2021 Selected Signed and Vetoed Bills Affecting Persons with Disabilities

2021 Selected Signed and Vetoed Bills Affecting Persons with Disabilities

2021 Selected Signed and Vetoed Bills Affecting Persons with Disabilities


The COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating to the disability community and the state at large.  It also dramatically changed the work of the Legislature and the Executive Branch.  In 2020, legislative priorities were shifted to address the pandemic, homelessness and fire safety.  This year, although the previously mentioned three priorities remained the same, the Legislature expanded to cover other issues as well. For a second straight year, the Legislature and Executive Branch conducted their work virtually. This meant that the policy team advocated in virtual meetings, testified over the phone and submitted letters via email.

October 10, 2021 was the deadline for Governor Gavin Newsom to sign or veto bills passed by the Legislature this year. Of the 836 bills sent to Governor Newsom, he signed 770 into law (92.1%) and vetoed 66 bills (7.9%).

Disability Rights California (DRC) began the year sponsoring or co-sponsoring nine bills, four of which made it to Governor Newsom’s desk. These four bills, AB 313 (C. Garcia), AB 323 (Kalra), SB 14 (Portantino), and SB 639 (Durazo), were all signed by the governor.

Along with these four bills, several high priority bills that drc supported were signed by Governor Newsom, while others that drc opposed were vetoed. drc was also active in the budget process, ensuring that voices of the disability community were heard as the state made funding decisions on health, intellectual and developmental disabilities, public safety, education, transportation, and housing. Here is a brief highlight of enacted and vetoed bills affecting persons with disabilities.

drc Sponsored Bills Signed by the Governor:

AB 313 (C. Garcia) requires all state agencies to develop a reasonable accommodation policy for state workers with disabilities.  This law also requires the California Department of Human Resources to develop a model equal opportunity employment program for all state workers with disabilities.  Finally, AB 313 requires state agencies to submit employment data relating to disabled workers to the Legislature and requires them to take corrective action for low representation rates of workers with disabilities.

AB 323 (Kalra) updates long-term care facility citation penalties and standards for negligent care to safeguard nursing home and long-term care facility residents.  Specifically, the bill: 1) adopts the California State Auditor’s recommendation on skilled nursing facility citation amounts to improve quality-of-care deficiencies in nursing homes, and 2) improves California’s Department of Public Health’s enforcement ability by clarifying the confusing causation standard for “AA” citations, replacing the “direct proximate cause” test with the “substantial factor” test.

SB 14 (Portantino) broadens the definition of excused student absences to include an absence for the benefit of behavioral health of the student, with parity to physical excused absences.  The bill also recommends that the Department of Education identify youth behavioral health training that will equip school personnel and students with skills to recognize the signs and symptoms of behavioral health disorders (mental health and substance use disorders), provide knowledge of local resources and services, safely de-escalate crisis situations involving individuals with a mental health challenge, and reduce stigma and increase help-seeking behavior.

SB 639 (Durazo) phases out the payment of subminimum wage for work performed by people with disabilities in California. This law creates a workgroup to help transition workers with disabilities to competitive employment. No new employers can pay less than minimum wage starting in 2022. By 2025 no worker will earn less than minimum wage.

Other Significant Bills Signed by the Governor drc Supported:


AB 361 (Rivas) – Open Meetings: State and Local Agencies: Teleconference

AB 716 (Bennett) – Court Access

AB 1291 (Frazier) – State Bodies: Open Meetings

Assistive Technology:

AB 435 (Mullin) - Hearing Aids: Locked Programming Software: Notice

Civil Rights:

AB 57 (Gabriel) Hate Crimes


AB 1194 (Low) - Conservatorships


AB 101 (Medina) Pupil Instruction: High School Graduation Requirements

SB 400 (Jones) - Homeless Children and Youths: Local Education Agencies

Emergency Services/Deenergization Events:

AB 118 (Kamlager) Department of Social Services: C.R.I.S.E.S Grant Program

AB 580 (Rodriguez) - Emergency Services Vulnerable Populations

SB 52 (Dodd) State of Emergency: Power Outages

SB 533 (Stern) - Wildfire Mitigation Plans: Deenergization Events


SB 221 (Wiener) - Health Care Coverage: Timely Access to Care

SB 650 (Stern) Skilled Nursing Facilities


AB 721 (Bloom) Covenants and Restrictions: Affordable Housing

AB 838 (Friedman) - State Housing Law: Enforcement Response to Complaints

AB 1043 (Bryan) - Housing programs: Rental Housing Developments

AB 1061 (Lee) Mobilehome Residency Law: Water Utility Charges

AB 1304 (Santiago) - Affirmatively Further Fair Housing: Housing Element

AB 1398 (Bloom) - Planning and Zoning: Housing Element: Rezoning of Sites


AB 263 (Arambula) Private Detention Facilities

AB 829 (Levine) Foster Children: Immigration Counsel and Guardianship

SB 334 (Durazo) Detention Facilities: Contracts

Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD)

AB 445 (Calderon) Developmental Services: Information Collection

Mental Health:

AB 309 (Gabriel) Pupil Mental Health: Model Referral Protocols

AB 638 (Quirk-Silva) Mental Health Services Act: Early Intervention and Prevention Programs

SB 224 (Portantino) - Pupil Instruction: Mental Health Education

Public Safety:

AB 26 (Holden) Peace Officers: Use of Force

AB 48 (Gonzalez) Law Enforcement Use of Force

AB 481 (Chiu) Law Enforcement Agencies: Military Equipment: Funding

AB 490 (Gipson) Law Enforcement Policies: Arrests: Positional Asphyxia

SB 2 (Bradford) Peace Officers Certification: Civil Rights

SB 16 (Skinner) - Peace Officers: Release of Records


SB 498 (Umberg) - Funds for the Provision of Legal Services to Indigent

Voting Bills:

AB 37 (Berman) Elections: Vote by Mail Ballots

AB 796 (Berman) Voter Registration: New Motor Voter Program

SB 35 (Umberg) Elections: Prohibited Activities

SB 503 (Becker) Voting: Signature Verification


AB 1140 (Rivas) Foster Care: Rights

Significant Bills Vetoed by the Governor drc Supported:


AB 339 (Lee) Local Government: Open and Public Meetings


AB 369 (Kamlager) Medi-Cal Services: Persons Experiencing Homelessness

AB 523 (Nazarian) - Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly


AB 1487 (Gabriel) - Homelessness Prevention Fund


AB 1238 (Ting) Pedestrian Access

Significant Bills Signed by the Governor that drc Opposed:


SB 380 (Eggman) End of Life

Mental Health:

SB 507 (Eggman) - Mental Health Services: Assisted Outpatient Treatment

Significant Bills Vetoed by the Governor that DRC Opposed:

Mental Health:

AB 226 (Ramos) Children's Crisis Psychiatric Residential Treatment

AB 1542 (McCarty) County of Yolo: Secured Residential Treatment Program


SB 665 (Umberg) - Employment Policy: Voluntary Veterans Preference