Elected to the Senate in 2016, Scott has authored 42 bills that have been signed into law. Based on his work and votes, Scott was recently rated as one of the most progressive members of the Legislature by Cal Matters, and has consistently received a 100% rating from the California Labor Federation, an A grade from the Courage Campaign, an average 94% score from the Sierra Club, 98% from the California League of Conservation Voters, and 100% from the California Federation of Teachers.
Recently, Senator Wiener has been the focus of many right-wing attacks for his work on LGBTQ rights. Learn more here.
- Climate Change and the Environment
Priorities for 2021 and beyond
Senator Wiener has announced that he will introduce a ban on fracking – one of the worst types of fossil fuel extraction that pollutes water, leads to more greenhouse gas emissions, and causes earthquakes – in December.
Read the Chronicle coverage here: https://www.sfchronicle.com/politics/article/Wiener-says-he-ll-move-to-ban-California-15594928.php
Senator Wiener supports the Green New Deal and has signed the following pledge:
“The American people need a Green New Deal — a 10-year WWII-scale mobilization, as put forth by Senator Edward Markey and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, to stop climate change, achieve environmental sustainability, create millions of good jobs, and realize economic prosperity for all. I pledge that I will use my office to champion a Green New Deal in any and all ways, including but not limited to: developing and supporting Green New Deal legislation and/or resolutions; building support amongst my colleagues for a Green New Deal; and publicly advocating for the necessity of a Green New Deal. In order to fully uphold this duty, I pledge to not take contributions over $200 from oil, gas, and coal industry executives, lobbyists, or PACs and instead prioritize the health of our families, climate, and democracy over fossil fuel industry profits.”
Senator Wiener believes that a Green New Deal for California should include the following key components:
Energy: While California law currently requires a transition to 100% clean and renewable electricity by 2045, that timeline needs to be accelerated to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. We have to require 100% clean energy by the year 2030, with an even faster transition in EJ communities and communities of color that have been disproportionately impacted by pollution. During my time in the Senate, I introduced and successfully passed SB 700 (2018), the largest public investment in renewable energy storage in California history. I also introduced legislation to turn PG&E, one of our state’s biggest polluters, into a publicly owned utility. We’re moving in the right direction on energy, but it’s not happening fast enough — further reform is urgently needed.
Transportation and Housing: The transportation sector is the largest and fastest-growing source of carbon emissions in California today, thanks to our nightmare housing costs and restrictive land use policies — harshly limiting new housing in places like the core Bay Area through zoning and other tools — that push people further from job centers and into sprawl development with longer commutes that worsen vehicle emissions. Making matters worse, much of that sprawl development is in wildfire zones, which increases wildfire risk and makes controlled burns much more challenging due to the presence of so much development. While we need to ban the sale of fossil-powered cars and switch to electric vehicles, we can’t make the switch fast enough to meet our 2030 climate goal under even the most optimistic projections. We need to make it easier for people to walk, bike, or take public transit to work, or at least to drive a shorter distance. That only happens when we ensures that cities build housing close to job and transit centers. Building new sustainable transit and housing projects are also excellent job creators in a sector that is struggling.
Going Electric: Buildings are some of the biggest polluters we have. We need to immediately stop building homes and offices heated by dirty natural gas and start building all-electric. For those buildings already hooked up to our gas system, we need to replace the supplies of fossil gas with clean hydrogen and other alternatives. This is a key fix that is also better for building residents.
Industry: California can and should lead the world in clean manufacturing. We need to make it easier for our industrial facilities to use electrolytic hydrogen and other renewable fuel sources in the next few years, not the distant future.
Carbon Sinks: Even if we stopped emitting carbon today, we’ve already passed the limit of how much our atmosphere can bear. We need to empower our farmers to cultivate healthy soils, which can store massive quantities of carbon if managed correctly. We also need to rebuild our endangered marine ecosystems, such as kelp forests, which are the biggest carbon sinks of all.
Fossil Fuel Extraction: We need an immediate ban on fracking, followed by a phase-out of all fossil fuel extraction. To make this a reality, though, the state needs to invest significant resources in helping fossil fuel workers transition to well-paid, union jobs in the green economy. And we need to remove barriers to massive deployment of clean energy, including arbitrary barriers erected by the California Public Utilities Commission.
Make Corporations Responsible for Climate Change Pay: Investigations show that big oil companies like Exxon knew about climate change as early as 1977, but lied to the public for years in order to keep on polluting. These companies should be held accountable, and one way to do this is to compel them to pay into climate resiliency funds. We should also enact carbon taxes on big polluters and use those funds to support communities on the front lines of climate change, in the form of direct Universal Basic Income (UBI) payments, infrastructure improvements, or tax credits.
Biodiversity: California’s forests, grasslands, and chaparral ecosystems constitute one of only thirty or so biodiversity “hotspots” on the planet. These hotspots are distinguished by their incredibly high levels of biodiversity and endemism - and their accelerating rates of development and destruction. If we’re going to preserve California’s unique species - and prevent a mass extinction event worldwide - we need to act now to prevent any more habitat from being destroyed, any more invasive species from gaining a foothold in our state, and any more rare flora or fauna from being poached. In the near term, we need to eliminate urban sprawl within five years by building denser, more cities. We also need to reform our agricultural system to grow more food on less land, so that no more natural areas are converted to farmland. I’ve introduced legislation to promote regenerative kelp farming and other space-efficient techniques. We also need to strengthen anti-poaching laws and quadruple funding for programs that fight invasive species. In the medium- to long-term, we need to commit to conserving 30% of California’s land as natural areas by 2030 and 50% by 2050. California has led the world in the fight against climate change - it’s time we do so again in the equally important struggle to save our biodiversity before it’s too late.
SB 288 (Author: Wiener): Streamlining sustainable transit projects. SB 288 will reform CEQA requirements for sustainable transportation and safe streets projects to speed up the approval processes for climate-friendly projects.
