Legislative Agenda

SB128 End of Life Options

In 2015 CSLA’s Annual Membership Summit’s priority legislation was SB 128 End of Life Options.   Fran Johns, Pam Fadem, Diana Madoshi, Meredith, Minkler and Rick Kaplowitz are CSLA members who have been working on SB 128 since the late 90’s.  We are proud that California’s End of Life law was passed.  The determination of volunteer groups like CSLA, was spearheaded by the Compassion & Choices Group.  Compassion & Choices is the nation’s oldest and largest nonprofit organization working to improve care and expand choice at the end of life.  Countless volunteers, doctors, priests, members of the disability community and politicians, made a huge difference in getting this law passed.  CSLA is proud to be counted among them. 

Counting California, five states now have medical aid in dying laws and fully half of the remaining states have active campaigns in place to make this a reality in their states too. CSLA continues to work with Compassion & Choices on their Access Campaign, with strategic initiatives to educate people and making sure they understand their end-of-life-options. 

The new Law goes into effect June 9, 2016.  At the request of a terminally ill patient with less than 6 months to live, a doctor, with the agreement of a second doctor, can legally prescribe a lethal dose of a barbiturate to a patient who then can self-administer the dose, if and when, the time comes.

But the work isn’t done.  Because as Compassion and Choices members remind us, it takes a campaign to get aid-in-dying passed and signed into law, but it also takes a campaign to turn that new law into a truly accessible end-of-life option for people throughout the state. 

Compassion and Choices spearheading an Access Campaign, twin strategic initiatives, headed by volunteers, like CSLA senior leaders, to educate people by talking about their values and beliefs and making sure they understand their end of life options.

Another part of the access campaign involves educating doctors, and this happens best when individuals like CSLA senior leaders, talk with their doctors about personal end of life wishes, and then ask the doctor if he or she would be comfortable honoring written wishes, in accordance with the new law. 

This is critical, because Oregon’s experience has shown that doctors often don’t fully understand the new law or feel comfortable bring end of life options up to patients.  Too often many patients wait until after the are in extreme pain to initiate the conversation with their doctor,

Compassion and Choses began a very successful access campaign in Oregon, which now has far more health care providers participating and manly more patients speaking up about their end of life wishes. 

CSLA is participating in a similar access campaign in California, helping with the education needed for effective implementation.  This is an opportunity for any CSLA member who is interested in being involved to contact Compassion and Choices National Volunteer Manager via email at volunteer@compassionandchoices.org or call (800) 247-7421. GET INVOLVED!!

SB 779, Senator Isadore Hall 

Increasing Staffing Levels in Nursing Homes

What is SB 1053, and why do we need it? SB 779 mandates a staff to patient ratio that would improve quality of care for patients and working conditions for nursing home workers, particularly Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs). It mandates US Congress-recommended 4.1 hours of care per resident per day in Skilled Nursing Facilities. According to the California Association of Health Facilities, California is falling short with a minimum nursing staff standard of 3.73 hours of care per resident per day. SB 799 also requires reporting of hours of care provided residents by various levels of staff, with required levels varying according to the shift worked or according to the type of facility, such as those for developmentally disabled.  It also provides for periodic consultations with consumers, consumer advocates, facility workers' unions, and providers to determine if staffing standards are still adequate. CNAs are the first responders to the needs of seniors and people with disabilities in SNFs. However, because SNFs are currently understaffed with CNAs, residents are at risk of unnecessary falls, bed sores turning deadly due to not being repositioned as often as needed, and soiled diapers going unchanged. SB 779 is 2 Year Bill, held under submission in the Senate Appropriations Committee

SB 1053, Senator Mark Leno

Prevent Discrimination in Housing

What is SB 1053, and why do we need it? SB 1053 provides all Californians with a full and fair opportunity to seek housing by ensuring that landlords cannot deny applicants simply because they receive federal rental subsidies (Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers).  It expands the Fair Employment and Housing Act to protect would-be tenants with Section 8 vouchers from discrimination by landlords. California is in the midst of a historical rental housing crisis, with high rents squeezing working-class renters, particularly the poor and those on fixed incomes.  California's poorest 25% spend an average of 67% of their income on rent, limiting their food, healthcare, transportation to work and other necessities. Over 300,000 low-income California families, most of whom contain children, seniors, or people with disabilities, get Housing Choice Vouchers (Section 8) to help pay their housing costs, so their out-of-pocket rental costs are only 30% of their income.  Section 8 vouchers are paid by Federal HUD and administered locally. Much more affordable rental housing must be built, and many more people should be eligible for Section 8 vouchers,  but for those who get them, Section 8 vouchers has been a successful in providing better housing for low-income families, particularly Blacks, Latins, and veterans.  Yet many landlords refuse to accept tenants using Section 8 vouchers to supplement their rental payments.  Some landlords have even called law enforcement to harass and drive out their Section 8 tenants.  Last June, in Santa Clara County, only 14% of families given vouchers were able to use them.  This landlord behavior is contributing to re-segregation of communities by race. Housing discrimination based on source-of-income is illegal under the Fair Employment and Housing Act, but the law has been interpreted to exclude vouchers.  SB 1053 would explicitly include Section 8 vouchers as a protected source-of-income.  Ten other states have adapted similar provisions. SB 1053 is awaiting assignment to a policy committee, no action until March 18

