California State House
California State House
Stop insurance breed discrimination to keep pets out of shelters and in homes
Up to 99% of pit bulls that enter a shelter are killed. Part of the problem is homeowners are finding it more and more difficult to obtain homeowners’ insurance that accept their breed of dogs. In recent years, several insurance companies have blacklisted dog breeds they consider dangerous, making it all but impossible for dog owners to get the insurance they need to protect their home. Now Pit Bulls and similar dogs are filling up California shelters, breaking up families and costing the state millions of dollars. It is time that California joined Pennsylvania and Michigan and prohibit breed specific insurance exclusions so we can stop the needless separation of families and the eventual euthanasia of innocent dogs. I’m Dawn, a volunteer at Chako Pit bull Rescue in Sacramento, California. Every year we take in homeless pit bulls in danger of being euthanized at shelters. Many of these dogs were surrendered when their owners faced the heart-breaking decision of giving up a beloved family member in order to keep a roof over their children’s heads. Too many children have cried, heartbroken, as their parents rip them away from their favorite companions, and even grown men have broken down because they can no longer keep their best friend. The worst part is knowing that in most of these cases, these dogs will never find another home and will unfortunately be put to sleep. In fact, having to move and being unable to find a place to rent that will accept their dog is the top reason people give for surrendering their dogs to a shelter. These pet unfriendly lists can hurt Pit Bulls, German Shepherds, and Rottweilers, among other breeds, even though study after study has proven that there are no dangerous dog breeds. There are just irresponsible owners who haven’t properly trained or managed their dogs. Insurance company breed blacklists are not only wrong and unfair, but they are also misguided. If insurance companies want to reduce risk they should require dog owners and their pets to go through obedience training or provide proof of Canine Good Citizen certification. Requiring homeowners to show such proof, rather than denying them coverage outright, reduces the chance of dog bites and liability for all parties involved while keeping dog owners in their homes and dogs out of shelters. There are better ways to minimize insurance risk than forcing families to give up their dogs. Pennsylvania and Michigan have protected homeowners and their dogs from discrimination while also ensuring that insurance companies don’t face an unfair burden. It is time California does the same by creating legislation that prohibits breed specific insurance blacklists. Help us at Chako Pit Bull Rescue keep families in their homes and dogs from being euthanized and tell the California Legislature to ban breed-specific insurance policies.
Outlaw hog vs. dog hunting/fighting in the wild
Goal: To outlaw the cruel and inhumane practice of using dogs to hunt wild boar in Florida, as well as in the 31 others states it's currently legal or have no laws on the books. Florida (as well as other states) has a wild boar problem. Hogs are numerous, omnivorous and have no natural predators, making them one of the largest nuisance pests in the state. There are many humane options for dealing with the pigs, which do not need to involve brutally killing the pigs or putting domesticated dogs in harm’s way. However, despite the existence of alternatives, Florida and other states have exempted the use of "bait-dogs" in boar hunting. This practice is incredibly dangerous and very inhumane for the dogs and boars involved. Each of the 32 states that allow this practice laws differ, but Florida animal cruelty statute states: FLORIDA ANIMALS: CRUELTY; SALES; ANIMAL ENTERPRISE PROTECTION: http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=0800-0899/0828/Sections/0828.122.html 828.122 Fighting or baiting animals; offenses; penalties.—(1) This act may be cited as “The Animal Fighting Act.”(2) As used in this section, the term:(a) “Animal fighting” means fighting between roosters or other birds or between dogs, bears, or other animals.(b) “Baiting” means to attack with violence, to provoke, or to harass an animal with one or more animals for the purpose of training an animal for, or to cause an animal to engage in, fights with or among other animals. In addition, “baiting” means the use of live animals in the training of racing greyhounds.