On May 12 and 13, 2014, Over 85 JPAC advocates came together in Sacramento on Monday evening and Tuesday for JPAC’s annual Advocacy Day. JPAC advocates represented Jewish organizations from across California, including multiple federations and JCRC’s, Hadassah, the Jewish Labor Committee, the Anti-Defamation League, and Jewish Family Services agencies. The event kicked off Monday night with state legislators joining JPAC at a reception at the Citizen Hotel in downtown Sacramento. JPAC honored Assembly Member and Budget Committee Chair Nancy Skinner with the Legislator of the Year Award. Skinner graciously accepted her award and offered words of encouragement and support for JPAC, stating that JPAC has been a champion of promoting services for the state’s most vulnerable and a major player in helping government do what is right in Sacramento. Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom dropped by, as well as Senate President pro tem Darrell Steinberg, Senator Marty Block, Asemblymember Bonnie Lowenthal, Asemblymember Steve Fox, Asemblymember Bradford, Asemblymember Brown, Assemblymember Achadjian, and Senator Mark Leno.
On Tuesday, May 13, the conference was in full swing, with a full morning of panel discussions, speakers, awards, and finally, the legislative meetings at the Capitol. Just after the May Revise was released, advocates heard from Asemblymember Nancy Skinner and Senator Carol Liu on the state of funding for social services, along with expert Scott Graves of the California Budget Project. One of JPAC’s lobbying items for this year is to restore the COLA for SSI/SSP grants for seniors and to increase funding for the State Emergency Food Assistance Program (SEFAP) to $5 million annually.
Following that panel advocates heard from Assemblymember Shirley Weber, Senator Lois Wolk, the Anti-Defamation League staffer Nancy Appel, and a UC Berkeley student, on the issue of campus climate and what is happening on our college campuses with regard to Jewish students. Advocates also heard from Senator Marty Block and Senator Ted Lieu on their human trafficking bills, which advocates were going to the Capitol to lobby on in the afternoon. Finally, Abigail Browning of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development made a brief stop to give an update on the trade MOU signed by Governor Brown and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanhayu.
All 85 advocates then went in their groups to the Capitol and met with 53 legislators to ask for their support on the following bills:
- The social service budget and the restoration of cuts to safety net programs.
- Bullying: SB 840 (Lara):This bill would increase school safety by improving the handling of bullying and discrimination in public schools.
- Human trafficking:
- SB 1165 (Mitchell, Block): This bill aims to add sexual abuse and sex trafficking prevention education to the sexual health education for junior high and high school students.
· SB 1388 (Lieu):This bill aims to turn off the money faucet that is driving the illicit sex trade by increasing the penalty for sex buyers.