The California Legislative Assembly has wrapped up its regular 2017 session. The following are the final results for The Arc California’s priority bills:
- AB 1161, which requires local law enforcement agencies to develop hate crime policies passed the Assembly Public Safety Committee and had a hearing in the Appropriations Committee, but no further action was taken;
- AB 973, which requires counties to permit voters with disabilities to use a remote accessible vote by mail system was vetoed by Governor Jerry Brown; and
- AB 1111, which creates a grant program for providing services to individuals with barriers to employment so that they can participate in training and education programs was signed by Governor Jerry Brown.
Governor Jerry Brown recently signed six affordable housing bills supported by The Arc California, including:
- SB 2, which creates a $75 fee for real estate transaction documents not to exceed $225 per transaction, with a hardship refund for low income homeowners, to fund affordable housing projects;
- SB 3, which puts a $4 billion bond measure on the November 2018 ballot, providing $3 billion for existing affordable housing programs and $1 billion for veterans’ housing;
- SB 35, which exempts apartment developers who pay a prevailing wage from certain local regulations in communities that aren’t meeting housing production targets;
- SB 540, which allows local governments to create “workforce housing opportunity zones” in which development can be expeditated;
- SB 166, which requires local governments to accommodate unmet local housing needs throughout the entire planning process; and
- SB 167, which prohibits a local government from turning down a housing development for low, very low, or moderate-income households unless its rationale is supported by a preponderance of the evidence.
As a result of advocacy by The Arc California, a legislative committee ordered an audit of the state’s enforcement of hate crimes. The audit will consist of a survey of more than 240 local and state law enforcement agencies, and a more detailed review of four local agencies (a city police department, a county sheriff’s office, a university police department, and a jail).
The Arc California held a rally at the state Capitol in support of AB 279, which increases Medicaid reimbursement rates for wages of DSPs in cities with a minimum wage higher than the state’s. Over 500 marchers were in attendance. Legislators who spoke at the rally include Assemblymember Chris Holden (D-Pasadena), Assemblymember Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale), Senator Scott Weiner (D-San Francisco), and Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Oakland). The Senate appropriation committee did not approve AB 279, but advocates are optimistic because of the number of legislators who participated in the rally.
As a result of advocacy by The Arc California, the elimination of the cap on respite services will take effect January 1, 2018. The cap of 21 days of out-of-home respite care per year or 90 hours of in-home respite care per quarter was put in place in 2009 to help address the budget deficit during the great recession. A measure eliminating the cap was included in the budget bill approved by Governor Jerry Brown. The restoration of respite services will likely help reduce racial disparities in the purchase of services by regional centers because data indicates that families of color tend to utilize respite services at higher rates.
Governor Jerry Brown, Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de Leon, and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon announced their support for an affordable housing initiative funded by a bond and a fee on real estate transactions. The Arc California supports this initiative and is also seeking to ensure that people with I/DD have the supports they need to live in the community. Specifically, The Arc California and the Lanternman Coalition propose that the state lease the properties of closed developmental centers, use the revenue to increase the supply of integrated housing, and use the savings from the closure of these developmental centers to fund community-based services.
The Arc California and six other disability and aging organizations wrote a letter to Attorney General Xavier Becerra requesting that three items dealing with abuse of adults who are elderly or have disabilities be included in the 2018-2019 budget. The items were:
- Revival of the California Department of Justice’s “Face It, It’s a Crime” advertisement campaign that encouraged reporting of abuse of adults who are elderly or have disabilities. Reporting dropped significantly when the program stopped.
- Revision of the Department’s literature to note that crimes motivated by bias against disabilities are hate crimes.
- Revision of the Department’s literature to clarify that the term “dependent adult” includesmany adults with disabilities who live independently.
The Arc California is advocating for passage of SB 442, which requires newly constructed or remodeled pools at single-family homes to have at least two of seven safety features enumerated in law. Current law requires only one. Pool accidents are a leading cause of death for children under five. For every one child that drowns, five experience a near-drowning event, which can cause intellectual and developmental disabilities. Children with autism are 160 times more likely to die from drowning than the general child population. The safety features include an enclosure, removable mesh fencing, an approved safety pool cover, exit alarms on home’s doors, a self-closing and self-latching device on their door, an alarm that sounds when an individual enters the pool, and other means of protection that afford safety equal to or greater than the enumerated features. The bill passed the California Senate, the Assembly Housing and Community Development, and the Assembly Health Committee and is now pending before the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
The Arc California is supporting SB 354, which requires school districts to translate IEPs and other communications with students and parents to their primary language. The bill passed the California Senate 30-6 and is pending in the Assembly Committee on Education.
The Arc California is advocating for passage of two bills to address the state’s shortage of affordable housing. SB 2 would create a $75 fee on real estate transaction documents, up to $255 per transaction, and excluding commercial and residential real estate sales. It passed the Senate 27-12 and has been sent to the Assembly. SB 3 would put a $3 billion housing bond issue on the 2018 state ballot. It passed the Senate 30-7 and is being considered in the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee.