Assembly Judiciary Committee approves Wieckowski's bill protecting working-poor's wages from garnishment

July 7, 2015

Sacramento – Senator Bob Wieckowski’s (D-Fremont) bill to allow low-income working Californians to keep a little more of their paychecks in order to meet their basic needs when their wages are being garnished passed the Assembly Judiciary Committee today.

SB 501 cuts the amount that can be garnished from workers’ paychecks, putting California more in line with many other states that have garnishment limits.  It also eliminates an unintended result of the state’s current wage garnishment formula where workers earning $10, $11 or $12 an hour can have 100 percent of their paycheck above the minimum wage garnished.  SB 501 respects local minimum wage laws that were voted on and approved by local governments.

“SB 501 bases the garnishment percentage on the worker’s weekly paycheck,” said Wieckowski, a member of the Senate’s Judiciary Committee.  “This repay as you earn structure will help protect families who have been struggling to hold it together.  Currently, workers who were already living paycheck-to-paycheck are going without essentials like groceries and medicine.  Bills and rent often cannot both be paid on time.  Consequently, families are being pushed onto public assistance.”

Creditors will still be paid off in full, but not at the cost of destabilizing low-wage workers and their families.

“This bill strikes the right balance between ensuring debts are repaid and ensuring workers bring enough of their paychecks home to make ends meet and avoid falling into even more debt,” Wieckowski said.

SB 501, along with SB 641 and SB 308, is part of Senator Wieckowski’s three-bill Economic Equity and Financial Stability Initiative.  The three bills are advancing in the Assembly after passing the Senate in May with bipartisan support.  They assist low-income families by reforming outdated bankruptcy exemptions, allowing consumers to fight default judgments based on the merits of their cases and increasing the amount of income workers can keep when their wages are garnished. 

Senator Wieckowski represents the 10th Senate District, which includes southern Alameda County and northeast Santa Clara County.