Systems Change

Public Counsel’s 2023 Policy Agenda

Many of the harms experienced by our clients stem from deep-rooted structural injustice. In addition to providing direct services to individual clients, we work to change the systems that produce these harms. In deep collaboration with the communities most impacted by systemic oppression, we transform laws, policies, procedures, investments, narratives, and power structures to advance racial, gender, and economic justice, and to promote equity and opportunity.

As part of our comprehensive systems change strategy, Public Counsel advances a policy agenda that is uniquely informed and strategically sound, based on internal subject-matter expertise, our client relationships, and community lawyering. We intentionally engage at multiple scales—advancing policy agendas at the city, county, state, and federal governments—while drawing from a wide range of advocacy tactics and strategies. We deliberately integrate community leadership development into our advocacy, and we practice creativity, humility, accountability, trauma-informed advocacy, and collaboration to reimagine and construct a legal system that works for our clients and the communities we serve.

Below is an overview of our 2023 legislative priorities.

Click the tabs below for our 2023 legislative priorities. We will update this page throughout the session.

Public Counsel client Kiontra Minnifee speaks at a press conference at L.A. City Hall in 2022.

City of L.A. Policy Agenda

Public Counsel is a Los Angeles-based organization. Our clients are deeply impacted by policies that come out of City Hall and we are committed to ensuring that our city institutions, elected leaders, and local policies embody the best version of Los Angeles: a place of multiracial solidarity, community-building, and joyful celebration of culture and connection. We work in partnership with community-led coalitions and movements to transform city policies to advance racial equity, inclusive community development, immigrants’ rights, and economic and housing justice for our clients and community partners.

Active Policy Campaigns

  • Boyle Heights Community Plan. We are supporting the Eastside LEADS coalition advance community-driven policies for equitable development in the Boyle Heights Community Plan. 
  • Downtown L.A. People’s Plan. We are supporting the Central City United coalition advance community-driven policies for racial equity and housing and economic justice in the Downtown L.A. Community Plan. 
  • Housing Element Rezone. We are working with ACT-LA and other community based organizations to advocate for strong implementation of the City’s Housing Element to remove barriers to affordable housing in high resource communities and deliver community-centered investment in low-income historically disinvested neighborhoods.
  • Just Hollywood. We are supporting ACT-LA’s leadership in the Just Hollywood Coalition to advance equitable development standards in the Hollywood Community Plan. 
  • Justice for Street Vendors. We are supporting the LA Street Vendor Campaign to advance more inclusive policies and stronger protections for low-income street vendors. 
  • Municipal Lobbying Ordinance. We are advocating for thoughtful amendments to the City’s lobbying requirements to increase transparency without chilling participation by low-income residents and community-based organizations.  
  • Resources and services for system-impacted communities. We are monitoring and enforcing the City’s obligations in the Rodriguez settlement agreement to provide critical resources and services to system-impacted communities and individuals harmed by the City’s unjust gang injunctions.
  • Right to Counsel. We are supporting community-based organizations and legal services providers to advocate for a codified right to counsel to ensure representation in eviction proceedings and help keep Angelenos in their homes.
  • Sanctuary City. We are working with a coalition of immigrant justice organizations to support an initiative to increase protections for L.A.’s immigrant communities. 
  • Social Housing & Measure ULA implementation. We are working with ACT-LA, the Measure ULA Coalition, and the Housing Movement Lab, among others, to build the groundwork for social housing in Los Angeles and ensure the equitable and effective implementation of Measure ULA.
  • Tenant Bill of Rights. We are supporting the Keep LA Housed Coalition advance a comprehensive Tenant Bill of Rights with increased protections for renters across Los Angeles.

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Community empowerment groups rally in support of a Tenant Bill of Rights in front of L.A. County’s Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration in 2022.

County of L.A. Policy Agenda

We also work in partnership with community-led coalitions and movements to strengthen protections for renters, low-income workers, entrepreneurs, immigrants, children, and families across all of L.A. County, ensuring a more just and equitable region.

