TechEquity’s 2024 Legislative Agenda

Our strategy for 2024 AI policy, as well as sponsored and priority legislation for the 2024 California legislative session.
May 22, 2024

At TechEquity, we envision a world where the tech industry is responsible for building widespread economic prosperity, and is held accountable for the economic harms it creates in our communities. We want to address power imbalances so tech can empower, rather than undermine, everyday people and strengthen the rights of workers and renters. 

We need bold public policy and regulation, championed by powerful coalitions and directly impacted people, to make that happen. We focus on legislation in California because we’ve seen that when policy is enacted in California, it has ripple effects across the country and around the world.

Below is an overview of our strategy for 2024 AI policy, as well as sponsored and priority legislation for the 2024 California legislative session.

Our AI Strategy

In 2023, Techquity began to formulate a new focus area that overlaps with both our Housing and Labor Platforms—AI. We launched our AI Policy Principles to guide this work in early 2024, and believe California is a strategically important place to advance policy at the intersection of AI and our issue areas. 

Legislators have flooded the session with bills on AI, so we’ve focused our efforts on developing a strategic response to these bills, rather than sponsoring legislation in 2024. We are convening an AI working group to hold conversations across advocacy areas and provide feedback to strengthen existing legislation from a broad coalition. In addition, we continue to prioritize bills that advance our labor and housing platforms.

Our Coalitions

We focus on supporting legislation that is aligned with our mission, our initiatives, and our values. We do this through participation in a set of coalitions that are aligned around those areas of our work, including:

Housing

  • Housing Now! Coalition
  • Rise Economy Housing Committee
  • Bay Area Housing for All
  • Up for Growth (National)

Labor

  • Stronger California Coalition
  • Temp Worker Advocacy Coalition (National)
  • Employment Law Federal Strategies Working Group (National)
  • Anti-Monopoly Coalition

Multi-Issue

  • Building the California Dream Alliance
  • Schools and Communities First
  • AI Working Group (TechEquity-led table)

Our Sponsored Legislation

Sponsored legislation means we have partnered with an elected official to develop and lead the efforts to ensure these bills will become law. We’re aggressively campaigning on the legislation, leading coalition tables, and engaging our community on why these bills are vital to our mission. 

Contract Worker Fairness Act (AB 2741 – Haney)

The Contract Worker Fairness Act (AB 2741) would have strengthened California’s labor code to ensure employees of staffing agencies—contract and temporary workers—have real onramps to stable, permanent employment and have the protections they need to advocate for themselves and their rights. We’ve decided to pause our current efforts on AB2741 to build the power necessary to make a bill of this scale successful. 

The Contract Worker Fairness Act would have helped workers gain stable, long-term, direct employment by requiring staffing agencies to tell workers when direct, permanent positions become available at their staffing placement and to work with client employers to place workers into those permanent roles. It would have also curtailed anti-competitive behavior by requiring transparency on fees charged by staffing agencies, eliminating “conversion fees” that would have been imposed if workers become direct employees, and prohibiting staffing agencies from restricting the right of a contract worker to accept a permanent position with a client employer. Finally, it would have allowed workers to refuse placement at worksites where there is a labor dispute, and prevent retaliation against contract workers when enforcing their rights.

As part of our Contract Worker Disparity Project, we found that contract workers in tech were disproportionately women, non-binary, and people of color. Since those findings were released we have partnered with contract workers and worker advocates around the country to identify opportunities for structural change to improve working conditions, hold companies accountable for the abuse of these practices, and ensure contract workers are supported through the unique difficulties they face due to their employment arrangements.

Staffing agencies often market to workers that contracted roles are a good way to “get your foot in the door” to a career, and tell workers that they are likely to get converted to long-term, stable, direct employment at a company they are placed at through a contract role. In reality, workers often find themselves stuck in a cycle of perma-temping—fulfilling all the duties of a permanent employee without the security, benefits, or salary.

Conversion fee provisions are an agreement between the staffing agency and the client employer and are often made without the knowledge of the contract worker. When surveyed, workers report that their number one reason for taking a contracted role is their hope that the role will become permanent, but they are often unaware that conversion fee provisions are included in their contract and will act as a deterrent to their being converted to permanent direct employment. No one should profit by keeping workers stuck in a cycle of instability.