SB 700 (Author: Wiener): Expanding subsidies for clean energy storage systems. This major legislation creates a large subsidy/rebate program so that residents, businesses, public schools, and other public facilities can install energy storage systems. Energy storage is a key part of California’s clean energy future. This program will make it more affordable to install energy storage systems and will help spur innovation in the industry so that it becomes even more affordable, reliable, and available in the future.
SB 458 (Author: Wiener): Mobile recycling redemption pilot program. Recycling centers around California are closing down due to a collapse of the recycling industry. San Francisco is no exception, with about 80% of our recycling centers having closed. Yet, it was illegal for the City of San Francisco to implement a mobile recycling program, where recycling redemption trucks cycle around the city on a fixed schedule so that people can redeem their recyclables. SB 458 legalized mobile recycling redemption, and San Francisco is moving forward with its pilot program.
SB 966 (Author: Wiener): Expanding water recycling. California has a structural water shortage, and our state does not do nearly enough water recycling. SB 966 requires a statewide policy to make it easier for cities to adopt on-site water reuse programs for people’s homes, for businesses, and for schools and other public buildings.
SB 378 (Wiener; bill pending): Holding PG&E accountable for its mass blackouts. SB 378 will require PG&E to compensate people and businesses for damages they sustain during planned blackouts and prohibits PG&E from charging customers for service during these blackouts. The legislation also bans PG&E from lobbying against public power and other alternative approaches to power delivery. Scott has already announced that in 2020 he will pursue legislation to force PG&E to become a publicly owned utility.
SB 288 (Author: Wiener; bill failed): Streamlining installation of clean energy systems such as solar and storage. Scott authored this legislation to stop PG&E and other utilities from obstructing the installation of clean energy systems. Utilities use various techniques, such as discriminatory fees and delays in interconnection, to make it difficult or impossible for people (including small businesses, farmers, and schools) to install solar, storage, and other clean energy systems. After intense opposition from the utilities, the bill could not move forward, but Scott and his legislative team intend to continue to pursue this important climate policy.
SB 69 (Author: Wiener; bill pending): The Ocean Resiliency Act. Our oceans are ground zero for the impacts of climate change, and they can be ground zero for our fight against climate change. SB 69 is designed to restore collapsing ocean ecosystems, to reduce ocean nitrification, to restore the dying kelp forest, to reduce whale ship strikes, and to make the Pacific Ocean off our coast as healthy and resilient as possible. Scott’s team anticipates passing the bill in 2020.
SB 54 (Author: Allen; joint author: Wiener): Phasing out single use plastics. Scott is a joint author of this legislation, which will move California toward a future without single use plastics. Single use plastics are strangling our oceans and other waterways, harming wildlife, and leaving a chemical trail throughout our environment. We need to transition away from plastics and toward a more sustainable future.
SB 332 (Authors: Hertzberg/Wiener): Phasing out ocean discharges by water utilities. California needs to aggressively increase water reuse. Currently, our water utilities discharge treated wastewater into the ocean. SB 332 would have required utilities to phase out this practice by instead recycling the wastewater, but it stalled due to intense utility opposition. Scott believes this is a bill that needs to pass, and is optimistic that it will eventually do so.
- Housing and Homelessness
California — and especially the Bay Area — is in a deep housing crisis, caused by decades of bad housing policy. Over the past 50 years, California has made it impossible to build enough housing at any income level, has reduced investment in affordable housing, and has failed to protect renters. These deficiencies have had disastrous results: explosive housing costs, increased homelessness and evictions, overcrowded living conditions, young families being pushed out, and a growing class of “super commuters” who drive multiple hours each way to work.
COVID-19 has only exacerbated our housing and homelessness crises due to rising unemployment and overall economic distress, and the toll this takes on our communities. At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Senator Wiener went to work to help get a long-term eviction and foreclosure moratorium in place, to support funding to get our homeless neighbors into hotels, and to fight for close loopholes that prevent homeless shelters from being built next to services.
Senator Wiener is one of the foremost champions of the fight to legalize apartment buildings and affordable housing – which are currently illegal in much of the state – and to stop endless sprawl development which hurts our economy and our climate and puts people in wildfire zones at risk. He has consistently authored multiple bills to end exclusionary zoning and fight for more affordable housing.
SB 35 (Author: Wiener), SB 828 (Author: Wiener), and SB 765 (Author: Wiener): Streamlining and expediting housing approvals, including affordable housing, and ensuring strong housing goals that actually meet our state’s housing needs. Scott authored these three housing bills to expedite housing approvals and ensure that all communities are building housing. SB 35 and SB 765 streamline housing approvals in communities that aren’t meeting their housing goals, and SB 828 requires reality-based housing goals based on anticipated future needs. In combination, these laws are doing two things: first, they are streamlining a large amount of subsidized affordable housing for low-income people, both in cities and suburbs. (San Francisco, in particular, is aggressively using this legislation to streamline a large amount of affordable housing). Second, these laws are forcing some of the most exclusionary suburbs in the state, such as Cupertino, to allow significant new housing.
SB 50 (Author: Wiener; bill failed): SB 50 overrides exclusionary low-density zoning by legalizing apartment buildings and affordable housing near public transportation and near job centers. SB 50 will help remedy the effects of low-density zoning, which has exacerbated income and racial segregation. It will help California reduce its 3.5 million home shortage, allow affordable housing to be built in many more parts of California, and address the impacts of climate change by allowing more people to live near transit and near where they work, thus reducing commutes and greenhouse gas emissions.
SB 48 (Author: Wiener; bill adopted as part of the budget): SB 48 streamlines approval of navigation centers, so that the obstruction we saw at the Embarcadero never happens again. Under SB 48, these critical homeless-serving facilities, which help people transition off the streets, will be easier and faster to get approved and implemented.
