SACRAMENTO – Assemblymember Mark Stone (D-Monterey Bay) wrote several new laws that will take effect on January 1, 2016.
ADDRESSING FOSTER YOUTH CONCERNS
Assembly Bill 403, sponsored by the California Department of Social Services (CDSS), builds upon years of policy changes to improve outcomes for youth in foster care. It comprehensively reforms placement and treatment options. The reforms in this new law will provide youth with the support they need to return to their families or to find a permanent home if returning to their families is not an option. AB 403 addresses these issues by ensuring that families who provide foster care receive targeted training and support so that they are better prepared to support youth living with them. Children who enter foster care need safe, comfortable, supportive places to stay, whether with a relative, a foster family, or a treatment center, and AB 403 helps accomplish that goal.
Assembly Bill 592 helps former foster youth more easily access important health, education, and housing benefits for which they are eligible. The measure helps former foster youth more easily acquire documentation of their former foster youth status so that they can access programs and benefits specific to former foster youth such as Medi-Cal, FAFSA, and transitional housing programs. Under the new law created by AB 592, the state, rather than counties alone, may provide former foster youth verification of their time in care including the dates within the foster care system.
HELPING FRAGILE CALIFORNIANS ACCESS SAFE CARE
Assembly Bill 848 will allow residential detoxification facilities to provide 24-hour medical services to their clients, safeguarding the health of people seeking alcohol and drug rehabilitation services. This new law allows appropriately-licensed detoxification facilities to provide the best possible care for vulnerable people struggling to overcome addictions. People who are working to get sober should have their needs met through the programs where they are seeking help, including medical treatment related to their addiction and recovery, and AB 848 helps ensure such treatment is available.
Assembly Bill 918 protects vulnerable Californians who live in community care facilities. AB 918 provides much-needed transparency in the care practices of community facilities by requiring facilities to collect data and publicly report the use of resident seclusion and behavioral restraints. For the first time, this information will be available online. The bill also requires facilities to report deaths or serious injuries to the state’s protection and advocacy agency. Under this measure, family members of people in community care facilities will be able to access public data about how often seclusion and restraint techniques are used on their loved ones.
Assembly Bill X2-15, jointly authored with Assemblymember Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Stockton), will allow mentally-capable, terminally-ill adults the option to request a doctor’s prescription for aid-in-dying drugs to painlessly and peacefully hasten their death. The measure will go into effect 90 days after the 2015 Second Extraordinary Session on Healthcare is adjourned.
OTHER KEY LAWS TAKING EFFECT
Assembly Bill 394 will help promote small and local winemaking businesses in the Monterey Bay area. The new law requires that Monterey County wines are labeled to identify the region where they are produced, which will help small and locally owned businesses and will help promote the county’s wines around the world. Winemaking is an important sector of our local Monterey County economy. Vintners and vineyards provide jobs, attract tourists, and create high-quality products that make this region special.
Assembly Bill 87 takes an important step to enshrine the legal rights and responsibilities of all Californians regarding jury selection. AB 87 updates current law prohibiting discriminatory peremptory challenges during the jury selection process by prohibiting such challenges if a prospective juror is assumed to have a bias because of his or her gender identity, gender expression, ethnic group identification, genetic information or disability. This new law will take a modest but necessary step to ensure that defendants are allowed a trial by an impartial jury that reflects a cross section of the population in a community.
ADVOCATED POLICY - Statewide Earned Income Tax Credit/Assembly Bill 43: In June, the Legislature passed and the Governor signed into law a balanced, on-time budget that includes for the first time a statewide Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) that supplements the federal EITC for the state’s poorest residents. These actions will help lift more Californians out of poverty by allocating $380 million to eligible working families who live far below the poverty level. The new statewide EITC takes a step toward addressing the lack of income gains for working Californians in the Post-Great Recession economic recovery while simultaneously providing a much-needed economic stimulus in the most economically distressed communities.
Earlier this year, Assemblymember Stone authored Assembly Bill 43, a comprehensive EITC proposal that would have made available a statewide EITC to all Californians who are eligible for the federal EITC (including a much higher eligible income threshold, and including working low- to middle-income Californians without dependents). This proposal would have invested up to $1 billion in a program that has a proven anti-poverty record. Assemblymember Stone is pleased that the Legislature took the major initial step toward addressing poverty in the state budget, and he hopes that eligibility for statewide EITC is expanded in future budget years.