Photo Courtesy of the Office of Assemblywoman Luz Rivas

State Assemblywoman Luz Rivas (D-Arleta) has introduced the California Youth Empowerment Act to establish the first-ever statewide youth advisory body to the state government.

During a press conference on Wednesday, Jan. 8, Rivas said the duties of the Commission would include policy development, community engagement, and development of our youth to promote civic engagement, education, social equality, human and social services, workforce development, and public safety.

At least half of the appointed commissioners must have experienced youth homelessness, foster care, juvenile incarceration, or have special needs.

“Youth today are more digitally and socially connected than ever. As our social and political climate evolves, we are starting to see an abundance of responsible, young and concerned individuals effectively utilize social media platforms to create a globally interactive forum to mobilize their peers on urgent matters,” said Rivas, who was joined at her press conference in Sacramento by her principal co-author of AB 1858, Senator Scott Wiener, and the sponsors of legislation, including the California Association of Student Councils, California Coalition of Youth, California Youth Connection, Bay Area Student Activists of San Francisco, and San Francisco Youth Commission. 

“Through education, responsible journalism, and the interconnectivity of our social media platforms, our youth are well-informed, engaged, and empowered to participate in our democracy. I believe that it is our responsibility to engage and listen to the next generation before making policy decisions that directly impact them. The voices of our youth are too important to California to be left out, and I believe that a statewide, student-led advisory board for youth is necessary.”

Rivas noted that there are “at least 40 California commissions advising our government on important issues throughout out state, and none of them are led by our state’s youth. This means, we are not hearing the voices of 12.5 million Californians under the age of 24 when the state makes critical policy decisions affecting their lives.”