MOORLACH UPDATE — Joint Author Details — July 7, 2018

Now that the California Legislature has started its summer break, it seems the media attention of late has been focused in the Opinion pages. This is true of my last UPDATE (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Watching Our Votes — July 4, 2018).

In the first editorial below, The Sacramento Bee has a piece about SB 1004 on its website by former Assemblywoman Cheryl Brown. I enjoyed working with Ms. Brown and built a good relationship with her while she was in Sacramento, during my first half-term. Because of my affection for Ms. Brown, allow me to provide more detail than normal and to share two themes that have been evolving recently in my life.

The first is building relationships with members across the aisle (see MOORLACH UPDATE — AB 521 — November 12, 2015). On occasion, I will coauthor a bill introduced by a Democratic Legislator. This year I upped the game and Joint Authored two bills with Democratic Senators.

Senate Bill 1206, the No Place Like Home Act of 2018 was introduced by Senator, and former President Pro Tem, Kevin De Leon and myself (see http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201720180SB1206). It was recently replaced by Assembly Bill 1827, a budget trailer bill, due to the urgency of needing to get this measure on the November ballot (see http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201720180AB1827&search_keywords=no+place+like+home). For more background on this proposal, see MOORLACH UPDATE — SB 1273 and MCO Tax — February 27, 2016.

You will see this effort as Proposition 2 on the November General Election ballot. You know that I usually oppose general obligation bonds, but this proposed bond has an existing revenue stream to pay the principal and interest. I would call this technique hypothecating or securitizing an income stream to get the principal up front in order to begin constructing or investing in a project immediately.

The revenue source is the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA), created by voter approval through Proposition 63 of 2004. It is also known as the millionaires tax, so the revenues should be reliable as long as wealthy residents are willing to pay for the great weather. I say this, as there are signs that high net worth individuals have been leaving the state since the passage of Gov. Brown’s income tax increase resulting from the successful passage of Proposition 30 in 2012. This was a proposition that I opposed (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Costa Mesa Voter’s Guide — October 6, 2012 ).

The MHSA revenues helped me to find funding to implement Laura’s Law in Orange County through the passage of SB 585 (Steinberg). It also helped me to change state law to provide more crisis stabilization unit beds to assist our public safety officials when they encounter an individual facing a mental health crisis (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Mentally Ill Inmates — June 11, 2016).

Appreciating this strategy, I was an early supporter of the No Place Like Home effort by Sen. De Leon, which uses a small percentage of MHSA revenues to repay the bondholders. The proceeds will be used to construct or refurbish immediate housing for the mentally ill homeless population.

This year I also joint authored Senate Bill 1004 with Sen. Scott Wiener of San Francisco (see http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201720180SB1004). This bill focuses on prevention and early intervention, as mental illness is showing up in impacted children as early as age 14. The sooner it is diagnosed, the better the opportunity to implement appropriate strategies. A great example would be CHOC’s pediatric psychology efforts, a new treasure in my District, which I mentioned in my May 1st UPDATE (see https://www.choc.org/programs-services/mental-health/).

Why do I provide so much detail? Because the MHSA is rather vague and has confused counties to such a degree that they have accumulated nearly $2.5 billion in unspent funds.

Consequently, providing some clarity in this area would be helpful. Which brings me to the second theme. I have found myself focusing on the topic of mental illness. It started while I was a County Supervisor in trying to understand and implement Laura’s Law (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Laura’s Law Journey — August 11, 2014).

This evolution has found me joining the Mental Health Caucus and being appointed this year to the Senate Select Committee on Mental Health. I remind everyone that I was a business major, not a pre-med major. So, this has been an education for me over the past dozen years or so, starting with the killing of Kelly Thomas in Fullerton (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Kelly Thomas Reverberations — January 15, 2014).

With that, I joined Sen. Wiener to provide clarity. SB 1004 seeks to clarify where some of the funding should be prioritized. Former Assemblywoman Brown fears this will impact the share of the pie for the elderly. I believe this fear is unfounded. Instead of opposing the bill, she should work with me and others in the Mental Health Caucus to draft a bill that focuses funding attention for the elderly and even pursues an effort to classify dementia and Alzheimer’s as mental illnesses eligible for MHSA funds.

The second column is in the Press-Enterprise and Daily Breeze and it follows the theme recently presented in MOORLACH UPDATE — Janus Decision — June 28, 2018.

It refers to an effort I pursued last year (see MOORLACH UPDATE — There Ought Not Be A Law — April 23, 2017 and MOORLACH UPDATE — Earning a Living — November 30, 2017). Ironically, the argument that Sen. Morrell received for stopping his efforts was the same one used to kill my bill.