SB 918 (Author: Wiener): Homeless Youth Act. Scott partnered with Larkin Street Youth Services and other homeless youth advocates to pass SB 918, which sets up a structure to ensure the state focuses on the unique needs of homeless youth. Two-thirds of California counties have no youth-specific homeless programs, and SB 918 will help fix that problem. In connection with this legislation, we’ve obtained tens of millions in state funding specific for homeless youth.
SB 899 (Author: Wiener): Would make it easier to build affordable housing on faith institution & nonprofit property. Permits affordable housing for lower-income families on land owned by religious organizations and non-profit hospitals regardless of local zoning restrictions.
SB 902 (Author: Wiener): Allows local governments a streamlined path to zone infill neighborhoods for gentle, missing middle density — up to ten units per parcel — if they choose.
AB 1436 (Author: Chiu; co-author: Wiener): Eviction moratorium legislation for those impacted by COVID-19. The bill would prohibit a landlord from charging a tenant, or attempting to collect from a tenant, fees for a late payment of COVID-19 rental debt.
SCA 1 (Authors: Allen/Wiener; bill pending): SCA 1 repeals Article 34 of the Constitution, a racist provision passed in 1950 that requires all publicly funded housing to be approved on the ballot. No other type of housing is subject to this requirement, and the purpose of Article 34 is to make it hard or impossible to place low-income housing in majority white communities. We need more housing of all varieties in California — including publicly funded housing — and this constitutional amendment will help. Scott is partnering with Senator Ben Allen on the bill.
AB 1482 (Author: Chiu; co-author: Wiener): Statewide rent cap and just cause eviction requirements. Scott co-authored this important tenant-protection legislation, which caps annual rent increases at 5% (plus the rate of inflation) for most of California’s housing supply, and which is the most aggressive in the country.
SB 329 (Author: Mitchell; co-author: Wiener): Banning discrimination by landlords against Section 8 voucher holders. SB 329 finally aligns California with other states by prohibiting landlords from refusing to rent to Section 8 voucher holders. Low-income residents who receive housing assistance need housing, and SB 329 will help.
SB 2 (Author: Atkins; co-author: Wiener): Permanent source of funding for affordable housing. SB 2 imposes a recording fee on certain real estate transactions, with funds dedicated to affordable housing. SB 2 will generate billions in new state funding for affordable housing.
SB 3 (Author: Beall; co-author Wiener): Affordable housing bond. SB 3 placed a $3 billion bond on the ballot, which voters subsequently passed, for affordable housing construction and preservation.
SB 5 (Author: Beall; co-author Wiener): Affordable housing funding. SB 5, which Governor Newsom vetoed but which will return in 2020, would provide billions in new funding for affordable housing in California.
SB 1206 (Author: de Leon) Homeless housing bond. SB 1206 placed a bond on the ballot, which the voters subsequently passed, to significantly expand available funds for housing for homeless residents.
- Mental Health and Addiction
California is in the midst of a severe mental health and addiction crisis, playing out in our streets and more broadly in our communities. Scott is working hard to find solutions to these oft-related crises, securing funding for early intervention, giving local communities the tools they need to help the most debilitated people on our streets get the help they need, and open safe injection sites.
We know that COVID-19 is already having a large impact on mental health and substance use disorder, with “deaths of despair” related to mental health and addiction now projected to reach about 150,000. San Francisco itself has seen a significant increase in overdose deaths. We need to act now to ensure we can help people in the early stages of a struggle with mental illness or addiction, and get them the compassionate and affordable care they deserve.
In 2021, Senator Wiener plans to reintroduce his legislation to legalize safe injection sites, which are a key piece of the city’s strategy to get those struggling with substance use disorder connected to services, reduce overdoses, cut down on HIV, Hep C and other infections that are commonly contracted while sharing needles, and to ensure less people are using drugs outside on our streets.
In 2020 he authored SB 855, which now makes California the national leader in mental health and substance use disorder care throughout the country, by requiring insurance companies to fully cover all medically necessary mental health and substance use disorder treatments.
Senator Wiener also believes the so-called “War on Drugs” is a failed approach that criminalizes people suffering from substance use disorder and disproportionately incarcerates and targets black and brown communities.
SB 855 (Author: Wiener): Requires that insurers cover all medically necessary treatment for mental health and substance use disorders.
SB 888 (Author: Wiener): Substance use disorder services. Allows for expansion of contingency management as a tool of mental health and substance use care.
SB 859 (Author: Wiener): Ending the epidemics. Requires California Health and Human Services, in coordination with the Chief of the Office of AIDS (OA), to establish and implement a Master Plan to get to zero new HIV, HPV, and STI infections.
SB 378 (Author: Wiener): Ends mandatory minimum jail and prison sentences for nonviolent drug offenders, giving judges discretion to sentence offender to probation instead.
SB 1004 (Author: Wiener): Expanding mental health resources for young people. Most mental health issues manifest during teenage or college years, yet we do very little to intervene early and prevent these problems from spiraling into major mental health crisis and chronic homelessness. SB 1004 ensures that state funding from the millionaire tax focuses on intervening early and preventing major mental health issues among young people.
SB 1045/SB 40 (Author: Wiener): These two pieces of legislation create a new conservatorship tool to help the most debilitated people on our streets get the help they need: people with severe mental health and addiction issues who are dying and who are incapable of accepting voluntary services. It’s inhumane to allow these residents to unravel and ultimately die on our streets. These two laws, in combination, will allow San Francisco’s Department of Public Health to place these individuals in crisis into a six month conservatorship in order to get them the help they need, get them healthy, and eventually transition them into permanent housing. The Mayor and Board of Supervisors are currently implementing this new state law.