(c) “Person” means every natural person, firm, copartnership, association, or corporation.(3) Any person who knowingly commits any of the following acts commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084:Baiting, breeding, training, transporting, selling, owning, possessing, or using any wild or domestic animal for the purpose of animal fighting or baiting; (9) This section shall not apply to:.....(e) Any person using dogs to hunt wild hogs or to retrieve domestic hogs pursuant to customary hunting or agricultural practices." The exception (e) makes NO logical sense, because dogs are trained to "hunt" by chasing, cornering, attacking and fighting. So, why is it illegal to cause a dog to fight another dog, or a pig in an enclosure, but it is legal to use dogs to chase and viciously attack pigs while being trained and in the wild? Boar hunting with dogs is exactly what it sounds like: dogs trained to track and attack. They are taken out into the country, or wherever wild hogs are plentiful, and set loose to sniff out hogs. Once a hog is found the dogs will chase it down, corner, bay and attack it, usually leaving it badly injured, but normally still alive. Hunters (when they catch up) will kill the pig, usually by "sticking," which is a prolonged death vs. the use of a proper gun. Wild hogs are incredibly difficult to kill and will put up a fight until the end. Many dogs involved are wounded by tusks, bitten, trampled and sometimes killed. This is basically animal fighting, in the wild. Putting dogs in such a dangerous situation is inhumane and should not be legal. PETITION LETTER: Wild boars are a major problem in Florida and in other states. The species has no natural predators, is omnivorous and repopulates very quickly: it is because of these traits that wild boars are a force hard to reckon with. There are many control methods used, some of them very inhumane. Currently it is legal for dogs to be used in wild hog hunting. This practice is extremely dangerous for the dogs involved and leads to inappropriate practices elsewhere. Dogs involved in hunting are likely to be seriously injured by the hogs. Dogs get trampled, bitten, pierced by tusks and may be infected with diseases that pigs carry. The hogs are frightened, outnumbered and suffer a painful death. I urge you to propose a ban on hunting wild pigs with dogs in order to put a stop to these inappropriate behaviors. Please consider other methods of wild pig population control, such as designating land for hogs to be displaced to, and controlling breeding of the species. Allowing dogs to hunt them is inhumane and unnecessary. Sincerely, [Your Name Here]
Do not repeal any provisions of the Hayden Law
The Hayden Law was passed in California in 1998 and provides the nation's most comprehensive laws to protect shelter animals. Governor Jerry Brown is considering a repeal of a number of provisions of the Hayden Law citing budget concerns. With the Hayden Law, California was at the forefront of animal shelter regulation and many states have been following that lead ever since. Some of the provisions that are subject to repeal would mean permanently reducing the required holding period for animals to 72 hours prior to euthanasia, eliminating the requirement to provide veterinary treatment for shelter animals, and eliminating the requirement to keep records for animals impounded by shelter personnel, which would only make it more difficult to locate lost animals or those available for adoption. The situation for shelter animals is bad enough now. Why ensure that it remains that way in the future as well? There is no justification, budgetary or otherwise, for making these changes permanent. The provisions in question have already been suspended since July 2009, and are currently not imposing additional costs on the state. California's homeless animals deserve better. Repeal of any of the provisions of the Hayden Law would be a giant step backward for the animals of California when other states are continuing forward with animal protection laws. Further information is available here: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/01/14/4186863/jerry-browns-budget-plan-would.html The bill is already being re-written and the Hayden Law provisions in question have been revised or stricken entirely: http://www.dof.ca.gov/budgeting/trailer_bill_language/corrections_and_general_government/documents/%5b301%5d%20Repeal%20Make%20Permissive%20Specified%20Mandates.pdf
Reduce Sentences for Prisoners Fighting California Fires.
