2. Legislative Findings and Declarations
8261. The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(a) The needs and issues affecting youth are most accurately addressed by youth themselves.
(b) Young people in California have demonstrated their passion for the civic process and getting involved, as seen in the spike in voter turnout from the 2014 midterm elections, where 8 percent of California voters between 18 and 24 years of age voted, to the 2018 midterm elections, where 27.5 percent of California voters between 18 and 24 years of age voted.
(c) Young people have also shown their desire for change in social and public policy, as shown in advocacy efforts relating to gun
reform, education, affordable housing, juvenile justice, health, jobs, and climate change.
(d) There are over 9,000,000 youths in California under 18 years of age as of the most recent data, compiled in 2017. Of those, an estimated 14,660 unaccompanied minors and youths between 18 and 24 years of age experience homelessness each year. Research shows that approximately 60,000 children are in the foster care system in California at any one time, and less than 1 percent of the 225,000 youths arrested in California currently occupy juvenile justice facilities. Youth who are homeless, in the juvenile justice system, or in foster care have limited opportunities to participate in the policy process that ultimately impacts their well-being.
(e) The government is designed to address input and participation from the people being served; however, youth under 18 years of age who cannot vote
do not have a formal way to participate in the civic process.
(f) There is a growing need to engage our youth directly with policymakers in a manner that will provide genuine opportunities for our youth to acquire civic knowledge and develop the skills necessary to participate fully in a democratic society.
(g) Over 20 other states have statewide youth entities codified into law for the purpose of advising their respective legislatures and governors.
(h) The California Youth Empowerment Commission, as established by this chapter, is intended to provide model legislation and advocacy for the needs of youth.
4. Creation and Membership
8263. (a) There is in the state government the California Youth Empowerment Commission. The commission shall consist of 25 voting commissioners to be appointed as follows:
(1) Twenty-one public members appointed by the Governor, subject to the following requirements:
(A) The terms of these commissioners initially shall be staggered so that 10 members serve one-year terms and 11 members serve two-year terms. To achieve the staggering of terms, the Governor shall designate the terms of the present members of the commission who have been appointed by the Governor.
(B) Two of the commissioners shall reside, work, or attend
school in each region described in subdivision (b), with the exception of the at-large commissioner.
(C) Ten of the commissioners shall be between the ages of 14 and 18.
(D) Ten of the commissioners shall be between the ages of 18 and 25.
(E) At least 10 commissioners shall have experienced a physical disability, youth homelessness, foster care, or juvenile incarceration.
(F) One at-large commissioner, who may be between the ages of 14 and 25.
(2) Two at-large public members appointed by the Senate Committee on Rules.
(3) Two at-large public members appointed by the Speaker of the Assembly.
(b) For the purposes of subparagraph (B) of paragraph (1) of subdivision (a), these regions are defined as follows:
(1) The Superior California region consists of the Counties of Butte, Colusa, El Dorado, Glenn, Lassen, Modoc, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou, Sutter, Tehama, Yolo, and Yuba.
(2) The North Coast region consists of the Counties of Del Norte, Humboldt, Lake, Mendocino, Napa, Sonoma, and Trinity.
(3) The San Francisco Bay area region consists of the Counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Solano, and the City and County of San Francisco.
(4) The Northern San Joaquin Valley region consists of the Counties of Alpine, Amador,
Calaveras, Madera, Mariposa, Merced, Mono, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, and Tuolumne.
(5) The Central Coast region consists of the Counties of Monterey, San Benito, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, and Ventura.
(6) The Southern San Joaquin Valley region consists of the Counties of Fresno, Inyo, Kern, Kings, and Tulare.
(7) The Inland Empire region consists of the Counties of Riverside and San Bernardino.
(8) The Los Angeles region consists of the County of Los Angeles.
(9) The Orange County region consists of the County of Orange.
