It’s Not a Crime to Be Poor, Skinner Bills Protect Low-Income Families

September 7, 2017


SACRAMENTO, California – Two bills authored by State Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) to help protect low-income families, Senate Bill 360 and Senate Bill 469, have passed the California State Legislature and are on their way to the Governor’s Desk for approval.


“Understanding and alleviating the impact of poverty isn’t a simple, one-bill fix,” said Senator Skinner. “Together, SB 360 and SB 469 tackle problems in two different state programs to help end and not intensify poverty for low-income families.”      


Senate Bill 360 ensures California does not criminalize CalWORKs or CalFresh recipients when a county or state agency makes a mistake causing overpayments. Agencies can be aware of potential overpayments but are not always able to review cases quickly which can cause overpayments to grow unbeknownst to the assistance recipient. Under current law, a low-income family can be held criminally liable for receiving an overpayment above $950, and can potentially face jail time.  


“SB 360 ensures that a bureaucratic mistake doesn’t turn into a criminal penalty,” said Senator Skinner.


Complementing this bill, Senate Bill 469 extends until January 1, 2021 a low-income adjustment for child support payments. This adjustment takes into consideration a low income parents’ ability to pay for child support in order to prevent payments from compromising the parent’s own health, housing, or transportation needs.


“Forcing a parent to choose between paying child support or covering their own basic needs is a no win situation,” stated Senator Skinner. “SB 469 encourages child support payments by allowing an adjustment that reflects the parent’s financial circumstances.”


Senate Bill 360 and Senate Bill 469 now move to the desk of Governor Brown for approval.