Legislature Reaches Deadline for Fiscal Bills, Focus to Shift to State Budget

Today, the California Legislature reached the deadline for bills with fiscal implications to be heard and advanced by policy committees to appropriations committees. Next week, the Legislature faces a similar deadline to hear and advance non-fiscal bills to the floor in the bills’ house of origin. Over the coming weeks, Senate and Assembly Appropriations Committees will hear bills and refer most to the Suspense File where bills will be acted upon in mid-May. Given today’s deadline, many bills with fiscal implications will no longer move forward through the legislative process this year and will become two-year bills, able to be acted upon in January 2022.

The Legislature next week will begin shifting its focus back to the state budget ahead of the release of the Governor’s May Revise budget, which is expected during the second week of May. Senate and Assembly Budget Subcommittees will hold hearings over the next two weeks review open issues from state agencies and departments, as well as stakeholder requests. CHEAC continues leading the California Can’t Wait Coalition, comprised of HOAC, SEIU California, UCC, RCRC, and Public Health Advocates, among others, requesting $200 million ongoing General Fund for Public Health Workforce and Infrastructure, as well as support for our sponsored measure AB 240 (Rodriguez) to conduct an evaluation of the state’s local health department infrastructure.

Given rosy state tax revenue collections and an anticipated $26 billion from the American Rescue Plan, Assembly Budget Committee Chair Phil Ting updated the committee’s budget priorities plan that was previously released in December 2020. Under the revised priority document, the Assembly Budget Committee is calling for restoration of state services and greater investments in key areas, including health and human services. Notably, the Assembly calls for a significant investment in public health infrastructure as the state maintains its ongoing COVID-19 response. The California Can’t Wait Coalition released a statement applauding the inclusion of a public health infrastructure investment in the Assembly’s budget priority plan. The Coalition looks forward to continued advocacy efforts among the Legislature as the May Revise and June budget deadlines approach.

In other news this week, Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 80 providing $6.2 billion in state tax relief over the next six years to small businesses that received federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Under the measure, forgiven PPP loans received by small businesses during the pandemic will not be counted as taxable income, and businesses can also deduct costs of expenses associated with the loans. Additional information from the Governor’s Office is available here.

Below, we note several bills of interest to CHEAC Members. For a full update, the latest edition of the CHEAC Weekly Bill Chart is available here.

Access to Health Services

AB 32 (Aguiar-Curry) as amended April 22, 2021 – SUPPORT

Assembly Member Aguiar-Curry’s AB 32 would require the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) to indefinitely continue telehealth flexibilities established during the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill requires health services provided by an enrolled clinic through telehealth to be reimbursed by Medi-Cal on the same basis, to the same extent, and at the same payment rate as in-person services. Providers would be authorized to enroll or recertify Medi-Cal program beneficiaries using telehealth services, and DHCS would be required to both seek necessary federal approvals and to convene an advisory group that includes specified representatives, including designated public hospitals and counties. Additionally, DHCS is required to consult with stakeholders to develop one or more federally permissible alternative payment method for FQHCs and RHCs for specified services. AB 32 was heard in the Assembly Health Committee on Tuesday where it was advanced to the Assembly Appropriations Committee on a 13-0 vote with two members not voting.

Communicable Disease Control

SB 744 (Glazer) as amended April 22, 2021 – OPPOSE UNLESS AMENDED

This measure, authored by Assembly Member Steve Glazer, was heard in Senate Judiciary Committee this week. SB 744 would require the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to create a program to provide for expedited release, during a declared public health emergency, of certain health care data to researchers of specified institutes of higher education. The measure would require that any electronic tool used by a local health officer for the purpose of reporting communicable diseases to include the capacity to collect and report data including the type of housing where the patient resides, the number of people in the household, the occupation and workplace of the patient, and the cities that the patient has traveled to within the previous 14 days. AB 744 was advanced out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on a unanimous 11-0 vote and now moves onto Senate Appropriations Committee.

Health Equity

AB 1407 (Burke) as amended March 18, 2021 – SUPPORT

AB 1407, authored by Assembly Member Autumn Burke, was heard this week in Assembly Health Committee. The measure would require nursing schools and programs to include implicit bias coursework within their curriculum. The measure would require nurse licensees to complete one hour of direct participation in an implicit bias course within the first 2 years of holding their license. Hospitals would also be required to implement an evidence-based implicit bias program as part of its new graduate training program that hires and trains new nursing graduates. AB 1407 was passed out of the committee on a 13-0 vote with two members not voting and now moves on to Assembly Appropriations Committee.

Vital Statistics

AB 751 (Irwin) as introduced February 16, 2021 – SUPPORT

This measure, authored by Assembly Member Jacqui Irwin, was heard in the Assembly Health Committee this week. AB 751 would remove the sunset date provisions allowing local registrars to accept electronic requests sworn under penalty of perjury, that the requester of a marriage, birth, or death certificate is an authorized person. Additionally, this measure would authorize officials to accept an electronic request from applicants using a process that authentically identifies applicants using National Institute of Standards and Technology Digital Identity Guidelines and other requirements. AB 751 was advanced from Assembly Appropriations Committee on consent to the Assembly Floor.