February 22, 2019 Edition

California Legislature Meets Bill Introduction Deadline, Assembly Announces Select Committees Chairs

Today is the final day for the California Legislature to introduce bills for the 2019 Legislative Session. Over 1,800 bills have been introduced this year, covering an expansive range of topics and subject areas. The Senate and Assembly Desks remain open today and are expected to continue processing bill introductions into the weekend.

The CHEAC Legislative Committee is in the process of reviewing all public health-related measures that have been introduced during upcoming in-person meetings. The CHEAC Weekly Bill Chart will once again be published on a weekly basis beginning next week and will feature bills impacting local health departments.

Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Proposals

Notably this week, Assembly Members Rob Bonta, David Chiu, Richard Bloom and Buffy Wicks and Senator Bill Monning introduced a package of bills that aim to reduce the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) in California. The legislators held a press conference on Wednesday detailing their intent to address the ongoing “health crisis” and attempt to hold accountable the beverage industry, particularly in light of the deal that was struck during the 2018 budget process which placed a moratorium on new local grocery and SSB taxes through 2030. This week’s proposals include efforts to prohibit beverage company marketing and promotional activities, place a limit on unsealed beverage containers, implement a soda tax, require healthier beverage options at store checkout aisles, and require warning labels on SSBs. Additional language and details on these proposals is expected over the next several weeks.

Assembly Announces Chairs of 53 Select Committees

Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon today announced chairperson appointments to 53 Assembly Select Committees. Select committees are tasked with gathering topical informational and convening hearings on a variety of issues and topics, ranging from energy and environment to the economy to health. Membership for the select committees have not yet been fully established at this time. Below, we highlight several key select committee chairperson announcements:

  • Select Committee on Infectious Diseases – Assembly Member Mike Gipson, Chair
  • Select Committee on Health Care Access in Rural Communities – Assembly Member Adam Gray, Chair
  • Select Committee on Local Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness – Assembly Member Freddie Rodriguez, Chair
  • Select Committee on Domestic Violence – Assembly Member Blanca Rubio, Chair
  • Select Committee on Gun Violence in Communities of Color – Assembly Member Mike Gipson, Chair
  • Select Committee on Women’s Reproductive Health – Assembly Member Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, Chair

The full listing of Assembly Select Committees is available on the Assembly website here.

Senate Rules Committee Confirms Susan Fanelli to CPDH Post, Appointment Moves to Full Senate

This Wednesday, Susan Fanelli went before the Senate Rules Committee for her confirmation hearing for the role of Chief Deputy Director of Policy and Programs for the Department of Public Health (CDPH). Ms. Fanelli discussed her strong commitment to decreasing health disparities, her desire to optimize the health and well-being of all Californians and her strong partnerships with local health jurisdictions. Members questioned Ms. Fanelli on issues ranging from health facilities inspections, vaccinations rates, valley fever, and diabetes. In addition, members inquired about the status of CDPH’s implementation of the State Auditor’s recommendations resulting from the audit of the Hepatitis A outbreak and when CDPH should assert their authority, particularly in instances where the local response is not deemed adequate.

The Senate Rules Committee voted unanimously to confirm Ms. Fanelli. Her confirmation now goes before the full Senate for consideration.

Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee Holds Hearing on Affordable Housing and Homelessness

Yesterday, the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee convened a hearing to discuss affordable housing and homelessness in California. During the hearing, the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) began with framing the housing affordability and homelessness issue in California, sharing several high-level details also provided in their recently published reports (see below).

The LAO indicated that several factors have played a role in the current state of high-housing costs. The average home in California costs roughly 2.5 times the national average and rents are roughly 50 percent higher than the rest of the nation. In highlighting affordability challenges, the LAO indicated that roughly 2.5 million low-income households are cost-burdened and 1.5 million spend more than 50 percent of their income on housing. About one million middle-income households are also cost-burdened and only one-quarter of low-income households are benefiting from subsidized housing given that programs alone are not enough to address the magnitude of the State’s affordability challenges.

The LAO indicated that the state’s homelessness challenges are linked to the state’s housing affordability challenges. Rising housing costs exceeding the rise in wages puts Californians at risk of housing instability and homelessness. Those spending greater than 50 percent of their income on housing are at greatest risk. The LAO noted that as of January 2018, California’s homeless population was roughly 130,000 individuals. California has a disproportionate share of homeless individuals with roughly 25 percent of the nation’s homeless population, compared to only 12 percent of the nation’s population. California also has the highest share of unsheltered housing. The LAO further described investments made in prior Legislatures, the Administration, and voters.

