MOORLACH UPDATE — Senate Bills 511, 584, 598, 496 and 640 — April 15, 2019

It’s bill approval season and I have positive news on those I presented last week

SB 511 – The DMV Motor Voter Registration Transparency and Training Bill — See transparency-and-training

It was heard by the Senate Elections and Constitutional Amendments Committee on April 2nd and passed 4-0, with one abstention.

SB 584 – The Ability to Underground Electrical Wires with Rule 20A Funding – See (also see MOORLACH UPDATE — SB 754 — March 16, 2019)

It was heard by the Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee, of which I serve as Vice Chair, on April 10th and passed 12-0, with one abstention.

SB 598 – The Open Financial Statements Act with a Conversion to iXBRL – See (also see MOORLACH UPDATE — SB 496 and SB 598 — March 6, 2019 and MOORLACH UPDATE — Open Transparency — March 8, 2019)

It was heard by the Senate Governance & Finance Committee, of which I also serve as Vice Chair, on April 10th, and passed 7-0.

SB 496 – Updates the Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act – See (also see MOORLACH UPDATE — SB 496 and SB 598 — March 6, 2019)

It was heard by the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee on April 10th and passed 7-0.

SB 640 – Changes the Definition of “Gravely Disabled” in the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act – See

After I presented the bill In the Senate Health Committee on April 10th, with two powerful mothers who provided testimony on behalf of their severely mentally ill sons, it was obvious that members of the committee, though sympathetic, would rather kill my bill than pass it and work on improving it this year. With that understanding, I requested that the Chair allow SB 640 to become a two-year bill so that I may continue to build a stronger case for the redefinition of "gravely disabled".

The bill was developed from a request of Dr. Drew Pinsky, who shares his perspectives in The Sacramento Bee editorial submission below.

I believe California needs to update its mental health laws in order to institutionalize those who cannot make decisions for themselves. Instead, these individuals are being left on the streets to fend for themselves and perish. It’s unconscionable. But, if the definition is changed, then where do we house those in need of assistance? So the private sector is opposed because they do not want this burden imposed on them. And the disability rights nonprofits do not believe individuals should be institutionalized against their own will.

Dr. Pinsky does a great job of addressing those with mental illness. I would state from my personal experience that putting someone in a memory care unit, because they exhibit signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s, is the right and humane action to take.

Orange County has a relatively good pipeline for mentally ill homeless individuals to be released from a hospital and be cared for by a nonprofit, like The Illumination Foundation. This nonprofit then finds supportive housing, and if the individual can function and move toward mainstreaming, they find HUD housing. This is not the case for the remainder of the state. So, I have a little more work to do with SB 640 to integrate "No Place Like Home" and other Mental Health Services Act (Proposition 63, 2004) funding opportunities (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Homelessness Discussion — February 4, 2019).

Kent (Klass) Meindert Moorlach (1927 – 2019)

Many members of my family from around the country and I gathered together this weekend and said goodbye, for now, to my father. My heartfelt thanks go to all of those who attended the service and who provided flowers, cards and words of condolence. I am most grateful.

I shared a few thoughts in MOORLACH UPDATE — Goodbye to my Dad — March 23, 2019. The official obituary can be found at

And, my adjournment on the Senate Floor can be seen at

25th Anniversary Look Back

April 15, 1994, was an amazing day. It was the conclusion of tax season. But, it was also the day I made it for the first time to The Wall Street Journal, a publication I used to read faithfully every day for decades. The Wall Street Journal does not, as a policy, cover local races. But, the race for Orange County Treasurer-Tax Collector was compelling enough that the reporter provided a perspective not happening with the local major newspapers.

It would rock the County Administrative Building profoundly. They did not react well to what would be an eerily prescient article. For a link to the piece, see MOORLACH UPDATE — We’re Out! Sort Of — July 2, 2017. For additional perspectives on its importance, see MOORLACH UPDATE — Venezia & Me — November 15, 2014, MOORLACH UPDATE — CEO Candidate — May 1, 2013, and MOORLACH UPDATE — LOOK BACKS — February 4, 2010.