Active Policy Campaigns

  • Fair Work Week. We are supporting the Fair Work Week coalition to advance protections for retail workers in unincorporated L.A. County. 
  • General Hospital Reuse. We are supporting the Eastside LEADS coalition to ensure that an ambitious plan to revitalize and reuse the General Hospital site will reflect the needs and priorities of low-income communities on the Eastside.
  • Immigrant Survivors. We work with the LA VAWA Network to advocate for policies that protect and uplift the rights of immigrant survivors of serious crime and human trafficking.
  • Justice for Street Vendors. We are supporting the LA Street Vendor Campaign to advance an equitable and inclusive street vending program for unincorporated L.A. County and ensuring that the L.A. County of Department of Public Health implements SB 972 to create new opportunities for low-income street food vendors. 
  • LACAHSA implementation. We are supporting the Our Future LA coalition to establish the Los Angeles Affordable Housing Solutions Agency – a transformative new regional agency to coordinate the production of permanent affordable housing and delivery of tenant protections. 
  • Mandated Supporting. We are supporting an initiative to end the disproportionate harms that mandated reporting laws have on communities of color and establish new standards for Mandated Support that will prevent child harm, promote family well-being, and provide high-quality and culturally relevant services and supports to families in need.
  • Notario Fraud. We launched a campaign to advance stronger policies to combat the devastating effect of immigration fraud.
  • Preventive Legal Advocacy. We are anchoring a workgroup to develop a collaborative county-wide network of legal service providers to create a preventive legal service model for Los Angeles County. Preventive legal services are legal services provided to families who are being investigated by child protective services so that they better understand the process, know their rights, and receive help resolving common legal issues that are contributing to a family’s instability.
  • Rent Control. We support a variety of local campaigns to adopt rent control and just-cause eviction protections in smaller jurisdictions across L.A. County.
  • Right to Counsel. We are supporting community-based organizations and legal services providers to advocate for a codified right to counsel to ensure representation in eviction proceedings and help keep Angelenos in their homes.
  • Tenant Bill of Rights. We are supporting the Keep LA Housed Coalition advance a comprehensive Tenant Bill of Rights with increased protections for renters across Los Angeles County.
  • TAY Housing. We support a variety of workgroups related to expanding availability and access to housing for young people in and exiting extended foster care in Los Angeles.
  • Universal Representation. We helped launch and continue to support a coalition advocating for immigrants’ right to legal counsel. 
  • Youth Justice Reimagined. We are supporting Los Angeles Youth Uprising (LAYUP) to transform and improve outcomes for youth and community that prioritizes equity and accountability, recognizes the need for healing-informed responses in all systems that impact youth, and provides coordination and resources to further expand youth development across the County.

Our Partnerships

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Public Counsel supported street vendors to successfully lobby for the passage of SB 972 in 2022.

State Policy Agenda

The 2023 California legislative session is in full swing, and we are proud to support an ambitious policy agenda that will strengthen programs and protections for children, youth, and families; advance housing, economic, and gender justice; and increase access to justice for our clients and community partners. Below is a current list of sponsored and priority legislation.

Sponsored Bills

SB 274 (Skinner)

UPDATE: Signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom, 10/08/23

SB 274 will keep students in school by eliminating the suspension of students for low-level behavior issues known as “willful defiance” in California’s public school’s grades TK through 12. Willful defiance suspensions have disproportionately impacted students of color, LGBTQ students, students who are homeless or in foster care, and those with disabilities. These provisions will apply to both traditional public schools and charter schools. [Press release] (Co-sponsored with ACLU California Action, Alliance for Boys and Men of Color, Black Parallel School Board, Community Asset Development Redefining Education (CADRE), Dolores Huerta Foundation, Disability Rights California, East Bay Community Law Center, Mid-City CAN, Youth Alliance, Youth Justice Education Clinic (Loyola Law School), COPE, and GENup.)

AB 1414 (Kalra) – Eliminating “common counts.”

UPDATE: Signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom, 10/10/23

AB 1414 will ban “common counts” in debt collection cases. Current law allows debt collectors to use outdated causes of action (“common counts”) to seize people’s wages and bank accounts without ever having to prove there was actually a contract for the debt. These cases are especially egregious when brought against LEP debtors, survivors of domestic and financial abuse, and victims of identity theft. California should no longer tolerate special, outdated laws that make it easier for debt buyers to disproportionately target and drain the assets of communities of color. (Co-sponsored with California Low Income Consumers Coalition)

AB 1261 (Santiago) – Visa eligibility.

