November 15, 2017 - by  ·In a little over a month, another year will open with a crop of new laws that aim to make our state a better place for veterans to live.
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Many of these bills will improve outreach to ensure veterans are aware of the wide range of assistance available to them, such as obtaining free civil legal assistance, starting a farming or ranching career, or becoming a citizen after leaving military service.

Here’s our roundup of enacted Assembly Bills (ABs) and Senate Bills (SBs) — all signed by Gov. Edmund G. Brown, Jr. — with a brief summary of each bill and how it might affect the veterans of California.

Affordable housing

The Veterans and Affordable Housing Bond Act of 2018 authorizes the issuance of bonds in the amount of $3 billion to help finance various existing housing programs, as well as infill infrastructure financing and affordable housing matching grant programs. Another $1 billion would be used to provide additional funding for existing programs for farm, home, and mobile home purchase assistance for veterans. A bond measure is expected to go before voters in November 2018.

Records pertaining to California veterans

AB242 – Requires death certificates to include whether the person ever served in the U.S. Armed Forces and requires the State Department of Public Health to use this data to compile an annual report on veteran suicide in California for the Legislature and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

AB331 – Requires county recorders to record and maintain military discharge documents in a nonpublic index, when requested by a military veteran or authorized person. It also removes a previous requirement that document become part of county record. Only the veteran, or authorized person is permitted to receive a copy of the document.

AB974- Requires counties to report spending on mental health services for veterans from Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) funds. MHSA, enacted by voters as Proposition 63 in 2004, established a commission for mental heal services oversight and accountability.

Bills related to services and benefits

 AB360 – Provides for free civil legal assistance to veterans and their families who cannot afford legal services. Requires the State Bar of California to coordinate pro bono legal services and post to its website a list of local bar associations, legal aid organizations, veterans service providers and volunteer attorneys willing to provide pro bono legal services to veterans.

AB376- Requires CalVet, the Labor and Workforce Development Agency and the Department of Food and Agriculture to identify and post information about benefits available to assist veterans entering farming or ranching careers. State veteran benefits include education assistance and farm and home loans.

SB156 – Requires CalVet to expand the current California Transition Assistance Program to provide noncitizens leaving military service information about how to become citizens, including information on where to acquire state legal assistance. This bill also requires the state National Guard to inform its members that it will assist noncitizen members in acquiring US citizenship as soon as they are eligible and, when requested, to assist the member in filing all necessary forms and paperwork.

AB671 – Authorizes veterans memorial districts to provide funding to organizations that offer supportive services — including counseling, case management, and employment training – that improve the quality of life for veterans and their families. This expands on existing law relating to veterans memorial districts.

AB1618 – Establishes a competitive grant program to fund services that improve the quality of life for veterans and their families. CalVet will administer the program in support of the state’s strategic plan, will create a certification process for veteran service providers applying for the grants, and will coordinate with other state departments and agencies, as necessary, to implement the program.

SB330 – The State Housing Law authorizes cities and counties to prescribe fees for required permits. This bill authorizes cities and counties to waive or reduce all building permit fees for improvements to the home of a veteran with a qualifying disability that are made to accommodate that disability.

Issues related to health care and skilled nursing facilities

SB97 – This bill makes a number of changes related to financing and regulation of California health care facilities, including skilled nursing facilities. It modifies eligibility requirements for health facility grants, requires administrative penalties for certain violations at skilled nursing facilities, and establishes various health education and research programs, including nutrition programs and community-living support benefits for Medi-Cal recipients.

AB275 – Expands the notice and planning requirements that a long-term health care facility must provide before a change in license or facility operations that results in the inability to care for patients or residents. It requires a facility to provide a 60-day notice to affected residents or their guardians, to the Long-Term Care Ombudsman, and to the Department of Health Care Services and any health plan of an affected resident prior to any change.

AB713 – Authorizes a continuing care retirement facility to transfer a resident if he or she develops a physical or mental condition that is detrimental to the health, safety, or well-being of the resident or another person, without being a danger. The provider would need to use assessment tools during the process and share copies of the completed assessment with the resident or the resident’s responsible person. The bill also establishes procedures for disputed transfers.

AB940 – Requires a long-term health care facility to notify the local long-term care ombudsman if a resident is notified in writing of a facility-initiated transfer or discharge from the facility. Failure to provide a timely copy of that notice would constitute a Class B violation for purposes of a citation issued by the State Department of Public Health.

SB294 – Authorizes a person or agency licensed under the California Hospice Licensure Act to provide any of the authorized interdisciplinary hospice services, including palliative care, to a patient who has a serious illness, through the year 2021. Licensees electing to provide palliative care under this temporary authorization are required to report additional information to the state Department of Public Health, including the number of patients receiving palliative care.

SB449 – Existing law requires that skilled nursing and intermediate care facilities have a precertification training program, which includes at least 60 classroom hours of training on basic nursing skills, patient safety and rights, social and psychological problems of patients, and resident abuse prevention. This bill would require that at least two of the 60 hours of classroom training address the special needs of persons with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

AB89 – Requires applicants seeking psychologist licensure under the Psychology Licensing Law to complete a minimum of six hours of coursework or supervised experience in suicide risk assessment and intervention. The bill also includes a one-time requirement that licensed psychologists complete suicide risk assessment and intervention training prior to the time of their first renewal.

SB219 – Enacts the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Long-Term Care Facility Residents’ Bill of Rights and makes it unlawful for any long-term care facility to take specified actions on the basis of a person’s actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or HIV status, including willfully or repeatedly failing to use a resident’s preferred name or pronouns, and denying admission to a long-term care facility. Provides for imposition of civil penalties.

Miscellaneous

AB1361 – Authorizes a Municipal Water District to extend water service to Indian lands that are not within its district. The District would need to apply to a local agency formation commission, which would be authorized to impose certain conditions on the extension of service.

AB1365 – Requires CalVet to submit an annual financial report on veteran homes located in Barstow, Chula Vista, Fresno, Lancaster, Redding, Ventura, West Los Angeles and Yountville to the Legislature, and to post the report on the CalVet website. In addition, CalVet must review the use of a veteran home to determine the best continued, unrestricted use of the home, five years prior to and after expiration of a specified use restriction imposed by federal law.

SB266 – This bill pertains to consumer loans for members of the U.S. Armed Forces and makes changes concerning laws prohibiting discrimination against a member of the military or naval forces, including discrimination with respect to the terms of a loan or financing based on that person’s membership in the armed forces. It amends the Banking Law, the Credit Union Law, the Finance Lenders Law, and the Deferred Deposit Transaction Law to update references to the Military Lending Act.

AB1696 – Requires the Employment Development Department (EDD) to disclose certain information to the Department of Developmental Services to assist with the implementation of the Employment First Policy, the policy that opportunities for integrated, competitive employment be given the highest priority for working-age individuals with developmental disabilities, regardless of the severity of their disabilities. The bill revises existing law to allow disclosure to EDD employees of the information and records obtained in the course of providing intake, assessment, and services to persons with developmental disabilities as necessary for Employment First Policy purposes.

AB94 – The Corporation Tax Law allows certain nonprofit organizations to obtain an exemption from certain state and federal taxes. This bill authorizes veterans’ organizations, described in Section 501(c)(19) of the Internal Revenue Code, to obtain this exemption.
Source: CalVet
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