A Voice for Choice Advocacy Opposes SB18 (details below).  We stand with other organizations who have voiced their opposition to SB18:SB18 organizations 031617

Click here (English/Español) to print Flyer Opposing SB18 to share our Activist Flyer with all who should be concerned with the loss of our rights.  For a full legislative package to share with your Senator and Assembly Member, click here.  See below how you can take action.

SB18, the CA Children’s and Youth Bill of Rights Act was introduced December 5, 2016 by Senator Pan (SB277 Author), and was amended April 3, 2017.  SB18 Bill Text: http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201720180SB18.
While the bill request itself is benign, asking for the creation of a Joint Legislative Committee on Children and Youth, consisting of 9 Senators and 9 Assembly members, which will “develop “California’s Promise to its Children and Youth,” a framework for the care and welfare of the state’s children and youth in various contexts, including, but not limited to, health care, nutrition, homeless assistance, education, and foster care, to serve as an example to other states by raising the standard of living for California’s children and youth.”  In short, if  passed, it would allow the state of California to create policy around what is in a child’s best interest, not the parent.  While we all want kids to be safe and healthy, it is the parents decision, not the states, how to raise a child.  Real leadership is PARTNERING with parents to continually make children a priority and invest in our youth. It is NOT legislating away their rights and choices to the highest bidder or tax reform lobbyist.

The amendments to the bill have some unusual and sneaky language in them, which cause A Voice for Choice Advocacy to be concerned about the true intent of this SB18.  They include:
– The Children’s Bill of Rights wording has been removed and will be introduced as a separate Senate Resolution, but is referenced in the bill.  This is concerning for two reasons, 1) resolutions are passed quickly and without much overview from legislators because they do not have any statute or enforcement and 2) it circumvents the legislative bill process because resolutions do not require 72 hours notice for amendments and are not heard in committees.  It is unheard of to include reference to a resolution in a bill because then the resolution becomes statute, but doing so Senator Pan and Common Sense Kids Action would sneak key language into the resolution, have it garner huge (perhaps even a unanimous) support, which allows them to claim momentum and unity of purpose.
– The main request of this bill being the formation of a committee is unusual and unnecessary because a committee can be created at the whim of the Senate Pro Tem (technically the Rules Committee) and a change to Senate Rules.  Joint committees just require approval of the joint rules by both houses.  So putting a new legislative committee in a bill begs the question why?  To which the answer is either that there is a different agenda that will become evident in later amendments or that there is no support from the Senate Pro Tem to put such a committee in place.
– The reference to tax code in the bill is also strange given that this is a bill supposedly about children, yet six out of seven points in the preamble of the bill (Section 18987.80) include detailed findings on California’s tax code and economic issues rather than child related issues.  This is the greatest indicator that the real intention of this bill is not to address the needs of the children in California, but instead a huge tax reform bill that will prey upon the heart strings of the legislators, referencing the dire needs of our children to get it passed. Although, California’s tax code including, but not limited to Prop 13, sales, state and online taxation reform needs to be addressed, it should not be cloaked in our children’s future.
– The references in the bill now that stake the states claim on our children – “state’s children and youth” and “California’s children and youth”.  This may be a semantic error, but we feel that it is very much a Freudian slip, in that Senator Pan and supporters of SB18 believe that the children of California belong to the state and not to their parents.
– The bill directs the committee to work with medical organizations involved in child health care, educational organizations and institutions, organizations in child development and welfare, and applicable state agencies and commissions to develop a plan for implementation of the “framework” the committee is tasked with creating.  But where are the parents of these children in this development plan?  Nowhere! Again supporting the notion that the state knows how to raise children better than their parents.

Are California Parents really doing such a poor job of raising their children that they need the state to intervene in every aspect of their lives?  California already has tried and true programs for those parents who do need assistance for their children to get ahead.  Research has already been done to identify what societal and educational factors affect the success of a child the most.  Let’s not reinvent the wheel, wasting $25-40 billion of California’s already stretched budget on a law which will do more harm than good, and in the long run line the pockets of corporations rather than our children’s future.

Every parent has a different criteria of what they deem in the best interest of their child.  This is not something the state has any right to define and mandate.  A parents right to raise their child as they see fit has been upheld in the US Supreme court on many occasions, but most recently by Troxel v. Granville, 530 U.S. 57 (2000).

