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2007 Legislative achievements

The first year of the two-year California legislative session started with the swearing-in of 36 new legislators, their introduction of 2,803 bills, more threats of cuts to programs critical to the survival of people with disabilities, and a promise of health care reform.

Two PAI-sponsored bills, AB 1659 and AB 1410, drafted by our staff, were lobbied throughout the legislative session. Some of the bills we opposed survived; some we supported died; some were amended following our suggestions. One of our sponsored bills that we worked on tenaciously – AB 1410 – received bipartisan support for its focus on serving people with brain injuries and has just been signed by the Governor.

One highlight of 2007 was the demise of several bills that would have restricted the housing available to people with disabilities, including seniors. These bills reflect the prejudicial “Not in my back yard” (NIMBY) mindset all too prevalent around California , while couched in sophisticated land use terminology. For example, one bill would have enabled local authorities to review applications by administrators of group homes and then suggest alternative sites.

In May, Capitol Action Day brought hundreds of Californians with disabilities to Sacramento to educate themselves on issues, to march to the Capitol to show their strength and to tell the legislature how the decisions they make affect real people. Their testimony and passion were crucial to the hearings and lobbying visits that move PAI issues forward.

This year’s budget did delay, yet again, the cost of living adjustment to people on SSI/SSP. The Governor proposed cuts to the In Home Supportive Services program but was rebuffed by the legislature, which has rejected those cuts every year of this administration. The legislature’s budget delay created hardships for programs serving people with disabilities.

The special session on health care, held in October by the Governor and legislature produced a plan now under review by many constituencies. As far as we can tell, the plan does not meet the standards established by the new Disability Health Coalition. PAI has worked to illuminate the needs of people with disabilities in health care reform. We are also collaborating with other social change advocates to press the needs of all low-income needs for affordable and meaningful coverage. Neither the legislature nor the Governor’s plans have met the standards of the Disability Health Coalition.

In reaction to these results, PAI had already begun developing legislative proposals for the next session, based on consultations with its clients with disabilities. We anticipate working even more closely with allies to ensure greater success in this round.

Legislation: This year, PAI took positions on approximately 100 pieces of legislation. Below are key bills that PAI legislative staff worked on.

AB 1427

Author: Krekorian (D)
Position: Support
Dispoition: Vetoed by Governor
Requires the Department of Developmental Services to establish a pilot program to incentivize, reimburse, and assess the use of recognized training resources for direct support workers in consumer directed services.

AB 1410

Author: Feuer (D)
Position: Support - sponsor
Disposition: Signed by Governor
Requires the State Department of Health Care Services to apply to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for funding to serve at least 100 adults with acquired traumatic brain injuries. The services include a range of rehabilitative and other therapies and supported employment.

AB 1113

Author: Brownley (D)
Position: Support
Disposition: Vetoed by Governor
Extends indefinitely the federal option that allows any employed person who meets specified income and resource requirements, and pays the required premiums, to be eligible for benefits under the Medi-Cal program.

AB 1659

Author: Lieber (D)
Position: Support - sponsor
Disposition: In Assembly Appropriations
An effort to make the special education dispute resolution process more effective, fair, transparent, and accessible for parents of students with disabilities.

AB 66

Author: Dymally (D)
Position: Oppose
Disposition: In Senate Appropriations
Requires HIV testing for every inmate entering a correctional facility, state prison, or state hospital, unless the testing is declined. PAI objected to the bill’s lack of privacy safeguards.

AB 682

Author: Berg (D)
Position: Oppose
Disposition: Signed by Governor
Requires a medical care provider, prior to ordering a HIV test, to advise the patient the test is planned, provide information about treatment options and further testing needed, and to advise the of the patient right to decline. PAI opposed the bill because of a lack of procedural safeguards to assure that testing is truly desired.

AB 8

Author: Nunez (D)
Position: Oppose unless amended
Disposition: Vetoed by Governor
This is the Nunez-Perata “health reform” legislation, which creates the Cooperative Health Insurance Purchasing Program as a statewide purchasing pool for health care coverage by employers. PAI opposed the bill because of concerns about cost, availability, scope of coverage and accessibility.

AB 1663

Author: Evans
Position: Oppose
Disposition: Signed by Governor
Makes revisions conforming state law to federal requirements relating to pupil identification, assessment, and eligibility, individualized education program development, procedural safeguards, and pupil information confidentiality. PAI opposes this bill because it will disrupt the continuity of services during a crucial period of a child’s development.