To catch up on these 25th anniversary look-backs, go to MOORLACH UPDATE — Software Incompetence — April 5, 2019.

Housing alone won’t solve homelessness. Let’s rethink how we treat mentally ill


As a young, motivated resident in internal medicine, I began to moonlight in a freestanding, full-service psychiatric hospital. I became fascinated with the medical care of the psychiatric patient and the management of substance use disorders. In time, I became a director of Medical Services and Program Medical Director for Chemical Dependency Services and spent the better part of three decades developing expertise in the care of psychiatric patients.

This is why I support a mental health reform bill, Senate Bill 640, by state Sen. John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa).

Never did I imagine I would live in a state which would systematically allow patients with massive mental health needs to languish and deteriorate in the most unconscionable, abject circumstances. It was unthinkable to me as a young physician that, decades after I began my career, leadership in the State of California would –in the name of some abstract, misplaced notion of compassion – literally position the symptoms of major psychiatric illness as a guiding principle to be protected.

The very symptoms causing desperately ill patients to spill into our streets are being protected in the name of compassion. This is dialing back to a Medieval understanding of psychiatric illness and is absolutely outrageous, particularly in the era of effective treatments which can restore patients to stability.

As I have seen repeatedly, the patients themselves, when their thought disorders are stabilized, become furious that anyone allowed them to languish in abject conditions in the name of compassion. Paranoia, hoarding and the distorted motivation to seek and use powerful narcotics are elevated to protected status under California laws. The very symptoms that lead to progressive misery are privileged above the ability to step in to help. Every civilized society knows to intervene in spite of these symptoms to restore people to health.

It is anathema to the basic needs of civilization to allow the current situation to continue. Summer is approaching and I am terribly concerned about the continued deterioration of these ill individuals. The complete sanitation breakdown, rodent infestation and vector explosion are going to result in an infectious disease crisis. In Southern California, typhus is going to be even worse than our recent epidemics. Tuberculosis is going to massively expand. I predict we will see Yersinia pestis – the plague. And it won’t be just the homeless who are stricken.

This is not a housing or homelessness crisis; this is a mental health crisis. It is a deplorable insult to continue to see this glossed over in the press as somehow the result of expensive housing. Housing does not cause our communities to need to rake the grass in parks before children play to pull up hundreds of needles. Housing is not going to help the paranoid, poorly clothed manic or paranoid schizophrenic. In fact, the symptoms of these illnesses will cause the homeless to refuse to remain indoors and to accept help or treatment. To hear politicians maintain the rhetoric of a housing crisis is tantamount to reckless negligence and materially contributes to the misery and death of untold numbers.

If we are going to show true compassion for these patients, we must have the tools to combat their symptoms. The symptoms of brain disease must lose their protected status and the ability of our highly trained mental health professionals to help must be supported.

As an enlightened approach to solving these problems, SB 640 would provide a more accurate and compassionate definition of the gravely disabled. Doing so would allow mental health professionals to better deliver services to patients whose psychiatric symptoms would otherwise be allowed to drive a wedge between the patient and their ultimate wellness.

Lack of insight, distorted thoughts and beliefs, hoarding, agitation, lack of trust, paranoia, difficulty remaining indoors, driving toward substances that overtake all other priorities and delusional distortions about current conditions – all are symptoms that must be contended with so that, ultimately, a chronically mentally ill patient might accept housing and vocational rehabilitation.

I would also urge the California State Legislature to look at finding ways to increase funding and access to conservatorships for patients with chronic symptoms that prevent them from certain decision making about their wellness, and interfere with their ability to participate in care. Combined with passing SB 640, such reforms are crucial to helping the least among us in this ongoing crisis.

Dr. Drew Pinsky, M.D., Board Certified Internist and Addiction Medicine Specialist, hosts Dr. Drew Midday Live with Leeann Tweeden, noon to 3 pm on 790 KABC


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