(10) The San Diego/Imperial region consists of the Counties of Imperial and San
(c) In addition to subdivision (a), one Member of the Senate appointed by the Senate Committee on Rules, one Member of the Assembly appointed by the Speaker of the Assembly, the Governor, Superintendent of Public Instruction, and Secretary of California Health and Human Services shall serve as nonvoting members of the commission.
(d) All appointing powers shall take into consideration that the members of the commission represent the geographical, racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, cultural, physical, and educational diversity of California’s youth. Particular emphasis and funding should be used on reaching out to at-risk or disadvantaged youth to serve as members of the commission, as their participation will provide keen insight into many of the issues that youth face in their day-to-day lives.
8264. (a) Excluding the initial staggering of terms, commissioners shall serve two-year terms.
(b) Commissioners shall be between 14 and 25 years of age. If a commissioner turns 26 years of age during their term, that commissioner shall be allowed to complete the term.
(c) A commissioner must be a resident of California.
(d) A commissioner may seek reappointment as long as they fulfill the requirements pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 8267.
(e) (1) Attending a meeting of the commission as a commissioner shall be a lawful excuse
for a student to be absent from school, under paragraph (7) of subdivision (a) of Section 48205 of the Education Code, if approved by the principal or a designated representative pursuant to uniform standards established by the governing board.
(2) A student excused from school attendance under this section may not be recorded as being absent on any date for which the excuse is operative and may not be penalized by the school in any manner.
(f) (1) In the event of inappropriate conduct, unexcused absences, or inability to complete expected duties of a commissioner, the commissioner in question is entitled to a facilitated meeting using restorative practices.
(2) For purposes of this subdivision, the following definitions shall apply:
(A) “Facilitated meeting” means a facilitated process designed to
acknowledge, address, and respond to the underlying needs of all parties, that may include, but is not limited to, a meeting of the commissioners in conflict.
(B) “Restorative practices” means a process to improve and repair relationships between people and communities. Restorative practices provide tertiary prevention, introduced after the problem has occurred, with the intention of avoiding reoccurrence.
(g) A commissioner’s position becomes vacant, under the approval of the executive director, in the event of any of the following:
(1) Death of a commissioner.
(2) Resignation of a commissioner.
(3) Change in residence of a commissioner to outside of California.
(4) Failure of restorative practices for inappropriate conduct, unexcused absences, or inability to complete expected duties of a commissioner.
(h) In the event of a vacancy, the appointing power that appointed the commissioner shall appoint a replacement in the same manner as the original appointment within 30 days of the vacancy.
8265. (a) No later than March 1 of each year, the executive director, appointed pursuant to Section 8274, shall both:
(1) Release to the public on its internet website the procedures for the general application process to assist public members in the appointment process and facilitate communications between public members and the appointing powers.
(2) Have created and made the application publicly available on its internet website.
(b) The executive director shall also notify the Superintendent of Public Instruction, the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities, the Regents of the University of
California, the California State University, and the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s office that the application for an appointment is open. The notice shall include the requirements for an appointment, a copy of the application, and a request to transmit the notice to all students in California.
(c) In reviewing general applications, the executive director may consider additional relevant selection criteria and conduct interviews.
(d) The executive director may recommend public members to be appointed to the appointing powers, but there shall be no right or obligation on the part of the appointing powers to appoint those public members.
8266. (a) Each public member of the commission shall receive one hundred dollars ($100) per diem while on official business of the commission. Each member of the commission shall also be entitled to receive their actual necessary traveling expenses while on official business of the commission.
(b) Each commissioner shall be reimbursed for any necessary food, travel, or lodging expenses associated with the duties of the commission.
8267. (a) The commission shall elect a chair, vice chair, and clerk from among its members at the first meeting of the year.
(b) The commission shall be composed of the following:
(1) A chair who shall conduct the meetings, draft bylaws, serve as the primary liaison to the government, and oversee the formation of committees as necessary to accomplish the business of the commission.
(2) A vice chair who shall assist the chair and conduct the meetings of the commission if the chair is absent or otherwise unable to perform their duties.