What a tragedy that Assemblyman Low would bow to the pressures of an industry group’s representatives in attendance with their weak opposition argument, but could totally ignore the long line of opponents to his bill, AB 2943, when it recently came before the Senate Judiciary Committee, of which I am Vice Chair. All the more when the number of individuals wishing to testify against his bill was so large that they had to fill the balcony of the Senate’s largest hearing room and the hallways, requiring one and one-half hours to let them all come to the microphone. The ironies continue.

SOAPBOX

Legislature must not slight seniors in mental health money

BY CHERYL BROWN

Special to The Sacramento Bee

https://www.sacbee.com/opinion/op-ed/soapbox/article214391359.html

An important measure to expand access to mental health care services in California is going through the Legislature, but it would make it more difficult for counties to serve older adults.

Senate Bill 1004, which was approved by the Assembly Health Committee on June 19, would amend Proposition 63, passed by voters in 2004 to provide funding for county mental health services with a 1 percent tax on annual incomes of more than $1 million.

Sens. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, and John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, who introduced SB 1004, appear to be at odds with the needs of older adults because the bill shifts the focus of the Mental Health Services Act primarily to young people.

The bill says that 75 percent of mental illnesses begin by 14 years of age, citing a study showing the relationship between early trauma and life-long problems.

Most of them grew up when mental health problems were less understood, diagnosed or appropriately treated. As a result, many tend to shy away from mental health services. Yet adults between 45 and 64 old are at the highest risk for suicide nationally, and in recent years California’s suicide rate among adults 65 and older has been higher than the national average.

The senior community believes that SB 1004 should also address the mental health needs of seniors as much MHSA money remains unspent. The California Commission on Aging offered amendments stressing that older adults are also at risk of anxiety depression, anxiety, psychological traumas and suicide.

Sadly, the Assembly Health Committee did not consider the amendments. As a result, the Commission on Aging opposes SB 1004 because it would make it more difficult for seniors to secure the mental health services they need.

Cheryl Brown is a member of the California Commission on Aging and former chairwoman of the Assembly Committee on Aging and Long-Term Care. She can be contacted at cheryl1242.

OPINION

Will ‘sunset review’ shut the

lights on onerous licensing

rules?

By STEVEN GREENHUT | Press-Enterprise

https://www.pe.com/2018/07/06/will-sunset-review-shut-the-lights-on-onerous-licensing-rules/

https://www.dailybreeze.com/2018/07/06/will-sunset-review-shut-the-lights-on-onerous-licensing-rules/

SACRAMENTO — One of my favorite Ronald Reagan quotations illustrates the problem of an ever-growing government: “Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on this Earth!” In my decades covering public agencies, I can think of only a handful of rollbacks — and they usually ended up perversely expanding government power.

In one recent case, the state Legislature gutted a state tax board, known as the Board of Equalization. But its powers merely were shifted from elected officials to bureaucrats in different agencies — and now California taxpayers are more frequently getting the shaft. That’s how government works.

Last week, a simple bill (sponsored by my employer, the R Street Institute) would have rolled back licensing requirements for only one of the hundreds of trades and professions that require a state license to work. Burdensome education requirements, fees and testing become obstacles for lower-income people to get gainful employment that doesn’t involve flipping burgers. The requirements often have no relevance to public safety, but usually are the result of powerful interest groups that use government to lock up some part of the market.

Last year, Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, introduced a bill that would have eliminated such requirements in a variety of fields, but it was a non-starter given its broad scope. It was referred to multiple committees and dead on arrival. So this year Sen. Mike Morrell, R-Rancho Cucamonga, introduced legislation that targeted one particular — and particularly ridiculous — set of licensing rules involving people who want to shampoo, arrange, dress and curl (but not cut) hair for a living.

If you shampoo hair for pay at, say, elderly people’s homes or at a salon — and haven’t spent as much as $19,000 at a barbering and cosmetology school — then you are an outlaw. It’s illegal to do so in California. The Board of Barbering and Cosmetology posts this Frequently Asked Question on its website: “I would like to hire a person for the sole purpose of shampooing or preparing consumers services; can I do this?” The answer: “No, only a licensed barber, cosmetologist or apprentice can wash a consumer’s hair or prepare a consumer for services.”

Did I mention that a shampooer needs 1,500 hours of training, whereas a first responder/emergency medical technician only needs 120 to 150 hours of training? The Morrell bill passed the full Senate with only two “no” votes, but was killed last week in the Assembly Business and Professions Committee on a 14-3 vote in spite of the fact that most of us have shampooed our own hair for years without calamity.

The hearing room was packed with students from local cosmetology schools. It should surprise no one that the main beneficiaries of the current rules are the schools that charge hefty tuitions for such training, nor should it be a surprise that the state bureaucracy (the Department of Consumer Affairs) estimated excessive fee-revenue losses if the bill became law. Those estimates are hard to fathom given how unimaginable it is that people currently go through the whole licensing rigmarole and then only use the degree mainly to shampoo and arrange hair.

