We’ve been sending you a lot of opportunities to support Food with Care, Senate Bill (SB) 1481. This is the California bill that would provide free meals to children in child care and fair pay for child care providers! After passing the Senate Education Committee with bipartisan support, it will now be heard in the Senate Human Services Committee on Tuesday, April 19. CACFP Roundtable and Nourish California invite you to submit your letters of support by tomorrow, April 13th! The template and instructions are here.
What are the calls to action for Food with Care, Senate Bill (SB) 1481?
And more! If you are wondering why there are so many calls-to-action (and why they’ll keep coming!), then this blog post is for you. Read on!
Why letters of support? The letters of support are crucial to show Senators and Assemblymembers that there is strong community support throughout the state for the Food with Care bill.
Why so many letters of support? The legislative process! SB 1481, the Food with Care, is somewhat unique because it is “referred” to two policy committees, the Senate Education Committee (held on March 30) and the Human Services Committee (scheduled for April 19). Therefore, both committees will weigh in and vote on the bill.. The process of submitting the letters to the Legislature is very specific, and each committee has their own requirements – the most important requirements include using letterhead (if you are an organization) and including a signature. A new letter of support must be submitted to each committee prior to that committee’s hearing. If the bill is successful, there will be other committees for which we will ask you to send in more letters of support. We know, it’s A LOT!
And why the short form for the budget support asking for our logos? Same idea: community support. However, this one may be even MORE important than the committee letters. It might be surprising to learn that the process for determining our State’s budget each year is mostly separate from the bill passing process. And, it may also be surprising to learn that California’s annual budget often contains new laws! As such, we are seeking to make Food with Care a new law through two Legislative pathways: as a bill (SB 1481) and as a budget request. If either campaign is successful, the policy becomes law.
The budget process is far less transparent than the bill process. There are budget committee hearings and a lot of closed door discussions. The opportunities to voice your support for a “budget ask” come and go quickly. But the good news is that we can use one “coalition letter” for many committees and meetings.
Why can’t there be just one letter of support for all of this, like a general sign on letter that we do for other advocacy opportunities? Through the legislative process, the committees put together what they call an “analysis.” At the bottom of this analysis are the names of all of the organizations and individuals that submitted the specific letter the committees’ requested, in the way that they requested it. If we just sent in one letter with all of your supporting organizations signed on, they would not count it. It looks good to have a lot of organizations on this analysis! Please consider taking the time to submit your letter or support!
The Calls and Emails During Hearings
Why are there so many hearings to call into? Same reason as all of the letters. There are different legislators sitting in listening to the importance and impact of this bill in their different committees. Each committee votes! So if you only call into one hearing, say the Senate Education Committee hearing, the Senate Human Services Committee will not hear your support. So we have to show support in all of the avenues that the bill could be voted upon.
Do I have to call in or can I send an email? Calling is a great way to show support, but it can be quite time consuming to share your support this way. Sometimes, you can show your support by emailing the committee but it has to be within a certain timeframe. Keep an eye out for these opportunities, we will let you know when they happen. You can always send in your letter of support - the list of supporters on the analysis is powerful! And it’s always a good idea to directly call your state Legislator (the one who represents your community) and ask for their support when it is their turn to vote on the bill.
Testimonies and Stories
The state legislators really do want to hear from you: the real people working the programs in all their communities. And letters and calls are not the only way to make your voice heard. Help us share your stories, your successes, your challenges and your needs to our state legislators. They need to know how and why free meals for all kids would benefit children, families, and communities. Engage here.
Questions?! Ask me, email@example.com