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ACR-129 Civic engagement.(2017-2018)

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Assembly Concurrent Resolution No. 129

Relative to civic engagement.

[ Filed with Secretary of State  September 28, 2017. ]


ACR 129, Cristina Garcia. Civic engagement.
This measure would recognize the importance of civic engagement across the State of California.
Fiscal Committee: NO  

WHEREAS, Civic engagement, including voting in elections, volunteering in the community and for nonprofit services, and participating in the legislative process, to hold representatives accountable, is a critical component of our democratic government; and
WHEREAS, Civic engagement requires the broad involvement of not only representative stakeholders, but people and communities from all walks of life. Civic engagement combines values of inclusion, participation, and transparency, local knowledge, and processes and practices that foster dialogue, mutual understanding, creativity, and collective problem solving, while respecting individual autonomy and difference; and
WHEREAS, Less engaged communities are often more critical of the public engagement process, so it is important to attend and speak at city council meetings or other public forums, join neighborhood associations, grassroots groups, or community organizations; and
WHEREAS, The aspect of civic engagement that gets the most attention is voting, because by voting the people select who will represent them in government. In addition, California voters have the ability to engage in direct democracy through ballot initiatives and propositions; and
WHEREAS, According to data from the United States Elections Project, voter turnout in California has trailed national turnout in seven of the last eight federal general elections; and
WHEREAS, Increasing voter participation is necessary to create a more inclusive democracy. California recently enacted legislation creating an automatic voter registration for eligible citizens who visit the Department of Motor Vehicles, allowing counties to adopt a new election model in which all registered voters will automatically receive their ballot 28 days prior to election day, and giving Californians the opportunity to register or reregister to vote all the way up to election day at county elections offices and other satellite locations; and
WHEREAS, Civic engagement includes many other ways that residents participate with their government, in addition to voting; and
WHEREAS, The Legislature encourages individuals to continue to be engaged after election day, to contribute to, and be a part of, the legislative process. This includes meeting with their elected officials, tracking legislation on, watching legislative committee hearings on, testifying before legislative committees, voicing support and opposition on specific bills, and participating in a “There Ought to be a Law” contest, which allows constituents to submit bill ideas with the winner of the contest having his or her bill introduced; and
WHEREAS, The public is encouraged to get involved in their communities as well, and the Legislature offers various opportunities for the public to receive legislative updates, meet with their elected officials to discuss their ideas, questions, and concerns about legislation and state issues, and to learn about local organizations and ways to get involved; and
WHEREAS, Getting youth to become more civically engaged is critical given that at 7.5 percent, the youth share of the state’s 2016 primary vote was much smaller than the youth share of the eligible voter population, which is 14.2 percent; and
WHEREAS, The Legislature is encouraging youth to get more engaged by revitalizing civic learning and participation in California through the State Seal of Civic Engagement, which allows students who develop a deeper understanding of civics through active engagement in their communities to receive an insignia on their diplomas; and
WHEREAS, People who are 16 and 17 years of age can now preregister with their county elections offices to vote as soon as they turn 18 years of age; and
WHEREAS, Youth involvement in the legislative process is especially important. The Legislature has taken critical steps to further increase youth participation by providing youth with opportunities to become acquainted with the legislative process and integrate themselves into their local communities through service; and
WHEREAS, Because civic engagement has steadily declined both in California and nationally over the last two decades, it is important that we take time to explore what engagement tools and processes will best meet the needs and conditions of specific populations; and
WHEREAS, More programs are needed to encourage civic engagement and involvement in the legislative process from all populations and communities in California, especially minority populations, underrepresented communities, and students; now, therefore, be it
Resolved by the Assembly of the State of California, the Senate thereof concurring, That the Legislature recognizes the importance of civic engagement across the State of California; and be it further
Resolved, That the Chief Clerk of the Assembly transmit copies of this resolution to the author for appropriate distribution.