(3) A clerk who shall
keep and maintain the minutes of the meetings, regularly update the internet website, pursuant to Section 8272, and record the final votes on any measure for vote by the chair.
5. Purposes, Duties, and Powers
8268. With respect to its duties, the commission shall be an advisory commission only. There shall be no right or obligation on the part of the state, or parties meeting and conferring, to implement the findings of the commission without further legislation that specifically authorizes that the evaluations, determinations, and findings of the commission be implemented.
8269. The commission’s main purpose is to provide meaningful opportunities for actual civic engagement to improve the quality of life for California’s disconnected and disadvantaged youth. Furthermore, youths involved with the commission will make meaningful recommendations regarding legislation and policies that impact their own lives and the lives of millions of other youths in California whose voices often go unheard.
8270. The commission shall conduct full commission meetings at least every other month, with the first meeting in August 2021. All meetings of the full commission shall be open and public, and all persons shall be permitted to attend any meetings of the commission. For all other committee meetings, the commission may meet by electronic teleconference means.
8271. The affirmative votes of a majority of the commissioners at a full session or committee meeting are required for the commission or committee to take action on any measure, respectively, including resolutions, annual reports, and initiatives.
8272. The commission shall do the following:
(a) Examine and discuss policy and fiscal issues affecting the interests, needs, and conditions of the youth of California.
(b) Formally advise and make recommendations to the Legislature, Superintendent of Public Instruction, and Governor on specific legislative and fiscal issues affecting youth, such as the following:
(1) Achievement gap.
(2) Behavioral and physical health.
(5) Child welfare.
(6) Child and sexual abuse.
(7) Civic engagement.
(8) Climate crisis.
(9) College affordability and student loans.
(10) Depression and suicide.
(13) Financial literacy.
(14) Foster care.
(15) Gun violence.
(18) Housing and transportation.
(19) Immigration and undocumented youth.
(20) Juvenile justice.
(21) Labor and jobs.
(22) LGBTQ civil rights.
(23) Mental health.
(25) Racial, economic, and gender equity.
(26) Reproductive justice.
(28) Social media and networking.
(29) Substance abuse and vaping.
(30) Youth development.
(31) Any other policy or fiscal issues deemed appropriate by the commission.
(c) Consult with any existing local-level youth advisory commissions and community-based, grassroots youth-led organizations for input and potential solutions on issues related to youth.
(d) Publish an internet website to report details relevant to the commission for the public to view, including, but not limited to, commission agendas, minutes, resolutions, vote counts, initiatives,
commissioner information, photos, and video.
(e) Publish an annual report to the Legislature, Superintendent of Public Instruction, Secretary of California Health and Human Services, and Governor detailing the activities, issues, demographics, budget, and outcomes of the commission. The commission shall submit the report to the Legislature required by this subdivision in compliance with Section 9795.
8273. The commission shall carry out the duties imposed upon it by this chapter, and may do any of the following:
(a) Draft and approve resolutions that formally articulate the commission’s positions on various youth-related legislative and fiscal policy.
(b) Draft model legislation that addresses issues relating to youth that may be adopted by Members of the Legislature.
(c) Provide testimony during any committee meeting in the Legislature.
(d) Form committees and task forces to discuss specific issues and policy areas and meet as necessary.
(e) Conduct public hearings with community and youth organizations to identify pressing issues and debate priorities.
(f) Appoint advisory committees from within its membership or with outside members whenever necessary. Members of an advisory committee shall serve without compensation, but each may be reimbursed for necessary traveling and other expenses incurred in the performance of official duties.
(g) Conduct public awareness campaigns to raise awareness about the commission and to enhance outreach to the youth in this state.
(h) Conduct periodic seminars for its members regarding leadership, government, and the Legislature.
(i) Establish grant application criteria and procedures.
(j) Award prizes or direct grants to organizations in accordance with those regulations as the commission may prescribe. In awarding prizes or directing grants, the commission shall notify the offices of the legislators in whose district the recipient resides.