 

AB 1584, Cheryl Brown / Tony Thurmond

Increasing SSI/SSP Grants and COLA

What is AB 1584, and why do we need it? AB 1584 is an incremental step toward full restoration of recession-era cuts to the SSI/SSP program, a combination Federal/State program that awards monthly grants to over 1 million California seniors and other disabled adults who get no or minimal Social Security benefits. AB 1584 would establish a Cost-of-Living-Adjustment (COLA) as a permanent component to the SSI/SSP program, and would marginally increase individual grants for those living at home by $21 per month each year for the next four years, a total of $84/mo. increase after 4 years, bringing recipients from 91% of the poverty line back up to 100% of the poverty line.  This goes well beyond the Governor’s proposed smaller one-year increase in the State portion (SSP). California SSI/SSP has undergone shameful cuts during the recession years.   In 2009 the annual COLA was abolished. Since then, the state funded SSP portion of grants been cut from $233 a month to $156 a month today for individuals, and from $568 a month in January 2009 to $396.20 today for couples.  Since 2007, the SSI/SSP caseload has increased by some 75,000, yet the Governor plans this year to spend $1.4 billion less on SSI/SSP than was spent in 2007 in inflation-adjusted dollars. Low SSI/SSP is a big reason California has the highest poverty rate in the nation, by the Census Bureau’s Supplemental Poverty Measure. Over half of California's one million on SSI/SSP are women, many are becoming homeless. Moreover, California SSI/SSP recipients are not eligible for Food Stamps. California's budget is now running multi-billion dollar surpluses. Over 150 California advocacy organizations are demanding an increase in grants and restoration of the COLA for SSI/SSP recipients. AB 1584 will be amended to do two things: (1) it will provide annual grant increases to SSI recipients beginning with those recipients who are below the federal poverty level (basically individual recipients) and then once those individuals grants exceed the poverty level, grant increases will be provided for all SSI recipients. (2) The bill will provide grant increases to all individual recipients including persons receiving the restaurant meal allowance.  No one will be excluded.  AB 1584 Scheduled Hearing in on March 29th Human Services

SB 1150, Mark Leno

Rights of Surviving Homeowners

What is SB 1150, and why do we need it? SB 1150 clarifies the responsibilities of a lender when a borrower dies and leaves surviving homeowner spouses, children or other heirs who wish to assume the loan, giving them a fair chance to take responsibility for the mortgage loan attached to their home. When a homeowner passes away, often a surviving spouse often owns and holds title to the home but is not named on the mortgage note.  In the most common scenario, a surviving widow owns her home, but is not listed on its mortgage loan.   She attempts to assume the loan and get information on the loan modification options, and faces a mortgage servicer who refuses to talk to the homeowner, creates a confusing labyrinth of processes, loses documents repeatedly, transfers responsibilities between multiple employees, gives inaccurate information, and finally forecloses on the homeowner without considering her for a loan modification.   Currently, homeowners listed on the mortgage loan are protected against such behavior by the 2012 California Homeowners Bill of Rights.  SB 1150 extends many of these rights to surviving homeowners not listed on the mortgage loan by requiring lenders to consider them for loan assumption or modification.   Specifically, lenders must be requesting reasonable documentation of the death and the identity of survivors.  Provide accurate information about loan assumption and foreclosure avoidance programs.  Provide a single point of contact and specified follow-up communication.  Allow a survivor to simultaneously apply for loan assumption and modification. Given current California housing prices, loss of a family home often SB 1150 is awaiting assignment to a policy committee, no action until March 20

SB 1015, Connie Leyva

Reauthorizing the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights

What is SB 1015, and why do we need it? SB 1015 continues the success from AB 241 (2013) — which granted overtime protections to California’s privately hired domestic workers — by removing the 2017 sunset provision and making the law’s provisions permanent. California's historic AB 241 reversed a 77-year old exclusion of domestic workers from overtime pay requirements in the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act.  At the time, racist Dixiecrat politicians had insisted on excluding domestic workers and farm workers, then mainly Black, from the Act.  AB 241 erased that shameful legacy for California's 300.000 domestic workers: personal attendants, maids, nannies, and housecleaners.  But AB 241's protection expires in 2017.  SB 1015 makes overtime protection for domestic workers permanent. Domestic workers, particularly personal attendants who take care of frail seniors and people with disabilities, is the fastest growing job category in the US, yet because of poor pay, bad working conditions, and vulnerability to exploitation, it is the job category with the highest turnover.  Those who need care to stay in their homes suffer from this turnover. Every eight seconds, another person turns 65 in the US, and public health experts predict that tomorrow's seniors will have worse chronic disease than yesterday's seniors.  We need caregiving to be a valued and respected occupation with good pay and working conditions.  Granting California's domestic workers overtime pay guarantees is an important step in that direction. SB 1015 is awaiting assignment to a policy committee, no action until March 13

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  • commented 2016-12-04 13:43:11 -0800
    Thank you for sponsoring and writing legislation in the CA legislature, especially with all federal programs threatened by a Republican Congress.
    Margie Rauch