2022 Public Policy Advocacy Victories

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2022 Public Policy Advocacy Victories

 

2022 Public Policy Advocacy Victories

Disability Rights California advocates for people with disabilities at the local, state, and federal levels building relationships and influencing legislative and budget policy. Our goal is to ensure all people with disabilities have the power they deserve to live the way they choose in their communities.

During the year, DRC sponsored fourteen bills, with five signed into law, and two adopted in the state budget. DRC analyzed or reviewed 430 bills in 51 subject areas. Of the 430 bills, we supported or opposed 100 of them while monitoring the remainder throughout the year. Most of the bills were in issue areas of: civil rights, health, housing, intellectual/developmental disabilities, mental health, public safety, and voting.

We testified in committees, submitted letters to the Governor, worked closely with the disability community, 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.

Highlights

Advocating for Services and Programs that Impact the Disability Community in the State Budget

California experienced another year of budget surplus, which allowed DRC and other advocacy organizations to advocate for services and support for people with disabilities across California. Some highlights of budget advocacy are highlighted and a full summary of the budget agreement and impacts on programs serving persons with disabilities can be found here

Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD)

DRC advocated to improve access to justice by making it easier for people served by regional centers to participate in the fair hearing process without an attorney. 

DRC pressed for changes that led to:

  • Accelerating rate increases for service providers and directing those rate increases to improving wages for frontline staff who directly support people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. 
  • Extending the availability of virtual Individual Program Plan (IPP) meetings.
  • Adding the consideration of evidence-based practices to pilot programs for transitioning people out of subminimum wage work setting.
  • Ensuring adequate provider pay rates for highly individualized employment, postsecondary education, and self-advocacy supports known as tailored day services.
  • Retaining the current limit on the number of Enhanced Behavioral Support Homes that use locked gates to prevent people from leaving, which the state had sought to eliminate.  

Healthcare

DRC advocated to reform the Medi-Cal Share of Cost program’s maintenance need income level to 138% of the federal poverty level, making it more affordable for seniors and people with disabilities to access. Previously, low-income older Californians and persons with disabilities who rely on Medi-Cal struggled to access care because they were required to pay over $900 each month before Medi-Cal would cover the cost of their health care. 

Now aging adults, people with disabilities, and their families will not have to make impossible decisions between choosing needed health care or paying rent and having food on the table. 

drc Supported and Sponsored Bills Signed by the Governor Include:

AB 1663 (Maeinschein) (co-sponsored)
This helps people keep choice and control over their lives. The law helps people with disabilities and older adults get support from people they trust, and not be forced into unnecessary conservatorships. The law also makes changes to probate code conservatorships to make sure that people under conservatorship have a voice in the decisions made for them. It also makes it easier for people to get out of conservatorships when the conservatorship is no longer necessary.

AB 2598 (Weber) (co-sponsored)
This requires CDE to develop a standard model for restorative justice practices to be utilized by school districts as part of their efforts to improve campus culture and climate. Restorative practices and restorative justice methods allow for greater understanding and community healing in addressing youth incidents. These practices also emphasize repairing the harm done to people and relationships, rather than focusing on punishing offenders. Instead, these practices emphasize the importance of ensuring those responsible for the harm receive the help and support they need to heal and stop the cycle of harm.

AB 1957 (Wilson) (co-sponsored)
Regional centers and the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) are required to track and report annually on the number of instances where a translation of the IPP to an uncommonly spoken language exceeds 60 days from the date of request. 

This law extends the regional centers’ and DDS’ reporting obligations to also track and report on the number of instances where a translation of the IPP in to a more commonly spoken language, i.e., a threshold language, exceeds 45 days. The law also requires the regional centers and DDS to collect and annually report purchase of service data related to social recreation activities. This law also enables the public to monitor how the restoration of these critically important services will affect existing funding disparities.

AB 1195 (C. Garcia) (co-sponsored)
This improves the state hiring process for workers with disabilities through the Limited Examination and Appointment Program (LEAP). This law provides that a state agency may request and be furnished with a referral list of LEAP candidates to better identify and hire applicants with disabilities.

SB 281 (Dodd) (co-sponsored)
This extends the California Community Transitions Program (CCT). The CCT Program assists individuals in moving out of a nursing home and into their own home or other community setting.

DRC Sponsored Bill Vetoed by Governor Newsom

AB 2632 (Holden)
Solitary confinement is considered torture by the United Nations and a growing body of legal and medical experts. DRC was part of a coalition that looked to limit the use of solitary confinement. This bill known as “The California Mandela Act” would have helped to establish limits on the amount of time people can spend in solitary confinement in jails, prisons and immigration detention centers, especially for vulnerable populations such as people with disabilities, younger people, older people and those who are pregnant.

Unfortunately, the bill was vetoed by Governor Newsom. DRC and other advocates plan on bringing the bill back in 2023.  

Highlights of Other DRC Involved Legislation

DRC Supported Bills Signed by Governor Newsom

Accessibility:

AB 371 (Jones-Sawyer) Shared mobility devices: insurance and tracking.  

AB 2164 (Lee) Disability access: certified access specialist program: funding.  

AB 2264 (Bloom) Pedestrian crossing signals.  

Blindness:

AB 2480 (Arambula) Rehabilitation services: persons with vision loss.  

Civil Rights: 

AB 256 (Kalra) Criminal procedure: discrimination.  

