Homelessness and SB 640
Wednesday morning the Governor announced another homeless initiative as part of his budget proposal for fiscal 2020-21, which will be released Friday. In the afternoon I would ask my colleagues on the Senate Health Committee to expand the definition of “gravely disabled” (see MOORLACH UPDATE — SB 640 and Cities 193 to 240 — November 18, 2019). It did not make it out of the committee, garnering two supportive votes, two in opposition and three abstaining, thus not achieving the necessary four votes to move forward.
The Associated Press covered Governor Newsom’s new initiative and I emphasized the need to address homeless individuals who are severely mentally ill. The San Mateo Daily Journal provides the AP piece.
SB 57 — DMV Software Improvement for Motor Voter
On Tuesday I testified on behalf of SB 57. I co-authored this common-sense bill with Sen. Pat Bates. Unfortunately, reason did not rule the day and the bill was voted down on party lines (see MOORLACH UPDATE — CSU versus DMV — August 13, 2019, MOORLACH UPDATE — Rushing Motor Voter — January 31, 2019, MOORLACH UPDATE — Motor Voter Accountability — December 21, 2018 and MOORLACH UPDATE — Be Well Orange County — October 17, 2019). The Orange County Breeze provides the press release from Sen. Bates.
The producer of the documentary movie “Vaxxed” was at the Capitol Tuesday morning (see MOORLACH UPDATE — “Vaxxed” — December 15, 2016). I was invited to come to their recreational vehicle and enjoyed visiting with several constituents from my District. Channels KRON 4 and FOX 40 were present when I came by.
I fully understand the need for vaccinations. And I am happy to have the smallpox vaccination scar on my shoulder. While I was in Rotary International, I supported eliminating polio from the planet through vaccinations.
Some individuals have allergic reactions to ingredients in vaccinations (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Anaphylactic Shock — September 5, 2019).
When there are valid allergy concerns, parents and their physicians are only doing their jobs by being careful. If there are pediatricians who issue fraudulent waivers (“bad actors”), then they should be dealt with appropriately. Inserting government into a relationship between physicians and their patients is not the appropriate solution.
25th Anniversary Look Back
On January 10, 1995, the Legislative Counsel of California, headed by Bion M. Gregory, sent a six-page correspondence to Assemblyman Curt Pringle on the subject of the Investment of Surplus Funds for School Districts. It was signed by Diane F. Boyer-Vine, who would succeed Mr. Gregory in 2001, and has been serving as the Legislative Counsel the entire time I’ve served in the State Senate (a small world, indeed).
The opinion concluded that school districts could invest surplus funds, those not required for the immediate necessities of the district, in other code-specified investments. The opinion came a few weeks too late. But, it confirms that Assemblyman Pringle and I were working on solutions long before the implosion occurred.
California governor seeks $1 billion to target homelessness
By DON THOMPSON
A billion-dollar investment last year has yet to curtail California’s growing homeless crisis, and with the state awash in revenue, Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to spend a billion more on programs aimed at getting people off the streets.
He signed an executive order Wednesday creating what he intends to be a $750 million fund that providers could tap to pay rents, fund affordable housing or aid boarding and care homes. Newsom also wants to use vacant state property to house homeless people and is seeking changes to the state’s Medicaid program to increase spending on preventive health care.
In addition, the Democratic governor said the final portion of $650 million in emergency homeless aid to cities and counties approved in June was being released Wednesday after a final federal homelessness count.
The report by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development found California’s homeless population increased 16% last year, to about 151,000 people. That’s more than a quarter of the national total.
President Donald Trump continued his criticism of California’s Democratic leaders this week, and especially those in Los Angeles and San Francisco, for failing to adequately address homelessness. In a tweet, he called it a local issue but said that if city and state leaders “acknowledge responsibility and politely” ask for help, then his administration “will very seriously consider getting involved.”
Newsom made no mention of Trump in his announcement but acted with an eye toward an inevitable economic downturn that wouldn’t allow the state to spend billions on the problem.
Although California is projected to have a $7 billion surplus, the state’s bipartisan legislative analyst said only $1 billion should be spent on programs that will last beyond the year.
Because Newsom’s proposal on homelessness would eat up the bulk of that $1 billion, the governor proposed to “seed” the fund with one-time state revenue and called on philanthropic and private sector groups “to step up as well.”
His order comes two days before he’ll unveil his annual budget plan, which he said includes $695 million of state and federal matching funds to increase spending on preventive health care. The money would go to things that can prevent homelessness, like helping people find housing. A portion could even go to rent assistance if it helps people not use health care services as often.
A group representing the directors of California’s county behavioral health programs praised Newsom’s proposed budget increases.
Newsom said many of his proposals were inspired by advisers, including Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who said the governor is using California’s “real estate and human capital in ways never proposed before to confront this humanitarian crisis.”
David Wolfe, legislative director of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, was skeptical.
He noted that taxpayers in 2018 also approved $4 billion in bonds for existing affordable housing programs for low-income residents, veterans and farmworkers. They also allowed the state to use up to $140 million each year in existing county mental-health funds to pay for housing for homeless people with mental illness.
Lawmakers also allocated $1 billion in the budget last year for homeless and mental health services.
“You can’t just throw money at homelessness and a lack of affordable housing and expect that you’re going to achieve the result that you’re hoping to achieve,” Wolfe said.
He and Republican Assemblyman Tyler Diep, vice chairman of the chamber’s housing committee, said the state also needs to streamline its strict environmental protections to speed up housing construction.