UPDATE: Signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom, 10/10/23

AB 1261 clarifies the eligibility requirements for U and T visas and eases the certification process for immigrant survivors of crime and human trafficking. This bill enhances collective public safety and provides immigrant survivors of crime and trafficking access to the relief to which they are entitled. (Co-sponsored with Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking and Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office)

AB 1323 (Kalra)

STATUS: Bill in Assembly Education Committee

AB 1323 will eliminate mandatory reporting requirements for certain disciplinary infractions, granting more discretion to educators in making the determination if law enforcement involvement is necessary. (Co-sponsored with Alliance for Boys and Men of Color, ACLU California Action, Black Organizing Project, Black Parallel School Board, Coleman Advocates for Children and Youth, Disability Rights California, Dolores Huerta Foundation, Gente Organizada, and Social Justice Learning Institute.)

AB 867 (Friedman)

UPDATE: Vetoed by Governor Gavin Newsom, 10/08/23

AB 867 will clarify that the dependency court may keep a youth’s case open past age 21 if the requirements to terminate jurisdiction have not been satisfactorily met, to help ensure that the necessary discharge planning begins early and that youth successfully transition to independence. [Fact Sheet] (co-sponsored with Children’s Law Center and Youth Law Center)

AB 1112 (McKinnor) 

UPDATE: Vetoed by Governor Gavin Newsom, 10/08/23

AB 1112 will ensure that foster youth, including expectant and parenting youth, receive critical benefits like the clothing allowance and infant supplement regardless of their placement. Currently, if a young person in foster care is in between placements or in an “unapproved placement,” they do not receive financial assistance from the County. These “unapproved placements” are common, such as when youth are coach surfing, when they rent places that they can afford, but do not meet the County’s requirement for a placement (like a converted garage), or when they live with family members who cannot be approved. Delinking the clothing allowance and the infant supplement benefit from the placement benefit would allow youth to receive these critical basic supports while they are in between placements, which is often when they need the support the most. [Fact Sheet](co-sponsored with Children’s Law Center)

PACE Restitution Fund – Budget Request (L. Rivas) 

UPDATE: Funding was not included in the 2023-2024 state budget.

A $30m restitution fund for victims of predatory lending under Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) programs will provide desperately needed relief to hundreds of defrauded California families. PACE homeowners were duped into signing up for high-cost loans for energy efficient improvements, many of which were not completed or even started. Victims are disproportionately low-income seniors and/or non-English speakers, and their losses are in the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars.  This fund will allow homeowners to seek compensation for PACE-related financial losses and injuries that pose a serious risk of foreclosure and displacement. (Co-sponsored with Clean Energy Justice and the California Low Income Consumers Coalition)

