Waiting for Governor Jerry Brown to Sign Bills Protecting Californians

The crowded hallways outside of the Legislature's chambers may now be empty but that doesn't mean the fervent lobbying to kill pending legislation is over. 

With more than 600 bills sitting at the governor's desk, we are keeping an eye on bills that protect privacy, healthcare, elections, consumer rights and the environment. Below are some of the bills we are watching:  

Signed 10/08/2015 - SB 43 (Sen. Ed Hernandez, D-West Covina): Would, for an individual or small group health care service plan contract or an individual or small group health insurance policy issued, amended, or renewed on or after January 1, 2017, prohibit limits on habilitative and rehabilitative services from being combined and would define essential health benefits to include the health benefits covered by particular benchmark plans as of the first quarter of 2014, as specified. The bill, for plan years commencing on or after January 1, 2016, would revise the definition of "habilitative services" to conform to federal regulations.

Signed 10/08/2015 - SB 178 (Sens. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, and Joel Anderson, R-Alpine): Protects Californians against warrantless government access to private electronic communications such as emails, text messages and GPS data that are stored in the cloud and on smart phones, tablets, laptops and other digital devices. 

Signed 10/06/2015 - SB 238 (Sen. Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles): Will establish training, data reporting, and alert systems; it will identify risky practices; and it will alert counties so that they can act to reduce dangerous prescribing practices. 

Signed 10/08/2015 - SB 282 (Sen. Ed Hernandez, D-West Covina): Current law requires the Department of Managed Health Care and the Department of Insurance to jointly develop a uniform prior authorization form for prescription drug benefits on or before July 1, 2012, and requires, 6 months after the form is developed, every prescribing provider to submit the request to the health care service plan or health insurer using the uniform form, and requires those plans and insurers to accept only the uniform form. This bill would authorize the prescribing provider to additionally use an electronic process developed specifically for transmitting prior authorization information that meets the National Council for Prescription Drug Programs' SCRIPT standard for electronic prior authorization transactions.

Signed 10/06/2015 - SB 319 ( Sen. Jim Beall, D-San Jose): Strengthens California’s Health Care Program for Children in Foster Care by explicitly giving public health nurses access to the information and authority needed to monitor and oversee thousands of California foster children who are medicated using psychotropic drugs.

Signed 10/07/2015 - SB 350 (Sen. Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles): By 2030, California would have to increase to 50 percent the amount of energy it generates from renewable sources and double the energy efficiency of existing buildings.

SB 439 (Sen. Ben Allen, D-Santa Monica): Would allow counties to offer conditional voter registration and provisional voting at satellite offices other than on election day.

Signed 10/06/2015 - SB 484 (Sen. Jim Beall, D-San Jose): Requires the identification of group homes suspected of using psychotropic medications inappropriately and specifies the factors to be used in pinpointing those facilities. Those group homes identified will be inspected to determine what policies or practices within the facility contribute to the misuse of psychotropic medications.

SB 501 and SB 641 (Sen. Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont): SB 641 targets abusive tactics of debt collectors by giving a consumer the ability to ask a court to set aside default judgments and hear the case on the merits.  SB 501 creates a tiered-garnishment rate to lower the high percentage of income currently taken from low-income workers’ paychecks and to recognize local minimum wage ordinances.  

SB 546 (Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco): Requires rate review and prior approval of rates for health plans and insurers that sell coverage in the large group market. 

Signed 10/08/2015 - AB 339 (Assemblyman Richard Gordon, D-Los Altos): Would prevent insurers from placing all of the prescription drugs to treat a certain condition in the highest-cost tier of a drug formulary

AB 465 (Assemblyman Roger Hernandez, D-West Covina)Prohibits employers from forcing their workers to surrender their rights as a condition of employment by signing an arbitration agreement. Employers often include “forced arbitration” as a condition of employment, resulting in workers being fired or not hired if they don’t give up rights to resolve disputes in court. 

Vetoed 10/09/2015 - (veto messageAB 825 (Assemblyman Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood) and (veto message SB 660 (Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco): Appoints an inspector general in the state auditor’s office to oversee the California Public Utilities Commission. Tightens restrictions on communications between commissioners and the utilities they regulate.