AB 655 (Kalra) California Law Enforcement Accountability Reform Act.  

AB 1666 (Bauer-Kahan) Abortion: civil actions.  

Court Procedures: 

AB 1706 (Bonta, Mia) Cannabis crimes: resentencing.  

AB 2657 (Stone) Incarcerated person’s competence.  

Employment

AB 1604 (Holden) Civil service: the Upward Mobility Act of 2022.  

SB 1162 (Limón) Employment: Salaries and Wages.  

Disabilities: 

AB 2216 (Irwin) The Qualified ABLE Program: tax-advantaged savings accounts.  

Emergency Services/Deenergization

AB 2511 (Irwin) Skilled nursing facilities: backup power source.  

AB 2645 (Rodriguez) Local emergency plans: integration of access and functional needs: community resilience centers.  

Education/Special Education: 

AB 22 (McCarty) Preschool data: data collection.  

SB 291 (Stern) Advisory Commission on Special Education.  

SB 532 (Caballero) Pupil instruction: high school coursework and graduation requirements: exemptions and alternatives.  

SB 1016 (Portantino) Special education: eligibility: fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.  

Employment:

AB 1751 (Daly) Workers’ compensation: COVID-19: critical workers.  

SB 951 (Durazo) Unemployment insurance: contribution rates: disability insurance: paid family leave: weekly benefit amount.  

Healthcare

SB 923 (Wiener) Gender-affirming care.  

SB 1142 (Caballero) Abortion services.  

SCA 10 (Atkins) Reproductive freedom.  

Housing / Homelessness:

AB 2031 (Lee) Mobilehome Residency Law: management meetings with homeowners.  

AB 2483 (Maienschein) Housing for individuals experiencing homelessness.  

AB 2339 (Bloom) Housing element: emergency shelters: regional housing need.  

SB 1017 (Eggman) Leases: termination of tenancy: abuse or violence.  

Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities: 

SCR 91 (Hurtado) Individuals with Developmental Disabilities Inclusion Month. 

Immigration:

AB 1766 (Stone) Department of Motor Vehicles: driver’s licenses and identification cards.  

SB 836 (Wiener) Evidence: immigration status.  

Jails/Prisons: 

AB 2167 (Kalra) Crimes: alternatives to incarceration.  

SB 903 (Hertzberg) Prisons: California Rehabilitation Oversight Board.  

SB 1139 (Kamlager) Prisons: visitation. 

Mental Health: 

AB 2275 (Wood) Mental health: involuntary commitment.  

SB 1019 (Gonzalez) Medi-Cal managed care plans: mental health benefits.  

SB 1223 (Becker) Criminal procedure: mental health diversion.  

Transportation

AB 2147 (Ting) Pedestrians: Decriminalizing jaywalking.  

SB 1161 (Min) Transit operators: street harassment survey. 

Voting: 

AB 2841 (Low) Disqualification from voting.  

Youth: 

AB 2827 (Quirk-Silva) Child daycare facilities.  

DRC Opposed Bill Signed by Governor Newsom

Mental Health: 

SB 1338 (Umberg)
DRC advocated to stop policies that take away the rights and choice of people with disabilities. DRC strongly opposed SB 1338 (Umberg) also known as CARE Court. This policy places Californians living with serious mental health disabilities and substance use disorders under involuntary court-ordered treatment. Despite the opposition from DRC and many Civil Rights, Disability Rights, Housing Rights and Racial Justice Organizations, the bill passed the California Legislature and was signed by Governor Gavin Newsom. 

Although we oppose the policy and have litigators advocating strongly against it, DRC was able to develop and strengthen relationships with mental health advocates, racial justice advocates, housing advocates, and civil rights advocates. This coalition is prepared to continue to fight on behalf of disabled people and other underrepresented groups in policy moving forward.

Assembly Health Committee Testimony in Opposition of SB 1338 - Eric Harris, Director of Public Policy, DRC

Community Engagement

DRC created Community Organizers, which are new roles for the organization.  Throughout the year they engaged with individuals across California to listen, get perspective, and build relationships across intersectional disability communities.  

Vanessa Ramos, DRC’s Community Organizer for Public Policy says, “Our goal is to build people power. And to do this, we need to get feedback directly from the disability community.”

We find it important to get this perspective to ensure the work we do as a Public Policy Team reflects the community’s needs.  

Some of the important work this last year also included: Testifying in front of the California Legislature, building new relationships across California, attending a national community organizer training, and hosting an online townhall event to listen to and reach intersectional communities.  During the event, DRC was joined by California state legislators and leaders from the disability movement for a panel discussion about equity for the disability community. Following the panel discussions, DRC hosted breakout rooms where community members shared which policy and advocacy priorities they wanted to see DRC consider for the coming year.

Watch the full townhall here.

Looking
Forward

DRC will continue to make and develop meaningful relationships with elected officials, staff, and community leaders while responding to issues that impact our community, such as addressing the COVID-19 pandemic response, the emergencies caused by wildfires, and our continued housing crisis. 

We plan to continue to advocate on issues relating to employment, education, health care, and long-term services and supports, disaster preparedness and response, and civil rights of all people with disabilities in all forms of policy, including legislation and the State’s Budget.

According to several experts, the state is likely to have revenues that are far below projected amounts. This could result in the state either cutting or holding firm on services that require money from the state’s budget. DRC still views this next year as an opportunity to increase disability influence and power at all levels of government.