Priority Bills

Children, Youth, and Families

  • AB 273 – SUPPORT (creating a more family-centered and child-focused process to locate, return, and stabilize children and youth who go missing while in the care, custody, and control of the child welfare system) 
  • AB 369 – SUPPORT (strengthening independent living supports for transition age youth)
  • AB 391 – SUPPORT (addressing domestic harassment by requiring the provision of contact information to the receiving agency)
    • UPDATE: Signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom, 10/08/23
  • AB 448 – SUPPORT (requiring social workers and probation officers to document their family finding efforts in reports to the dependency court)
  • AB 525 – SUPPORT (increasing the rate of foster care funding for youth placed in Supervised Independent Living Placements)
  • AB 866 – SUPPORT (establishing a food assistance program for young adults in foster care who receive their foster care benefits directly)
  • AB 954 – SUPPORT (ensuring that a parent’s inability to pay for court-ordered services is not used as the basis to separate a family or to keep them separated)
    • UPDATE: Signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom, 10/08/23
  • AB 937 – SUPPORT (providing additional six months of reunification services if the child welfare system does not provide legally required “reasonable” effort)
    • UPDATE: Signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom, 10/08/23
  • AB 1094 – SUPPORT (requiring informed consent before performing a drug or alcohol test on a pregnant patient). 
  • AB 1134 – SUPPORT (expanding access to family reunification services) 
  • AB 1147 – SUPPORT (enacting the Disability Equity and Accountability Act)
  • AB 1324 – SUPPORT (eliminating debt for parents whose children were previously in foster care)
  • AB 1512 — SUPPORT (requiring counties to conserve Social Security Administration benefits received by a youth in foster care for that youth’s current and future needs, rather than using those benefits to pay for the cost of the child’s foster care placement)
  • AB 1582 – SUPPORT (increasing the number of youth eligible for SYTF)
  • AB 1675 – SUPPORT (ensuring foster youth are able to participate in extracurricular and enrichment activities by requiring the utilization of all available funding and increasing accountability measures under existing laws)
  • SB 331 – SUPPORT (protecting victims and children of domestic violence and child abuse by requiring critical judicial training and reporting, banning dangerous court-ordered programs, limiting testimony to expert witnesses and prioritizing child safety and well-being)
    • UPDATE: Signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom, 10/13/23
  • SB 456 – SUPPORT (increasing the availability and accessibility of youth housing)
  • SB 463 – SUPPORT (reunification) 
    • UPDATE: Signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom, 10/10/23
  • SB 578 – SUPPORT (requiring the court to weigh the known harms a child will experience as a result of removal from parental care against the potential risk of non-removal, and ensuring social worker’s reports will include steps to mitigate harms to children if deciding on removal)
    • UPDATE: Signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom, 10/08/23
  • SB 824 – SUPPORT (allowing funding and placement of foster children with non-related extended family members or extended family members (for Indian Children) who have criminal backgrounds and where there are no safety concerns)

Justicia en materia de vivienda

  • ACA 10 – SUPPORT (creating a Constitutional amendment to create a right to housing)
  • AB 12 –  SUPPORT (limiting security deposits to one month rent)
    • UPDATE: Signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom, 10/11/23
  • AB 480 – SUPPORT (strengthening surplus land act requirements)
    • UPDATE: Signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom, 10/11/23
  • AB 875 – SUPPORT (directing trial courts to provide the Judicial Council with specified anonymous data on unlawful detainer cases including the total number of cases filed and disaggregated data on case outcomes by ZIP Code)
  • AB 919 – SUPPORT (supporting tenant/community opportunity to purchase housing developments)
  • AB 920 – SUPPORT (expanding anti-discrimination protections to people experiencing homelessness)
  • AB 1086 – SUPPORT (allowing the recording of fair housing investigations by fair housing testers)
  • AB 1418 – SUPPORT (limiting the harmful impacts of so-called “crime-free housing” programs and nuisance ordinances)
    • UPDATE: Signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom, 10/08/23
  • AB 1738 – SUPPORT (establishing a 5-county pilot program at DMV to help people experiencing homelessness obtain ID cards and get document ready to accelerate placements into permanent housing)
  • SB 225 – SUPPORT (establishing the Community Anti-Displacement and Preservation Program for purposes of funding the acquisition and rehabilitation of unrestricted housing units)
  • SB 466 – SUPPORT (amending Costa Hawkins to allow local jurisdictions to apply local rent control provisions to any units that are older than 15 years old, including single family homes and condos)
  • SB 555 – SUPPORT (supporting social housing)
    • UPDATE: Signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom, 10/07/23
  • SB 567 – SUPPORT (strengthening tenant protections) 
    • UPDATE: Signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom, 09/30/23
  • SB 594 – SUPPORT (increasing LLC transparency to strengthen tenant, worker, and consumer protections)
  • HOUSING & HOMELESSNESS BUDGET BLUEPRINT (Budget request for variety of housing justice programs) 

Gender Justice

  • AB 933 – SUPPORT (increasing protections for survivors of sexual assault from retaliatory defamation lawsuits)
    • UPDATE: Signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom, 10/10/23
  • SB 260 – SUPPORT (adding $20 dollars of aid in California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) per month for each menstruating CalWORKs recipient in order to purchase menstrual products)
  • SB 760 – SUPPORT (ensuring all students have equitable access to restrooms by requiring all K-12 schools to provide at least one all gender restroom)
    • UPDATE: Signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom, 09/23/23

