- Josh Koehn
- Communications Director
SACRAMENTO—Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Silicon Valley) introduced three landmark legislative proposals Monday in the first day of the new session. These efforts include the creation of an Election Day Holiday, a Universal Basic Income (UBI) for the state’s 40 million residents, and a Bereavement Leave policy that would apply to all workers as we continue to deal with the devastating impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.
Previous attempts to create an Election Day Holiday in California were held up in the State Assembly Appropriations Committee due to significant costs to the state (approximately $11 million). But the new proposal Assemblymember Low unveiled in Assembly Bill 53 (AB 53) would move the President’s Day holiday in February to the first Tuesday after the first Monday of November on even-numbered years to offset those costs.
State law currently allows Californians to take up to two hours off from work, without loss of pay, to cast a ballot. However, finding this time between work, errands and duties at home can sometimes make voting a nearly impossible task. AB 53 would shift the date of the Presidents Day holiday every other year to make it easier for public employees to participate in the electoral process, while also signaling to all California residents the importance of voting. Election Day is already recognized as a holiday in 18 states across the country, as well as the territory of Puerto Rico.
“California has always been a leader when it comes to reducing barriers in voting, but this is sadly one instance in which we are behind the curve,” Assemblymember Low said. “Companies like Twitter and Salesforce already give their employees the day off to go and vote. If two of the most successful companies in the world are willing to recognize the importance of voting, we as a state should be able to understand that an Election Day Holiday will reinforce our civic duty to engage in the electoral process and have our voices heard.”
As the state enters a grim winter in which the number of coronavirus cases in California (1.36 million) and COVID-19 deaths (nearly 20,000) are surging at an alarming pace, Assemblymember Low on Monday also introduced the Bereavement Leave Act of 2021 (AB 95).
AB 95 would allow workers to take unpaid, job-protected bereavement leave upon the death of an immediate family member. Workers at small businesses — those that employ less than 25 people — would have a right to take up to three days of unpaid bereavement leave. Workers at businesses with 25 or more employees would have a right to take up to 10 days of unpaid bereavement leave.
“I understand that businesses small and large across the state are facing unprecedented hardships, so I want to be very clear in noting that I am listening to their concerns while crafting legislation that protects workers,” Assemblymember Low said. “Our state must act to show compassion for Californians who lose their loved-ones, especially during this crisis.”
Assemblymember Low also used the first day of session to introduce AB 65, which signaled an intent to create a Universal Basic Income for all Californians, regardless of income.
“We have seen the success of local Universal Basic Income pilot programs, and we have also seen the devastating impact the pandemic has had on millions of workers across the state,” Assemblymember Low said. “People do not need tax breaks — they need real money to help pay the rent, keep the lights on and put food on the table. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Legislature to bring this game-changing concept to fruition.”
Assemblymember Low was elected in 2014 to the State Assembly, where he represents District 28 constituents in Campbell, Cupertino, Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, and parts of San Jose. He is Chair of the Committee on Business and Professions, Chair of the LGBTQ Caucus, Vice Chair of the Asian & Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus, and the co-Chair of the Legislative Technology & Innovation Caucus.