As fires ripped through Northern California burning down over 8,000 homes and other buildings, and killing over 40 people, 1,700 of those fighting fires on the front lines have been California state prisoners. In fact, 30% of California’s forest firefighters, nearly 4,000, are prisoners. While it’s a long standing practice for prisoners to work while incarcerated as a form of rehabilitation, we would be better served by rewarding prisoners who have demonstrated exceptional conduct in prison with a sentence reduction. I was a first time nonviolent drug offender who served 9 years of a 24 year sentence before President Clinton granted me clemency. I can think of no group that deserves a second chance more than those who, serving time for minor crimes, choose to risk their lives to save others by fighting fires. In February 2016, 22-year-old Shawna Lynn Jones, was killed when she was struck in the head by a falling rock while fighting fires in Malibu. She was serving time for violating probation for a drug offense and was scheduled to be released just two months later. Over the last year, at least two other prisoners have died while performing firefighting duty. One man was crushed by a tree, another accidentally cut a femoral artery with a chainsaw. Prisoners earn approximately $2 a day, or up to $1 an hour if fighting an active fire, through a program with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. There are 43 conservation camps in California where adult offenders work. These prisoners are screened and anyone with violent tendencies or attitude problems is not allowed into the program. Around 30 to 40 percent work 24-hour shifts, then get 24 hours of rest. At most, prisoners can earn up to two days off for each day they’re in the conservation camps. This program is estimated to save the state $124 million a year, amounting to 3 million hours of labor to fight or prevent fires. We can do better for people who clearly pose no threat to society. Please sign my petition asking California Governor Jerry Brown to exercise his clemency privilege toward prisoners who have risked life and limb to save the homes and lives of countless California citizens, animals, and hundreds of thousand of acres of forestry. Thank you, Amy PovahCAN-DO Foundation
Protect the California Plastic Bag Ban for the Sake of Ocean Wildlife
California is endowed with the nation’s largest network of marine protected areas (MPAs) off its coast, including the Gulf of the Farallones Hope Spot. These underwater parks are critical in giving ocean wildlife refuge from exploitative practices including commercial fishing. However, other environmental stressors still continue to pervade the boundaries of California’s MPAs and harm these precious ecosystems. One such scourge is plastic bag pollution. Luckily, Californians have the chance to deal plastic bag pollution a deathblow on November 8th, 2016. Dr. Sylvia Earle, Founder of the Sylvia Earle Alliance / Mission Blue and Explorer-in-Residence of the National Geographic Society, urges everyone to learn about plastic pollution and act to stop it: "The amount of plastic that washed ashore in the year 2010 alone was enough to cover every inch of coastline on Earth. That doesn’t even include 99 percent of the plastic that ends up in the ocean every year. Now we know. Ignorance is the biggest problem of all for the ocean – and many other things as well. Now that we know the astonishing amount of plastic that enters the ocean each year, we can act. People around the globe can stand up, armed with knowledge, and demand an end to disposable plastic and mismanaged waste. All countries around the globe have a responsibility to contain whatever plastic they create and consume. It’s up to individuals – scientists, filmmakers, entrepreneurs, kids! – to find creative solutions to plastic pollution and ignite that sense of urgency to cause change." You may remember that in 2014 the California State Legislature passed a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags known as Senate Bill 270 (SB 270). That crucial ban is prevented from taking effect – thanks to millions of dollars in out-of-state funding from plastic manufacturers – until California voters weigh in on a ballot referendum this November 8th, 2016. A “YES” vote means upholding the bag ban. A “NO” vote would overturn it. Mission Blue believes a “YES” vote is the right path forward to a healthier ocean, healthier planet and healthier people. Especially considering that every day California’s statewide plastic bag ban is delayed 17 million more plastic bags are sold in the state, the time to act is now.
Congress: Let all children of U.S. military service members unite with their families!
I’m Jenifer Bass, a U.S. Navy veteran, who served for 10 years, one-third in the Asia-Pacific region. It was due to my travel between ports in countries like Japan and Thailand that I first encountered amerasian children, and descendants, of U.S. service members and civilian contractors previously stationed overseas. In the Philippines alone, more than 52,000-plus children were born and left behind after the U.S. Navy withdrew the last of its military personnel in 1992. Right now, the U.S. government won’t legally recognize them as U.S. citizens, despite having been born to an American parent. The Philippine Embassy won't help them either. Today, there are estimated to be more than 250,000-plus children. Many amerasians are caught in a no-man’s land of discrimination and poverty -- most left behind by U.S. service members who are unaware that they’ve fathered children overseas. My friend John Haines is one of these sailors. In 2011, John discovered he was the father of a half-Filipino daughter, Jannette. He attempted to unite with her through the American Homecoming Act -- but was frustrated to learn that the Act did not apply to Filipino children of U.S. service members. Today, all John wants is to be united with his daughter and grandchildren. He, like so many other veterans are living with a “hole in their hearts” as they search for ways to unite with their children. There is hope. The Uniting Families Act of 2017 creates a specialized visa allowing military veterans and eligible civilian contractors to sponsor their children and grandchildren for U.S. citizenship. Blood relationship must be proven by DNA test and the total number of visas granted will be capped at 5,000 each year. The issue takes on more urgency as so many of our veterans from our wars in Southeast Asia are getting older and dying each day -- without the chance to connect, or in some cases, reconnect with their own children. John’s daughter Jannette has already undertaken the DNA testing process, conclusively proving her relationship to her American father. All she’s waiting for is the opportunity to permanently unite with her father. There is a PBS documentary, "Left by the Ship" (2010), documenting a day in the life and the personal struggles as a Filipino amerasian on the never ending search for identity and their struggle to connect to their American military fathers. Please sign this petition to tell Congress that these families cannot wait another day. Pass the Uniting Families Act of 2017 now!