We’ve decided to pause our current efforts on AB 2741 to build the power necessary to make a bill of this scale successful. Contract workers face significant threats to their careers when going public on these issues. We need to deepen our worker-organizing capacity and further connect with workers throughout California and across a variety of industries, to build an even stronger policy that can create lasting change for workers in California. We thank Assemblymember Haney for his leadership and look forward to continuing the conversation with our coalition partners on how best to advance temp workers rights in tech and beyond.

Our Priority Legislation

Priority legislation means these bills have a very close tie to our initiatives and policy platforms at the intersection of tech and economic justice. We have joined a coalition to ensure these bills’ passage. We’re educating, engaging, and activating our community to support the passage of these bills.

Beneficial Owner Transparency Act (SB 1201 – Senator Durazo)

Position: Support

SB 1201 will establish transparency in the ownership of limited liability companies (LLCs) and similar corporations by requiring each entity to disclose the name of each person with substantial control over the entity both upon creation and upon submitting their required biennial business filings. This will help reveal the true ownership of rental properties in California, allowing for the closure of critical gaps in the housing data ecosystem and unlocking the potential for new solutions to address the housing crisis. 

The bill aligns closely with TechEquity’s Housing Data Initiative, which mobilizes the skills and resources of TechEquity’s community of tech workers to advocate for the creation of better data about the housing market, build tools that help citizens enforce their rights, and collaborate with advocates to ensure that California’s housing policy is having its intended effect.

Removing Hedge Funds from Housing Act (SB 1212 – Senator Skinner) 

Position: Support. This bill has been pulled by the author and will not be advancing this year.

California is experiencing the lowest rate of owner-occupied home ownership in decades, to help level the playing field and increase homeownership opportunities for California families, SB 1212 will stop hedge funds and large investment entities from buying single-family homes.

The bill aligns closely with TechEquity’s Tech, Bias, and Housing Initiative, our research looking into the ways that venture-backed and digitally-enabled “property tech” plays an increasingly influential role in the housing market and economy. Digital property management tools are enabling companies to acquire and manage vast portfolios of single-family properties creating instability and a lack of access for everyday people. 

$10 Billion Housing Bond (AB 1657 – Assemblymember Wicks)

Position: Support

AB 1657 will place a $10 billion bond on the November 2024 ballot to fund the state’s affordable housing programs, including affordable rental housing for lower-income families, homeownership opportunities, and supportive housing for people experiencing homelessness.

This bill closely aligns with TechEquity’s Housing Policy Platform, building more housing at all income levels, with a priority on affordable housing.

Automated Decision-Making Impact Assessments (AB 2930 – Assemblymember Bauer Kahan)

Position: Support, if Amended

AB 2930 hopes to remove bias from Automated Decision-Making Tools (ADTs) by requiring developers and users of ADTs to conduct and record an impact assessment including the intended use, the makeup of the data, and the rigor of the statistical analysis. The data reported must also include an analysis of potential adverse impact on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, sex, or any other classification protected by state law. TechEquity has led an effort to make improvements to the bill and close major loopholes through a Support if Amended campaign.

The bill’s scope is broad and would regulate ADTs of all kinds, including those used to make hiring and other workplace-related decisions, as well as ADTs deployed in housing like tenant-screening tools. From this perspective, the bill has strong overlap with both our labor and housing work, and we’ve taken a Support if Amended position in alignment with our AI Policy Principles.

AI Procurement Standards (SB 892 – Senator Padilla)

Position: Support

SB 892 requires the Department of Technology to develop and adopt regulations to create an artificial intelligence (AI) risk management standard and requires the AI risk management standard to include a detailed risk assessment procedure for procuring automated decision systems (ADS), analyzes specified characteristics of the ADS, methods for appropriate risk controls, and adverse incident monitoring procedures. 

Without the state setting stringent procurement standards for the technology it uses to serve the people of this state for programs like unemployment or paid family leave, we risk deploying technologies that can discriminate and deny access at scale. In alignment with our AI Policy Principles, we’ve prioritized supporting this bill and have been working to develop amendments with a group of aligned organizations and the author’s office. 