And California must address that portion of the “homeless population that is resistant to help,” Diep said in a statement.
Lawmakers last year allowed San Francisco to test a program making it easier to have a court-appointed conservator take control of treatment for someone who’s mentally disabled. And a proposed ballot measure would send those caught violating laws against public urination, drunkenness, drug use and the like to special homeless courts intended to get them help as a condition of avoiding a criminal conviction.
Republican Sen. John Moorlach, an accountant on the Senate Housing Committee, said Newsom seems to be acting prudently but that the state needs to expand involuntary treatment.
“We’ve got to start protecting our constituents, with housewives even concerned about going to the grocery store” for fear of being accosted, Moorlach said. “If you cannot take care of yourself and you’re a danger to yourself, then we should have some kind of hold program.”
The governor also directed the state to provide 100 travel trailers and modular tent structures to cities and counties for use as temporary housing.
Newsom said a year ago that he wanted to build housing on unused state property. His new order directs his administration to identify some of those properties by month’s end that local governments or nonprofits can use for emergency homeless shelters, as long as it doesn’t delay developing of affordable housing.
That includes state property alongside highways or state roads; vacant hospitals and health care facilities; and state fairgrounds.
“Californians are demanding that all levels of government — federal, state and local — do more to get people off the streets and into services — whether that’s emergency housing, mental health services, substance abuse treatment or all of the above,” Newsom said.
Nearly $25 million more would go to test programs in three counties to put those deemed mentally incompetent to stand trial into community programs instead of state psychiatric hospitals.
Senate Committee rejects Senator Patricia Bates’ bill to restore “opt-in” voter registration at DMV
The Senate Elections and Constitutional Amendments Committee rejected on a partisan vote Senate Bill 57 by Senator Patricia Bates (R-Laguna Niguel) that would have restored “opt-in” voter registration at the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
“Given that the Secretary of State’s office and the DMV have underplayed well-documented problems with automatic registration, today’s outcome was not a surprise,” said Senator Bates. “The decision to register to vote should be made by the individual – not the state. Those who oppose my bill fail to appreciate that an ‘opt-in’ process gives citizens more control over their own voter registrations and reduces opportunities for errors and fraud. I will continue to fight for election integrity, including working with my colleagues to make a simple fix to provide clarity to customers who visit DMV offices.”
Senate Bill 57 would have rolled back Assembly Bill 1461 (2015), which requires the DMV to automatically register Californians to vote when they obtain or renew driver’s licenses or identification cards. Numerous progressive groups opposed AB 1461 because they were concerned that undocumented immigrants would be automatically registered to vote, putting them at risk of criminal penalties and deportation.
Senator John Moorlach, a co-author of SB 57, said after today’s vote, “Our state needs to develop a better system for DMV voter registration that gives people the ability to opt-in and verify their voter information. This vote was a missed opportunity to correct the errors that the current technology has generated.”
The DMV’s difficulties in implementing automatic voter registration has been well documented by media outlets over the past two years:
- In December 2019, the Sacramento Bee reported that “At least 600 Californians, including lifelong Republicans and Democrats, have had their voter registration unexpectedly changed, and several county elections officials are pinning much of the blame on the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles.”
- In August 2019, the Los Angeles Times reported a state-conducted audit found that in just the first five months of the new version of Motor Voter, the DMV produced over 84,000 duplicate records and more than twice that number with political party mistakes.
- In December 2018, the Sacramento Bee reported that the DMV director mishandled the registrations of more than 580 Californians who may have been wrongfully kept off the voter rolls in the 2018 election because of transmittal errors.
- In October 2018, the Los Angeles Times reported that the state agency mistakenly registered another 1,500 ineligible residents, including non-citizens.
- In October 2018, the Associated Press reported that California’s Secretary of State admitted that he was not able to confirm whether or not non-citizens voted in the June Primary.
- In September 2018, the Sacramento Bee reported that the DMV transmitted 23,000 erroneous voter registrations.
- In May 2018, the Los Angeles Times reported that a software error affected 77,000 voter registrations.
To learn more on why Senator Bates authored SB 57, click here to read her December 2019 op-ed in the Orange County Register.
This article was released by the Office of Senator Patricia Bates.
Anti-vaccination protesters at the Capitol
Several protesters against California’s new crackdown on vaccine exemptions spent Tuesday at the state Capitol.
A big bus with “vaxxed” scrawled across the side stood out front.
“It would be really nice if just one senator would come out and look at the bus or talk to the parents,” said Polly Tommey, an executive producer of the “Vaxxed” documentary. “But at the moment, they’re turning their faces away. They don’t want to get involved in this controversial subject.”
Some Republicans ended up stopping by, including Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa.
Many of the demonstrators are from more Democratic parts of the state.
“If we have bad actors, let’s go after the bad actors,” Moorlach said. “Let’s not change the whole system and require a whole new mandate that inserts government into the middle of this critical relationship.”
The group also had a list of demands, urging lawmakers not to move forward with further restrictions and requesting Gov. Gavin Newsom come up with a commission on the topic.
“We’re making doctors irrelevant. I think that’s dangerous,” said Del Bigtree, the founder of the Informed Consent Action Network.
Bigtree, a national anti-vaccine activist, helped lead Tuesday’s protest.
Democratic Sen. Richard Pan, who helped create the new laws, took aim at Bigtree on Twitter, saying he ” is supported and enriched by a wealthy Wall Street hedge fund manager and his wife who take advantage of and endanger American families and children.”
Ashley Zavala filed this report.
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