Here is a list of my legislative efforts for the 2021-22 legislative session. Please click on the bill number for detailed information including bill text, status and analyses. The Governor has until September 30, 2022, to approve or veto bills.
Bill activity in 2022:
AB 852-Health care practitioners: electronic prescriptions. This bill was signed by the Governor. A 2018 bill by Assemblymember Wood requires, effective January 1, 2022, health care practitioners authorized to issue prescriptions to have the capability to submit prescriptions via electronic data transmission and for pharmacies to have the capability to receive those transmissions. AB 852 clarifies certain exceptions to the law and prohibits a pharmacy, pharmacist or other practitioner authorized to dispense or furnish a prescription from refusing to dispense or furnish an electronic data transmitted prescription solely because the prescription was not submitted via, or is not compatible with, their proprietary software. There is an “urgency clause” in the bill so that it can be implemented as soon as possible.
AB 1130-Office of Health Care Affordability. This bill was accomplished through the passage of a state budget bill, SB 184 (Section 19, Chapter 2.6, commencing with Section 127500). AB 1130 was originally introduced in February 2021, to create the Office of Health Care Affordability (OHCA), an entity established within the Department of Health Care Access and Information (HCAI). OHCA will collect and analyze the health care market for cost drivers and trends in order to develop data-informed policies and enforceable cost targets, with the goals of containing health care costs and providing quality and affordable health care to all Californians.
Earlier this year, AB 1130 was referred to the Senate Health Committee where it provided an opportunity for Wood and the Administration to work with the Senate on language that ultimately the Assembly, Senate and Administration agreed upon and was then placed into SB 184. OHCA will require all health care entities that are dominant in an area that has a significant impact on pricing – including health care service plans, health insurers, hospitals, and physician organizations – to provide that data the office will need to better understand and contain costs.
AB 1212-Tribal Gaming: compact ratification. This bill is being held in the Senate Rules Committee. AB 1212 was introduced to ratify the tribal-state gaming compact entered into between the State of California and the following tribes: the Cahto Tribe of the Laytonville Rancheria, the Resighini Rancheria, and the Sherwood Valley Rancheria of Pomo Indians of California.
AB 1878-California Health Benefit Exchange: affordability assistance. This bill was held in the Senate Appropriations Committee and will not move forward. Funding for continuing subsidies for Covered California plans is currently in the approved state budget to help partially backfill for lost funding if the federal American Rescue Plan funds are not extended; however, the allocation of the funding in the state budget is focused on continuing subsidies rather than providing for lowering copays or deductibles as described in AB 1878. If the American Rescue Plan funding is extended, some of that funding could be allocated as described in AB 1878 if the bill moves forward.
AB 2079-Skilled Nursing Facilities: direct care spending requirement. This bill was vetoed by the Governor. His veto message can be found here. Approximately 60 percent of skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) are owned or leased by multi-facility organizations that have developed increasingly complex corporate ownership structures. Most have separate property companies, and as many as seven to eight layers of companies, holding companies and subsidiaries in control of each SNF. The complexity of interlocking corporations is often designed to protect operating companies from litigation, reduce regulatory oversight and to conceal profits of the SNF. In addition, these arrangements can add to the overall administrative and management costs of nursing homes.
While there are some financial controls on Medi-Cal spending, there are no controls on spending for Medicare, managed care and private payers; therefore, SNFs can reduce staffing, wages and benefits while increasing spending on administrative expenses. SNFs with the highest profit margins have been found to have the worst quality in the U.S. SNF chains have more quality and compliance problems than other nursing homes.
AB 2079 requires a minimum of 85 percent of a SNF’s aggregate health and non-health revenues for all payer sources to be spent on the direct care of residents. This percentage was selected to align with the “medical loss ratio” established for the large group insurance market where insurers must spend 85 percent of their premium dollars on health care claims or quality improvement.
