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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: 2023 California Legislative Recap

Since our founding in 2003, California Family Council (CFC) has been at the forefront of critical legislative battles in Sacramento. Every year, we review thousands of bills, closely tracking the dozens that directly impact our mission. CFC’s focus has been razor-sharp, informed by a deeply held belief in the sanctity of human life, the irreplaceable institution of the family, and the necessity of preserving religious freedom. 

We saw some surprising victories alongside several frustrating defeats. From supporting bills that make human trafficking of minors a serious felony to staunchly opposing legislation that endangers our youth, undercuts parental rights, and erodes the moral fabric of society, CFC has been vocal in advancing God’s design for Life, Family, and Liberty.

Our 2023 Legislative Recap offers an exhaustive account of our endeavors in Sacramento this past year, highlighting the good, the bad, and the ugly in legislation that impacts our churches, parents, and families.

(PDF copy to print and share with your church, family, friends)

The Good

S.B. 14: Makes Human Trafficking of Minors a Serious Felony. It’s exceedingly rare that a CFC-supported bill becomes law, but this legislation was a welcome surprise. Authored by Senator Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield), SB 14 defines human trafficking of minors as a serious felony for purposes of the Three Strikes Law. CFC applauds Senator Grove for her tireless efforts to affirm the dignity and worth of every human being. Governor Newsom signed the bill on September 25.
Good Bill: Signed! 

A.B. 576: Making Chemical Abortions Even More Dangerous: In addition to the positive move of signing SB 14, Governor Newsom issued a series of unexpected vetoes at the close of this year’s session. AB 576 would have required Medi-Cal to reimburse providers for chemical abortions past ten weeks, against FDA recommendation, and let abortion providers exercise their personal judgment, based on any other clinical guideline, regarding when women can use the abortion drugs. Bad Bill: Defeated! 

A.B. 957: Non-LGBTQ+ Affirming Parents Lose Custody. Another CFC-opposed bill Governor Newsom miraculously vetoed. AB 957 would have required judges to equate a parent’s “affirmation of child gender transition” directly with a child’s “health, safety, and welfare” when determining custody or visitation rights. Consequently, parents who would not affirm the chosen gender identity of their child (of any age) would risk having their child taken from them. Bad Bill: Defeated! 

S.B. 58: Legalizing Psychedelics for Recreation: Authored by the notorious Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), this bill was part of his longstanding effort to legalize a wide array of dangerous drugs. SB 58 would have decriminalized various harmful hallucinogens for recreational use with virtually no oversight. Sadly, the bill even received support from several Republicans in the Assembly. Fortunately, Governor Newsom listened to concerns and vetoed this dangerous bill.
Bad Bill: Defeated! 

S.B. 541: Free Condoms for Teens: This bill would have required public high schools, including charter schools, to provide internal and external condoms free of charge and allowed condom distribution in health classes starting in 7th grade. SB 541 also would have prohibited retail stores from refusing to sell contraceptives to minors. However, the bill would have exacerbated the state’s sexually transmitted infections epidemic and promoted a culture where STIs can flourish and spread. Thankfully, Governor Newsom vetoed it. Bad Bill: Defeated! 

S.B. 596: Silencing Parents at Schools: This attack on the First Amendment would have intimidated parents into silence by making it a crime to say anything to cause a school board member or teacher to be “seriously alarmed” or cause them “substantial emotional distress.” These vague terms would have been wide open to interpretation and abuse. Remarkably, Governor Newsom vetoed this bill and issued a surprisingly strong statement in defense of the Constitutional rights of parents to voice opinions school personnel might find offensive. Bad Bill: Defeated!

The Bad

A.B. 223: Hiding Change of Gender and Sex Identifier. The first of many harmful bills signed by Governor Newsom, this allows any petition for a change of gender and sex identifier to be hidden under seal if filed by a person under 18 years of age. AB 223 disregards the biological reality of sex and permits citizens to put false information on government documents. Bad Bill: Signed.

A.B. 230: Tampons in 3rd Grade Boy Bathrooms:  This requires public schools to stock free menstrual products in all grades 3 through 5 bathrooms, including in at least one male restroom. It’s a clear example of the state imposing its ideology on our children, ignoring biological realities and parental rights, but Governor Newsom signed it anyway. Bad Bill: Signed.

A.B. 352: Health information. In a wide-ranging attack on healthcare and federalism, this bill requires healthcare information for “sensitive services” (including abortion, transitioning drugs, and gender surgeries) to be segregated for privacy. AB 352 prohibits disclosing this data to state or federal law enforcement if the services are legal in CA. Unsurprisingly, the Governor signed this bill. CFC strongly opposed this bill since it undermines transparency and accountability in healthcare and further entrenches the culture of death in our state. Bad Bill: Signed.

A.B. 571: Protect Abortionists and Transgender Surgeons from Lawsuits: Another example of putting dangerous ideologies ahead of safety, this bill mandates insurance companies to provide liability and damage coverage at standard malpractice rates for abortion, gender-transitioning drugs, and mutilating surgery. AB 571 will force insurance companies to protect doctors from lawsuits even if they sterilize and mutilate the healthy body parts of gender-confused minors. Newsom signed it into law. Bad Bill: Signed.

