Consider reorganization or centralization of state efforts under a single or less state agencies to improve coordination, or develop a statewide coordination system of leadership for all similar efforts if a need arises from the various efforts. Consult with organizations like LA County Human Relations Commission, and Orange County Human Relations, on organizational structure options.
- Depending on the proposed mission, goal, and objectives of the “Hate Crimes Intervention Unit” consider whether or not the unit should be moved and housed under a different state agency;
- Budget and Staff: Consider that in a state of about 40 million inhabitants, the efforts to address hate should minimally reflect successful county efforts such as those with paid professional staff such as the Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission, and Orange County Human Relations.
- Since the bill proposes housing the Ad Council under CRD there should be consulting and alignment with current efforts under CA v Hate.
- Similar considerations made above should be considered due to the various efforts in the state to address hate and discrimination.
- Budget and Staff: appropriate funding should be included for full-time professional staff.
CAHRO Position: At its May 2, 2023, Board meeting, CAHRO voted to support the bill and work with Assembly Member Jackson and his staff to discuss our concerns and possible amendments to the bill.
Bill Status: AB 1079 has passed out of two Assembly policy committees (Public Safety and Judiciary) and will be heard next by Assembly Appropriations.
SB 64 (Umberg) Search Warrants for Misdemeanor Hate Crimes: SB 64 gives police the ability to obtain search warrants for misdemeanor hate crimes. Currently, under state law, police can only obtain warrants for felonies. SB 64 would make it easier for police to figure out if a misdemeanor crime was motivated by bias.
California’s misdemeanor hate crimes statutes (at Penal Code §§ 422.6 (a) & (b)) prohibit a person, including law enforcement, from committing a crime against an individual or their property motivated by hate. Specifically:
- Penal Code section 422.6(a) prohibits any person (including law enforcement) from acting by force or its threat from willfully injuring, intimidating, interfering with, oppressing, or threatening any other individual’s free exercise or enjoyment of any state or federal Constitutional right or laws, in whole or in part because of the individual’s actual or perceived disability, gender, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or association with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics.
- Penal Code section 422.6 (b) prohibits any person (including law enforcement) from knowingly defacing, damaging, or destroying the real or personal property of any other individual to intimidate or interfere with the free exercise or enjoyment of any state or federal Constitutional right, law or privilege, in whole or in part because of the individual’s actual or perceived disability, gender, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or association with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics.
Here’s what SB 64’s author, Orange County’s Senator Umberg, says about the importance on the bill:
SB 64 will allow a Court to issue a search warrant when the property or things to be seized consists of evidence that tends to show that a misdemeanor hate crime has occurred or is occurring. Currently under existing law, many hate crimes can be classified as misdemeanors, thus making the search warrant procedure inapplicable. SB 64 would fix this by allowing the utilization of search warrant procedures in misdemeanor hate crimes to further examine suspects’ information, such as social media feeds or computer files, which can make a difference in determining whether a suspect is guilty of a hate crime or innocent.
CAHRO Position: At its May 2, 2023, Board meeting, CAHRO voted to support this bill. CAHRO will suggest to Senator Umberg that he also include Penal Code § 11411, which makes it a crime to attempt to terrorize a person; by the hanging of a noose, placement or display of sign, mark, symbol, emblem, or other physical impression (such as a swastika), or burning or desecration of religious symbols on private property, school property, or public place.
Bill Status: The bill passed the Assembly Public Safety Committee and is in the Assembly Appropriations Suspense file.
SB 403 (Wahab) – Adding “Caste” to California Statutes: SB 403 adds the category of “caste” to both the employment and housing provisions of the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), certain Education Code sections, and to the public accommodation protections under the Unruh Civil Rights Act.
CAHRO Position: The Board voted to support this bill at its April 4, 2023, Board meeting.
Bill Status: SB 403 has passed both the Senate Judiciary Committee and is now in Senate Appropriations.