Justicia económica

  • AB 518 – SUPPORT (expanding wage replacement benefits to care for a member of chosen or extended family)
  • AB 524 – SUPPORT (Adding “family caregiver status” to the list of protected characteristics in anti-discrimination law)
  • AB 575 – SUPPORT (removing unnecessary barriers for individuals seeking to access their Paid Family Leave benefits.
  • AB 1082 – SUPPORT (Prohibiting “poverty tows”)
  • AB 1160 – SUPPORT ((protecting students from the economic harms associated with institutional debt and extending critical consumer protections)
  • SB 220 – SUPPORT (exempting federal actions relating to student loans from state taxes)
  • SB 616 – SUPPORT (requiring employers to allow employees to use seven or more paid sick days without wage loss or retaliation.)
    • UPDATE: Signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom, 10/04/23
  • SB 725 – SUPPORT (increasing protections for grocery workers in the case they are laid off as a result of a merger or change in business structure)SB 881 – OPPOSE (weakening state and local protections for paid sick days)

Acceso a la justicia

  • SB 21 – SUPPORT (extending the statutory authorization for remote appearances in specified civil court proceedings and requiring the Judicial Council of California to annually report to the Legislature about the use of remote technology in the courts)
  • SB 662 – SUPPORT (allowing electronic recording in all civil matters when there is no certified shorthand reporter available)

Our Partnerships

  • California Low Income Consumers Coalition
  • California Work & Families Coalition
  • California Street Vendor Campaign
  • Child Welfare and Domestic Violence Coalition
  • Coalition of Low Wage and Immigrant Workers Advocates
  • Core 10
  • End Period Poverty CA
  • Housing Now!
  • Reimagine Child Safety – Statewide

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Federal Policy Agenda

We work with community partners and coalitions to advocate for federal legislation and regulations that reflect the needs and priorities of our clients – providing stronger protections and opportunities for immigrants, low-income renters, workers, consumers, veterans, and children and families.

Active Policy Campaigns

  • Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH). We are supporting a proposed HUD rule to implement the Fair Housing Act’s AFFH mandate, and advocating for a stronger community engagement process, stronger analysis of substandard housing conditions, robust anti-displacement standards, and the removal of barriers to affordable housing in high resource, historically exclusionary communities.
  • Asylum. We oppose a proposed rule that would ban many refugees from asylum protection in the United States and deprive refugees of the ability to reunite with their families and pursue a path to citizenship. We are advocating for the administration to instead uphold refugee law, restore full access to asylum at ports of entry, ensure fair and humane asylum adjudications, and rescind the Trump administration entry and transit bans in their entirety.
  • Employee status. We are supporting a new rule that would broaden the test for employee classification under the FLSA to better protect against employee misclassification, which disproportionately harms people of color.
  • Hidden Foster Care. We are supporting a national coalition of advocates organizing to address the issue of hidden foster care, a common practice in all states where child welfare systems to pressure families to agree to give up custody of their children outside of the due process protections of a formal court process. This practice is harmful to children, their parents, and, often, the caregivers who take custody. 
  • Paid Family Leave. We are urging Congressional leadership to pass job-protected Paid Family and Medical Leave to expand workers’ access to paid family and medical leave. 
  • Preventive Legal Advocacy Workgroup. We participate in a national workgroup to address issues related to providing preventive legal services and develop programmatic and structural innovation to cross-pollenate across jurisdictions.
  • Student Loans. Together with a coalition of organizations representing tens of millions of borrowers and families who are struggling under the weight of student loan debt, we are advocating for more affordable repayment plans, expanded opportunities for loan cancellation and forgiveness, stronger consumer protections for borrowers, and policies and regulations that hold predatory actors to account. 
  • Tenant Protections & access to housing. We are advocating for federal rules to remove harmful barriers to housing and end predatory rental practices, including by prohibiting discriminatory tenant screening practices, expunge eviction records, and end algorithmic screening and rent setting practices.
  • Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Regulations. We are working with our partners in Clean Energy Justice, including National Consumer Law Center and National Housing Law Project, to advocate for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to promulgate strong regulations to ensure essential consumer protections in PACE transactions.

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