SACRAMENTO – Assemblywoman Luz Rivas (D-Arleta) held a press rally to introduce the California Youth Empowerment Act, with youth advocates, and students from across the state, to establish the first-ever statewide youth advisory body to the state government.
Assembly Bill (AB) 1858 establishes a youth advisory commission that will empower underrepresented youth with opportunities to be civically engaged in California. The duties of the Commission will include policy development, community engagement, and development of our youth to promote civic engagement, education, social equality, human and social services, workforce development, and public safety. At least half of the appointed commissioners must have experienced youth homelessness, foster care, juvenile incarceration, or have special needs.
“Youth today are more digitally and socially connected than ever. As our social and political climate evolves, we are starting to see an abundance of responsible, young and concerned individuals effectively utilize social media platforms to create a globally interactive forum to mobilize their peers on urgent matters. Through education, responsible journalism, and the interconnectivity of our social media platforms, our youth are well-informed, engaged, and empowered to participate in our democracy,” said Assemblywoman Luz Rivas. “As a member of the Legislature, I believe that it is our responsibility to engage and listen to the next generation before making policy decisions that directly impact them. The voices of our youth are too important to California to be left out, and I believe that a statewide, student-led advisory board for youth is necessary.”
We have at least 40 California commissions advising our government on important issues throughout out state, and none of them are led by our state’s youth. This means, we are not hearing the voices of 12.5 million Californians under the age of 24 when the state makes critical policy decisions affecting their lives.
Assemblywoman Luz Rivas was joined by her principal co-author of AB 1858, Senator Scott Wiener, and the sponsors of legislation, including the California Association of Student Councils, California Coalition of Youth, California Youth Connection, Bay Area Student Activists of San Francisco, and San Francisco Youth Commission.
“I am honored to support a bill written by one of our former interns, Jason Chen, giving young people a stronger voice in our legislative process,” said Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), a principal co-author of the bill. “Jason demonstrates the power of youth leadership, and I am deeply proud and excited to see what the Youth Commission will accomplish. This bill will give the next generation a way to advocate on the issues that matter most to them — from the youth homelessness epidemic, to climate change, to youth incarceration, and more.”
“Young people have proven that they are more than ready to engage in important conversations about the most pressing issues facing our state. They’ve marched to protest gun violence in our schools and they’ve rallied to raise awareness about the climate crisis,” said Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Silicon Valley). “I am proud to co-author AB 1858 to ensure that young Californians continue to make their voices heard in the State Capitol and grow as civic leaders.”
“The California Youth Empowerment is valued by, written by, and championed by a diverse coalition of young people from across California. It’s time for us to recognize and uplift the power of the youth voice to make California more effective, equitable, and representative,” Jason Chen, California Association of Student Councils.
“The Youth Empowerment Act is California’s opportunity to ensure policies and programs of the future respect the lives, stories, and voices of today’s youth. This is an opportunity to create rapid transformation for equitable opportunities and social mobility for Californian youth to sustain and advance a thriving and progressive California for all,” said Jevon Wilkes, California Coalition for Youth.
"The California Youth Empowerment Act will provide youth the opportunity to advocate for themselves and their fellow peers through engaging in the legislative and policy processes. I am passionate about this bill because it will empower the youth in California's foster care system. This Act will provide genuine insight to improve the everyday lives of all youth in California,” said Natasha Sosa, California Youth Connection.
"The San Francisco Youth Commission is excited to see the model of a legally established, institutionally diverse youth commission established at the state level in California. As the oldest local youth commission in the country, we see every week the value of a direct link between policymakers and the frequently underrepresented youth in our schools and communities, and we look forward to working with our fellow advocates to pass the California Youth Empowerment Act," said Calvin Quick, San Francisco Youth Commission.
Assemblywoman Rivas proudly represents the 39th Assembly District, which includes the communities of Arleta, Lake View Terrace, Granada Hills, Mission Hills, North Hollywood, Pacoima, Sun Valley, Sunland-Tujunga, Sylmar, and San Fernando.
Judy Yee, Judy.Yee@asm.ca.gov, 916.319.2039