Since we last touched base, the NextGen Team has been very busy. Among other things, we have held rallies in support of President Biden’s federal student loan cancellation program; been continuing to meet with state Senators and Assembly members about our bill and budget priorities, participated in the state Digital Equity Plan working group process, and begun working on a climate research paper related to vehicle miles traveled. These are just a few of the items we’ve been working on in our efforts to make California more equitable, prosperous, and inclusive. Please keep scrolling for a peek at this new edition of What’s Next:
★ Veterans Support to Self-Reliance Pilot Program: Earlier this month, the California Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVet) announced the grant recipients for its Veterans Support to Self-Reliance (VSSR) Pilot Program. NextGen Policy proudly worked with the veterans organization, Swords to Plowshares, to help create and advocate for this supportive services program in the state budget. Under the VSSR Program, roughly $20 million will be awarded to six non-profit, community-based veteran service organizations to increase the level of wraparound services dedicated to senior and high acuity veterans who currently live in permanent supportive housing but are housing insecure. The VSSR is a pilot program, however, if it works as designed, CalVet indicates that the program could be scaled and replicated in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
★ AB 280 Heads to Assembly Public Safety Committee: The NextGen team has its attention focused on The California Mandela Act (AB 280 – Holden) as it heads to the Assembly Public Safety Committee on March 14th. This bill presents the state of California with the historic opportunity to end the prolonged, inhumane, and routine use of solitary confinement in our state’s jails, prisons, and immigration detention facilities! As you may remember, the Governor vetoed similar legislation last year, but the California Mandela Act coalition believes we have addressed his concerns and are looking forward to making history. Learn more about the California Mandela Act and how it reforms the use of solitary confinement in our state.
★ More Funding Needed in the Fight Against Food Insecurity: Last year, NextGen Policy worked diligently to support SB 907 (Pan), which created the Local, Equitable Access to Food (LEAF) program. We were thrilled that Governor Newsom signed the LEAF program into law as it established a grant program to expand the use of EBT benefits at farmers’ markets and also provided an opportunity to increase the number of farmers’ markets in disadvantaged communities in our state. But the fight is far from over as funding is needed to implement the LEAF program which will ensure all Californians can access fresh, nutritious food regardless of income or location. One of our priorities this year is to secure the funding for this program, so please stay tuned for more information on how you can help us advocate fo LEAF!
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★ Did You Know? Recently, U.S. Representative Doris Matsui (D – Sacramento) and U.S. Senator Ben Ray Luján (D – New Mexico) introduced the federal Digital Equity Foundation Act, (also known as Airwaves for Equity) an important piece of legislation that will ensure our nation invests in digital inclusion and digital equity programs to help close the digital divide. We’re proud to support this legislation and applaud Representative Matsui and Senator Luján for their leadership!
★ Member Spotlight: Members of the NextGen Policy team recently had a great conversation with State Senator Caroline Menjivar (D – San Fernando Valley) about how we can partner together to fight for California’s most vulnerable communities. Issues such as how to: increase support for veterans, keep higher education affordable, fight against food insecurity, and reform solitary confinement were all part of our far-ranging discussion. Keep up with the Senator’s legislative work on Twitter!
★ What’s Next: Buckle up, because March is going to continue to be a busy month for both the State Legislature and for NextGen Policy. Here are a few big dates to keep on your radar this month:
★ Our Mission: NextGen Policy fights for progressive policy change to address environmental, social, racial, gender, and economic inequities through justice-centered legislative advocacy, grassroots partnerships, and democratic civic engagement.