AB 362 (Authors: Eggman/Wiener; bill pending): Safe injection sites. AB 362 will allow San Francisco to pilot a safe injection site program. Scott is partnering with Assemblymember Susan Eggman on the bill. They hope to pass it in 2020, after Governor Brown vetoed it in 2018. Safe injection sites are supervised facilities, with healthcare professionals, where people who are addicted can consume their drugs under supervision in a safe and healthy setting. These sites have been wildly successful where they’ve been implemented in Canada, Australia, and Europe. The results speak for themselves: a majority of individuals ultimately transition into recovery, infections go down, overdoses drop (there’s never been a fatal overdose in one of these sites), crime goes down in the surrounding area, and syringe litter decreases. The City of San Francisco wants to implement safe injection sites, and Scott and Assemblymember Eggman are working to pass this legislation to legalize them under state law.
Budget Allocation (Authors: Wiener/Ting): Peer Run Warm Line. Scott and Assemblymember Phil Ting obtained robust funding for this hotline where people experiencing mental health challenges can speak with a peer — someone who has also experienced mental health challenges — to get help. We need to stop pushing people into ERs when there are other options, and the Warm Line will help.
- Criminal Justice and Decarceration
The police murders of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd in Louisville and Minneapolis were beyond sickening and shocking. At the same time, these horrific acts of violence were, ultimately (and tragically), unsurprising. Our country has a deep and long-standing problem with police violence — all too often lethal — directed at Black people. Our country was built using slave labor, and this foundation of racism and violence against Black people has stayed with us through our entire history: from the Jim Crow era and segregation, to decades of redlining and systemically denying financial opportunity to the Black community, to the War on Drugs and mass incarceration of Black people. We saw this thread continue with the murders of people like George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. We saw it with the lynching of Ahmaud Arbery and when Jacob Blake was shot in the back. We’re just now starting to see it on video — finally putting a bright light on a disaster that’s been unfolding for a very long time.
California’s criminal justice system is badly broken, and sadly, our state led the way in the 1980s and 1990s in implementing mass incarceration. Endless sentencing increases and enhancements exploded our prison population, with an increase in state prisons from 7 to 31 and about 160,000 people in the state prison system. As a result, our broken system exploded the prison budget, harmed rehabilitation, and tore apart black and brown communities. As a member of the Senate Public Safety Committee and as a Senator, Scott is working with partners such as the Innocence Project, the Ella Baker Center, the Drug Policy Alliance, and more to reimagine and rebuild our broken system. Read Scott's full vision for moving toward decarceration here: https://medium.com/@Scott_Wiener/moving-toward-decarceration-191c99638896
SB 592 (Author: Wiener): The Fair Juries Act widened the jury pool to any tax filer (as opposed to just registered voters and drivers’ license/identity card holders). This legislation ensures a more racially and socioeconomically diverse jury pool, and thus leads to fairer juries. It was signed into law in 2020 by our Governor.
AB 3070 (Author: Weber, co-author: Wiener): Will address unlawful discrimination in the selection of juries by using an objective test to determine whether discrimination — through implicit or explicit bias — has occurred. This was signed into law in 2020 by Governor Newsom.
SB 855 (Author: Wiener): Requires private insurance companies to cover non-emergency mental health and substance use disorder treatment, including medication-assisted treatment (MAT) like methadone. We need to get people the help they need before they reach a crisis point, not after, and we need to ensure mental health and substance use treatment are fully funded. Far too many people, including people living on our streets, suffer from untreated substance use and mental health issues, and according to a 2016 study, around half of police killing victims were people with a disability or mental illness. That is completely unacceptable and we need to do better to get people the help they need, and to ensure the right people are responding when they are in crisis. This was signed into law in 2020.
ACA 1 (Author: McCarty, co-author: Wiener): Placed Proposition 17 on the ballot. Proposition 17, if it receives a majority of votes from Californians, will restore the right to vote for people who are on parole.
AB 2542 (Author: Kalra, co-author: Wiener): California Racial Justice Act. Signed into law in 2020, this law will ensure that California doesn’t convict or give a sentence to a defendant based on race, ethnicity or national origin.
SB 923 and SB 938 (Author: Wiener): SB 923 helped bring California into the 21st century by adopting modern eyewitness identification standards so that innocent people aren’t misidentified and convicted, often on the basis of racial bias. Before COVID-19, Scott authored SB 938, which would have amended the standards used for evaluating expert testimony and forensics in court pre- and post-conviction. “Expert” testimony is very broadly defined — the bar is very low for what an “expert” can use as a source to back up their testimony — and we see junk science in our courts being used in testimonies all too often.
SB 233 (Author: Wiener): Protecting the health and safety of sex workers. SB 233 bans use of condoms as evidence of sex work (for arrest or at trial) and bans law enforcement from arresting sex workers for sex work or drug possession if the sex worker is reporting a violent crime. Without these groundbreaking legislative protections, sex workers can (and do) get arrested based on possession of condoms, thus making it less likely they will carry condoms, and refrain from reporting violent crimes for fear that they will be arrested for sex work or drug possession. SB 233 is an important reform, and, we hope, a step torward full decriminalization of sex work.
SB 136 (Author: Wiener): Repeal of one-year sentence enhancement. SB 136 repealed the most common sentence enhancement (which lets a judge increase a sentence beyond the prescribed range based on prior convictions), affecting tens of thousands of inmates in California. This enhancement has been a driver of mass incarceration, and its repeal will reduce California’s rates of incarceration and give people a chance to get out of jail and back on their feet. Passing this repeal legislation was a huge fight with law enforcement, but we were able to get it across the finish line.
