Stronger California 2024 Agenda expands rights for women, workers & survivors of sexual violence; advances economic security for low-income families

March 28. 2024

For Immediate Release
Mar 28, 2024

Media Contact
Jess Eagle
[email protected]

2024 Stronger CA Legislative Agenda - 15 new priorities for women, workers & families in California!

SACRAMENTO – Today a network of more than 65 California nonprofits and advocacy groups announced a
2024 Legislative Agenda that addresses the most pressing needs of California working women and low-income families. The Agenda features 15 bills and budget requests.

Known as the Stronger California Advocates Network, the groups work in partnership with members of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus every year to support policies that advance workers’ rights and economic security for women and families across the state.

The 2024 Agenda would:

  • expand Paid Family Leave to be more inclusive by covering chosen family members;
  • increase reproductive health care access by prohibiting local interference in community health clinics;
  • recognize intersectional identities (e.g. race and gender) in anti-discrimination laws;
  • protect sexual assault survivors by ensuring their past unrelated sexual history cannot be used against them in court;
  • strengthen tenants’ rights;
  • and more. (See the full Agenda below)

Read quotes about the bills from the advocates who are crucial to this work.


The Stronger California Advocates Network has successfully advocated for the passage of 50 bills since its founding 10 years ago. Since 2014, the network’s annual agenda has provided concrete policy solutions to the obstacles that keep many women from being able to attain economic security. 

California is the fourth largest economy in the world, but has one of the nation’s highest poverty rates, which disproportionately harms women and children. Child care access is lower in California compared to other states, and women are paid less than their male counterparts in the same roles in virtually every job sector. They are also more likely to work in low-wage jobs and have fewer opportunities to advance in their careers.

Nationally, two-thirds of minimum wage earners and 60% of essential workers are women. These positions are often underpaid and receive fewer (if any) job-protected sick days, less or no time off to care for sick family members, and limited access to affordable healthcare plans. Financial insecurity is especially pronounced in Black, Latinx, Native, Asian American, and Pacific Islander families. 

More than any other time in history, women are the primary and co-breadwinners of their families. Therefore, policies that address the myriad obstacles threatening the economic security of women and families are now more important than ever, and it is critical that women are centered in economic recovery efforts.


Quotes from Stronger California Pillar Lead organizations:


Jessica Ramey Stender, Policy Director & Deputy Legal Director, Equal Rights Advocates; Co-Chair, Stronger California Advocates Network:
“Women and families across California face intersecting obstacles to achieving economic security, ranging from workplace discrimination and harassment, to inadequate family caregiving support and asset-building opportunities. For 10 years, the Stronger California Advocates Network agenda has provided a collaborative, cross-sector, and community-inspired approach to addressing these overlapping challenges with concrete policy solutions that impact the daily lives of women and families. Our 2024 agenda builds on this progress to address the ongoing needs of our families and communities.”

Shimica Gaskins, President & CEO at GRACE – End Child Poverty California (Reimagine CalWORKS – Budget):
“CalWORKs is our bedrock anti-poverty safety net. It provides life-saving cash aid and supportive services to nearly 400,000 of our poorest families that are overwhelmingly led by Black and Latina mothers due to systemic racism in our labor market, education systems and other institutions. Yet it is targeted for deep, permanent cuts. Low-income families did not create this budget problem and we cannot balance the budget by forcing families into deeper poverty. We call on the Governor and Legislature to prevent all cuts to CalWORKs, and use the new federal pilot opportunity to reimagine the program. The pilots are a moment for national leadership – we have every opportunity and no excuse not to follow the science that punishing families is not only wrong, it is a failed policy. Now is the time for a family-centered program that provides real pathways out of poverty.” 

Mary Ignatius, Executive Director, Parent Voices California (Increasing Access to Stable, Affordable, Quality Child Care – Budget):
“The Governor made promises to California’s early educators and families that he would raise their wages and expand access to affordable child care. Those promises did not appear in his January budget proposal. Broken promises lead to broken dreams and we will hold the Governor accountable to fulfill his promise. The economic security of thousands of women, predominantly mothers of color and their children, rest in his hands. The final budget must invest in child care.”

Katie Duberg, Political Organizing Director, California Work & Family Coalition (Early Application for Paid Family Leave and Disability Insurance Benefits– SB 1090):
“Workers shouldn’t have to wait until they are already on unpaid leave to bond with a new child, or in the midst of their own or a family member’s health crisis to begin to apply for Paid Family Leave or State Disability Insurance. SB 1090 will make a simple and needed change by allowing workers to apply for Paid Family Leave and State Disability Insurance up to 30 days before an anticipated leave.”

Katherine Wutchiett, Senior Staff Attorney, Legal Aid at Work (Strengthening Safe Leave – AB 2499):
“No one should have to choose between their or their family member’s safety and their job. AB 2499 would fill in critical gaps and better empower survivors of violence to recover and be safe without having to sacrifice their economic stability.” 

