Communicating veteran’s needs at the state level is an essential component of an advocacy program for veterans. State policy makers and program administrators are vital to the allocation of resources and delivery of services to veterans. The Governor, his policy staff and state legislators determine the priority of need among various constituencies and the allocation of resources needed to meet those needs.
CAVSA’s state advocacy program informs state officials on both the broad scale implications and effects of state policy, particularly mental health and housing related policy that have real world, real time impact of CAVSA’s client population.
2019 Legislative Priorities
Mental Health & Wellness
AB 563 (Quirk-Silva): Current law, the Mental Health Services Act, an initiative measure enacted by the voters as Proposition 63 at the November 2, 2004, statewide general election, funds a system of county mental health plans for the provision of mental health services, as specified. The act establishes the Mental Health Services Fund, which is continuously appropriated to, and administered by, the State Department of Health Care Services to fund specified county mental health programs. This bill would make technical, nonsubstantive changes to those provisions.
AB 581 (Levine): Current law requires a court, if it concludes that a defendant convicted of a felony offense is or was a member of the United States military who may be suffering from sexual trauma, traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, or mental health problems as a result of the defendant’s military service, to consider that circumstance as a factor in mitigation when imposing a sentence. Current law allows a defendant who is currently serving a felony sentence and meets these criteria to petition for resentencing if those criteria were not considered at the time of sentencing and the person was sentenced prior to January 1, 2015. This bill would allow a defendant meeting these criteria to petition for recall of sentence and resentencing without regard to whether the defendant was sentenced prior to January 1, 2015.
SB 10 (Beall): This bill would require the State Department of Health Care Services to establish, no later than July 1, 2020, a statewide peer, parent, transition-age, and family support specialist certification program, as a part of the state’s comprehensive mental health and substance use disorder delivery system and the Medi-Cal program. The bill would include 4 certification categories: adult peer support specialist, transition-age youth peer support specialist, family peer support specialist, and parent peer support specialist.
SB 11 (Beall): This bill would require a health care service plan and a health insurer to submit an annual report to the Department of Managed Health Care or the Department of Insurance, as appropriate, certifying compliance with state and federal mental health parity laws, as specified. The bill would require the departments to review the reports submitted by health care service plans to ensure compliance with state and federal mental health parity laws, and would require the departments to make the reports and the results of the reviews available upon request and to post the reports and the results of the reviews on the departments’ Internet Web site.
SB 289 (Archuleta): Would require the continued Medi-Cal HCBS eligibility or waiting list status of a Medi-Cal beneficiary who is a dependent child or spouse of an active duty military service member, if the military service member receives a military order to transfer to another state, as long as the military service member retains California as the state of legal residence and the Medi-Cal beneficiary retains eligibility for those services.
SB 389 (Hertzberg): Would amend the Mental Health Services Act to authorize the counties to use MHSA moneys to provide services to persons who are participating in a presentencing or postsentencing diversion program or who are on parole, probation, postrelease community supervision, or mandatory supervision. By authorizing a new use of continuously appropriated moneys, this bill would make an appropriation. The bill would state the finding of the Legislature that this act is consistent with, and furthers the intent of, the Mental Health Services Act.
Homelessness & Housing
AB 240 (Irwin): Current law sets forth the duties of the Department of Veterans Affairs regarding the administration and regulation of veterans’ homes. Current law authorizes the Director of General Services to lease or let any real property held by the department for a home, as specified, to any entity or person upon terms and conditions determined to be in the best interests of the home. This bill would prohibit a lease or let from exceeding 5 years.
AB 694 (Irwin): This bill would enact the Veterans Housing and Homeless Prevention Bond Act of 2019 to authorize the issuance of bonds in an unspecified amount to provide additional funding for the VHHPA. The bill would provide for the handling and disposition of the funds in the same manner as the 2014 bond act.
AB 816 (Quirk-Silva): Would establish the California Flexible Housing Subsidy Pool Program within the Department of Housing and Community Development for the purpose of making grants available to applicants, defined to include a city, county, city and county, or continuum of care, for eligible activities including, among other things, rental assistance, operating subsidies in new and existing affordable or supportive housing units, and specified outreach services. The bill would continuously appropriate $450,000,000 from the General Fund every fiscal year to the department for purposes of the program, and set forth how these funds must be allocated.
SB 48 (Weiner): This bill would state the intent of the Legislature to enact legislation that creates a right to shelter for unhoused residents throughout the state, which would be required to include the navigation center model. The bill would state the purposes of this legislation, including ensuring that every person living on California’s streets has the ability to promptly secure shelter that is safe and supportive. The bill would specify certain elements that this right to shelter would include. The bill would specify that the right to shelter is not intended to be in lieu of prioritizing permanent housing for people who lack housing.
SB 222 (Hill): This bill would state findings and declarations of the Legislature regarding the importance of housing for veterans and its priority, and declare that housing discrimination on the basis of veteran or military status is against public policy.
SCA 1 (Allen): The California Constitution prohibits the development, construction, or acquisition of a low-rent housing project, as defined, in any manner by any state public body until a majority of the qualified electors of the city, town, or county in which the development, construction, or acquisition of the low-rent housing project is proposed approve the project by voting in favor at an election, as specified. This measure would repeal these provisions.
Training & Education
AB 232 (Cervantes): This bill expresses the intent of the Legislature to enact legislation creating an articulation platform for the California Community Colleges to facilitate the transition of recent veterans to state institutions of higher education.
SB 500 (Morrell): This bill would require the Department of Veterans Affairs to establish an education assistance program to provide housing and tuition assistance to disabled veterans attending graduate school in the State of California if their eligibility for federal education assistance has expired. The bill would, upon appropriation by the Legislature, require the department to provide tuition assistance and a housing allowance to disabled veterans while they attend any graduate school in the State of California, as specified. The bill would additionally require the department, upon appropriation by the Legislature, to provide a housing allowance to a disabled veteran in a graduate internship or fellowship program that earns credits towards a graduate degree.
SB 562 (Morrell): Current property tax law, pursuant to the authorization of the California Constitution, provides a disabled veteran’s property tax exemption for the principal place of residence of a veteran, the veteran’s spouse, or the veteran and veteran’s spouse jointly, and the unmarried surviving spouse of a veteran, as provided, if the veteran is blind in both eyes, has lost the use of 2 or more limbs, or is totally disabled as a result of injury or disease incurred in military service, or if the veteran has, as a result of a service-connected injury or disease, died while on active duty in military service. This bill, for the 2020-21 fiscal year and for each fiscal year thereafter, would increase these exemption amounts to $200,000, or $250,000 if the household income of the claimant does not exceed $40,000, as adjusted for inflation.