Eliminate the "personal belief" vaccine exemption that's putting sick California kids at risk.
When he was only two-and-a-half years old, our son Rhett was diagnosed with leukemia. For a long time, his immune system was so compromised that he wasn't healthy enough to be immunized against diseases like whooping cough and measles. Because he couldn't be vaccinated, Rhett relied on his classmates being immunized (what’s known as “herd immunity”) to keep him safe. But in our home state of California, parents can send their unvaccinated children to school if they don’t think immunization is necessary, or simply don’t want them to be immunized. Thankfully, right now, the California legislature is considering SB277, which wouldn't let parents opt out of immunizing their kids just because it's their "personal belief" they should leave their children -- and kids who can't get vaccinated -- vulnerable to dangerous, contagious diseases. The bill is picking up support, but it’s important that we maintain momentum. Kids should be vaccinated if they're going to go to school with others. Sign this petition and tell California’s elected leaders that they should protect kids with compromised immune systems by passing Senate Bill 277 into law. After bravely going through rounds of chemotherapy and a year in remission, Rhett is finally well enough to be immunized. Let’s send the message that the expecting mothers, babies, and hundreds of other kids with suppressed immune systems throughout California deserve to be kept safe from dangerous contagious diseases too.
Shouldn't Housing Reform Close the Affordability Gap?
To solve California’s housing crisis, we must take steps to increase our housing supply and close the affordability gap for working families. We can make real progress by incorporating prevailing wage standards into state housing reforms. Housing prices have soared as much as 54% faster than inflation over the past twenty years, but real wages for nearly a million Californians who work in the construction industry have actually declined by 25%. The median wage of $35,000 per year prices most construction workers out of the housing market—particularly in high cost coastal cities. In fact, most are immigrants and people of color earning $.70 on the dollar of similarly skilled white workers. Nearly half have no health insurance, and one in six face some form of wage theft. Most research shows that low wages reduces productivity and invites workforce shortages. It takes 13% more workers today to equal California's construction output of twenty years ago. Low wages will make it harder to attract the skilled workers we are going to need to build our way out of this crisis. This has been a windfall for residential developers and builders, whose profits have grown 50% faster than either labor or material costs. But it’s been a burden for taxpayers, because poverty wages for construction workers increase spending on Medicaid and other public assistance programs by tens of millions of dollars every year. Housing reforms that fail to include prevailing wage standards will only make these problems worse. Long associated with more local hiring and stronger economic outcomes, prevailing wages are the local market based minimum wage for skilled construction work. By raising the “floor,” these standards can help close the affordability gap by pulling thousands of construction workers out of poverty and reducing income disparities that disproportionately impact people of color. Most research shows prevailing wage standards do not increase total project costs. Instead, they reduce worksite waste and improve productivity by as much as 16%. And with profits now representing a larger share of total residential construction costs than workers’ wages and benefits, it is clear that the industry is well positioned to make the workforce investments that are needed to close the affordability gap. Real housing reform needs to do more than simply streamline more development. We need to promote investment in the people who are doing the building, and struggling to pay the rent in our communities. Sign the petition to urge California Governor Jerry Brown and California State Legislators to include prevailing wage standards in the state housing reform package.
