Senator Hill Introduces Bills to End Housing Bias Against Veterans, Increase Police Firearm and Gun Store Security, and Ensure That Students Who Rely on Medical Cannabis Can Take It at School
State Senator Jerry Hill Introduces Bills to Renew His Push to Protect Veterans from Housing Discrimination, Increase Police Firearm and Gun Store Security and Ensure That Students Who Rely on Medical Cannabis Can Take Their Medicine at School
SACRAMENTO – State Senator Jerry Hill introduced bills today that give new life to his legislative efforts to end housing discrimination against veterans and military personnel, require law enforcement to inventory their weapons, strengthen security at gun stores and enable students who rely on medical cannabis to take their medicine at school if it is administered by a parent or guardian.
“For reasons of fairness, safety and the wellness of children with serious medical conditions who rely on medical cannabis to attend school, this legislation deserves another chance,” said Senator Hill, D-San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties, of the four bills introduced today. Earlier versions of the bills did not survive the legislative process.
Protecting Veterans and Active Military Personnel from Housing Discrimination
Senate Bill 222 ensures that veterans and military personnel are not discriminated against in housing and are not denied housing because of how they pay their rent. The California Fair Employment and Housing Act includes veterans and military personnel as a protected class regarding employment discrimination but does not include them in the provision providing protection from housing discrimination.
SB 222 would add veterans and military personnel as a protected class in the state’s Fair Employment and Housing Act and other statutes relating to housing discrimination. In addition, SB 222 would specify that vouchers issued by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development Veterans Affairs Supported Housing program are considered income – a move that enables the law to prohibit discrimination against people who use the vouchers to pay part or all of their rent.
Gaps in the law have resulted in veterans and active military personnel being denied housing, as was the case for a military family to whom a landlord refused to rent a condominium because a member of the household is a Marine. Veterans who try to use the vouchers also experience discrimination. Almost 1,900 supportive housing vouchers were available in California in 2018, but homeless veterans who receive them say that landlords use the loophole in the law to refuse to rent to them because they intend to use the vouchers to cover all or part of the rent.
“Rental subsidies, such as the HUD-VASH voucher, are an essential tool in providing affordable housing to California’s homeless veterans,” said Chuck Helget, executive director of the California Association of Veterans Service Agencies. “SB 222 will ensure these subsidies are not used as a discrimination tool by landlords to deny a veteran housing.”
John Haramalis, legislative director for the National Guard Association of California, said: “Current law does not specifically include veterans or military personnel among those who are protected from housing discrimination. SB 222 would address the gap by adding veterans and military personnel as a protected class in statutes relating to housing discrimination. We fully support and applaud Senator Hill's efforts to ensure veterans receive fairness in housing practices across the state.”
SB 222 mirrors Senator Hill’s 2018 effort to address housing discrimination against veterans and military personnel. That bill, SB 1427, was vetoed by Governor Brown.
Law Enforcement Firearm Security
SB 221 requires law enforcement agencies to have a written procedure to account for all of their firearms by January 1, 2021. This procedure must include all of the following:
- The maintenance of an accurate inventory of all agency owned firearms, and process by which that inventory is updated as firearms are lost, stolen, replaced, or removed from service and destroyed.
- Reconciliation of firearm inventory at least once a year.
- A process for officers to report lost or stolen guns to their agency.
- A disciplinary process for officers who fail to report lost or stolen guns.
SB 221 also requires law enforcement agencies to report any lost or stolen firearms owned by the agency or owned by an employee of the agency and used in the line of duty to California’s Automated Firearm System maintained by state Justice Department within five days.
The bill seeks to remedy uneven efforts among law enforcement agencies in California when it comes to keeping track of their firearms. Investigative reports by news media in the Bay Area and Southern California found that hundreds of police guns were lost, stolen or unaccounted for.
The bill addresses concerns raised by the senator’s earlier legislation on the issue in 2017 and 2018 by:
- Requiring only agency- or department-issued firearms to be inventoried.
- Applying to local law enforcement agencies, such as police and sheriff’s departments, as well as the California Highway Patrol, the Department of Justice and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. The latter already has a weapons management program in place, which would continue under SB 221. Other state agencies that are authorized to have firearms, like the Department of Fish and Game and Department of Consumer Affairs, would not be subject to the requirements of the bill.
- Providing law enforcement agencies with one year to implement the bill, which would not take effect until January 1, 2021.
“The protocols set forth in SB 221 will help law enforcement agencies keep track of their weapons and prevent their firearms from being lost or stolen and used in crime,” said Amanda Wilcox, the legislation and policy chair for the California Chapters of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence “SB 221 supports our core mission of reducing firearm injury and death by keeping weapons out of dangerous hands. We’re proud to support this important legislation, and we look forward to working with Senator Hill and his colleagues to see it through to becoming law.”