Mariko Yoshihara, Legislative Counsel & Policy Director, California Employment Lawyers Association (Recognizing Intersectionality under California Anti-Discrimination Laws  – SB 1137):
“We are proud to stand with Senator Smalllwood-Cuevas upon the introduction of SB 1137, which will enshrine the framework of intersectionality into state law. Especially in a state as diverse as California, our laws must be explicit and clear in their recognition of workers who experience discrimination and harassment based on the intersection of multiple protected characteristics.” 

Tony Hoang, Executive Director, Equality California (Provide Equitable Fertility Coverage  – SB 729):
“No one should have to choose between their livelihood and their hopes of becoming a parent. Unfortunately, the safest and most reliable methods of infertility treatment like IVF remain out of reach for most Californians, especially low-income families and LGBTQ+ people. SB 729 is a long overdue step that will expand access to infertility treatment and remove discriminatory language from our state’s insurance laws. We are grateful to Senator Menjivar for being such a fierce champion for LGBTQ+ families and working to ensure that everyone has equitable access to infertility treatment and care.” 

Amber Parrish, Executive Director, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Western States Council (End Hunger in California Act of 2024 – AB 1961):
”UFCW members are on the frontlines of the fight to end hunger in our state,” said Amber Parrish, executive director, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Western States Council. “They see firsthand their customers buying less and less fruit and produce because they can’t afford it. They see their neighborhood stores closing down, putting thousands of people out of reach of fresh, affordable, accessible food. AB 1961 (Wicks) will establish a task force to develop California’s first Master Plan to End Hunger, and eventually removing the barriers that keep people hungry. UFCW members are proud to support this bill.”

To see a full list of Stronger CA Roundtable member organizations, click here.

The 2024 Stronger California Agenda


Fair Pay, Job Opportunities, & Workplace Justice 

  • SB 1137: Recognizing Intersectionality under California Anti-Discrimination Laws (Introduced by Senator Smallwood- Cuevas)
    Senate Bill 1137 will amend state anti-discrimination laws to clarify that they protect against discrimination based on not just one protected characteristic, but also the intersection or combination of two or more protected bases (e.g., gender and race). Intersectionality is an analytical framework that captures how different forms of discrimination operate together, exacerbate each other, and can result in unique and amplified forms of prejudice and harm. For example, Black women experience discrimination stemming from a unique set of harmful stereotypes, different from the racism Black men experience and the sexism white women experience.
  • SB 1386 : The California Civil Rape Shield Preservation Act (Introduced by Senator Caballero)
    Senate Bill 1386 would protect survivors of sexual assault, rape, and sexual battery from further victimization by clarifying civil rape shield law, a law that protects the privacy of the survivors by prohibiting inquiries into their sexual histories. Specifically, this bill would clarify that evidence of a survivor’s sexual conduct unrelated to the case is not admissible to impeach their testimony as to consent or damages.
  • SB 1022: Defending Housing, Employment & Other Civil Rights Violations (Introduced by Senator Skinner)
    Senate Bill 1022 will allow California’s Civil Rights Department (CRD) to thoroughly investigate and effectively enforce the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) on behalf of thousands of California residents and workers. This measure will ensure CRD is able to represent the interests of the state in enforcing California’s public policy to safeguard the rights and opportunities of all persons and protect against unlawful discrimination and other civil rights violations.
  • AB 2741: Contract Worker Protections (Introduced by Assemblymember Haney)
    Assembly Bill 2741 will strengthen California’s labor code to ensure employees of staffing agencies—contract and temporary workers—have concrete onramps to stable, permanent employment and have the protections they need to advocate for themselves and their rights.

Expand Access to Affordable, Quality Early Childhood Care and Education

  • Child Care Budget Request
    The Governor’s January budget proposal failed to include promises made to child care providers and families. This budget request asks that California make good on its agreement to pay child care providers more fairly for the full cost of enriching care, based on a new “alternative methodology,” as soon as possible. This would ensure a final budget that rejects the current proposed “pause” on building 20,000 new child care spaces, which would advance the Governor’s promise of 200,000 child care spaces by 2027.

Support Family-Friendly Workplaces

  • AB 518: Paid Family Leave for Chosen Family (Introduced by Assemblymember Wicks)
    This bill would allow workers to access Paid Family Leave to care for seriously ill “chosen family” members. Paid Family Leave is entirely funded by worker contributions, but not all workers’ families are recognized. Assembly Bill 518 is vital to ensure equity and access to the existing program, especially for LGBTQ+ families and individuals. Chosen family members are recognized in job-protected unpaid leave, but workers remain unable to access these vital paid benefits without an inclusive definition of family.
  • SB 1090: Early Application for Paid Family Leave and Disability Insurance Benefits (Introduced by Senator Durazo)
    California’s Paid Family Leave (PFL) and State Disability Insurance (SDI) programs provide critical support to working families, but workers are not currently permitted to apply for PFL and SDI until they have already experienced a qualifying life event and are on unpaid leave from work. Senate Bill 1090 will allow workers to apply for these programs up to 30 days in advance of an anticipated leave, which will reduce barriers for lower-to middle-income workers, who rely on state assistance to heal and care for their families.
  • AB 2499: Strengthening Safe Leave (Introduced by Assemblymember Shiavo)
    Assembly Bill 2499 empowers survivors of violence to secure safety without sacrificing economic security.  It allows survivors to take leave from work for safety and recovery reasons, allows their family members to take unpaid time off or sick days to support them, allows both to access safety-related accommodations at work, and streamlines access and enforcement of these critical rights.