AB 1723

Author: Assembly Judiciary
Position: Support
Signed by Governor
This bill would enhance the program known as “IOLTA” – Interest on Lawyer Trust Accounts, which is the major source of funding for legal services programs for low-income people in California.

SB 2

Author: Cedillo (D)
Position: Support
Dispositiong: Signed by Governor
Decreases the local land use barriers which hamper the establishment of emergency shelters, supportive housing and transitional housing and emergency shelters.

AB 759

Author: Karnette (D)
Position: Oppose unless Amend
Disposition: In Senate Human Services
Requires residential care facilities for the elderly, licensed to care for not more than 6 residents, to have an approved, operable automatic fire sprinkler system. PAI opposes a requirement on housing for people with disabilities which is not imposed on other residential homes, as it may reduce availability of housing.

SB 568

Author: Wiggins (D)
Position: Oppose
Disposition: Signed by Governor
Relates to existing law requiring a court-appointed psychiatrist to examine a defendant found to be mentally incompetent and decide whether or not treatment of the defendant with antipsychotic medication is appropriate and to notify the court. Requires the psychiatrist to also inform the court whether it is medically appropriate to administer antipsychotic medication in a county jail. PAI opposes this bill because county jails are not appropriately equipped to deal with the needs of individuals with psychiatric disabilities, nor the appropriate placement.

The next four bills would have restricted the housing opportunities for people with disabilities or individuals who were committed under WIC 6600 because of a psychiatric disability and released. PAI opposed these bills; all died in committee.

AB 370

Author: Adams (R)
Position: Oppose
Disposition: In Assembly Appropriations
Allows a county or city to prohibit a person released on parole, after having served a term of imprisonment for any offense for which registration as a sex offender is required, from residing, during the parole period, in any single family dwelling with any other person also on parole, unless those persons are legally related.

SB 530

Author: Dutton (R)
Position: Oppose
Disposition: In Senate Health Committee
Requires the State Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs to deny an application for a new facility license if the department determines that the facility would be separated from an existing facility by a specified distance. Many individuals who reside in these facilities are persons with disabilities.

SB 709

Author: Dutton (R)
Position: Oppose
Disposition: In Senate Appropriations Committee
Permits a city and county to submit the Director of Social Services additional documentation and evidence regarding the siting of a proposed residential care facility designed for a certain number of residents. Authorizes the director to suggest that the applicant consider alternative siting locations.

Budget issues:

  • AB 2034 Programs: The governor used his line-item veto to delete $54.9 million from the Integrated Services for Homeless Adults with Serious Mental Illness Program, which provides funding for local mental health agencies to serve homeless and other adults with serious psychiatric disabilities. The Governor claims similar services can be funded from revenues raised by Proposition 63.
  • Supplemental Security Income/State Supplementary Payment (SSI/ SSP ) Program: The budget shifts the effective date of the state COLA for Supplemental Security Income/State Supplementary Payment (SSI/ SSP ) grants to June 1 of each year starting in 2008. However, the federal COLA would continue to be provided on January 1 of each year.
  • In-Home Supported Services (IHSS): The budget rejects the Governor’s proposal to freeze the state’s share of In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) workers’ wages and benefits.
  • AAP Program: Dual Agency Foster Care Rates and Adoption Assistance: In the May Revision, the Department of Social Services had a proposal that revised its rate-setting methodology for the care and supervision of foster and adoptive children receiving services from both County Social Services Departments and Regional Centers . The new methodology would have provided an across the board amount of $2006 per month for care and supervision; the previous amount went as high as approximately $5100 a month based on the needs of the child after an individualized assessment. This change makes it more difficult for foster parents to adopt children with the most significant disabilities who require more care and supervision. Working in coalition with other advocates, PAI legislative staff testified at the May revision hearings, drafted coalition analyses and statements, met with legislative budget staff, the administration and the Governor’s staff to oppose the proposal. In addition, PAI staff worked with other advocates to develop a media strategy and educate the press on the negative ramifications of the proposal. PAI and other advocacy organizations succeeded in getting an exception to the flat rate. The exception would allow for a $1000 increase a month, at the discretion of the counties, for children with the most need.

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