Gun Store Security
SB 220 implements best practices for storing guns when a gun store is closed for business. The bill tightens the security measures for stores by requiring that all guns be kept in a secure facility with steel bars on the windows, deadbolts or a metal grate on doors, and steel bars, metal grating, or an alarm system to protect air conditioning and ventilation vents.
SB 220 requires gun store owners to implement one of eight additional security measures:
- Take the guns out of their display cases and lock them in a safe or vault.
- Lock the guns in their display cases with a steel rod or cable through the triggers’ guards and place steel or concrete bollards in front of the store and at other critical access points.
- Lock the guns in a polycarbonate display case.
- Lock the guns in a display case that utilizes security film.
- Lock the guns in a windowless room, which has no doors exposed to the outside of the building, and which has a steel security door.
- Lock the guns behind a steel roll down door or security gate.
- Lock the guns in a gun rack with a locking steel bar.
- Install steel roll-down doors on all perimeter doorways and floor-to-ceiling windows.
SB 220 mirrors Senator Hill’s 2017 bill on gun store security, SB 464, which was vetoed by Governor Brown.
Since that time, thefts of firearms in burglaries at gun stores, ranging from smash-and-grab break-ins to the use of vehicles to batter in doors and walls have persisted in California.
From 2012 to 2017, 1,671 firearms have been reported stolen from federally licensed gun dealers in the state, according to the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The majority of those firearms were stolen during break-ins. Of those stolen weapons, 73 percent – 1,219 firearms – were taken during burglaries of licensed dealers in California. That percentage is reflected nationally. ATF figures show that 78 percent, or 32,025, of the 40,926 firearms stolen from federally licensed gun dealers across the country from 2012 to 2017 were taken during burglaries of licensed gun dealers.
The number of break-ins at federally licensed gun dealers have grown between 2013 and 2017, according to the ATF. In California, those burglaries rose 67 percent; nationwide, they rose 71 percent. The number of weapons stolen during those incidents climbed as well across the four-year period. In California, the number of firearms stolen in burglaries rose 66 percent; nationally, the figure jumped 134 percent.
“Smash and grab burglaries of gun dealerships allow too many guns to enter the criminal marketplace, jeopardizing public safety,” said Allison Anderman, managing attorney for the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. “California law currently does not go far enough to prevent these kinds of thefts. This bill places reasonable requirements on gun dealers to secure their inventory so it is less susceptible to theft. Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence commends Senator Hill for working with gun dealers and gun safety advocates to design these sensible solutions to a serious problem.”
Clearing the Way for Students Who Rely on Medical Cannabis to Take Their Medicine at School Under Strict Conditions
SB 223 gives the legislation called Jojo’s Act a second chance. “It is vital that we lift the barriers for students with serious medical conditions who rely on medical cannabis to attend school,” said Senator Hill, D-San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties. “SB 223 makes it easier for these children and teens to get the medicine they need without disrupting their school.”
SB 223 enables K-12 school districts and county boards of education to choose whether to allow a student’s parent or guardian to administer medical cannabis to the child on campus under strict conditions, including requirements that:
- The student is a qualified medical cannabis patient with a doctor’s recommendation.
- The student’s parent or guardian give the school a copy of the child’s medical cannabis recommendation to keep on file.
- In addition, written acknowledgment from the pupil’s primary physician that the student uses medical cannabis must be provided.
- The student’s medical cannabis is in a nonsmokable and nonvapable form. (Typically, medical cannabis is administered as oil, capsules, tinctures, liquids or topical creams.)
- The medical cannabis is not stored on campus. It would be brought to school by the parent or guardian, then taken away after the student receives the necessary dose.
- The parent or guardian sign in when coming on campus to administer the medical cannabis to the student and not disrupt the educational environment.
The legislation does not create a mandate. It allows school districts and counties opting into the arrangement to opt out for any reason, including concerns about losing federal funding as a result of the policy. None of the seven states that allow medical marijuana use by students on campus have lost federal funding.
Colorado, Maine, New Jersey, Washington, Delaware, Florida and Illinois allow students to take medical cannabis on campus providing that they, their parents, guardian or caregiver, and schools abide by various restrictions in addition to following their state’s laws for medical marijuana use by minors.
Jojo’s Act is named for a South San Francisco student living with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, a severe form of epilepsy, who takes medical cannabis to forestall debilitating seizures that had prevented him from attending school and left him barely able to function. Jojo’s mother told lawmakers in testimony last year that before her son started taking medical cannabis, he would suffer as many as 50 seizures a day. Now, he seldom has a seizure. He received his high school diploma in June and now attends classes as part of a continuing special education program.
An earlier version of Jojo's Act, SB 1127, was vetoed by Governor Brown in 2018.
Updated February 8 to add 2018 veto of SB 1127, correct bill numbers for the gun security legislation, add links to the text of SB 220, SB 221, SB 222 and SB 223, and add fact sheets.