AARP California staff and volunteers are always active in the California State Capitol and within legislative districts. AARP’s advocacy team waited patiently as Governor Jerry Brown waded through mountains of bills to sign or veto.
See Also: Government Watch – Hold your elected officials accountable
The session ended with significant wins for California’s older adults. Twenty bills received the Governor’s approval. Here are a few of the highlights.
Elder Economic Planning Act
An analysis of the 2007 California Elder Economic Index by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research found that 47% of older Californians (65+) in our state did not have enough income to meet basic needs. California is unprepared to plan for the needs of older Californians because it uses a very outdated economic tool (Federal Poverty Level) to measure the problem. The Elder Index better reflects the true cost of meeting basic needs including the expenses associated with transportation, health care and housing. This bill will require California’s 33 area agencies on aging to use this index when developing federal plans. Additionally, it does not change eligibility or funding allocations for the Older Americans Act or the 33 area agencies on aging.
Heat and Eat – Utility Allowance- Food Stamps
This bill will increase access to and participation in CalFresh/Food Stamps by removing barriers and moving from a quarterly to Semi-annual reporting. Significantly, the bill develops a “Heat and Eat” or Utility Assistance initiative based on a partnership between the Department of Social Services which administers CalFresh and the Department of Community Services and Development which administers the Low Income Energy Assistance Program. The initiative allows all CalFresh households to receive a nominal energy assistance benefit (such as on an EBT card) thereby qualifying them to receive a Standard Utility Allowance benefitting approximately 300,000 California households who are expected to receive increased food stamp benefits.
Mortgages: Senior & Disabled property tax deferral program
The bill will help thousands of disabled & older Californians remain in their homes by permitting counties to defer their property taxes. The bill will allow individual counties that choose to “opt in” to defer property taxes for eligible older Californians and disabled homeowners. Taxes would be collected on the death of the homeowner or the sale or transfer of the property.
Utilities – Pipeline Safety – First Responders
The San Bruno gas pipeline explosion in 2010 resulted in both significant loss of life as well as property damage. This bill requires gas operators improve communication and coordination with first responders by requiring the Public Utilities Commission, in consultation with the Office of Emergency Services and the California Fire Chiefs Association to adopt stricter emergency response standards. These standards include procedures to ensure emergency shutdown and pressure reduction when necessary. Additionally, it requires gas operators to have established liaisons with emergency personnel as well as providing fire officials with appropriate maps of where gas pipelines are located.
Requires the Director of Finance, at the time of the submission of the budget by the Governor, to submit the total recommended state General Fund expenditures and estimated state revenues, including proposed resources, estimates for the succeeding 3 fiscal years, a 5 year capital infrastructure plan and projections of state expenditures and projections applicable to the budget year from the previous enacted Budget Act projections.
Legislation Regarding Senior Voter Fraud
Provides that a person is guilty of a misdemeanor if he or she, while providing care or direct supervision to an individual 65 years of age or older, coerces or deceives the individual into voting for or against a candidate or measure contrary to the individual's intent or in the absence of any intent of the individual regarding that vote.