2012 California Legislation
By Bruce Pomer
Health Officers Association of California
Vaccines are one of the greatest and most successful tools ever developed for preventing disease and protecting public health. Governor Brown and the California Department of Public Health, however, are on the verge of taking action that could violate California law, undermine the statewide effort to get more children immunized and threaten the health of all California communities.
California, like every other state, requires school-age children to obtain various vaccinations against childhood diseases. However, California also currently has a mechanism called a “personal belief exemption,” or PBE, that allows parents to opt their children out of mandatory vaccines simply by printing out a form and signing it.
By Rebecca Band
This time last year, hundreds of California families were losing their homes to foreclosure every day. 700,000 families were on the brink of foreclosure, and one-third were underwater in their mortgages, due in large part to shady lending practices that Big Banks employed to rob families of their homes.
But a lot can change in a year, and a new report released this week has found the number of foreclosures in California has dropped dramatically.
By Ann Notthoff
What California does makes a difference. When President Obama increased national mileage standards last year, he built on the pioneering work that Senator Fran Pavley started here in 2002. We dream big, we take big steps and when it comes to environmental and public health protection, nobody does it better. With his new budget proposal today, Governor Brown has a chance to build on our state's strong record of environmental and public health protection.
By Linda Leu
Last week, two California Senate Committees, the Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review and the Committee on Health, held a joint oversight hearing on the transition of the Healthy Families Program to Medi-Cal. Despite the assurances of Administration officials charged with implementing the transition, legislators' questions demonstrated serious concerns with whether the state will really be ready to move forward on the proposed timeline. The California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) has proposed that the transition begin on January 1, 2013, with "general notices" going out to families imminently, even though many important details remain undecided.
By Dean Preston
In a highly successful legislative session for renters, the Governor signed into law every bill supported by Tenants Together this year. Starting January 1, 2013, California law will prevent unfair nonpayment evictions after ownership changes (AB 1953, Ammiano), require at least 90 day eviction notice for any tenant evicted after foreclosure (AB 2610, Skinner), prohibit landlords from imposing online only rent payment rules (SB 1055, Lieu), require landlords to notify tenants of foreclosure filings (SB 1191, Simitian), and bar landlords from requiring their tenants to declaw or devocalize their pets (SB 1229, Pavley). In a state capitol where renters' rights are so often ignored, times appear to be changing.
By Randy Shaw
California Governor Jerry Brown has signed an important new law to protect tenants after rental property ownership changes. The bill, AB 1953, will prevent unfair and unnecessary evictions when a new owner buys rental property and fails to communicate with tenants. Assemblymember Tom Ammiano (D – San Francisco), authored the bill to stop unfair evictions.
"Too many tenants have been scammed out of their homes by the confusion of an ownership change," said Ammiano. "We're putting a stop to that."
By Dan Bacher
Governor Jerry Brown on September 25 signed historic legislation establishing a state policy that every Californian has a human right to safe, clean, affordable and accessible drinking water.
AB 685, authored by Assemblymember Mike Eng (D-Alhambra), also requires that all relevant state agencies consider the state policy when creating policies and regulations.
By Carolyn Sufrin, MD, MA
Late one night, I was helping a woman deliver her baby at a hospital in Pennsylvania. It was a familiar delivery room scene—except that the mother-to-be was shackled to the bed.
She was incarcerated at a nearby prison, and though I had no idea what got her there, I had some idea that the pangs of labor and the epidural's numbing effects precluded the need for restraints. I saw signs of fetal distress, and worried about the metal chains if we needed to do an emergency cesarean section. Thankfully, she pushed her baby out, and I placed the baby into mom's one unshackled arm.
I now practice as an obstetrician-gynecologist at the San Francisco County Jail and at San Francisco General Hospital, where jailed pregnant women deliver their babies.
By Wesley Mizutani
Scientific breakthroughs have revolutionized the treatment of chronic pain. As a result, a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis is no longer accompanied by the expectation of progressive disability that would lead to a wheelchair.
Some California health insurers, however, have enacted policies that imperil the precious gains made by the medical community against the silent epidemic of chronic pain. Governor Brown now has an opportunity to stop them.
According to the U.S. Institute of Medicine, approximately 100 million people in the United States are affected by chronic pain every year, which is more than the number of Americans who are affected by cancer, heart disease and diabetes combined. Pain costs this country $635 billion yearly in medical treatment expenses and lost productivity.
By John M. Simpson
California Governor Jerry Brown should veto a bill that allows Google's driverless cars on the highway, because it does not provide adequate privacy protections for users of the new technology. SB 1298, authored by Sen. Alex Padilla, was passed unanimously by the Senate. However, as explained in Consumer Watchdog's letter to the Governor, SB 1298 is completely insufficient. It gives the user no control over what data will be gathered and how the information will be used.