June 19, 2020 Edition

Ventura County Achieves Reaccreditation Status

The Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB) awarded reaccreditation status to Ventura County this week. This redesignation, as Ventura was the first California local health department to become accredited, lasts for an additional five years.  Congratulations to Ventura County Public Health!

Legislature Meets Constitutional Deadline for Budget, Negotiations Continue with Administration

On Monday, the Senate and Assembly passed SB 74 (Mitchell), representing the Legislature’s bicameral spending plan for the 2020-21 fiscal year. In addition to SB 74, the Legislature approved trailer bills related to 2019 Budget Act augmentations (AB 75), education finance (AB 76), and state taxes and charges (AB 85). The Legislature’s action on Monday was largely a formality to meet the June 15 constitutional deadline to pass a budget. Recall, the 2010 ballot initiative approved by voters requires the Legislature to meet the deadline in order to continue receiving their paychecks.

The Legislature’s spending plan takes a differing approach than the Governor’s May Revision in addressing the state’s $54.3 billion budget deficit, as well as trigger cuts contingent upon federal financial assistance. Negotiations between legislative leaders and the Newsom Administration continue as the parties attempt to resolve the remaining differences in their budget plans. Upon completion of negotiations, a comprehensive budget package is anticipated to be enacted through a series of subsequent budget trailer bills that will include detailed spending provisions.

With the next fiscal year beginning in just over 10 days, legislative leaders and the Newsom Administration face a quickly approaching deadline to finalize the state’s budget. The Assembly, which began its three-week summer recess upon adjournment of session yesterday, is expected to be called back to Sacramento once budget trailer bills are finalized. As developments occur over the coming days, CHEAC will keep members apprised.

County Officials Urge $1 Billion Realignment Backfill

On Monday, the California State Association of Counties (CSAC), in conjunction with county affiliates CHEAC, CBHDA, and CWDA, convened a virtual press conference to urge the Legislature and Newsom Administration to include at least $1 billion in realignment backfill for critical county-delivered safety net services in the 2020-21 state budget. The press conference featured Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis and Sonoma County Supervisor James Gore highlighting the urgent need for state support to continue the delivery of vital public health, behavioral health, social services, and public safety services.

CHEAC President and Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency Director Mimi Hall also appeared during the press conference, discussing the potential impacts to local public health services without the realignment funding backfill. Ms. Hall showcased the role of local health departments in preparing for and responding to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the services provided by departments throughout the state in areas of contact tracing, testing, and health disparities.

Representatives from other county agencies related to behavioral health and social services appeared during the press conference to discuss potential impacts to their respective programs and services. A video recording of the press conference is available here.

Legislature Concludes House of Origin Hearings, Vote by Mail Legislation Signed by Governor

This week the Legislature finished their house of origin hearings with the Senate Appropriations Committee meeting to dispense with their suspense file measures. Of interest to local health departments, SB 793, Senator Jerry Hill’s proposal to ban flavored tobacco, did pass off the suspense file (5-1) with amendments to exempt the sale of flavored shisha tobacco products by hookah tobacco retailers after strong opposition from the hookah industry. Please recall last year, Senator Hill pulled his flavored tobacco ban bill, SB 38, after the bill had hostile amendments placed in the bill to exempt hookah products. The amendments this year are more specific than those in SB 38 and make clear only shisha tobacco used in a hookah is allowable and not allowed through the use of any electronic device. Furthermore, more stringent provisions on hookah tobacco retailers are added to statute including requiring them to have valid tobacco retailer licenses, not allowing anyone under the age of 21 on their premises and complying with all relevant local and state tobacco product laws. SB 793 now moves on to the Senate Floor.

On another note, Governor Newsom signed AB 860, authored by Assembly Member Marc Berman, yesterday. AB 860 codified the Governor’s Executive Order to require all registered voters in the state to receive a mail-in ballot for the November 2020 Statewide General Election.  Last week, Governor Newsom was sued in Sutter County Superior Court by two members of the Legislature arguing that the Governor had exceeded his executive authority. The court agreed and suspended his executive order. With the passage of AB 860 – an urgency measure that went into effect immediately – the Legislature has now statutorily authorized the election to proceed in this manner.

For a full update, the CHEAC Weekly Bill Chart is available here.

Newsom Administration Issues Guidance Requiring Face Coverings Statewide

On Thursday, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued guidance requiring individuals to wear face coverings statewide when in most settings outside of the home.

Individuals must wear face coverings when inside of, or in line to enter, any indoor public space, obtaining services from a healthcare sector setting, waiting for or riding on public transit, private care service, or ride-sharing vehicle, engaged in work, and while outdoors in public spaces when physical distancing is not feasible, among other circumstances. Thursday’s guidance includes specified exemptions, including among children aged two and under, persons with a medical, mental health, or developmental disability that prevents wearing a face covering, and persons who are engaged in outdoor work or recreation when they are able to maintain physical distancing.