SB 239 (Author: Wiener): HIV decriminalization. SB 239 repealed a list of HIV-specific felonies that were adopted in the 1980s and 1990s. These draconian and unfair laws singled out people living with HIV for uniquely harsh criminal treatment, much harsher than other deadly infections such as Ebola. These felonies particularly targeted women of color and sex workers, turning misdemeanor prostitution charges into felonies. Trans women of color who engage in sex work were perhaps the most targeted. These felonies also trapped HIV-positive people in abusive relationships, with partners or human traffickers threatening HIV-positive people with prosecution if they left the relationship (“If you leave, I’ll call the police and tell them you never told me you’re positive.”). Repeal of these felonies was a long-time priority for a broad coalition of LGBTQ, HIV, public health, sex worker, women, civil rights, and immigration advocates. For the three years before Scott was elected, the coalition could not find a legislator to author the legislation. Scott authored it in his first year in office, and was able to pass it and get it signed into law.
SB 384 (Author: Wiener) and SB 145 (Author: Wiener): SB 384, signed into law in 2017, dramatically reforms California’s broken sex offender registry, which does little to separate LGBTQ sexual acts from actual sex crimes. The registry has long required all convicted sex offenders, including those who committed minor offenses, such as gay men arrested for having sex in the park, to remain on the registry for life. As a result, 1 in 400 Californians is on the sex offender registry, rendering it useless for law enforcement in terms of tracking people who actually present a risk to the community. Moreover, people’s lives have been destroyed due to an inability to get off of the registry after even a minor offense. SB 384 allows sex offenders who aren’t violent predators to petition to be removed from the registry after a period of time in which the person hasn’t reoffended. SB 145, which passed in 2020, reduces discrimination against LGBTQ young people on the registry.
SB 923 (Author: Wiener): Modernizing eyewitness identification standards. SB 923 brings California into the 21st century by adopting modern eyewitness identification standards so that innocent people aren’t mis-identified and convicted. Scott’s team worked closely with the Innocence Project on the bill, which was opposed by law enforcement but passed into law.
AB 1196 (Author: Gipson, co-author: Wiener): Banned police from using carotid restraints, one of the most commonly used strangleholds. Eric Garner was murdered by police in New York City using a stranglehold. These laws also need greater enforcement, since chokeholds are already banned in many states, but police are not prosecuted for using them. Any bans like this, if passed, must be coupled with enforcement and oversight. This bill was signed into law in late September.
SB 281 (Authors: Wiener/Ting; bill pending): Banning gun shows at the Cow Palace. The Cow Palace fairgrounds, at the border of San Francisco and Daly City, has long hosted gun shows, despite near universal community sentiment that the gun shows should end. After decades of advocacy and vetoed or failed legislation, Scott and Assemblymember Ting were able to place a gun show ban on Governor Brown’s desk in 2018. While he vetoed the legislation, Scott and Assemblymember Ting are pursuing it again. Under pressure from the legislation, the Cow Palace Board of Directors voted to end the gun shows. Scott intends to pass the legislation to ensure that the end of the gun shows is permanent.
AB 931 (Author: Weber): Modernizing police use of lethal force standards. Scott has been a consistent supporter of this legislation which enforces strict guidelines regarding police use of deadly force, including its original 2018 version that was aggressively opposed by law enforcement.
SB 10 (Author: Hertzberg; co-author: Wiener): Bail reform. Scott co-authored and supported the measure to end money bail in California. Money bail means that after an arrest, low-income people who can’t afford to pay are forced to stay in jail, while wealthier individuals can walk free.
ACA 12 (Author: Levine; co-author: Wiener; bill pending): Repeal of the death penalty. Scott is a co-author of this measure.
AB 2054 (Author: Kamlager, co-author: Wiener): Scott shepherded the bill through the Senate where he presented it on the floor. This bill passed the legislature, but was sadly vetoed. It would’ve funded non-armed first responders for situations that police officers would normally be summoned for — including mental health crises, incidents involving substance use, and emergencies with those living on our streets. He fully supports this type of legislation and plans to support it in future legislative sessions as well.
SB 731 (Author: Bradford, co-author: Wiener): Would end qualified immunity — a controversial policy that protects police from liability for misconduct. It would have made it possible to take away police badges from police officers with misconduct charges (like using excessive force), or who were convicted of a number of crimes. This bill was killed in the Assembly, but will hopefully be brought back next year.
AB 66 (Author: Assemblymember Gonzalez, co-author: Wiener): Would limit the use of rubber bullets, tear gas and other “non-lethal” weapons. Police have used rubber bullets to hurt protestors and journalists. This has to stop. Though rubber bullets are considered a “less violent” dispersal method, they are very violent, and they hurt, blind and even kill people. Unfortunately, this bill did not make it through the legislature, but will hopefully be brought back next year.
Scott took office as a Senator shortly after Donald Trump was elected President. This Administration has created an atmosphere of intense fear among immigrant communities, with many immigrants afraid to go to work, to report crimes to the police, to go to court, to bring their kids to school, and so forth. The atrocities committed by this Administration at the border — particularly the separation of children from their parents and the inhumane detention conditions for both adults and children — violate basic standards of human decency. We have taken seriously our moral obligation to push back against this Administration’s immigration policies, to make clear that we won’t be part of Trump’s deportation machine, and to embrace and lift up our immigrant neighbors. In that spirit, we have passed, and Scott has authored or supported, strong pro-immigrant laws for California.
SB 785 (Author: Wiener): Protecting immigrants testifying in court. SB 785 prohibits attorneys from questioning witnesses on the stand about their immigration status unless an attorney first demonstrates to the judge that the question is specifically relevant to the case. We’ve seen various instances in which attorneys have intimidated witnesses by asking them irrelevant questions about their immigration status, particularly since we know that ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) is in courthouses. Immigrants, as a result, are often scared to go to court, which makes us all less safe. SB 785 ends this problem.
SB 54 (Author: de Leon; co-author: Wiener): Sanctuary state legislation. Scott co-authored this important legislation to prohibit California public officials, including law enforcement, from cooperating with ICE to deport immigrants absent extreme circumstances.
