This was another banner year in Sacramento for the ACLU of California, our coalition partners and our members! The governor signed 14 of the 19 proposed laws we played a major part in getting to his desk. Although he vetoed legislation that would have protected and advanced civil liberties in our state, the governor also signed into law several critical priority bills of the ACLU of California.

The governor signed historic education, immigration and racial justice legislation this year that the ACLU of California sponsored with powerful coalitions.

  • AB 420 (Dickinson) will eliminate the most extreme uses of harsh discipline under the category of "willful defiance.”
  • SB 1159 (Lara) will ensure eligible applicants receive professional licenses regardless of their immigration status.
  • SB 1010 (Mitchell) will end the discrepancies between sentencing, probation, and asset forfeiture for two forms of the same drug– powder cocaine and crack cocaine – that have resulted in a pattern of racial disparities in sentencing and incarceration in California.

Governor Brown’s signature on SB 1159 and AB 420 represents a huge step forward for immigrants and for students in California. And his signature on SB 1010 reflects growing political support in California to do what’s right and finally end racially unjust drug war policies.

The enactment of these and other laws places our state at the front of the pack. We are leading meaningful advancements in civil liberties, just as other states turn in the opposition direction. Other key pieces of legislation sponsored or co-sponsored by the ACLU of California include:

  • SB 1111 (Lara) will require basic due-process protections for students transferring to and from alternative schools known as community day schools.
  • SB 1135 (Jackson) will put an end to the involuntary sterilization of women in California prisons, after a report found unlawful sterilizations were still occurring in California.
  • AB 1522 (Gonzalez) made California only the second state in the nation to pass a mandatory paid sick leave law. We would have been more excited about this victory had the bill not been slashed in the last few days of session to exclude in-home support services workers. Paid sick leave is essential to ensure equal access to healthcare and we will continue to work with our partners to assure that all Californians are entitled to it.

As California led in 2014, we also fell far behind in some areas. The Governor vetoed AB 1327 (Gorell), which would have required police to get a warrant before using a drone to spy on someone. Another painful veto was SB 1365 (Padilla), which would have extend the California Voting Rights Act of 2011 to single-member district systems in order to guarantee that all Californians can exercise their fundamental right to vote.

All told, the ACLU of California took a position on 142 distinct bills this year. Fourteen of our priority bills were signed and numerous other bills made significant progress in the legislature before ultimately failing. With the help of our coalition partners and our members, we look to next year and the possibility to create more headlines which name California as the national leader advancing our civil liberties.

For a listing of all the legislation we followed this year, click here.

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