The Department of Finance (DOF) provided an overview of the Administration’s housing and homelessness proposals included Governor Newsom’s January budget release. The hearing also featured a panel providing the local perspective including Phil Ansell, the Director of Los Angeles County’s Homeless Initiative, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, and Doug Shoemaker, the President of Mercy Housing California. Each panelist described the partnerships, successes and challenges in addressing homelessness in their communities, while also applauding the Legislature’s interest in doing more.

Finally, the hearing included updates on recently implemented programs. Representatives from the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) provided update on various programs under their purview including SB 2 and No Place Like Home. The California Housing Finance Agency shared successes in around increasing home ownership, increasing multi-family housing units, and increasing the financial strength of the agency. The Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council discussed their interagency working group around housing first, the implementation of the Homeless Emergency Aid Program, and the development of a potential state-level homeless data integration system.

Members of the Committee offered an array of questions/statements each approaching homelessness from slightly different angles. Senators asked what investments would make the most impact in our current homelessness crisis, whether there has been an assessment of policy failures that have led us to this point, and if data around the impact of gentrification on homelessness in California exists. Others urged consideration of further defining the term affordable housing and the need to ensure corporations to pay workers a living wage.

Committee Chair Senator Holly Mitchell reiterated the importance of the hearing and noted that this would be the last hearing for the full budget committee at this time. She announced that budget subcommittees would begin their work in two weeks.

Meeting materials can be found here.

Links to recent LAO housing-related reports are provided below:

Considerations for the Governor’s Housing Plan

What Can be Done to Improve Local Planning for Housing

Considerations for Governor’s Proposals to Address Homelessness

CDPH EPO Announces 2019 Emergency Preparedness Training Workshop, Solicits Abstract Presentations

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Office of Emergency Preparedness (EPO) this week announced the dates of its 2019 Emergency Preparedness Training Workshop. The workshop will occur from June 12-14 at the Hyatt Regency Sacramento, and the theme will be be “Navigating Change: Strengthening Partnerships, Preparedness, and Response.” Additional information, including its website release, will be made available over the coming weeks.

EPO has also released its call for abstract for workshop and/or poster presentations that capture this year’s theme and lessons learned from recent events throughout the state. The deadline to submit abstracts is April 4, 2019. Additional information and on abstracts is available here.

Sierra Health Foundation Releases MAT Funding Opportunity

The Sierra Health Foundation recently announced the Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) Access Points funding opportunity. The goal of the initiative is to support MAT start-up activities and/or MAT enhancement efforts in at least 200 MAT Access Points throughout California with the goal of increasing the number of patients with substance use disorders (SUDs) with medications, counseling, and other recovery services. All MAT Access Points will ensure that the delivery model enables positive treatment outcomes, safe management of care transitions, and long-term recovery.

A request for applications has been released by the Sierra Health Foundation, and eligible entities include county and community health centers, primary care facilities, jails, hospitals, emergency departments, and other community-based organizations. A $50,000 standard award is available per site, and higher award requests may be submitted for consideration. Funding may be used to purchase equipment, train and/or recruit staff, make capital improvements, and initiate other start-up or enhancement costs.

The Sierra Health Foundation will hold an RFA review webinar on Friday, March 8 from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm; participation in the webinar is recommended, but not required. Registration for the webinar is available here. Applications are due by March 28 at 1:00 pm; additional information on the request for applications is available here.

TFAH Publishes Report on Community Health and Wellbeing Improvements Through Policy Changes

This week, the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) released a report titled, “Promoting Health and Cost Control: How States Can Improve Community Health and Well-being Through Policy Change.” The report highlights 13 policies, all outside the healthcare sector, available to states and communities to improve the health and well-being of its residents. Specifically, the report identifies policies that leverage the connection between health and learning, promote healthy living and connectedness through the built environment, foster healthy behaviors, support healthy and affordable housing, and create economic opportunities.

The report identifies a series of goals and provides detailed information on its recommended policies, including descriptions, summaries of health and economic evidence, case examples, and considerations for design and implementation activities. Additionally, the report highlights a set of complementary polices for state and community officials to consider for further action around state and national goals for health improvement.

By providing a menu of options for state and local leaders as they explore how to best use their resources to improve the health and well-being of the population, the report aims to guide officials toward the best evidence-based policies to improve health. TFAH identifies among its key recommended policies:

  • Enhancing School Nutrition Programs
  • Paid Family Leave and Earned Sick Leave
  • Complete Streets
  • Syringe Access Programs
  • Housing Rehabilitation Loan & Grant Programs
  • Rapid Re-Housing Efforts

The full TFAH report is available here.