AB 291 (Author: Chiu; co-author: Wiener): Protecting immigrant tenants. AB 291 prohibits landlords from retaliating against immigrant tenants by reporting them to ICE. Scott co-authored the legislation.
AB 450 (Author: Chiu; co-author: Wiener) Protecting immigrants in the workplace. AB 450 restricts employers from cooperating with ICE in workplace deportation raids.
SB 6 (Author: Hueso; co-author: Wiener; adopted as part of the budget): Allocates funds for deportation defense counsel.
- LGBTQ Civil Rights
As a gay man, Scott has devoted the past 30 years of his life to fight for LGBTQ civil rights, going back to 1990, when he volunteered on an HIV crisis line in North Carolina during a time period when there were no effective treatments for HIV and when the community was in deep crisis. During his 23 years working for the community in San Francisco, he’s worked hard for our LGBTQ community, including as a core member of the team that built the San Francisco LGBT community Center, as the co-founder of an organization to protect the LGBTQ community’s safety, and as a long-time HIV advocate. He’s continued that work in the Senate as the Chair of the California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus and as the author of aggressive and groundbreaking legislation to support LGBTQ people in California. (In addition to the legislation below, several pieces of legislation in the criminal justice reform section — SB 233, SB 384, SB 1045, and SB 239 — deeply impact the LGBTQ community.) He was also the first elected official in the country to talk publicly about his use of PrEP, a once-daily pill that almost entirely eliminates the risk of contracting HIV.
SB 932 (Author: Wiener): Requires state to collect data on sexual orientation and gender identity for COVID-19 and all reportable communicable diseases, to ensure the LGBTQ community isn’t left out of our healthcare system. This was signed into law in 2020.
SB 384 (Author: Wiener) and SB 145 (Author: Wiener): SB 384, signed into law in 2017, dramatically reforms California’s broken sex offender registry, which does little to separate LGBTQ sexual acts from actual sex crimes. The registry has long required all convicted sex offenders, including those who committed minor offenses, such as gay men arrested for having sex in the park, to remain on the registry for life. As a result, 1 in 400 Californians is on the sex offender registry, rendering it useless for law enforcement in terms of tracking people who actually present a risk to the community. Moreover, people’s lives have been destroyed due to an inability to get off of the registry after even a minor offense. SB 384 allows sex offenders who aren’t violent predators to petition to be removed from the registry after a period of time in which the person hasn’t reoffended. SB 145, which was signed into law in 2020, reduces discrimination against LGBTQ young people on the registry.
SB 219 (Author: Wiener): LGBTQ Senior Bill of Rights in long-term care facilities. SB 219 protects LGBTQ seniors living in long-term care facilities. Our seniors face significant discrimination in long-term care. Some are forced back into the closet, some are separated from their partners, and some trans seniors are forced to conform to their birth-assigned gender. LGBTQ seniors are less likely than other seniors to have adult children to advocate for them, and they need legal protection. SB 219 seeks to end this discrimination by mandating specific standards for how these facilities treat LGBTQ seniors.
SB 179 (Authors: Atkins/Wiener): Allowing non-binary gender markers on government documents. Scott joint-authored SB 179 with Senator Toni Atkins. It streamlines the ability of people to administratively (i.e., without going to court) correct their gender marker on drivers licenses and other government documents and allows, for the first time, people to identify as non-binary on these documents.
SB 132 (Author: Wiener): Protecting trans incarcerated people. SB 132 ensures that trans people who are in state prison can choose to be housed according to their gender identity, instead of being forced to be housed according to their birth-assigned gender. It also ensures that trans people in prison are treated with respect, including being able to use chosen names and pronouns. Scott introduced the bill in 2019, and spent time over the past year in state prisons meeting with trans people to ensure they have full feedback from the impacted community. This was signed into law in 2020.
SB 201 (Author Wiener; not moving forward in 2020): SB 201 will ban medically unnecessary genital surgery on intersex babies. Currently, physicians and parents can decide whether to perform highly invasive reconstructive surgery on intersex babies to “normalize” their genitals –even if the surgery isn’t medically necessary, even if it potentially assigns the wrong gender, and even if the surgery can have significant negative side effects (e.g., sterilization and permanent loss of sexual sensation). SB 201 requires the impacted individual — the child — to be old enough to participate in the decision about whether to have this surgery. The major physician associations aggressively opposed the legislation, and the bill was killed in committee. But Scott is committed to this civil rights fight alongside the intersex community and hope to bring it back in the future.
AB 1493 (Author: Gloria; co-author: Wiener): Teacher training. Requires all teachers in California to be trained around LGBTQ cultural competency. Scott is a co-author of this legislation, which passed in 2019 and which will be augmented with new legislation in 2020.
- Healthcare, Gender Equity, & Workplace Protections
California continues to face significant challenges in ensuring people can access healthcare and ensuring fair treatment of all healthcare workers – many of whom are essential workers – in the workplace. Scott has a strong record on healthcare and it is a key issue he has focused on since taking office. In 2020, he was able pass a new groundbreaking law to make California a national leader in mental health coverage.
Healthcare is a bigger priority than ever given the challenges we face due to COVID-19.
SB 855 (Author: Wiener): This legislation makes California a national leader in mental health and addiction treatment coverage. It’s part of a growing movement to reverse the stigmatization of mental illness and addiction. This new law is even more important in light of the COVID-19 crisis, given the significant mental health and addiction challenges that increased isolation, illness, job loss, and grief pose to people everywhere — many of whom have never struggled with mental illness or addiction before. And a new study predicts that COVID-19 could cause up to 154,000 “deaths of despair.” SB 855 dramatically expands access to mental health and addiction care by requiring insurance companies to cover all medically necessary care, not just crisis care. Currently, insurance companies all too often deny coverage for mental health care before someone is in crisis. But we need to help people before they’re in crisis, and SB 855 will make that possible for millions of Californians.
