Support SB 499 - The Cool Schools Act
AVFCA's bill to Mitigate Toxic Heat Islands and Air Pollution
Background: Every year A Voice for Choice Advocacy's legislative team proactively meets with legislators in December and January to get bills authored. This year, AVFCA had 12 bills, covering a broad range of topics, including getting toxics out, medical privacy, health transparency and exemptions. It is extremely difficult to get a bill authored because all legislators have their passion projects and constituent priorities. AVFCA recieved a lot of positive bi-partisan response to our bills, and were hopeful to get multiple bills authored this year. And AVFCA SUCCEEDED!!
One of those bills is SB 499 - The Cool Schools Act - authored by Senator Menjivar, for which A Voice for Choice Advocacy is the sponsor. AVFCA is extremely excited to be working with her office on this bill.
Description: SB 499 w ould require all public schools to replace low specific heat surfaces, such as cement, asphalt, brick, pebbles, sand, aggregates, rubber, and synthetic turf, with high specific heat surfaces, such as cool pavement technologies, natural grass, shrubs, trees, wood chips, or other natural systems that mitigate heat and pollution. SB 499 would also require all public schools to develop and implement an extreme heat action plan, which would include installing or planting (1) shade trees or mini-forests, positioned on schoolsites where pupils can access them during the school day, (2) school garden infrastructure and plantings, and (3) coniferous tree barriers between the schoolsite and any adjacent high-polluting streets or commercial projects. ( [link removed] [[link removed]] )
Why AVFCA Requested and is Sponsoring SB 499: Removing pavement, asphalt, synthetic surfaces, including synthetic turf, and adding shade trees in places that are accessible to children and youth during the school day will directly protect children from high temperatures and reduces urban heat islands in the surrounding community, while also reducing air pollution and toxic chemical exposure. Children spend a significant portion of their day on their school campuses. Adding green spaces, including trees, shrubs, and natural grasses to schoolyards has also been linked to persistent changes in recess and classroom behavior, including increased physical activity, attention and social collaboration, higher academic achievement, decrease in stress, anxiety, and disruptive behavior. The choices schools and districts make about how they manage their land directly impacts students’ daily experiences, mental and physical health, and learning outcomes. This bill falls within our broader mission and goes hand-in-hand with A Voice for Choice's "Non-Toxic Schools" project ( [link removed] [[link removed]] ).
Bill Status: SB 499 has been referred to the Senate Eduation Committee and the Senate Human Services Committee. It will be heard in the Senate Education Committee on March 22 at 9am. Public comment can be given by phone.
Take Action This Week!
1) Make an appointment TODAY to meet with your CA Senator and their staff to ask them to support SB 499. Be sure to mention you are a constituent.
- Not sure who that is - enter your address here: [link removed] [[link removed]] (Note: No need to contact your Senator yet)
- Not sure how to set up a meeting and build a trusted relationship with your legislators - watch this webinar: [link removed] [[link removed]] .
2) Submit a letter of support to the Legislative Portal, as an individual and on behalf of any organization you represent, and encourage other organizations to do the same. These are due before NOON on Friday, March 17:
– Write a brief letter in your own words asking the Senate Education and Human Services Committees to Support SB 499. This does not need to be more than a few sentences stating “I Support SB 499 bill because ….”. Make sure your letter is polite, to the point, and sounds convincing. Remember you are trying to sway the legislators to vote the way you want them to, not alienate them. If you can write on behalf of an organization or company, be sure to put your letter on a letterhead and sign it, so that it gets recognized.
– Create an account or sign in at [link removed] [[link removed]]
– Click “Submit a letter” and enter the bill number (SB 499), and follow the instructions to upload your letter to Senate Education and Human Services Committees.
3) Sign your organization on to AVFCA's SB 499 support materials
As the sponsor of SB 499, A Voice for Choice Advocacy is gathering a coalition of concerned organizations throughout California to support SB 499, AB 246 and AB 99 through the 2023 legislative process. Please sign your organization on to our letters by completing the form [link removed] [[link removed]] here: to show your organization’s support to increase the health of our environment and decrease toxics, which in turn will impact people’s physical and mental health positively.
By completing this form A Voice for Choice Advocacy will add your organization to a support letter submitted to each bill’s author, the CA Legislative Committees through which these bills will pass, as well as to legislators voting on the bill. You are welcome to add your organizations support to any or all of these bills.
4) Meet and educate organization leaders to gain their support of SB 499
One of the key ways legislators are swayed to vote on a bill, is by seeing lots of organizations supporting a bill. Therefore reach out and meet with individual school board members, individual board of supervisors, and other organization leaders to encourage them to support SB 499 and take the steps above.
Please forward this email to anyone in California who you think is concerned with extreme heat, toxic surfaces and air pollution. Share this email on social media: [link removed] [[link removed]]
Over the past 8 years, A Voice for Choice Advocacy has established itself as the leading legislative organization lobbying in the California Capitol for your health rights. While A Voice for Choice Advocacy's lobbying activity in the Capitol is important, your positive constituent relationships with your CA State Senator and Assembly Member and their staff are critical to assisting with A Voice for Choice Advocacy's efforts in the Capitol.
Knowing how to create a trusted, professional relationship with your legislator is not always easy, and it can be hard to know where to start. Christina, who during 2015, spent ever Monday thru Wednesday in Sacramento lobbying alongside our seasoned lobbyist, learning the tricks of the trade, and since then has had hundreds of legislative meetings, has shared her knowledge in this video, so you can be as effective as possible. [link removed] [[link removed]]
If you found this information helpful and appreciate the work A Voice for Choice Advocacy is doing, please support us by making a donation today.
Together we can make change happen!
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