AB 2080-Health Care Consolidation and Contracting Fairness Act of 2022. This bill was held in the Senate Health Committee and will not move forward. The consolidated health care market in Northern California has led to higher prices for consumers with the average hospital inpatient procedure cost of $131,586 in Southern California and $223,278 in Northern California based on an investigation into the practices of the state’s health care systems. The California Attorney General (AG) filed a lawsuit in March 2018, to address allegations of anti-competitive behavior by Sutter Health, a large hospital system in Northern California. In December 2019, Sutter Health agreed to pay $575 million to settle claims of anti-competitive behavior. Sutter Health will also be prohibited from engaging in several practices that the AG said the hospital system used to ensure its market power.
AB 2080 would have expanded the AG’s authority to approve or deny a change in ownership of a nonprofit health facility by including oversight and approval or denial of for-profit changes in ownership and control on transactions of more than $15 million. The bill would have prohibited health care providers, insurers, health plans and health care facilities from engaging in the unfair contracting practices brought to light by the Sutter settlement.
AB 2176-Live birth registration. This bill was signed by the Governor. AB 2176 expands the timeframe for families to register the birth of a child. The new law will expand the timeframe for birth registration from 10 days to 21 days, honoring and accommodating the period of sacred ceremonial blessing and naming of the newborn. The bill was introduced to address a challenge that Native American families experience when they follow a cultural tradition of not naming their newborn for 10 days, dedicating the 10th day to a sacred naming ceremony. This new law benefits both hospitals and families by allowing additional time to complete the birth registration process.
AB 2258-Local Government: wildfire safety improvements. This bill was held in the Assembly Banking & Finance Committee and will not move forward this year. Existing law, known commonly as the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program, authorizes a public agency to authorize public agency officials and property owners to enter into voluntary contractual assessments to finance the installation of distributed generation renewable energy sources or energy or water efficiency improvements that are permanently fixed to real property.
This bill would have authorized a public agency with an established a PACE program to enter into voluntary, contractual assessments with property owners to finance the installation of wildfire safety improvements that are permanently fixed to real property. It would have expanded this authority to public agencies in areas of the state designated as very high or high fire hazard severity zones by the State Fire Marshal.
AB 2275-Mental health: involuntary commitment. This bill was signed by the Governor. Assemblymembers Jim Wood and Mark Stone (D-Scotts Valley) authored this bill to strengthen California’s efforts to support people with mental illness by increasing oversight and accountability of involuntary detentions while ensuring due process protections.
Last year, respective Chairs Wood and Stone convened the Assembly Health and Judiciary Committees at a joint hearing, “The Lanterman-Petris-Short Act: How Can It Be Improved?” This hearing examined decades of implementation of the Lanterman-Petris-Short (LPS) Act, specifically the involuntary detaining and/or conservatorship of individuals who have been determined to be, as the result of a mental health disorder, “gravely disabled,” or a threat to themselves or others.
This bill will provide new oversight and accountability for involuntary detentions, critical accountability measures and essential due process protections for people detained and conserved due to mental illness so that the state can better plan for and forecast desperately needed mental health services and resources.
The bill also clarifies the definition of an involuntary hold to comply with federal due process protections. Currently, the application of a 72-hour hold, referred to as a “5150,” varies among jurisdictions and did not always comply with federal due process requirements and this bill clarifies how that time is applied, complying with federal law.
AB 2301-Alcoholic beverage sales: beer manufacturers: licensed premises. This bill was signed by the Governor. California craft breweries enjoy both self-distribution to retail accounts, and the ability to own retail licenses (e.g., restaurant); however, current law prohibits a brewery from self-distributing to its own retail licensee unless it is physically contiguous to the brewery property.
The result of this current dynamic creates an odd outcome where a brewery can bring its beer to any restaurant in town but if they own the restaurant next door, they must use a distributor who will first take the beer back to a warehouse, often in another city, before bringing the beer back to the restaurant next door. AB 2301 allows breweries that are allowed to self-distribute their beer to restaurants, to also self-distribute their beer to restaurants that they own within a five-mile radius of the manufacturing site.
