2020 Annual Report - Public Policy

2020 Annual Report - Public Policy

2020 Advocacy Victories
Public Policy

Public Policy

This year, the legislative session was different from previous years due to the pandemic, with hearings being held virtually. Also, in early spring, the Department of Finance announced that the state would face a budget deficit of $54 billion in 2020 and 2021.

Due to the forecasted budget cuts, legislative leadership decided to prioritize bills related to COVID-19 response, wildfire prevention, and homelessness and reduce the number of bills heard in policy committees in order of priority. drc was initially sponsoring or co-sponsoring 12 bills; however, due to the pandemic changes, only one of our bills made it to the governor’s desk and was signed.

Even with the pandemic changes, drc still analyzed or reviewed 422 bills, 5 resolutions, and 1 constitutional amendment in 45 subject areas. Of the 422 bills, we supported or opposed 153 of them while monitoring the remainder throughout the year. Most of the bills were in issue areas of: health, housing, intellectual/developmental disabilities, mental health, public safety, and voting.

Photo of a black mother with her daughter who has a disability. They are both smiling
We testified in committees, submitted letters to the Governor, worked closely with coalition groups and other organizations to make sure new policies would benefit the disability community and ensure proposed budget cuts would not negatively impact the disability community.


Advocating to Prevent Budget Cuts to Programs that Impact the Disability Community Including:

Community Based Adult Services (CBAS)

Also known as Adult Day Health Care (ADHC), and the Multipurpose Senior Services Program (MSSP) programs. These programs will continue to serve vulnerable seniors and people with disabilities as an alternative to institutionalization for individuals who are capable of living at home with the aid of appropriate health, rehabilitative, personal care, and social services.



drc worked with the Department of Education to ensure Individualized Education Plans (IEP’s) would proceed despite distance learning.

We also advocated to create more equitable funding for special education programs statewide. As a result of our advocacy, the state allocated an additional $550 million in the 2020 state budget, plus an additional $100 million set aside for students with costly disabilities, such as genetic disorders that require specialized services.


Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD)

drc advocated on budget cuts that would: remove barriers that unnecessarily places individuals with developmental disabilities in jail instead of diversion programs, keep consumers safe and supported in their homes with the option of expeditated Individual Program Plans, and decrease the number of individuals institutionalized.


Healthcare and In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS)

drc ensured that the final budget agreement maintained supplemental security income (SSI), State Supplementary Payment (SSP) benefits and IHSS. In addition, our advocacy resulted in expanding paid sick leave benefits, IHSS emergency back-up systems, and pay differential for IHSS providers.

Despite 2020 projections of a $54 billion deficit, California actually faced an improved revenue outlook with a surprise $15.5 billion budget surplus from tax windfall.
Photo of a Disability Rights California employee holding up a sign that says We Are In This Together.

Advocating for Policies that Impact the Disability Community

drc Supported and Sponsored Bills signed by the Governor Include:

California Community Transitions Program

SB 214 (Dodd) is a drc-co-sponsored bill. This ensures that Medi-Cal recipients staying in a nursing home for less than 90 days can receive community transition services including home modifications, first and last month rent, utilities, buying food, and household supplies to transition to community living successfully and be safe for the individual.

Housing and Tenant Protection

AB 3088 (Chiu) is a drc supported bill. This prevents tenants from being evicted due to the pandemic and circumstances if they make partial rent payments before February 2021.

Mental Health

SB 803 (Beall) is a drc supported bill. This established a peer certification program where people with lived experience of mental illness or a substance use disorder (SUD) are able to get services to others in similar situations. The bill added peer support services as a Medi-Cal covered benefit.

SB 855 (Wiener) is a drc supported bill. This ensures mental health and substance use disorder (SUD) treatment are provided equitably to physical health treatment. The bill puts in place reasonable reforms to guarantee insured Californians have access to mental health and SUD services. This bill also states that if required services are not available, health plans must immediately cover services out-of-network at in-network rates.

Public Safety

SB 1207 (Jackson) is a drc supported bill. This requires that skilled nursing facilities have backup power systems that maintain a safe temperature and provide power to all critical systems for resident health and safety for no less than 96 hours.


AB 860 (Berman) is a drc supported bill. This required every registered voter in California be sent a mail-in ballot. This bill required county elections officials to permit any voter to cast a ballot using a certified remote accessible vote-by-mail system for the November 3, 2020, statewide general election.

SB 423 (Umberg) is a drc supported bill. This bill allowed for in person polling places for every 10,000 registered voters, which benefited voters with disabilities who need accommodations, accessible voting machines, or do not have access to a mailbox.

Photo of an elderly man leaning on a cane. He is smiling and happy.

Master Plan for Aging

drc participated throughout the year on the Governor’s Task Force to develop a strategy that would serve as a blueprint for state government, communities, organizations, and philanthropy to promote older Californian's health and well-being. The final plan was released January 6, 2021, and includes five bold goals: housing for all ages and stages, improving access to health services, providing inclusive opportunities for seniors to live and work without fear of abuse and neglect, bolstering the caregiving workforce, and increasing economic security for aging Californians.


This past year we honored and recognized legislators and legislative staff for advancing the rights of Californians with disabilities.


Looking Forward

We look forward to engaging with the Governor and legislature as the proposed 2021-22 budget moves forward in the legislative process and continue to advocate for important policies and programs that support people with disabilities.

Of the bills that had stalled due to the pandemic, drc plans to re-introduce a proposal relating to the standard of causation of death in nursing homes and increasing the fines for citations.