SB 932 (Author: Wiener): Requires state to collect data on sexual orientation and gender identity for COVID-19 and all reportable communicable diseases, to ensure the LGBTQ community isn’t left out of our healthcare system. This was signed into law in 2020.
SB 159 (Author: Wiener): Expanding PrEP and PEP access. SB 159 is first-in-the-nation legislation that allows pharmacists to provide PrEP and PEP — two powerful anti-HIV preventatives — to people without a physician’s prescription. Far too few people who need PrEP are on it, due to various financial and logistical barriers, as well as continuing stigma. Communities of color and rural communities are particularly likely to lack access. One barrier is lack of access (or lack of timely access) to physicians, another is that some physicians are hostile to these HIV preventatives and resistant to prescribing it. By allowing people to go to their neighborhood pharmacy to access PrEP and PEP, without first having to find a physician and perhaps wait months for an appointment, SB 159 will dramatically expand where people can access PrEP and PEP and will make it much to gain that access. SB 159 also bans insurance prior authorizations for PrEP and PEP, which can delay obtaining them.
SB 34 (Author: Wiener): The Dennis Peron and Brownie Mary Compassionate Care Act ensures access to medical cannabis by low-income people. SB 34 allows “compassion programs” — which donate medical cannabis to low income people, including people living with HIV, veterans with PTSD, and low-income families — to continue to exist. Given the cost of retail cannabis, many low-income residents cannot afford their medicine and thus either go without it or resort to the dangerous illicit market. Compassion programs are essential for their health. California’s legalization of cannabis imposed significant taxes on these programs, which was gradually killing them off since they have no revenue. SB 34 exempts these programs from state taxes and allows them to continue to provide people with their medicine.
SB 1021 (Author: Wiener): Capping drug co-pays. Even if someone is fortunate enough to have insurance, drug copays can be prohibitively expensive and can effectively deny people access. SB 1021 reinstates and expands a strict cap on drug co-pays. SB 1021 also stops insurance companies from forcing people onto multi-pill PrEP regimens, which are less effective.
SB 142 (Author: Wiener): Expanding lactation access in the workplace. New mothers returning to work are frequently met with very inadequate spaces to lactate, even being forced to express milk in a bathroom, broom closet, or their car. As a result, too many mothers, particularly lower income mothers, are forced to choose between breastfeeding their baby and returning to work. This choice — between breastfeeding and a family’s economic security — is a choice that no one should have to make. SB 142 enacts strong standards for lactation facilities at work, including a private room or space, a table and chair, an electrical outlet, and a nearby refrigerator.
SB 1464 (Author: Wiener; adopted as part of the budget): Expanding dental care to people with special needs. People with developmental disabilities or cognitive impairments frequently need much more complex dental treatment than other people. For example, they may need more time with a dentist, multiple visits, or multiple people present. Yet, Denti-Cal only paid for one short, non-complex dental visit. As a result, these individuals with special needs frequently went without dental care and thus developed severe oral health problems. SB 1464, which Scott’s team was able to pass as part of the budget, funds the needed complex care for people with special oral health needs.
SB 271 (Author: Wiener): Ensuring entertainment workers can access state-provided disability and family leave benefits. Entertainment workers frequently work outside of California on temporary assignment, which can preclude them from accessing their state-provided benefits. SB 271 ensures that these workers have full access to the benefits for which they’re paying via payroll deductions. SB 271 was a priority bill for the California Labor Federation and IATSE.
SB 562 (Authors: Lara/Atkins; co-author: Wiener; bill failed): Scott co-authored this single-payer healthcare legislation, which passed the Senate but did not pass the Assembly.
- Reducing Poverty and Income Inequality
California has an obscene poverty rate, particularly when cost of living is taken into account. California’s extreme cost of housing is a key driver of poverty in our state. Alleviating poverty, making life better for low-income families, and reducing income and wealth inequality have all been major focuses for Scott in the Senate.
SB 900 (Author: Wiener; adopted as part of the budget): Expanding access to fresh produce for Cal Fresh recipients. The “double up” program allows Cal Fresh recipients to receive double the value when they use their Cal Fresh benefits to purchase fresh produce. However, the program was paper-based and hard to use. SB 900 required the state to load this double-up benefit onto Cal Fresh recipients’ benefit cards, thus making it easier to use.
SB 378 (Author: Wiener; held in Senate Rules Committee): Adopting an estate tax in California. The estate tax is arguably the most progressive tax in existence - a pure wealth tax designed to reduce inter-generational dynasties. The federal estate tax has been decimated over the past 20 years, due to a gradual effort by Republicans in Congress to repeal it. The exemption has gone up twenty-fold since the late 1990s. California voters banned a state-level estate tax in the early 1980s, during the tax revolt. SB 378 would ask the voters to repeal that ban in order to reinstate a progressive estate tax. The proceeds would be dedicated to savings accounts for low-income children, to help them build wealth to fund education, purchasing a home in the future, and so forth. The bill was never assigned to a committee and thus died.
SB 268 (Author: Wiener, adopted as part of the budget): SB 268 eliminated the “asset test” for CalWORKs. The asset test provided that if a low-income family had more than a tiny amount of savings or owned a car more valuable than a junker, the family would lose its benefits. This creates a big disincentive for saving money to climb out of poverty and makes it hard for people to own cars that are reliable in order to get to work or school. SB 268 ultimately was adopted as part of the budget, though instead of repealing the asset test entirely, it significantly scaled it back so that low-income families can save funds and own decent cars without risking their benefits.
