The Sustainable Economies Law Center has officially submitted a letter of support for AB-129, the California Alternative Currencies Act. This bill makes an important amendment to the California Corporations Code, clarifying that the use and circulation of alternative currencies is not prohibited. While SELC has advocated for removing Section 107 of the CA Corporations Code, this bill still takes a step toward a more resilient monetary system by legitimizing the use of alternative currencies in California.
The term "alternative currencies" can denote a wide range of currency designs and projects, and is not clearly defined in this bill. SELC specifically advocates for "community currencies" - forms of exchange designed to meet the particular needs of specific communities or regions, and that are democratically controlled and managed by the communities using them.
Read more about SELC's Community Currencies advocacy here. Continue reading below for how you can support this bill, too.Read more
We've been working towards this groundbreaking moment for two years. California State Assemblymember Steven Bradford has introduced AB 2561, the California Neighborhood Food Act, which, if passed into law, will remove zoning law barriers and other obstacles to growing produce for personal use or for sale throughout California.
It's time to legalize front yard and backyard gardens, community gardens and farm micro-enterprises! It's time to bring fresh, local produce to all communities in California, regardless of geographic limitations and socio-economic status!
Now we need your help to ensure the Neighborhood Food Act will become law.
Read about how SELC is revolutionizing legal services and cultivating a new legal landscape this Spring!Read more
The California Alternative Currencies Act (AB-129) updates California Corporations Code Section 107 to clarify that the issuance and use of alternative currencies is not prohibited in California.
This is an important clarification. The existing language of Corporations Code Section 107 is ambiguous and outdated, and might be interpreted to prohibit the creation and circulation of alternative forms of exchange - including community currencies, virtual currencies, frequent flier miles, rewards point systems, and other widely used and emerging forms of exchange.
After nearly two years of advocacy, Sustainable Economies Law Center and supporters across California are happy to see this outdated law clarified. If passed, California may go from one of the only states to potentially prohibit alternative currencies to the first state to explicitly acknowledge them!
Creating a Resilient Monetary System
Our centralized monetary system is fundamentally flawed. 97% of our money supply is put into circulation as debt by private for-profit banks, who control where that money first enters our economy. The vast majority of money flows toward housing and financial services when created by these banks as loans, bypassing the productive economy that provides essential livelihoods, goods, and services to communities. And once some of these Federal Reserve notes find their way into our communities, they tend to flow back out again through taxes and profits to out-of-town corporations. The US has one of the highest wealth inequality rates in the modern world: 93% of monetary wealth is owned by just 20% of the US population.
Communities across California, across the US, and across the world are creating their own forms of exchange that:
- keep wealth circulating locally,
- allow local businesses and community members to continue exchanging essential goods and services,
- promote community cohesion by re-grounding economic relationships in real human connections, and
- are designed to solve specific social, environmental, and economic problems.
As part of a larger strategy to reform our monetary system, community currencies can make our local economies much more resilient to economic volatility, effectively empower economically-marginalized populations with an inclusive and accessible form of exchange, and contribute to the movement for economic democracy by giving communities the power to design and issue their own currencies!
How you can get involved
SELC has been advocating for this bill for nearly two years, and we need your support to finally make sure it becomes law! If you or your organization would like to express support for this bill:
Download a template letter here and take a few minutes to make the letter personal and unique to your or your organization's perspective. Make any and all changes to the template that you'd like. At the very least, please add a few sentences about your organization and why this legislation is important to you.
Print and mail signed letters to:
Senator Noreen Evans, Chair
Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee
Attn: Eileen Newhall
State Capitol Room 405
Sacramento, CA 94249-0007
We encourage you to send copies of the letter to your Assemblymember and Senator as well. Don't know who your representatives are? Search here: http://findyourrep.legislature.ca.gov/
The Sustainable Economies Law Center partnered with the Social Justice Learning Institute, Slow Food California and Ubuntu Green to pass AB 2561, the California Neighborhood Food Act in 2014. This law is supported by many other organizations and enterprises as well.
If you sign the petition below, we can keep you updated on SELC's current urban agriculture advocacy that builds on our success with the Neighborhood Food Act and furthers our right to grow and sell food in our communities.
The California Neighborhood Food Act, signed into law in 2014, removes barriers to growing food for personal consumption. The law provides rights to grow food in certain circumstances. As a signatory to this petition, you can show your support for urban agriculture as a strategy to increase access to fresh food, promote food security for vulnerable Californians, and reduce environmental impacts of water-intensive lawns. We'll keep you updated on our other work to promote urban agriculture. Below are descriptions of the key provisions of the law:
The law requires that tenants of single family homes and duplexes have the right to grow produce in their backyard in portable containers as long as it does not create trip-and-fall risks or other hazards. It allows the landlord to place restrictions on the location and number of containers.
Homeowners' Association member rights:
The law makes it illegal for a homeowners’ association contract to prohibit or unreasonably restrict the use of backyards of private (not shared) property for growing produce.
Click here to download model Neighborhood Food Act legislation (note: this is NOT what was actually signed into law in California).
Please email Neil@theselc.org.
The Worker Cooperative Policy Coalition was successful in getting our bill, AB 2525, the Limited Liability Worker Cooperative Act, into the California State legislature. We need your feedback more than ever!
SELC develops and spearheads targeted legislative and local campaigns that support the creation of cooperative economies.
2015 - Present (2017) Oakland City Ordinance for the Promotion of Worker Cooperatives
Local governments can be instrumental in fostering the development of worker cooperatives by enacting policies that create incentives and remove key barriers to the growth of a thriving cooperative economy. But how do advocates for resilient, cooperative economies put their ideas into practice? Find updates on our current Oakland and Berkeley City campaigns, our ordinance language for both campaigns, and resources you can use to jump start local policy initiatives that promote worker coops as a grassroots, economic development strategy.
In 2016, the California Legislature passed AB 2883, making changes to the workers compensation law that failed to take into account and will have an adverse impact on cooperatives. In some industries, such as in food businesses, the cost of workers comp insurance will reduce workers’ take-home pay by as much as 11%. One worker-owned cafe has reported that AB 2883 will cost the business as much as $200,000 in 2017. A handful of cooperatives have convened to form a campaign group to change the law. Right now, we are gathering support from other cooperatives and organizations impacted by AB 2883. Find out more and get involved here!
The Sustainable Economies Law Center is proud to be a member of the California Worker Cooperative Policy Coalition and excited about paving new paths to increase democratic, worker-ownership in California. In the 2015 legislative cycle, we worked successfully with Assembly member Rob Bonta to pass AB 816! The bill created a legal entity for worker cooperatives in California, incorporating some exciting provisions regarding membership, capital raising, and default systems for democratically governed, worker-owned businesses! For more information, please visit our California Worker Cooperative Act campaign page here or find our updated bylaws for the new worker cooperative corporation on our online resource library, Co-oplaw.org.
Local governments can be instrumental in fostering development of worker cooperatives by enacting policies that remove key barriers and incentivize a thriving cooperative economy. By clicking the link, you will find a working draft of a sample city ordinance for the promotion of worker cooperatives.
Worker-Owned Job Creation on the Rise: Assemblymember Bonta Introduces California’s First Limited Liability Worker Cooperative Act to Facilitate Worker-Owned Business Development
Bill introduced in the California State Assembly would eliminate cumbersome requirements of existing law so that local worker-owned and managed businesses can thrive.Read more