Assembly: Phil Ting

Lunar New Year Holiday Proposed

Gung Hay Fat Choy!

The Year of the Rabbit is here. I wish you and your family good health and prosperity.

I marked this occasion by introducing AB-264, a bill giving California’s community colleges the flexibility to observe the Lunar New Year (LNY) as a state holiday without increasing the number of days schools are closed. They could, for example, combine Lincoln’s and Washington’s birthdays as one holiday and add LNY as another.

Hate incidents against the Asian American Pacific Islander community are still happening, and a Lunar New Year holiday would help foster greater cultural understanding. It gives students a time to reflect on the special significance of this celebration and to encourage acceptance. We’re better as a society when we create opportunities for communities to learn about each other.

I give credit to City College of San Francisco Board of Trustee President Alan Wong who got other members to support a resolution last year, urging the state Legislature to amend the California Community College Education Code to allow the LNY observance.

Since Lunar New Year is the most widely observed holiday for families in California’s Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, Wong says Asian and immigrant community college students at CCSF and other schools throughout the state have had to decide between going to class or celebrating with their parents and grandparents. He added that, at a time when the Asian community is still reeling from hate-motivated incidents, this is our opportunity to promote cultural understanding and support the Asian community.

AB-264 is great follow-up to AB-2596 by my colleague, Assemblymember Evan Low. His bill was enacted this year declaring Lunar New Year a state holiday for state employees. However, it does not apply to community college districts, and I’m happy to step up and answer the call. As a champion of steering more resources to AAPI communities, I know this designated holiday speaks volumes in saying we matter.

For those of us who have kids here in the San Francisco Unified School District, we know the district has observed the Lunar New Year as a holiday for decades. It makes sense to give community colleges the same latitude. According to the Pew Research Center, Asian Americans make up 17% of the state’s population, the highest share outside of Hawaii.

Lingyi Li, an international student at City College and president of the school’s Chinese Culture Club, would welcome a Lunar New Year holiday. She wants the time to reconnect with relatives in China, allowing her to reflect on her culture, history, and spend time calling and meeting with friends and family.

The hearings for AB-264 will begin in the spring. I will try my hardest to get it approved.

Meanwhile, I’d also like you to join me in celebrating the Lunar New Year. I will be participating the San Francisco Chinese New Year Parade again this year. It will be held Saturday, Feb. 4, at 5:15 p.m., starting at the corner of Market and Second streets. Then on Friday, Feb. 17, state leaders, including myself, will be hosting a celebration at our offices at 455 Golden Gate Ave., 2-4 p.m.

I hope to see you at both events!

Phil Ting represents the 19th Assembly District, which includes the west side of San Francisco along with the communities of Broadmoor, Colma and Daly City as well as part of South San Francisco.

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