At Capitol Week with CA legislators, we had to ask: “What were you thinking, Sen. Hurtado?”
In April, hundreds of people throughout the Golden State gathered virtually for Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California’s annual Capitol Day/Week, just in time to ask State Sen. Melissa Hurtado why she had suddenly, with no explanation, refused to hold a hearing on a bill that would provide much-needed financial assistance for pregnant and post-partum Californians who have very low incomes.
Since Capitol Week is a legislative lobbying event, it was the perfect occasion for our volunteers, supporters, and Hurtado’s own constituents in the southern Central Valley to ask the Senator why she was derailing a bill that could help transform the lives of parents and their infants who desperately need help – including thousands living in her district. And this right after Black Maternal Health Week!
What was she thinking?
Some background: Sen. Hurtado, chair of the State Senate’s Human Services Committee, was expected to hold a hearing on the California Momnibus Bill (SB 65) and help it move forward in the legislature. Momnibus would provide cash assistance for pregnant and parenting people who are living at the poverty level, throughout their pregnancy and in the first years of their babies’ lives. The bill would extend Medi-Cal eligibility for post-partum people as well as help subsidize doula care and investment in the midwife workforce.
Sounds like a very positive change in one of the richest and most expensive states in the country, right? So why did Sen. Hurtado refuse to hold the hearing, putting the bill in grave jeopardy? She risked passing a death sentence on this life-saving legislation that had bi-partisan support in the Senate and Assembly.
During Capitol Week, a group of Sen. Hurtado’s astonished constituents met with her legislative director, Elizabeth Hess raising concerns and disappointment that the bill had been prevented from being heard and moving forward.
One volunteer who lives in the Senator’s home town of Sanger said, “I know Senator Hurtado has a huge heart for women, so learning she postponed SB 65 -- putting the bill in jeopardy -- left me stunned. This is a life-saving bill, and I did not expect her to abandon a bill that could save the lives of so many women and infants in her district.”
All in attendance asked Hess to share our concerns about the Senator’s actions.
At the last minute, the bill was saved – but not by Sen. Hurtado:
Although Sen. Hurtado did not place the bill back on the hearing agenda, California Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins took swift action, calling for a vote to remove the Momnibus bill from the Human Services Committee and send it back to the Rules Committee. It was Sen. Atkins who kept the bill alive and moving forward to help California parents and babies who are struggling in poverty.
In other news about PPAC Capitol Week:
Over one hundred Planned Parenthood Mar Monte and Planned Parenthood Advocates Mar Monte supporters joined in the virtual kick-off of Capitol Week, followed by visits with their elected representatives.
We talked about AB 32 and how telehealth has improved the way we are able to access health care, including the importance of payment parity for audio and video visits with our medical providers.
We talked about SB 245, the Abortion Accessibility Act that will ensure people with private insurance plans will not be restricted from access to abortion services because of co-payments and deductibles.
We talked about AB 1184 and the continued importance of protecting patient privacy, ensuring that patient information about sensitive services is not sent to anyone other than the patient.
We lifted up AB 1356, which updates and strengthens the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act by prohibiting malicious videography and photography of reproductive health center patients, providers, staff and volunteers.
We drew the line for elected members of the California Legislature and asked them to support these bills and stand with Planned Parenthood for health care access and equity.
Stay tuned to this blog, and we will keep you posted on the progress of this legislation!