But government agencies see any kind of minor regulatory rollbacks as a threat to their authority. There’s always that fear of the slippery slope. There’s also an economic term known as “regulatory capture.” It’s typical in all aspects of government for industries that are being regulated to dominate the agencies that do the regulating.

The main argument that the Assembly Business and Professions Committee Chairman Evan Low, D-San Jose, used to oppose the bill is that the issue can be handled in the forthcoming Sunset Review hearings. The Assembly and Senate business and professions committees hold these annual hearings in the fall to “discuss the performance of the boards and make recommendations for improvements,” according to the legislative website. The term “sunset” comes from the legislation, which would sunset the many boards out of existence unless they justify their existence.

This is one of those cool ideas that sounds much better in theory than in reality. Government agencies should indeed have to explain what they do to stay in business. But California’s Sunset Review process rarely leads to the sunset of anything. Senate Bill 999’s opponents note that the review led to legislation last year that eliminated the Board of Guide Dogs for the Blind. That was a welcome development, but the elimination of that pointless board was backed by regulators and the industry itself.

By contrast, SB999 is opposed by the beauty industry and the bureaucracy. Nevertheless, I’ll take legislators at their word and closely watch as they advocate for the end of onerous regulations that benefit business owners at the expense of aspiring low-income workers. Wouldn’t it be great if California’s Legislature turned out to be the exception that proved Reagan’s rule?

Steven Greenhut is Western region director for the R Street Institute. He was a Register editorial writer from 1998-2009. Write to him at sgreenhut.

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MOORLACH UPDATE — Quiet Bills, And Not So Quiet — May 3, 2018

Senate Bill 688 is one of my quiet mental health related bills (see https://moorlach.cssrc.us/content/senate-bill-688-mhsa-transparency).

It’s very simple in that it will require counties to follow generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) for their Mental Health Services Act reports and provide the data on the counties’ websites. The Voice of OC mentions it in the piece below.

Another quiet bill is SB 1363 (see https://moorlach.cssrc.us/content/senate-bill-1363-national-alliance-mental-illness-california-voluntary-tax-contribution-fund and MOORLACH UPDATE — Right to Peaceably Assemble — April 13, 2018).

However, there are bills that some of my colleagues write that are not quiet at all. For instance, AB 2943 by Assemblyman Evan Low is causing my phones to ring off the hook. I strongly oppose this bill and I’m not amused that a good segment of my constituency is upset by its introduction. If you’re one of them, and you’re making calls to Legislators, you can skip my office, please.

HOUSING & HOMELESSNESS

Anaheim, Buena Park and Fullerton Team Up to Battle Homelessness

By Spencer Custodio

https://voiceofoc.org/2018/05/anaheim-buena-park-and-fullerton-team-up-to-battle-homelessness/

The mayors, city managers and police chiefs of Anaheim, Buena Park and Fullerton met with U.S. District Judge David O. Carter Tuesday morning about creating a plan to combat homelessness that would be a “model” for the rest of the county.

“He (Carter) realized we had done more (than other cities) and encouraged us to join together to see if we couldn’t do a special project to create a model,” Fullerton Mayor Doug Chaffee said during the City Council meeting.

“He (Carter) also acknowledged that south county doesn’t do its share — he said that very strongly,” Chaffee said from the dais.

Carter is overseeing two federal lawsuits against the county. One lawsuit was filed in January on behalf of the Santa Ana Riverbed homeless population after the county moved to evict the people without providing a place for them to go. The cities of Orange, Anaheim and Costa Mesa also are named in that lawsuit.

The second lawsuit, filed in February on behalf of the disabled homeless, alleges the county excludes disabled people from county services, according to the lawyers.

In an attempt to get all Orange County cities under Carter’s jurisdiction, the Santa Ana City Council unanimously voted April 24 to sue the other 33 cities.

Throughout the court hearings over the past three months, Carter has repeatedly said he wants South County cities to “step up” and contribute their “fair share” to the homeless population.

“I appreciate what Judge Carter’s doing. He’s asked that our three cities … report back about mid-June,” Chaffee said.

Chaffee said, in a quick interview after the council meeting, Fullerton, Buena Park and Anaheim are looking for a site for some type of shelter, but it’s still too early to give specifics.

“We’re looking for a site,” Chafee said. “We need a site, then a plan, then ask for the money (from the county) … Without a site, we can’t have a plan.”

He said it would operate somewhat like the Bridges at Kraemer Place homeless shelter in Anaheim. Fullerton helps fund the site at $500,000 a year. Homeless people have to be screened for outstanding warrants and referred to get into Kraemer’s 24-hour shelter. Sex offenders aren’t allowed.