AB 2322-California building standards: fire resistance: occupancy risk categories. This bill was signed by the Governor. California has implemented measures to minimize or prevent wildfires, but very little has been done to ensure that nonresidential, critical infrastructure in areas that are most susceptible to fire meet standards necessary to withstand prolonged exposure to fire. State building codes have not kept up with the rapidly changing climate or the state’s wildfire situation.
This bill directs experts at the Building Standards Commission to update building requirements to ensure that construction materials utilized in fire-prone regions of the state advance a collective goal to build more fire-resilient communities.
AB 2322 requires the Building Standards Commission to adopt updated building standards on fire resistance that would apply to nonresidential, critical infrastructure in very high, high, and moderate California fire severity zones. This will ensure that the building materials used to construct critical infrastructure provide necessary protection for the public against the threat of wildfire.
AB 2451-State Water Resources Control Board: drought planning. This bill was held in the Senate Appropriations Committee and will not move forward. Given the reality of climate change, California can no longer afford to treat drought as a temporary or “emergency” event. Last year was the driest year in at least four decades, and it came on the heels of another record-setting dry spell in 2012-16. These conditions are in line with what climate models tell us to expect in the coming decades: more-frequent years of very low precipitation coupled with longer, hotter summers. These factors increasingly threaten stream flows that sustain native fish and wildlife and provide vital drinking water supplies throughout the long summer dry season.
This bill would establish a dedicated Drought Section within the Division of Water Rights at the State Water Resources Control Board to improve response to extreme dry conditions in California and prepare for a changing climate. It would also direct the Board to prepare drought contingency plans by 2023 for select coastal watersheds that are priority salmon and steelhead bearing streams and currently lack meaningful water management plans for a future that is already here.
AB 2479-Forest restoration and protection: wildfire prevention. This bill was held in Assembly Appropriations and will not move forward this year. Climate change is an existential threat to California. Less predictable precipitation – both bigger storms and longer dry spells – strain the operation of our water supply infrastructure and highlight the importance of well-functioning source watersheds that regulate the rate of runoff. Extreme fire behavior is degrading our key watersheds at an alarming rate.
For decades California’s primary response to wildland fire has been suppression; however, California is a fire-dependent ecosystem and it is now clear that quickly putting out all fires is not only destined to fail but has actually been a major factor driving the increasingly damaging fire impacts.
AB 2479 would have built on past legislation and actions by the Newsom Administration to provide accountability and ensure that we are taking smart action with long-term benefit. The bill would require the state to prioritize forest and watershed restoration projects, report on CAL FIRE’s plans to increase the proactive use of prescribed fire to treat 100,000 acres annually by 2025, report on plans to further increase the use of ‘good fire’ by 2030 and report on the forest and watershed restoration investment plan for the Oroville, Shasta and Trinity Reservoirs previously called for by AB 2551 (Wood) in 2018.
AB 2530-California Health Benefit Exchange: financial assistance. This bill was signed by the Governor. Workers who go on strike face the loss of income as well as the possibility of losing health coverage if a strike lasts longer than a month. AB 2530 would provide workers who lose health benefits for themselves and their family members due to a labor dispute a slightly improved version of the most affordable coverage package offered by Covered California.
This financial assistance is similar to what the American Rescue Plan has done for those on unemployment insurance during the COVID-19 pandemic, providing premium subsidies and cost-sharing assistance as if the worker’s income was just over the Medi-Cal eligibility level, including zero premiums and deductibles for most people, just as for others at 138 percent of the federal poverty level; $5 copay for doctor visit, $3 copay for generic drugs, $15 for brand name drugs and the same cost sharing offered to those under 150 percent of poverty.
AB 2691-Cannabis: temporary event cultivator retail license. This bill will not move forward this year. Currently, cannabis farmers are prohibited from selling their products directly to consumers unless they also own and operate a full-fledged licensed retail facility. This disadvantages small cannabis farmers, who lack the resources to vertically integrate, or support large advertising budgets or sales teams. Instead, small farmers must rely on distributors and retailers to market their products and develop new customer relationships.