In a statement, Governor Gavin Newsom indicated, “Science shows that face coverings and masks work. … Simply put, we are seeing too many people with faces uncovered – putting at risk the real progress we have made in fighting the disease.” The guidance took effect immediately and does not include an end date.

The full guidance is available here.

Senate Rules Committee Advances Angell Confirmation

On Wednesday, the Senate Rules Committee advanced to the Senate Floor the confirmation of California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Director and State Health Officer Dr. Sonia Angell on a vote of 4-0 with one member not voting.

During the Senate Rules Committee hearing, Senators extensively queried Dr. Angell on the state’s ongoing response activities to the COVID-19 pandemic, including on areas related to personal protective equipment (PPE), statewide stay-at-home order, industry guidance, contact tracing, data reporting criteria, and preparedness efforts for future public health emergencies. Notably, Senator Bill Monning discussed ongoing challenges and threats experienced by local public health officials during the COVID-19 pandemic and urged CDPH to publicly express support for local public health officials throughout the state.

Dr. Angell’s confirmation moves on to the Senate Floor where it is anticipated to be voted upon over the coming weeks. A video recording of the Senate Rules Committee hearing is available here.

Lightbourne Named DHCS Director

On Monday, Governor Gavin Newsom named former California Department of Social Services (CDSS) Director Will Lightbourne as the next Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) Director. Lightbourne served as CDSS Director from 2011 to 2018. He was previously the director of the Santa Clara County Social Services Agency from 2000 to 2011, executive director of the Human Services Agency for the City and County of San Francisco from 1996 to 2000, and the director of the Santa Cruz County Human Services Agency from 1990 to 1996.

Lightbourne takes over as DHCS Director from Dr. Bradley Gilbert who announced his retirement earlier this month. The full announcement from the Governor’s office is available here.

Newsom Extends Various Deadlines Due to COVID-19

On Monday, Governor Gavin Newsom issued Executive Order N-69-20 addressing a number of issues in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The order extends waivers temporarily broadening the capabilities of counties to enroll persons into CalWORKs, allowing self-attestation of pregnancy and conditions of eligibility, and waiving in-person identification requirements. The order also extends permission for commercially-licensed food trucks to operate in roadside rest areas, suspends face-to-face visits for eligibility for extended foster care, and extends deadlines related to real estate license application and renewal fees.

DOF Notifies Legislature of COVID-19 Funding Augmentation to CDCR

The Department of Finance (DOF) on Wednesday notified Senate and Assembly Budget and Appropriations Committee Chairs of its intent to augment funding to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) utilizing emergency COVID-19 funding appropriated by the Legislature in March. DOF indicated $16.9 million will be made available to CDCR to reimburse counties for housing inmates due to the temporary stoppage of prison intake for 60 days in response to COVID-19 and the housing of inmates waiting for transportation through September 8, 2020.

This funding augmentation is in addition to the $14.3 million provided to CDCR in April and May due to the suspension of prison intake. The full DOF letter notifying the Legislature is available here.

Surgeon General’s ACEs Aware Initiative Announces Grant Awardees

This week, the Office of the California Surgeon General announced the awarding of $14.3 million in grants to 100 organizations throughout the state to support the ACEs Aware initiative. Funding for the grants was previously authorized in the FY 2019-20 Budget utilizing Proposition 56 and federal matching funds. The grants focus on provider training, provider engagement, and communications and will fund a range of activities that will inform and educate Medi-Cal providers about the importance of screening for ACEs and responding with trauma-informed care.

31 provider training grants were awarded to help educate Medi-Cal providers about the importance of incorporating ACE screening into their clinical practice, 83 provider engagement grants were awarded to supplement and promote ACEs Aware activities, and 36 communications grants were awarded to supplement ACEs Aware activities by reaching organization members and other key audiences. Notably, several local health departments were among the awardees:

  • Butte County Department of Public Health: Provider Engagement
  • Los Angeles County Department of Public Health: Provider Engagement
  • Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services – Public Health: Provider Training and Communications
  • Kings County Department of Public Health: Provider Training, Provider Engagement, and Communications
  • Mariposa County Health and Human Services Agency: Communications
  • Riverside County Department of Public Health: Provider Training and Provider Engagement
  • Santa Cruz County Department of Public Health: Provider Engagement
  • Trinity County Department of Public Health: Provider Engagement
  • Tulare County Health and Human Services Agency: Communications

Additional information, including a full list of awardees, is available here.