Increase Economic Security by Combating Poverty & Building Assets 

  • AB 1956: Crime Victim Services Stabilization Act + Crime Victim Services Funding Budget Request (Introduced by Assemblymember Reyes)
    Assembly Bill 1956 and the related Budget Request would provide $200 million in ongoing funding to California’s crime victim services providers, supporting survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, child abuse, elder abuse, and more. Due to ongoing instability and an anticipated $630 million cut to the federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) funding, California’s victim service providers are at risk of devastating funding cuts, affecting essential services such as housing, counseling, and legal aid. The impact would fall hardest on smaller programs, communities that have been historically underserved, and rural programs.
  • AB 2843: Eliminating Medical Cost Sharing for Rape Survivors (Introduced by Assemblymember Petrie-Norris)
    Assembly Bill 2843 removes the issue of cost-sharing as a barrier to rape survivors seeking health care and forensic testing. While forensic exams and rape kits are free, other costs associated with an Emergency Room visit are not, for those with private insurance. This bill ensures rape survivors are able to access rape kit tests and forensic exams without financial barriers associated with an ER visit. They can receive the health care that they need following a traumatic sexual assault, without financial barriers.
  • AB 2785: Strengthening Tenant Protections (Introduced by Assemblymember Wilson)
    Assembly Bill 2785 proposes capping rental application fees at $50, and would require landlords to refund applicants if they’re not selected, as well as requiring clear refund policy language on application forms. The bill also mandates that landlords hold security deposits in interest-bearing bank accounts, with the tenants listed as beneficiaries.
  • AB 1961: End Hunger in California Act of 2024 (Introduced by Assemblymember Wicks)
    Assembly Bill 1961 establishes a task force that will develop California’s first strategic Master Plan to End Hunger. California is the world’s fifth largest supplier of food and produces nearly half of the nation’s fruits and vegetables, but more than one in five Californians, 8.8 million people, struggle with food insecurity. Hunger and lack of access to nutritious food are exacerbated by racial and economic inequalities: 40% of Black households and 30% of Latino households are food insecure in California. The task force will help to develop the Master Plan in collaboration with food system stakeholders at the local, regional, and state levels, and in partnership with tribal governments, on ways to remove barriers to adequate, nutritious, and culturally appropriate food for all communities in California.
  • Reimagine CalWORKs – Budget Request
    CalWORKs is California’s bedrock anti-poverty safety net. It provides life-saving cash aid and supportive services to 750,000 children living in 360,000 families who are overwhelmingly led by women (90%), with a disproportionate proportion being Latina/o (60%) and Black (17%). We urge the Legislature to reject the proposed CalWORKs double-cut of more than $1 billion, which would include the complete withdrawal of the $900 million Safety Net Reserve established to protect CalWORKs; and $300 million in ongoing cuts to CalWORKs services and program administration.We applaud the Governor’s budget proposal to pursue new federal pilot alternatives to the failed and punitive Work Participation Rate (WPR) approach to anti-poverty policies that are rooted in racist and sexist stereotypes about low-income women of color. We ask the Legislature to expand on the Governor’s proposal by making program changes proven to achieve progress in family outcomes, including: limiting family sanctions to federal requirements, empowering families to self-determine their participation activities, and permanently repealing the county Work Participation Rate (WPR) penalty pass-through.

Protect Health & Reproductive Rights 

  • SB 729: Provide Equitable Fertility Coverage (Introduced by Senator Menjivar and Assemblymember Wicks)
    Senate Bill 729 advances reproductive freedom in California by requiring large group health plans to provide coverage for fertility and infertility care, including IVF. The bill will also update the definition of “infertility” to be inclusive of LGBTQ+ family planning experiences and help to ensure that anyone seeking to build a family has equitable access to infertility treatment and care.
  • AB 2085: Streamlining Clinic Licensure  (Introduced by Assemblymember Bauer-Kahan)
    Assembly Bill 2085 will prohibit local interference with the delivery of constitutionally protected health care by establishing a streamlined approval process for development of community health clinics in California. One key barrier to health care is access to a clinic, and in a post-Dobbs world, access to abortion is more limited than ever. This bill ensures that local jurisdictions cannot interfere, without justification, in the establishment of comprehensive health care clinics.


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