Policy Committees hear Single-Payer bill and Remaining Bills with Fiscal Implications

This week, hearing agendas were packed with the most complex bills to meet the legislative deadline for bills with fiscal implications to be heard in policy committees. Several key bills were heard, including SB 562 – the Healthy California Act – by Senators Lara and Atkins, which was heard during a Special Order of the Senate Health Committee. The measure would create a program to provide single-payer health care coverage and a health care cost control system for the all Californians. Advocates filled the room as discussions continued for well over two hours. The measure was passed by the Committee, however not without several questions surrounding how the bill would be financed.

Updates on other key bills of interest are provided below. An updated bill chart can be found here.

Environmental Health

 AB 626 (Garcia) as amended on 4/6/17 – Oppose

On Tuesday, the Assembly Health Committee heard AB 626 by Assembly Member Garcia, which would create a new type of food facility under the California Retail Food code for “microenterprise home kitchens.” Entities would be allowed to prepare and sell meals from private home to the general public, with limitations on the number of meals sold and gross sales. The operations would be subject to local approval.

Current law allows the preparation and sale of non-hazardous foods as approved under Cottage Food Laws in 2012. This bill would allow the preparation and sale of potentially hazardous foods within the home.

Representatives of CHEAC and HOAC testified as lead opposition on the measure. Others in opposition included CSAC, UCC and RCRC. Unfortunately, the measure passed with 12 ‘aye’ votes and 3 members abstaining – Assembly Members Wood (Chair), Bonta and Quirk-Silva. The measure now moves to the Assembly Appropriations Committee. CHEAC and HOAC sent out a request for fiscal data related to AB 626. Your feedback is greatly appreciated.

Drug & Alcohol Services

AB 186 (Eggman) as amended on 3/23/17 – Watch

This week, the Assembly Public Safety Committee heard AB 186 by Assembly Member Eggman, which would authorize counties or cities within the counties of Alameda, Fresno, Humboldt, Los Angeles, Mendocino, San Francisco, San Joaquin and Santa Cruz to establish and operate supervised injection sites for those who consume intravenous drugs. The author and sponsors noted findings that given a safe place to use, people are more likely to get into treatment and view this bill as extending harm reduction strategies in California.

Concerns were raised in Committee about unintentional loopholes the bill would create and that safe injection sites would incentivize continued drug use versus encouraging individuals to seek treatment. However, despite the concerns raised, members of the Assembly Public Safety Committee passed the measure with a vote of 4 to 3. AB 186 now moves to the Assembly Floor for a full vote.

AB 40 (Santiago) as amended on 4/19/17 – Support

The Assembly Public Safety Committee also heard AB 40 by Assembly Member Santiago, which would allow the Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System (CURES) database to integrate with other health information technology systems. This measure would allow prescription information to be included in the same patient record information that providers already receive to provide better care and combat the prescription opioid epidemic. AB 40 was passed unanimously by the Assembly Public Safety Committee and now moves to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

Chronic Disease Prevention & Wellness Promotion

AB 1003 (Bloom) as amended on 4/19/17 – Watch

AB 1003, the sugar-sweetened beverage tax measure introduced by Assembly Member Bloom, was brought before the Assembly Health Committee this week. The measure would establish the California Community Health Fund to support programming and interventions related to chronic disease, physical activity, and access to healthy foods through a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. The bill was not discussed in committee, but instead moved to an interim study. CHEAC will continue to watch the measure.

SB 300 (Monning) as introduced on 2/13/17 – Support

SB 300, by Senator Monning, which would require safety warning labels on sugar-sweetened beverages, vending machines, and dispensing machines, was scheduled to be heard on April 19; however, the measure was canceled at the request of the author. SB 300 does not appear to be moving forward at this time.

Tobacco

AB 62 (Wood) as amended on 3/27/17 – Support

The Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee heard AB 62, by Assembly Member Wood, which would require all public housing agencies to implement policies prohibiting the smoking of tobacco products in all public housing units, interior areas, and outdoors within 25 feet of public housing and administrative buildings. The measure was unanimously approved by the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee and now moves to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.