SB 285 (Author: Wiener; held in Assembly Appropriations Committee): Streamlining the process to sign up for Cal Fresh. California has one of the lowest rates of accessing Cal Fresh by eligible people. As a result, many Californians are food-insecure, and California is leaving a huge amount of federal money on the table. The process in California to sign up for Cal Fresh is onerous. SB 268 would have streamlined the process in various respects, including improving translation for people who don’t speak English, requiring counties to accept applications by phone, and other improvements. The bill faced opposition by county governments and came close but did not pass.
SB 278 (Author: Wiener) and SB 726 (Author Wiener): CalFresh and CalWORKs overissuance protections. Due to system malfunctions, counties occasionally provide Cal Fresh and CalWORKs recipients with a small amount more than the amount to which they’re entitled. If the recipient doesn’t notice the over-issuance, it can go on for months or years. The law required counties to seek collections of over-payments, even for small amounts where the cost of collection was higher than the amount owed. Over-issuance repayments could also be devastating for low-income families. These two bills gave counties the ability to forego repayment where the over-issuance did not result from fraud and where it was no more than a few hundred dollars.
SB 282 (Author: Wiener): Allowed people on Cal Fresh to access prepared foods with their benefits. For homeless people and people without kitchens, preparing food is often not possible. This change allows some of our most vulnerable residents to ensure they can eat properly.
- Consumer Protection and Government Transparency
SB 822 (Author: Wiener): Protecting net neutrality in California. SB 822 was a huge win over the big telecom and cable companies. It enacted the nation’s strongest net neutrality protections in the country. After it was signed into law, the telecom and cable industries filed a lawsuit against it, as did the Trump Administration. The law is currently still pending in court.
SB 27 (Authors: McGuire/Wiener): Requiring presidential candidates to disclose tax returns. This legislation required that presidential candidates disclose five years worth of tax returns in order to appear on the California primary ballot. The legislation became necessary after President Trump violated decades of practice by refusing to disclose his tax returns. By doing so, he revealed a major gap in transparency laws and made the need for the legislation apparent. After Governor Brown vetoed the legislation in 2018, it was reintroduced in 2019, and Governor Newsom signed it. Unfortunately, the California Supreme Court then struck the law down under its interpretation of the California Constitution.
AB 1611 (Authors: Chiu/Wiener): Ending surprise massive ER bills. After it became public that San Francisco General Hospital did not have any contracts with private health insurance companies and that, as a result, people with private insurance who went to the SFGH ER room were receiving massive bills, Scott’s team introduced legislation to end this practice. While they were unable to pass the legislation, given massive hospital opposition, SFGH has announced that it is moving away from the practice.
AB 857 (Author: Chiu; co-author: Wiener): Authorizing public banks. Scott co-authored this legislation to authorize cities to create public banks. AB 857 is critical in San Francisco’s effort to create its own municipal bank.
Scott is a strong, longtime champion of sustainable public and active transportation. He is a daily Muni rider and has a long track record of standing up for our public transit systems. He believes we need to invest in and improve our transit systems, and make our streets safer and more accessible for pedestrians and cyclists. He is also a supporter of California High Speed Rail.
Senator Wiener strongly believes we need to expand and preserve our safe streets program that has opened streets to pedestrians and cyclists during COVID-19.
SB 288 (Author: Wiener): This law will help get our economy and our response to climate change back on track by jumpstarting and speeding up sustainable transportation projects like light rail and bus lanes, safe streets infrastructure like protected bike lanes and pedestrian safety projects, innovative conversion of streets to pedestrian use, and electric bus charging stations. It does so by adding these projects to the list of environmental sustainable projects exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act or CEQA. Unfortunately, people sometimes obstruct environmentally sustainable projects by abusing the CEQA process. SB 288 will significantly cut down on those abuses and ensure these climate-friendly projects can be approved much more quickly. SB 288 is also an economic recovery law that makes it easier to roll out public infrastructure investments more quickly to create jobs.
SB 127 (Author: Wiener; vetoed by the Governor): SB 127 would have forced Caltrans to make state-owned roads (e.g., 19th Avenue, Van Ness Avenue, Park Presidio Boulevard, Lombard Street, Sloat Boulevard) friendly to and safe for cyclists and pedestrians. It was the California Bicycle Coalition’s top priority bill. Unfortunately, Governor Newsom vetoed the bill, after it received large majorities in both houses of the Legislature, but Scott is committed to the issue and will not give up.
SCA 6 (Author: Wiener; bill merged into broader bill): Lowering voter threshold to pass transportation infrastructure measures. Senate Constitutional Amendment 6 would have lowered the voter threshold for local transportation funding measures (e.g., for public transportation and bike and pedestrian projects) from 2/3rds to 55%. The idea was ultimately merged into a broader proposed constitutional amendment, ACA 1 (Author Aguiar-Curry; co-author: Wiener) covering all local infrastructure funding measures, including transportation measures. Scott is now a co-author of that broader measure.
SB 1 (Author: Beall; co-author: Wiener):Massive transportation funding increase. SB 1, which Scott and others passed in 2017, is the largest transportation funding measure in California history. Through an increase to the gas tax, vehicle registration fees, and the diesel gas tax, it raises over $5 billion annually for road repairs, freeway repairs, and public transportation. Scott advocated strongly to increase the share of the measure dedicated to public transportation, and ultimately was able to increase the public transit share to nearly $1 billion annually in new transit investment.
SB 58 (Author: Wiener; pending): Allowing extend nightlife hours. SB 58 will allow San Francisco and other pilot cities to extend nightlife hours to 3 a.m. Nightlife is an important economic driver in California and plays a big role in culturally defining San Francisco and other cities. Scott authored this bill three years running, extending hours to 4 a.m., until he was forced to limit it to 3 a.m. The bill was first held in the Assembly Appropriations Committee (2017). It then passed both houses of the Legislature but was vetoed by Governor Brown (2018). It then passed the Senate and failed on the Assembly floor (2019) but was granted reconsideration and is now pending on the Assembly floor.