Political Notebook: CA LGBTQ bills survive house of origin votes

  • by Matthew S. Bajko, Assistant Editor
  • Wednesday May 25, 2022
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Assemblymembers Evan Low, left, Sabrina Cervantes, and Chris Ward all had LGBTQ-related bills pass out of the Assembly. Photos: Courtesy the subjects
Assemblymembers Evan Low, left, Sabrina Cervantes, and Chris Ward all had LGBTQ-related bills pass out of the Assembly. Photos: Courtesy the subjects

Eleven bills related to LGBTQ rights survived votes in their house of origin this month in the California Legislature. They run the gamut from bolstering health care services for LGBTQ individuals to protections for LGBTQ youth.

One bill, however, failed to advance out of the Assembly Appropriations Committee by the deadline to do so last week. Assembly Bill 2029 by Assemblymember Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland) would have required health insurance policies, including those religiously affiliated, to cover infertility treatment and fertility services for LGBTQ and straight policy holders.

According to an analysis of the bill for state legislators, the cost solely to state-run insurance programs was estimated to total between $224 million and $235 million annually. It also estimated that individual plans purchased through Covered California would see premiums increase by $185 million.

"Paying out of pocket for infertility treatment can impose an insurmountable financial burden on LGBTQ+ people who wish to become parents, and that needs to change — California must catch up with the 13 other states who have already passed infertility insurance laws," Wicks told the Bay Area Reporter. "Though I am deeply disappointed that AB 2029 will not move forward this year, I remain committed to continuing the work to ensure that every Californian is able to start a family if and when they choose to."

Nine LGBTQ-related bills did advance out of the Assembly and are now before the state Senate. Assembly Bill 2194, authored by gay Assemblymember Chris Ward (D-San Diego), would require pharmacists and pharmacy technicians to undergo at least one hour of culturally competent training about the concerns of LGBT+ patients before receiving a license. It passed out of the lower chamber on May 16.

"One bad experience can lead to someone not seeking out medical care in the future and worsen health care outcomes," stated Ward, who returned to Sacramento last week after recovering from COVID. "Ensuring that our pharmacists are trained and able to provide medication in a way that respects the well-being of LGBTQ+ individuals will allow trusting relationships to be formed and improve the experience for everyone."

The Assembly passed two other LGBTQ-related bills May 16. AB 2315, authored by Assemblymember Dr. Joaquin Arambula (D-Fresno), would require the governing board of each community college district in California to implement by the 2023-24 academic year a process by which students, staff, and faculty can declare an affirmed name, gender, or both name and gender identification to be used in records where legal names are not required by law.

It builds on a bill adopted last year that prohibits the state's community colleges and public universities from deadnaming trans and nonbinary students — that is, using their former names they were given based on the sex they were assigned at birth — on their diplomas and academic records.

AB 2466, authored by lesbian Assemblymember Sabrina Cervantes (D-Corona), would explicitly prohibit an agency that places foster children from declining to place a child with a resource family on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. It would also scrap the usage of the phrase "hard-to-place children" in state codes.

Six other LGBTQ bills passed out of the Assembly Monday, May 23. AB 2521, by Assemblymember Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles), would rename the state fund for trans health care services as the TGI Wellness and Equity Fund and create a community advisory committee to help oversee it. Santiago had pushed for the creation of the fund two years ago, and it received $13 million last year.

AB 1741, introduced by gay Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Campbell), chair of the Legislative LGBTQ Caucus, would require the governor to annually proclaim November 20 as Transgender Day of Remembrance. The event, started in 1998 by B.A.R. Transmissions columnist Gwen Smith, commemorates those transgender people lost to violence in a given year.

AB 2417, the Youth Bill of Rights by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), would require incarcerated youth, many of whom are LGBTQ+, to be informed of their existing rights under state and federal law and have easier access to that information. AB 2663, by Assemblymember James C. Ramos (D-Highland), would establish a five-year voluntary pilot project called the Youth Acceptance Project for counties interested in providing support to LGBTQ+ youth who receive, or are at risk of receiving, child welfare services, as well as assistance to their parents or caregivers.

AB 2436, co-authored by Cervantes and Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (D-Orinda), would require death certificates to list a decedents' parents without referring to the parents' gender. It is meant to benefit LGBTQ+ parents as they navigate estate proceedings and other matters following the death of a child.

AB 2873, authored by Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles), would require applicants of the state's low-income housing tax credit programs, as well as any of their subsidiaries and affiliates, to annually submit a report to the California Tax Credit Allocation Committee on how they plan to increase procurement from LGBT business enterprises and those owned by women, minorities and disabled veterans.

Senate bills advance

The Senate on Monday sent to the Assembly Senate Bill 923, the TGI Inclusive Care Act authored by gay state Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco). Among its provisions is requiring medical professionals who interact with transgender, gender-nonconforming, and intersex patients to receive cultural competency training, and ensuring health providers have searchable online directories of their gender-affirming services.

"As more and more red states ban gender-affirming care and try to erase LGBTQ people, California must step up to ensure strong access to health care," stated Wiener. "That includes ensuring that trans people are treated with respect and dignity by health care providers. While many health care professionals provide excellent care to trans people, more work remains. Improved training, clear standards, and improved network directories will result in better care for TGI people."

The Senate this week was also expected to pass on to the Assembly SB 1234, the STI Prevention & Treatment Fairness Act authored by Senator Dr. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento). It would improve access to services related to the prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted infections for income-eligible LGBTQ patients and others with confidentiality concerns via the state's Family Planning, Access, Care, and Treatment program.

Such patients would be reimbursed for the cost of their care, subject to an appropriation by the Legislature and any potential draw down of federal matching funds.

Bill awaits Assembly votes

One LGBTQ bill is awaiting final votes in the Assembly before moving on to the Senate for final passage. Before the Assembly Judiciary Committee is Wiener's SB 107, which aims to make it difficult for other states to prosecute parents who bring their transgender children to California to access gender-affirming health care if they are barred from receiving such services where they reside, such as in Texas and Idaho.

SB 107 would make it California policy to reject any out-of-state court judgments removing trans kids from their parents' custody because they allowed them to receive gender-affirming health care. It also would bar state health officials from complying with subpoenas seeking health records and any information related to such criminal cases and instruct public safety officers to make out-of-state criminal arrest warrants for such parents their lowest priority.

Wiener last month introduced the legislation by gutting and amending a bill that was already before the Assembly. The deadline for both chambers to pass it, as it will need a consent vote in the Senate after the Assembly adopts it, is August 31.

Web Extra: For more queer political news, be sure to check http://www.ebar.com Monday mornings for Political Notes, the notebook's online companion. This week's column reported on U.S. Senator Alex Padilla's (D-California) pledge of support for the federal LGBTQ bill known as the Equality Act.

Keep abreast of the latest LGBTQ political news by following the Political Notebook on Twitter @ http://twitter.com/politicalnotes

Got a tip on LGBTQ politics? Call Matthew S. Bajko at (415) 829-8836 or e-mail [email protected]

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