Assembywoman Christy Smith speaks to the dozens of attendees at the Wake Up, Stand Up , sexual Harassment Prevention Seminar held at the Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook University Center at College of the Canyons in Valencia on Saturday. Dan Watson/The Signal

Smith’s first bill signed into law

Assemblywoman Christy Smith, D-Santa Clarita, had her first piece of legislation signed into law this week after Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 853, which addresses college affordability.

Under previous law, using a ScholarShare 529 College Savings Plan to pay third parties was illegal, but Smith’s AB 853 now allows California students to use their ScholarShare savings plans to directly pay third parties for living expenses such as rent.

“The opportunity for a better life often lies with access to education, but burdensome costs associated with college often prevent and deter bright young minds from advancing their education,” Smith said Wednesday, speaking on the bill and her excitement.

“It’s incredibly exciting to have my first bill signed into law. I’m so proud of the hard work that went behind AB 853, especially because it will help families pay for college,” the assemblywoman said. “As the cost of living rises, we must alleviate the financial burden for students and broaden our definition of college affordability.”

Like Smith, state officials are excited for the new measure because they feel it will help minimize the increasing student loan debt crisis facing the nation.

“(AB 853) makes it easier for parents and plan participants to pay for higher education expenses efficiently by allowing direct payments to third party vendors,” said State Treasurer Fiona Ma, who was a sponsor of AB 853.

The bill is set to take effect on Jan. 1, 2020, according to Smith, who added, “I’m proud my first bill signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom will help students pursue their dreams and curiosities in college.”

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