AB 1020 (Assemblyman Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, D-Los Angeles): Current law provides that a person is entitled to register to vote if he or she is a United States citizen, a resident of California, not in prison or on parole for the conviction of a felony, and at least 18 years of age at the time of the next registration. This bill would provide that a person is entitled to preregister to vote in an election if, among other things, that person is at least 16 years of age. 

AB 1073 (Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco): Would require a pharmacist to use professional judgment to provide a patient with directions for use of a prescription that enhance the patient's understanding of those directions, consistent with the prescriber's instructions. The bill would also require a dispenser, excluding a veterinarian, upon the request of a patient or patient's representative, to provide translated directions for use as prescribed. The bill would authorize a dispenser to use translations made available by the California State Board of Pharmacy pursuant to those existing regulations.

Signed 10/06/2015 - AB 1116 (Committee on Privacy and Consumer Protection):Would prohibit a person or entity from providing the operation of a voice recognition feature within this state without prominently informing, during the initial setup or installation of a connected television, either the user or the person designated by the user to perform the initial setup or installation of the connected television. 

Signed 10/08/2015 - AB 1131 (Assemblyman Matt Dababneh, D-Encino): Would, for life insurance records, authorize additional persons to send records by electronic transmission by providing that an insurer, agent, broker, or any other person licensed by the Department of Insurance may send electronic records. This bill would expand the scope of electronic notice provisions by allowing the above licensees to send any written record by electronic transmission if not specifically excluded and if the licensee meets specified requirements. The bill would also require the commissioner to submit a report.  

Signed 10/04/2015 - AB 1163 (Assemblyman Freddie Rodriguez, D-Pomona):Would prohibit a material change, as defined, made to the terms and conditions of a contract between a health care service plan and a solicitor, or a health insurer and a life agent, from becoming effective until the plan or insurer has delivered to the solicitor or life agent written or electronic notice of the change or changes to the contract, within a specified time period. These provisions would not apply if the material change is agreed to by the plan or insurer and the solicitor or agent or if the change at issue is required pursuant to state or federal law. 

AB 1232 (Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, D-Bell Gardens): Current law prohibits the Insurance Commissioner from denying an insurance agent or broker license to an applicant without an opportunity to be heard. This bill would, if the applicant or permanent licensee is a natural person and requests a hearing, authorize the person, at his or her option, to have the hearing held by either the Office of Administrative Hearings, or an administrative law judge appointed by the commissioner to conduct the hearing. If the natural person does not indicate a preference of forum when requesting that hearing, the bill would authorize the commissioner to refer the matter for hearing to either the Office of Administrative Hearings, or to an administrative law judge appointed by the commissioner to conduct the hearing. 

AB 1301 (Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer, D-Los Angeles): Would establish a state preclearance system. Under this system, if a covered political subdivision, as defined, enacts or seeks to administer a voting-related law, regulation, or policy, as specified, that is different from that in force or effect on the date this act is enacted, the governing body of the covered political subdivision would be required to submit the law, regulation, or policy to the Secretary of State for approval. The bill would require the Secretary of State to approve the law, regulation, or policy only if specified conditions are met. 

Signed 10/06/2015 - AB 1337 (Assemblyman Eric Linder, R-Corona): Current law requires certain medical providers and medical employers to make a patient's records available for inspection and copying by an attorney, or his or her representative, who presents a written authorization. This bill would require a medical provider or attorney, as defined, to provide an electronic copy of a medical record that is maintained electronically upon request . The bill would also require a medical provider to accept a prescribed authorization form once completed and signed by the patient if the medical provider determines that the form is valid. 

AB 1461 (Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego): Every eligible Californian would be automatically registered to vote through transactions with the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Signed 9/28/2015 - AB 1515 (Committee on Insurance): Current law requires certain insurance disclosures in various circumstances, including, but not limited to, when a life or disability insurance policy or certificate of coverage is first issued or delivered to a new insured or policyholder, when an employer obtains coverage from a multiple employer welfare arrangement, when a claim is up for settlement, and when a vehicle service contract form is offered. This bill , commencing January 1, 2017, would generally require those disclosures to also include the Department of Insurance's Internet Web site. 

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