AB 2691 would have allowed licensed cannabis farmers who cultivate less than one acre of cannabis to obtain a specialty license that would permit them to sell their products to consumers at up to eight licensed cannabis special events per year.
AB 2727-Medi-Cal: eligibility. This bill was signed by the Governor. The changes in AB 2727 would modernize the existing purpose and intent language related to Medi-Cal, which is inaccurate, obsolete and in need of updating. The most notable change would be to repeal the limitation on Medi-Cal eligibility to persons whose assets are limited, but would delay this change until the asset test is repealed. It would also delete the reference to “annual” income as eligibility is predominantly determined on a monthly basis.
AB 2752-Broadband infrastructure: mapping. This bill was signed by the Governor. AB 2752 would build on existing statute to ensure that publicly available maps continue to evolve with the state’s considerable investment in broadband middle-mile infrastructure. This mapping layer would only apply to households brought online by providers who utilize the open-access middle-mile owned and operated by the state.
This bill would require the California Public Utilities Commission to map last-mile connections stemming specifically from the state’s open-access, middle-mile network. Middle-mile is a crucial piece of broadband deployment, but it is the last-mile infrastructure that actually delivers broadband to the customer. AB 2752 would track how $6 billion in infrastructure spending translates to improved broadband access at the household level. Furthermore, this bill would provide transparency so that last-mile connections, drawn from a public resource, are delivered with efficiency and equity.
AB 2814-Local educational agencies: emergency planning grants. This bill was vetoed by the Governor and the veto message can be found here. AB 2814 promotes the safety and well-being of students and school employees during emergencies by providing planning grants to Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) that are at the forefront of emergencies including wildfires, earthquakes, heat-extreme weather, smoke-related impairments to air quality, floods or human-created events such as active-shooter, planned or unplanned power outages or chemical spills. LEAs would work with other local, state and federal agencies and organizations to engage in emergency planning activities.
* * * * * *
Bills introduced in 2021:
AB 9-Wildfire Preparedness and Mitigation. This bill creates a new branch within the Office of the State Fire Marshal that will focus exclusively on community fire prevention, preparedness and mitigation efforts of CAL FIRE. It will move eight existing programs and duties currently spread throughout CAL FIRE to this new branch. Additionally, the bill requires that all program staff and leadership dedicated to these programs be the last activated to respond to wildfire suppression missions.
AB 9 codifies the Regional Forest and Fire Capacity Program (RFFC), which received $50 million dollars in the 2021 early budget action. By providing flexible block grants, the RFFC supports regional entities that work with local, state and federal partners to develop a pipeline of wildland and fuel reduction projects that are part of a coordinated strategy across the region and state.
The Governor signed this bill on September 23, 2021.
AB 41-Broadband. Broadband companies have been reluctant to build or invest in infrastructure in many rural markets where there are fewer customers, and thus, less profit. Many states use what is referred to as a “dig once” policy to maximize broadband deployment and can be accomplished by leveraging new and ongoing roadwork and excavations, often along major thoroughfares, by installing conduit for telecommunications infrastructure at the same time. In 2016, AB 1549 (Wood) required the state’s Department of Transportation (DOT) to notify companies working on broadband deployment of DOT-led highway construction projects and authorized those companies to coordinate on conduit installation.
AB 41 requires DOT, as part of projects funded by $5.25 billion in the recently passed Budget Act of 2021 and that are located in priority (mostly rural) areas, to ensure that construction includes the installation of conduits capable of supporting fiber optic communication cables. The new law also requires the California Public Utilities Commission, in collaboration with other relevant state agencies and stakeholders, to maintain and update a statewide, publicly accessible interactive map showing the accessibility of broadband service in the state. This bill will improve California’s dig once policy and expedite the deployment of broadband infrastructure.
The Governor signed this bill on October 8, 2021.
AB 493-Health Insurance. This bill was introduced to respond, if necessary, to a Supreme Court decision on the future of the ACA and its possible impact on Californians’ health care coverage through the ACA.
This bill did not move forward because in June 2021, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of maintaining ACA's constitutionality.