Position Legislation

Position legislation are bills we believe are important to our issue areas. We can’t prioritize them due to capacity constraints but we continue to educate our community on them and will take action whenever possible to ensure their passage.

Following our prioritization and bill selection process, we take positions on a broader set of bills shared through the coalitions we participate in. This year, we’ve taken a position on 23 bills across our issue areas and policy platforms. Below is an overview of how position legislation fits into our policy platforms.

Housing

We must build more housing at all income levels, with a priority on affordable housing through supporting bills like SB 225 (Caballero) that creates a new Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) program called the Community Anti-Displacement and Preservation Program (CAPP), to fund the acquisition and rehabilitation of unrestricted housing. Additionally, we’re supporting bills like AB 1932 (Ward) that would provide an ongoing, dedicated state funding source for housing and homelessness prevention programs by eliminating the state mortgage interest deduction on vacation or second homes.

We must protect vulnerable communities from being pushed out with bills like AB 2216 (Haney) which protects renters with pets and ACA 10 (Haney) which creates a constitutional amendment for a right to housing.

We must preserve affordable housing where it already exists through bills that address the corporatization of housing like AB 1333 (Ward) which prohibits the bulk sale of two or more parcels of single-family homes to institutional investors, AB 2539 (Connolly) which provides mobile home park residents the right of first refusal when their park goes up for sale, and AB 2926 (Kalra) which requires owners of affordable housing to preserve affordability. 

We must acknowledge and account for the racial bias inherent in the system with bills like AB 2347 (Kalra) that would preserve the due process rights of tenants by providing them with procedural safeguards to defend themselves.

Labor 

We must protect all workers with bills like AB 2499 (Schiavo) to prevent employers from discriminating against workers for using their paid leave and time off policies and AB 2751 (Haney) which would require employers to develop established working hours and allow workers to disconnect—not respond to calls or emails—outside of those hours.

We must expand and equip the workforce with bills like SB 1030 (Smallwood Cuevas)  to promote awareness of workplace protections through the Department of Industrial Relations in the Labor and Workforce Development Agency to foster, promote, and develop the welfare of wage earners of California, to improve their working conditions, and to advance their opportunities for profitable employment.

We must meet everyone’s basic needs with bills like AB 2200 (Kalra)  which would create the California Guaranteed Health Care for All program, or CalCare, to provide comprehensive universal single-payer health care coverage and a health care cost control system for the benefit of all residents of the state and SB 333 (Cortese) which would pilot universal basic income for youth experiencing homelessness. 

AI 

People who are impacted by AI must have agency to shape the technology that dictates their access to critical needs like employment, housing, and healthcare. We’re supporting bills like SB 1220 (Limon) which would require state agency call center jobs to continue to be filled by workers so that the needs of Californians accessing state services can be met. We’ve also opposed AB 1814 (Ting) which fails to provide protections against false FRT matches leading to arrests.

The burden of proof must lie with developers, vendors, and deployers to demonstrate that their tools do not create harm—and regulators, as well as private citizens, should be empowered to hold them accountable. 

We’re supporting bills like AB 3211 (Wicks) which sets watermarking standards for AI-generated images like deepfakes to help the public distinguish authentic imagery from generated, and AB 2655 (Berman) which fights online election disinformation by requiring social media platforms to label election-related deepfakes posted by users, and ban the worst, most obvious cases close to elections. We’re also supporting AB 2839 (Pellerin) that bans the use of deepfakes that deceive voters about candidates and elections officials in political mailers, robocalls, and TV ads, and SB 1228 (Padilla) which fights anonymous trolls and disinformation spreaders by requiring social media platforms to seek escalating levels of identifying information from their largest users.

Concentrated power and information asymmetries must be addressed in order to effectively regulate the technology. We’re supporting bills like SB 1047 (Wiener) ​​which establishes a process to create a public cloud-computing cluster that will conduct research into the safe and secure deployment of large-scale artificial intelligence (AI) models. The model will allow smaller startups, researchers, and community groups to participate in the development of large-scale AI systems, preventing monopoly and consolidation of power within the industry. 

Tell legislators your story

See an issue you care about? Have a personal connection to one of these bills? Email community@techequitycollaborative.org to share your story with one of our organizers.