“The liberty interest . . . of parents in the care, custody, and control of their children is perhaps the oldest of the fundamental liberty interests recognized. It is cardinal … that the custody, care, and nurture of the child reside first in the parents, whose primary function and freedom include preparation for obligations the state can neither supply nor hinder. It cannot … be doubted that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment protects the fundamental right of parents to make decisions concerning the care, custody, and control of their children.” Id. at 65 (2000)

Any laws coming out of the proposed committee that question this are:
UNNECESSARY – Over 500 welfare and institutions, health and safety, education, public health, penal and family codes already exist, that currently address all aspects of SB18’s so-called rights.
UNCONSTITUTIONAL – Removes fundamental parental decision making.  According to the US Supreme Court (Troxel v. Granville), the parent-child relationship is a fundamental covenant and the parents’ role to provide children with shelter, sustenance, protection, love, medical treatment, direct educational selection, and to cultivate a successful societal experience – not the state.
THREATENING DIVERSITY – Creates a one size fits all state mandated plan for all California youth. California is built on the diversity of its people and a child’s upbringing, culture, and parents are the greatest influencers of that diversity. Low income families who are LGBTQIA+, religious, immigrant, special needs, or unique in any way will have to conform to SB18’s best practices and become an institutional society.
INTRUSIVE & OVERREACHING – SB18 Interferes in the parent-child relationship and grants rights that are fundamental.  It is not the role of teachers, doctors, the state, or the federal government to intervene in the parent child relationship unless absolutely necessary.  Rather than creating an environment that educates and supports healthy choices, SB18 threatens freedom in the realms of education, health, and home.  Fundamental rights are those every person is born with, not written in the Constitution because they are so basic.  SB18 would give children more rights than any adult in the US. People (children and adults alike) are born with rights. It is a very dangerous precedent to allow the Government to state that they can “grant” anyone native rights.
A WASTE OF CALIFORNIA’S MONEY Research into what allows a child to succeed to their highest ability has already been done.  Just one example: “A broad, demographically-based look at the landscape of American families,” conducted by the Pew Research Center, “reveals stark parenting divides linked less to philosophies or values, and more to economic circumstances and changing family structure.”  http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2015/12/17/parenting-in-america/
UNFUNDED AND DEMANDING OF A TAX CODE OVERHAUL – The real cost of SB18 will be over $25 Billion and the real agenda of SB18 is not our children’s rights but tax reform, including third rail Prop 13, sales tax, income tax, online/grey market taxation.

The LA Times Editorial Board agrees, as can be read in their February 7, 2017 article: A Lofty – and troubling – proposed bill of rights for California kids.

Actions to Take:
1) Call you two CA legislators today and express your concern and ask for a meeting with your legislator asap. http://findyourrep.legislature.ca.gov
2) Nurture a relationship with your two CA legislators – go to their coffee mornings (all have them one a month) and talk to them.
3) Talk to all friends and family members about it and cause them to be outraged.  Everyone, especially parents, in CA should be in uproar about this, or at least one piece of it.
4) Please join those FaceBook groups that are applicable to you and request to add other people to them that also have mutual interests. Information will be cross posted here, but this way the focus of these issues can be discussed in greater detail:

Oppose SB18 – Health and Alternative Medicine Advocates (includes vaccines and GMO alternatives)
Oppose SB18 – Homeschoolers and Education Advocates
Oppose SB18 – Religious Advocates
Oppose SB18 – Responsible Gun Owners
Oppose SB18 – Special Needs/Education Advocates
Oppose SB18 – Responsible Alcohol, Tobacco and Marijuana Advocates
Oppose SB18 – LGBTQIA+ Advocates

5) Donate to A Voice for Choice (www.avoiceforchoice.org/donate).  We have a huge amount going on in 2017 (SB277 lawsuit, vaccine education, new parent/moms childbirth education, doctor outreach, just to name a few), and with this addition, Christina plans to be in Sacramento at least 2-3 times a month lobbying for you.  These donations will NOT fund her (she doesn’t take any of the donations raised.  Her time and expenses are all paid by her).  She is just one person and so in order for her to do the work that needs to be done on the Advocacy side, A Voice for Choices needs a small professional team to support the day to day educational, secretarial, social media, etc. needs.  Please donate as much as you can either in a one time or ongoing donation.  Just $15 a month would give us $180 a year.  If we got that from each of our supporters be able to do more amazing things.  We will be at the forefront of this in 2017 and we need your commitment to that.

