Assembly Bill 2360 was an important piece of legislation for public health in California. It would have formed a working group to create a framework for how to distribute funding to communities equitably during future emergencies. It was created through the hard work of our staff, advisors, and Assemblymember Joaquin Arambula.
Despite earning universal support in the legislature and carrying a minimal financial cost, AB 2360 died in the Senate Appropriations Committee. It was voted down in their August 11 suspense file hearing. More than 200 other bills met the same fate, while almost 600 bills were released from the suspense file and sent to the Senate or Assembly floor for debate. Suspense file hearings are held in private, so the lack of transparency makes it hard to know why our bill died.
One thing we know about our politics and culture is this: people in power don’t prioritize planning for the future or preventing harm. This bill would have kickstarted the creation of an emergency response system that works for everyone. In our view, the system should empower race-conscious and community-driven approaches, such as providing more funding to community-based organizations that serve the communities who are most vulnerable during crisis – and creating partnerships with those groups in advance.
At Public Health Advocates, we believe that pandemic recovery and preparation for future threats should be top priorities. Through our California COVID Justice initiative, we plan to convene this emergency funding working group ourselves, along with key partners. We will recruit leaders and experts in public health, racial equity, emergency response, budgets, and more. Stay tuned for our announcement on how to apply in the fall.
We are grateful to Assemblymember Arambula, who has voiced his commitment to partnering with us until we meet our goal of creating this new framework and passing it into law. Thank you to all of you who showed your support for AB 2360. We’re just getting started!