Legislature Set to Begin Policy Committee Hearings Next Week

The California Legislature is set to begin policy committee hearings in earnest on legislative bills introduced to date beginning next week. Recall, the Legislature has primarily focused its attention on early budget action items, including COVID-19 pandemic response relief and the safe school reopening framework. The Legislature will now begin to shift its focus to legislative bills and policy committee hearings until the release of the May Revise Budget in early May. This year’s scheduling structure is different than years past given the ongoing pandemic and the need to coordinate budget and policy committee hearings in the Capitol’s limited space while maintaining COVID-19 precautions.

The CHEAC Legislative Committee will again meet next week for its day-long bill review meeting to review over 70 measures with an impact on local health departments and public health. The latest CHEAC Weekly Bill Chart is available here.

Below, we highlight several legislative hearings of interest that occurred this week.

Assembly Health Explores Health Information Exchanges

The Assembly Health Committee on Tuesday convened an informational hearing on health information exchange (HIE) priorities in California. The hearing primarily featured Jonah Frohlich, Managing Director with Manatt Health Strategies and author of a recent report on expanding payer and provider participation in data exchange. Tuesday’s hearing built upon recent work of the Assembly Health Committee on HIE priorities in the state and provided an overview of existing HIE arrangements in the state, forthcoming federal requirements, efforts in other states, and policy options to increase the use of HIE in California.

As framed by Assembly Health Committee Chair Jim Wood, the hearing focused on the state’s role in HIE and how best to assist public health entities in emergency response activities, how to establish data exchange across providers that enables population health management and patient care coordination, and to identify and eliminate health disparities.

Assembly Health Committee members received a comprehensive presentation from Mr. Frohlich with Manatt Health on options available to California in designing and implementing a 21st century integrated health system that aligns state purchasing, regulatory, and health and social services entities, addresses clinical data fragmentation, and addresses complex and onerous data exchange rules and regulations.

The hearing agenda is available here. The background paper is available here, and the presentation from Mr. Frohlich is available here. A video recording is available here.

Regulation and Execution of PSPS Events

The Assembly Committee on Utilities and Energy on Wednesday held an oversight hearing on the execution and regulation of public power safety shutoff (PSPS) events. The hearing featured an overview of the regulatory framework that governs PSPS events from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), as well as presentations on the execution of PSPS events from industry representatives from Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas & Electric, and San Diego Gas & Electric.

The hearing detailed the increasing utilization of PSPS events statewide over recent years and the impacts on customers, medical baseline customers, and the public. CPUC discussed the role of their Safety and Enforcement Division (SED) that is tasked with overseeing the safety of electric and communication entities, as well as CPUC’s regulatory and enforcement activities during PSPS events.

The hearing agenda is available here. The background paper is available here, and a video recording of the hearing is available here.

COVID-19 Impacts on Access to Parks and Open Spaces

On Wednesday, the Assembly Committee on Water, Parks, and Wildlife convened an informational hearing entitled, “Access to Parks and Open Spaces in California: COVID-19, Other Challenges, and Future Needs.” The hearing featured a status update on parks and open spaces during the COVID-19 pandemic from representatives from the California Department of Parks and Recreation (CDPR), California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). Another panel provided a funding overview for parks and open spaces from the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) and CDPR. Lastly, industry representatives outlined future needs of California’s parks and open spaces.

The hearing agenda is available here and a background paper is available here. A video recording of the hearing is available here.