Bill Details:
This bill is sponsored by Common Sense Media (https://www.commonsensemedia.org/kids-action/blog/kicking-off-the-right-start-town-halls) and is similar to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which the US has not yet ratified.  http://www.ohchr.org/en/professionalinterest/pages/crc.aspx

Bill Text: http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201620170SB218

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:
SECTION 1.
Chapter 12.88 (commencing with Section 18987.80) is added to Part 6 of Division 9 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, to read:
CHAPTER  12.88. Committee on Children and Youth
18987.80.
The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(a) California has the sixth largest economy in the world and leads the country in innovation and diversity, and yet California’s children rank 47th in terms of their economic well-being.
(b) Accessible child care, early learning, quality educational and job training opportunities, comprehensive health care, and well-supported families are necessary to ensure the productive potential of all Californians, yet there has been no comprehensive effort to ensure that California’s children and youth have access to those necessities and opportunities.
(c) California’s tax structure was designed during the Great Depression and is outdated, unfair, and unreliable, with newer economic sectors escaping tax obligations.
(d) According to the Legislative Analyst’s Office, the total value of taxable sales has grown more slowly than the economy, necessitating higher sales tax rates to generate comparable revenue.
(e) The increasing volatility of the state’s economy, and the stock market, has translated into greater unpredictability of state tax revenue, presenting challenges for budget forecasts.
(f) According to the California State Library, the Legislature considered 4,600 tax proposals in the past two decades, the vast majority of which were directed at a single tax or group of taxpayers rather than to achieve comprehensive reform, demonstrating that fiscal necessity, rather than overarching policy considerations, has prompted most recent major tax changes.
(g) It is necessary to increase revenue predictability and to ensure sufficiency of revenues adequate to meet the needs of California’s children and youth.
18987.81.
(a) The Joint Legislative Committee on Children and Youth is hereby created.
(b) The committee shall be composed of a total of 18 members, as follows:
(1) Nine Members of the Senate, appointed by the Senate Committee on Rules.
(2) Nine Members of the Assembly, appointed by the Speaker of the Assembly.
(c) The committee and its members shall have and exercise all of the rights, duties, and powers conferred upon investigating committees and their members by the Joint Rules of the Senate and the Assembly as they are adopted and amended from time to time.
(d) The committee is authorized to act only until November 30, 2024, and on that date the committee’s existence shall terminate.
18987.82.
(a) The Senate Committee on Rules may make money available from the Senate Operating Fund, as it deems necessary, for the expenses of the committee and its members. Any expenditure of money shall be made in compliance with policies set forth by the Senate Committee on Rules and shall be subject to the approval of the Senate Committee on Rules.
(b) The committee, within 15 days of authorization and consistent with the normal annual appropriation process for funding legislative committees, shall present its initial budget to the Senate Committee on Rules for its review, comment, and approval.
18987.83.
(a) (1) The committee shall develop “California’s Promise to its Children and Youth,” a framework for the care and welfare of the state’s children and youth in various contexts, including, but not limited to, health care, nutrition, homeless assistance, education, and foster care, to serve as an example to other states by raising the standard of living for California’s children and youth.
(2) The committee shall consider Senate Concurrent Resolution No. __, the Bill of Rights for the Children and Youth of California, if it is enacted and takes effect on or before January 1, 2018, for purposes of developing the framework described in paragraph (1).
(b) By November 30, 2020, in consultation with medical organizations involved in child health care, educational organizations and institutions, organizations in child development and welfare, and applicable state agencies and commissions, the committee shall develop a plan to implement the framework by January 1, 2024.
(c) By November 30, 2020, in consultation with experts and organizations in tax reform, academia, research institutes, business, labor, local government, the Franchise Tax Board, the State Board of Equalization, and applicable state agencies and commissions, the committee shall identify and propose comprehensive tax reform solutions to increase revenue predictability and ensure sufficiency of revenues adequate to support the implementation of the framework, for presentation to the Legislature and, if necessary, to the voters of California.
(d) At the close of each legislative session, the committee shall submit a report to the Legislature of the committee’s activities.
18987.84.
This chapter shall become inoperative on November 30, 2024, and, as of January 1, 2025, is repealed.