“I think if we could get him a model project, that’s our goal … It would be somewhat like Bridges,” but without the restrictive background checks, Chaffee said.

Chaffee this year is a candidate for the Orange County Board of Supervisors seat now held by Shawn Nelson, who is a candidate for Congress.

The City Council also authorized staff to review city ordinances about homelessness and bring back suggested changes to the council. According to the agenda staff report, some city codes are outdated and need revision, like one that limits churches to house only 12 people per night in emergency beds.

“Part of the direction to staff is that we work with the plan. Part of that (plan) is collaborating with our other cities, Anaheim and Buena Park,” Chaffee said.

Councilwoman Jennifer Fitzgerald directed staff to come up with a plan to hire more personnel, along with a budget, and show it to the county in an attempt to get the plan funded.

“I would like to see our staff put together a plan for additional police officers and mental health professionals that also includes a budget with it that we take to the county to get funded,” Fitzgerald said during the meeting.

Council members also liked the Orange County housing authority proposal from the Association of California Cities — Orange County (ACCOC) and supported the association’s proposed 2,700 homes with support like mental and health services for homeless people, known as “permanent supportive housing.”

“That is not just a pie in the sky plan,” Fitzgerald said. “I’m the president of that organization this year. We have committed to working with the county — all 34 cities.”

Chaffee voiced support for the trust plan, but was wary of south county’s efforts.

“I would support the suggestion that we consider the countywide housing trust … I don’t know how we get all the cities in there, it may be more regional,” Chaffee said. “I’m concerned about south county not doing their share. Do we include them in the trust? Then it’s just one more thing for them to screw around with — pardon me.”

Carter, during the April 4 court hearing, called on south county mayors to take their “proportional” share of the homeless population and the mayors agreed to find a homeless shelter site at the April 19 meeting of south county mayors.

At the meeting, the mayors proposed a remote site near Silverado Canyon on Santiago Road, next to a library and a preschool. Public pushback followed immediately and the idea was shot down by a unanimous vote of the Board of Supervisors April 24.

Homeless services manager Rebecca Leifkes said homelessness in Fullerton increased 54 percent in the past five years and the city is now home to 496 homeless people. Police calls about homelessness have also increased from 2,125 in 2012 to 6,749 calls last year, she said.

Leifkes also said Fullerton has 1,508 affordable housing units for “low, extremely low and very low” income earners, which are defined as 30 to 60 percent of the area’s median income, according to the staff report.

Under the ACCOC plan, Leifkes said Fullerton would need 120 permanent supportive housing units in order to help spread the responsibility around the cities in the county.

Additionally, Fullerton is home to the National Guard armory that holds at least 200 beds and typically operates as an overnight homeless shelter during winter months. But due to the riverbed and civic center clearouts, combined with the lack of shelter beds in the county, Gov. Jerry Brown extended the shelter use April 10 for another three months. The Santa Ana National Guard armory shelter was also extended.

Council members also levied criticism at the county for its unspent Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) money.

A Voice of OC review of county funds in March found at least $230 million of unspent funding that could be used to help alleviate homelessness. Of that amount, $186 million is MHSA funds and another $73 million to $136 million in “unassigned” general fund money

“I just want to be sure that we keep asking and looking for that funding,” Councilman Jesus Silva said. “I want to make sure we get to the bottom of where (the MHSA money is).”

Fitzgerald said the county doesn’t do enough to keep track of the MHSA money.

“The county has 200 programs right now that they fund through that funding … but there’s no comprehensive audit of those funds,” Fitzgerald said.

The council also supported four different state Senate and Assembly bills centered around homelessness and mental health. Three of the bills garnered unanimous support from the council.

Councilman Bruce Whitaker didn’t support Senate Bill 1045, which is a pilot program for San Francisco and Los Angeles Counties that would create a process for appointing a conservator for someone who is chronically homeless and can’t take care of themselves. He said it was too broad and could be abused.

Additionally, Assembly Bill 1971 increases the definition of “gravely disabled” to mean people who can’t provide for themselves and pose a danger because they failed to receive mental or medical health services. Under the proposed bill, introduced in January, people who are “gravely disabled’ could be involuntarily held for up to 6 months if they continue to be prove an immediate danger to themselves or others.

The other two bills relate to funding, including one from Senator John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa) which would require all counties report their MHSA funds online, including revenues and expenditures.

“$200 million of that seems to have gone to Orange County and it’s sitting somewhere in a bank account,” Chaffee said during the meeting.

Spencer Custodio is a Voice of OC reporter who covers south Orange County and Fullerton. You can reach him at scustodio.

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