A.B. 1078: Removes Authority over LGBTQ+ and CRT Books from School Boards. CFC targeted this bill during our August 21 Citizen Lobby Day at the Capitol because it makes it harder for local school boards to remove LGBTQ+ and Critical Race Theory promoting curriculum from school libraries and classrooms. AB 1078 will undermine local control and expose children to harmful worldviews. Bad Bill: Signed.

S.B. 345: Protects Medical Professionals Doing Abortion and Trans-treatments: Similar to AB 352 listed above, this bill blocks the enforcement of other states’ laws against California medical providers. SB 345 makes it much more challenging to prohibit, criminalize, sanction, authorize civil liability against, or otherwise interfere with a person, provider, or other entity in California that does abortions or transitioning drugs and trans-surgeries on minors. By signing this bill, Governor Newsom chose to undermine the rights of other states trying to protect the unborn and uphold biological realities. Bad Bill: Signed.

S.B. 385: Lowers Safety Standards for Abortions: This dangerous legislation permits physician assistants to perform a first-trimester abortion by aspiration without a physician present (after specified training). Despite SB 385 lowering the standard of care for women seeking abortions and further entrenching the culture of death in our state, the Governor gave his approval.
Bad Bill: Signed.

S.B. 760: All-Gender Bathrooms Forced onto Every School Campus: Thanks to this new law, all K-12 schools must now have gender-neutral bathrooms. One glimmer of hope: SB 760 does allow each school district to decide if the bathrooms are single-stall (much safer) or multi-stall (hazardous). However, the bill still disregards the biological realities of sex and undermines the privacy rights of students. It’s a clear overreach of government authority that Newsom endorsed. Bad Bill: Signed

The Ugly

A.B. 5: Train Teachers to Affirm LGBTQ+ Ideology. Despite CFC’s opposition, this bill was approved by Governor Newsom. It funds grants to annually indoctrinate teachers to affirm all LGBTQ+ identities and sexual behavior, causing harm to children and distress to teachers, students, and parents who disagree with LGBTQ+ ideology. It also trains teachers on how to identify parents who aren’t LGBTQ+“affirming.” This bill undermines the fundamental rights of parents to guide their children’s education and moral upbringing. It’s a clear overreach of government authority.
Ugly Bill: Signed

A.C.A. 5: Removes One Man/One Woman Marriage from State Constitution. In 2008, California Family Council helped lead the statewide coalition to pass Proposition 8, defining marriage as between one man and one woman. Despite the Supreme Court blocking this provision in 2013, the language of Prop 8 has remained. ACA 5 would formally strip this language from the California Constitution and further undermine the truth of God’s design for marriage.
Ugly Bill: Passed (will appear on the 2024 November Ballot)

S.B. 407: Requires Foster Parents to be LGBTQ+ Affirming: This assault on religious freedom requires all foster care families to commit to being “affirming” of all LGBTQ+ gender and sexual orientations and medical transitioning treatments, regardless of whether they have LGBTQ-identified foster kids or not. SB 407 provides no exemptions for historically-orthodox Christians who believe God’s design for gender is binary and based on biology. By signing this bill, Governor Newsom is closing the door to thousands of loving foster families who simply believe Biblical truths about human sexuality and gender. Ugly Bill: Signed

A.B. 665: State-Sanctioned Kidnapping: This is arguably the single worst bill of the 2023 legislative session. It will allow a counselor or counselor trainee to place a child as young as 12 years old in a residential shelter based on the child’s “OK” alone. Attorney Erin Friday, the mother of a child who experienced gender dysphoria, warned AB 665 deems California parents “abusive if you refuse to medicalize your child. If you refuse to poison your child with cross-sex hormones. If you refuse to stop the natural body growth called puberty. If you refuse to remove your child’s healthy breasts or genitals.” This new law requires no parental consent or notification, and no allegation of abuse is necessary before this can happen. This bill violates parental rights, puts vulnerable children at risk, and essentially emancipates minors once they reach 12. Ugly Bill: Signed

Looking Forward

As we review the legislative highs and lows of 2023, it’s evident that our mission is far from complete. While we are grateful for the victory of SB 14 and the five bad bills Governor Newsom vetoed, our CFC team is also acutely aware of the uphill battle we face here in California. 

Legislation that disregards the sanctity of life, the biological realities of sex, and the fundamental rights of parents signals an urgent need for CFC’s continued vigilance and advocacy. These are not merely political issues; they are deeply spiritual battles that have significant implications for our churches, our families, and our freedom to live according to our convictions.

In the face of these challenges, California Family Council will not waver in our commitment to advance God’s design for Life, Family, and Liberty. For the past 20 years, we have fought alongside our local, state, and national allies, tirelessly engaging in the public square and remaining steadfast in our biblical convictions. This 2023 Legislative Recap is a marker of what God has done through your prayers and efforts and a clarion call for the work still ahead. 

As we enter our third decade of ministry in 2024, we draw inspiration from Galatians 6:9 (ESV): “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” CFC remains resolute in our mission and invites you to stand with us as we fight for the values foundational to our faith and crucial for our society. 



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