FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 10, 2019
Contact: Danni.Wang@asm.ca.gov (661) 286-1565
SACRAMENTO, CA — Assemblywoman Christy Smith (D-Santa Clarita) is pleased to announce that her Assembly Bill (AB) 629 was signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom this week as part of the package of bills he signed addressing public safety and supporting victims of crime. The bill creates parity within California’s Victim Compensation Program (VCP) and seeks justice for victims of human trafficking, allowing them to receive compensation from the economic losses as a direct result of their being trafficked and including an updated formula for restitution.
“The stories I heard from survivors of human trafficking completely broke my heart,” Assemblywoman Smith said. “It was clear the scars of human trafficking are compounded with the obstacles of rebuilding a life from the bottom up, often interlocking with issues such as homelessness, addiction problems and physical and mental trauma. This bill touches the surface of hardship that victims endure, but AB 629 helps victims get back on their feet and out of the human trafficking cycle. I thank our partners, Bet Tzedek Legal Services and Coalition to Abolish Slavery, for their remarkable advocacy efforts, and my colleague, Assemblywoman Gonzalez, for her leadership and partnership on this legislation.”
This California Women’s Legislative Caucus priority bill also expands the types of documentation determining income loss the VCP Board may accept. Human trafficking victims are often unable to provide proof of income loss, but AB 629 alleviates the onerous burden of proof and sets a standard to qualify for lost income relief.
The bill was introduced by Assemblywoman Smith and her colleague, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), and mounted abundant bipartisan support from both houses. The measure received no opposition and no votes in the State Legislature.
“Bet Tzedek is thrilled that after years of advocacy, including brave and essential personal testimony from many survivors, California has done right by human trafficking survivors by putting them on equal footing with victims of other types of crime,” Bet Tzedek Directing Attorney Jenna Miara said. “This bill will give hundreds of survivors much-needed support as they recover and put their lives back together. We are grateful to Assemblywoman Smith, Assemblywoman Gonzalez and Governor Newsom for their support.”
“The Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking (CAST) hopes AB 629, first-of-its-kind legislation providing a little bit of justice for trafficking survivors, will be adopted in many other states and thanks California and Governor Newsom for their leadership on this issue,” CAST Policy and Legal Services Director Stephanie Richard said.
AB 629 takes effect on January 1, 2020.
Assemblywoman Christy Smith represents California’s 38th Assembly District, which includes the communities of Santa Clarita, Simi Valley, Agua Dulce, Castaic, Santa Susana Knolls and North San Fernando Valley.