First-ever paid holiday on California Native American Day for court workers moves to Senate

Assembly approves historic AB 855 on bipartisan 72-0 vote

For immediate release:

SACRAMENTO—California’s state Assembly today approved a historic measure to grant state Judicial Branch employees the first-ever paid holiday on California Native American Day, which falls on the fourth Friday of September every year. AB 855, by Assemblymember James C. Ramos (D-Highland), heads to the state Senate on a unanimous 72-0 bipartisan vote.

Ramos, a member of the Serrano/Cahuilla tribe, is the first California Native American lawmaker elected in the state’s 170-year history. He has been laboring to enact a California Native American Day since 1998. “I was a San Manuel council member when I started working toward this goal with then-Assemblymember Joe Baca Sr. “This is one more step forward in recognizing and building knowledge about the history, culture and contributions of California’s Native Americans.”

Judiciary employee holidays are set in the Code of Civil Procedure and a change requires legislation. Other state employees are covered in the Government Code. AB 855 would amend the Code of Civil Procedure to recognize California Native American Day as a judicial holiday to provide proper recognition for the state’s First People and celebrate their history. It would not create an additional paid holiday for court personnel because Columbus Day would be exchanged for another state holiday, California Native American Day. Court personnel are currently the only state workers receiving the existing October 12 holiday as a paid day off.

The Judicial Council, a sponsor of the proposal, voted in January to seek authority to ensure California Native American Day is designated as a paid holiday for court employees.

Judge Marla O. Anderson, chair of the Judicial Council Legislation Committee said, “The Judicial Council is proud to sponsor AB 855 and thanks Assemblymember Ramos for authoring this historic bill. The judicial branch recognizes that access to justice is served by ensuring all Californians feel seen by the justice system, and this bill recognizes and celebrates the important contributions of Native Americans to this state. The Judicial Council extends its gratitude to members of the Assembly for their support of AB 855 and looks forward to working with the Senate to move this legislation along.”

Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) said, “Today’s historic vote to allow a paid state holiday to acknowledge and learn about California Native Americans and their story is overdue. I am pleased to join Assemblymember Ramos and 70 other colleagues in voting for this measure today.”

Former U.S. Representative Joe Baca Sr. said, “I am gratified that the work of decades is blossoming, and that California Native American history and culture will be highlighted through a paid holiday.” He added, “As a member of the state Assembly and Congress, I felt a deep obligation to also honor the many contributions of the First Californians despite the horrific treatment they received as the country moved westward. I hope that one day we see a paid holiday across the U.S. that truly acknowledges Native American culture and history and what we owe them.”

“Our state Judicial Council brought the idea for this bill forward, and I thank them for their initiative,” Ramos added. “For more than 20 years, I have worked to help create a day recognizing California’s First People and their history. California has the greatest number of Native Americans residing within its boundaries, and it is fitting that we begin to expand our commemoration of this holiday.”

AB 855 is sponsored by the Judicial Council. It is also supported by the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation and the California Business Alliance.

Co-authors are Assemblymembers Ed Chau (D-Monterey Park), Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), Chris Holden (D-Pasadena), Ash Kalra (D-San Jose) and Eloise Gómez Reyes (D-Riverside).

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Assemblymember James Ramos proudly represents the 40th Assembly district which includes Highland, Loma Linda, Mentone, Rancho Cucamonga, Redlands, and San Bernardino. He is the first and only California Native American serving in the state’s legislature.