Pass AB 202 to require the NFL to pay cheerleaders a living wage
When former Raiderette cheerleader Susie Sanchez filed suit against the Raiders, she reported she made just $6.50 an hour for her work. That’s well below California’s minimum wage but the NFL claims it’s legal because cheerleaders are “seasonal employees” who aren’t subject to state employment protections. California State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, a former college cheerleader, wants to change that with a new bill, AB 202, that will require professional sports team to classify cheerleaders as employees in order to protect them from workplace abuse. Will you sign my petition asking the California State Legislature to pass AB 202 and set a precedent for states standing up to the NFL’s policy of underpaying these hard working athletes? Over a year ago I launched another petition, which has over 145,000 signatures, asking the NFL to pay cheerleaders fairly. Since then, cheerleaders from five teams have filed wage discrimination suits but the league still refuses to instruct their teams to pay cheerleaders a living wage. Instead, they continue to insist that cheerleading is a voluntary job and little more than a hobby. NFL cheerleaders spend countless hours in practices, for which they are unpaid, and many report being forced to work in “deplorable” conditions. For most of these athletes, becoming an NFL cheerleader is the culmination of many years of dance and gymnastics training. Few, if any, would describe their life’s work as a “hobby.” That’s why it’s important for California legislators to step in and pass AB 202 so that the cheerleaders for the state’s three NFL teams can enjoy the same labor protections afforded to any other worker. I’m hopeful that if California takes this stand for cheerleaders, other states will follow suit. In order for that to happen, California lawmakers need to hear from us. Will you please sign my petition asking the California State Legislature to pass AB 202 and finally give NFL cheerleaders the rights and protections they deserve?
Help Cosby Survivors turn trauma into triumph for recent and future victims of rape
[PHOTO: Cosby Survivors Lili Bernard and Victoria Valentino] Will you join us by signing this petition compelling lawmakers in California to abolish statute of limitations (SOL) on rape and sexual assault prosecution, for the benefit of recent and future victims? In the early 1990s, Bill Cosby mentored me as I prepared for my guest-starring role on The Cosby Show. After he had won my complete trust and adoration, he drugged me and raped me. When I told him that I would report him to the police, he threatened serious consequences to my life. In 1992, during our last contact, he said to me, “As far as I’m concerned, Bernard, you’re dead. Do you hear me? You’re dead, Bernard. You don’t exist.” I interpreted that as a death threat and feared for my life. In the spring of 2015, empowered by dozens of brave women who publicly disclosed the abuse they suffered at the hands of Bill Cosby, I finally shed the fear and filed a police report against him in the state of New Jersey, in which an assault occurred. However, despite the evidence I saved and the witnesses willing to testify on my behalf, Cosby could not be considered for prosecution because the assault occurred a few months outside of the statute of limitations. This was truly heart-breaking to me. I’m now fighting to help abolish the statute of limitations for rape and sexual assault in the state of California where I’ve lived since the early 1990s. I’ve been organizing with a group of Los Angeles area anti-rape activists, including Cosby Survivor, Victoria Valentino, who has become like a sister to me. Victoria has said that “rape is a murder of the spirit.” There are no statute of limitations for murder. Rape is a life-threatening crime that often results in STDs such as AIDS, unwanted pregnancy, PTSD, addiction, depression and suicide. It can take many years for rape victims to disclose due to these consequences and to fear of retaliation, stigma, and victim blaming. Victims should be able to file a police report when they feel safe and strong enough to do so. Time limits on prosecution deny sexual assault survivors justice. That has to change. My home state of California is on the verge of making this happen. Please sign this petition calling for the abolition of the statute of limitations for rape and sexual assault prosecution! Right now is a critical time to get this done. State Senator Connie Leyva recently introduced the Justice for Survivors Act (SB 813) to overturn the 10-year statute of limitations for rape and sexual assault in California. SB 813 does not change the burden of proof, but it does allow survivors with evidence and witnesses to receive justice years after a sexual assault has occurred. The bill will be voted upon this spring, and it is vital that we let our elected leaders know that abolishing the time limit on rape and sexual assault prosecution is a pressing priority. There is no shortage of precedents for this kind of state law. I’m hopeful that abolishing the time limit on prosecuting rape and sexual assault in California will encourage every state across the nation to do the same. Many states have already abolished their time limit on prosecuting rape and sexual assault, including Alabama, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and West Virginia. It is high time that the most progressive state in the union and the rest of the nation get on the right side of history with this issue. Your signature for this bill is a signature to provide hope for recent and future victims of rape and sexual assault. Please join us in helping to eliminate the time limit for prosecuting rape and sexual assault in California, because justice knows no time limit. #EndRapeSOL #CA Gratefully, Lili Bernard www.EndRapeSOL.org