The California chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR-CA) celebrated the successful passage of three CAIR-CA sponsored bills—SB 309, SB 461, and AB 1503—through their final stages in the California State Legislature, marking a significant win for safeguarding the civil rights and religious liberties of all Californians.
SB 309, authored by Senator Dave Cortese, aims to create a statewide policy ensuring the right to religious headwear, clothing, and grooming for those in California’s carceral system. Currently, the provision is applied inconsistently throughout the state and does not meet the heightened protections under federal law.
SB 461, authored by Senator Aisha Wahab, aims to allow state employees to use an allotted eight hours of holiday credit for holidays related to an employee’s religion, culture, or heritage. Currently, the time may only be used for certain predetermined holidays.
AB 1503, authored by Assemblymember Alex Lee and sponsored by CAIR-CA, seeks to grant students in K–12 a full day of excused absence time per semester for religious purposes. Currently, students in K–12 are only allotted four hours per semester for religious purposes.
In a statement, CAIR-CA Policy & Government Affairs Manager Nazeehah Khan said:
“These legislative victories are a testament to the power of advocacy and collaboration in advancing justice. Each bill’s passage through the State Legislature is an important step towards protecting against discrimination and ensuring that all Californians can freely practice their religious beliefs without fear or prejudice.
“We thank Senator Cortese, Senator Wahab, Assemblymember Lee, and the legislature for their continued commitment to inclusion and equity for all, and we urge Governor Newsom to enact all three bills and stand with California’s religious minorities.”
All three bills will now be enrolled to Governor Gavin Newsom, whose signature would declare the bills law.