Three bills authored by local Assemblywoman Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (D-Orinda) received support from Gov. Gavin Newsom over the past month, for a total of seven new state laws from the freshman legislator's office so far this year.
Last Friday, Newsom added his signature to Assembly Bills 1344 and 807, both which received broad bipartisan support and concern accreditation standards or scholarships in higher education.
AB 1344 requires all "out-of-state higher education institutions that enroll students from California comply with all state accreditation requirements and register with the Bureau of Postsecondary Private Education (BPPE)."
In a statement, Bauer-Kahan said she hopes the bill will protect students from "predatory" institutions with "a flawed history of accreditation issues as well as a track record of misleading students and taking their money and running."
"California is stepping up to protect our nearly 100,000 students enrolled in online, for-profit and out-of-state institutions who are caught in the bull's-eye of these harmful policies, by holding the bad actor colleges accountable for misleading and bankrupting our students," she said.
AB 807 targets equity for low-income students who are awarded scholarships. Currently, scholarship money is counted as income when the student and their family's CalWORKS eligibility and need is calculated. This setup discourages families from accepting scholarships and makes accessing higher education more difficult, according to Bauer-Kahan.
AB 807 makes sure that scholarships are no longer counted against students applying for CalWORKS, and also excludes income received for helping in the U.S. Census.
In mid-September, Newsom also signed Bauer-Kahan's Assembly Bill 1475, which allows regional transportation authorities (RTAs) to use the "construction manager/general contractor" (CM/GC) project delivery method.
According to the assemblywoman, the CM/GC system "essentially allows for the collaboration of the project designers/engineers and general contractors early in the project process to ensure that the project is carried out in the most streamlined and cost effective method."
Bauer-Kahan said she was "thrilled to see the governor's support" of AB 1475, which authorizes RTAs to use CM/GC for transportation projects such as the plans to connect the Iron Horse Regional Trail with regional transit hubs, and that inspired the bill.
"The model created was so sought after that we were happy to extend this option to other RTAs in California to help deliver projects on time and under budget, saving valuable tax dollars," she said. Caltrans' 2017-18 efficiency report cited savings of $44.5 million using the CM/GC delivery process.
AB 1475 received wide bipartisan support and takes effect January 2020.