News flash! Every week, following the Board meeting, Supervisor Kuehl picks five items you might find interesting, important, and/or fun. It’s your way to get a quick rundown of several highlights of the meeting in no more than 5 minutes! Looking for more? Click here to get the entire agenda.
Expanding Worker Rights and Protections
This is an incredibly difficult time for workers. As unemployment has skyrocketed, many face the difficult decision between their financial survival and their health at high-exposure jobs. The Board is committed to looking out for our workforce and making sure that they are not exploited or their safety neglected. At this week’s Board Meeting, we passed two motions I co-authored with Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, both related to workers’ rights and protections.
The first motion directs the Department of Consumer and Business Affairs, and the Department of Workforce Development, Aging, and Community Services, as well as other relevant departments to report back on how the County can improve and centralize its efforts related to worker protections. One of the ways the County will consider accomplishing this is by creating an Office of Labor Equity, which would promote and enforce the County’s labor laws, such as minimum wage and worker retention.
Our District led on the second important motion to instruct the Department of Public Health to create a robust County Public Health Council Program, with input from the community and stakeholders. These DPH-certified Public Health Councils will allow workers to monitor their own workplaces and directly report issues of non-compliance with County Health Orders, without fear of reprisal. This motion helps us strengthen our enforcement response and empowers employees to demand and secure a healthy and safe workplace.
Supporting “Care First, Jails Last” Legislation
The Board has fully adopted a “Care First, Jails Last” approach to criminal justice within our own policies, and now it is time to make sure we support state-level legislation that reflects those ideals.
At this week’s Board meeting, we passed a motion I co-authored with Supervisor Hilda Solis that authorizes the CEO Intergovernmental Relations department to advocate for several bills on Governor Newsom’s desk as well as endorse the spirit of several that did not make it through last Monday’s chaotic end of session. Bills w support include:
- AB 329 (Kamlager) and AB 767 (Grayson), legislation which would expand eligibility for compensation under the Victims Compensation Program for injuries or death caused by use of force by a police officer and define “crime” to include the use of excessive force by a peace officer;
- AB 1022 (Wicks), legislation which would require each law enforcement agency to require officers to immediately report potential excessive force, and intercede when present and observing an officer using excessive force;
- AB 1314 (McCarty), legislation which would require municipalities to annually post on their website information relating to the use of force settlements and judgments;
- AB 1506 (McCarty), legislation that would allow law enforcement agencies and district attorneys to request a new division of the Attorney General’s office to investigate and potentially prosecute a criminal case when there is an officer-involved shooting that results in a death of a member of the public.
- AB 1550 (Bonta), legislation which would authorize a person to bring a civil action against any responsible party who, motivated by the person’s protected status, knowingly causes a peace officer to arrive at a location to contact the person with the intent to, among other things, infringe upon the person’s right.
- AB 1775 (Jones-Sawyer), legislation that would make a number of criminal and civil law changes to discourage individuals from using 911 or other communications with law enforcement to harass a person because that person belongs to a protected class.
The motion also directs CEO to collaborate with the new director of Alternatives to Incarceration to develop future legislative priorities that advance our goal of a more equitable justice system.
Ending ICE Transfers without a Judicial Warrant in LA County
The Board also passed a motion I co-authored with Supervisor Hilda Solis to create a Countywide policy against cooperation with immigration officials in turning over our inmates to ICE upon their release from our jail unless those officials present a judicial warrant signed by a judge. This motion aligns the County’s policy with a moratorium implemented by Sheriff Villanueva in early August.
To understand why ICE transfers without a judicial warrant are so problematic, consider the case of Gonzalez vs. ICE, which involved a US citizen born in Pacoima in the 3rd District. Gonzalez was unconstitutionally detained due to faulty information in ICE databases. Judicial warrants require a higher burden of proof than detainers, and scrutiny by a judge, which makes them more reliable.
Requiring ICE to present warrants, signed by a judge, if they want to detain someone being released also adds an additional level of scrutiny and transparency to the process. Given the current administration’s draconian approach to immigration, we want to limit any Sheriff’s cooperation with ICE to what is legally mandated, and this helps strengthen our policy.
First Year of Funding for Body-Worn Cameras
Another way the Board has sought to foster transparency and accountability in law enforcement is by calling for the implementation of body-worn cameras in the LA County Sheriff’s Department. At Tuesday’s Board meeting, we passed a motion authored by Supervisors Janice Hahn and Kathryn Barger that transfers funds to the Sheriff’s budget to cover expenses related to body-worn cameras.
LASD will begin rolling out body-worn cameras in five initial stations starting in October.
Expanding Access to Healthcare through Telehealth
Among the many lessons we have learned over the past few months, the importance of accessible healthcare and digital innovation ranks exceptionally high. This week, the Board passed a motion I co-authored with Supervisor Kathryn Barger aimed at expanding LA County residents’ access to healthcare through telehealth services.
This motion asks for a report back in 45 days with an analysis of telehealth use during the COVID-19 crisis, including a review of populations and communities who have received increases in healthcare services and potential opportunities to expand the use of telehealth beyond this crisis. We have already heard from the Department of Mental Health and the Department of Health Services that, not only has there been an increase in patients utilizing telehealth services, they have also seen a significant decline in no-shows for outpatient/primary care services and mental health visits.
The future of telehealth is promising, and we need to seize this moment to create an efficient healthcare delivery system in the digital sphere. This motion is the first step to accomplish that.