AB 510-Out-of-Network Health Care Benefits. This bill was introduced to reconcile the consumer friendly consent requirements set forth in the federal “No Surprises Act (Act),” passed in December 2020 with California’s 2016 surprise balance billing legislation. Under federal law, a patient can consent 72 hours in advance to receive care from certain types of non-contracted providers. Existing California law allows consent 24 hours in advance if given in writing.
This bill did not move forward in 2021.
AB 526-Vaccine Administration. As seen in the COVID pandemic, it is essential that all qualified health care providers be utilized to administer vaccinations in order to prevent spreading the virus. This bill authorizes a dentist or podiatrist who complies with specified requirements, to independently prescribe and administer influenza and COVID-19 vaccines approved or authorized by the United States Food and Drug Administration for persons 3 years of age or older.
The Governor signed this bill on October 8, 2021.
AB 527-Controlled Substances. The bill substitutes the term “cannabinoid” for the term “cannabidiol” in Section 11150.2 of the Health and Safety Code. This change in law ensures that patients can access cannabinoid medications that have gone through the rigorous FDA review and approval process and have been rescheduled under the federal Controlled Substances Act.
The Governor signed this bill on October 7, 2021.
AB 532-Fair Billing Policies. Existing law requires a hospital to maintain an understandable written policy regarding discount payments for financially qualified patients as well as a written charity care policy, and requires a hospital to negotiate the terms of a discount payment plan with an eligible patient. Existing law requires each hospital to provide patients with written notice about the availability of the hospital’s discount payment and charity care policies, including information about eligibility and contact information for a hospital employee or office from which the patient may obtain further information about the policies.
This bill would additionally require the written patient notice to include the internet address of a health consumer assistance entity and information regarding Covered California and Medi-Cal presumptive eligibility. The bill also would require the written patient notice to include the internet address for the hospital’s list of “shoppable” services, pursuant to a specified federal regulation. The bill would require the notice to be provided at the time of service if the patient is conscious and able to receive written notice at that time, or at other designated times, as appropriate.
Existing law generally requires a hospital, upon the request of a person without health coverage, to provide a written estimate of the amount the hospital will require a person without health coverage to pay for the health care services, procedures, and supplies that are reasonably expected to be provided to the person. Existing law also requires the hospital to provide the person with an application form for financial assistance or charity care, if the person requests the form. This bill would require the hospital to automatically provide the person with an estimate and an application form for financial assistance or charity care, without need for a specific request.
The Governor signed this bill on October 4, 2021.
AB 817-Fishing Licenses. Since 1980, annual resident sport fishing license sales have declined 55 percent while the state’s population has increased more than 60 percent. California has one of the country’s longest coastlines, more than 3,000 lakes and thousands of rivers and streams, but has the lowest fishing participation rate per capita in the country and continues to decline. A leading contributor to declining fishing participation rates is that licenses are only valid until December 31 of each year, regardless of the date of purchase. This bill authorizes the Director of California’s Department of Fish and Wildlife to transition the calendar-based fishing license to one that is valid a full 365 days from the date of purchase. The law also authorizes the department to allow the option to display a sport fishing license electronically on a mobile device.
The Governor signed this bill on October 7, 2021.
AB 852-Nurse Practitioners. AB 890 (Wood), allowing nurse practitioners meeting certain requirements to practice within their scope without the supervision of a physician, was passed in 2020. AB 852 was introduced to provide clarification to the new law, if required.
This bill did not move forward in 2021, but was amended in 2022 to address e-prescribing (see above).
AB 872-Leave of Absence-Firefighters. AB 872 would authorize firefighters employed by CAL FIRE to receive 100 percent of their average wage for up to one year if they are injured through work, raising it from the 67 percent they currently receive on disability. It would only apply to those employees who are directly involved in fire suppression or prevention efforts and after one year they would be eligible for the standard disability. This would bring CAL FIRE firefighters up to par with firefighters employed with local fire departments and also other public safety employees.
The Governor vetoed this bill. You can read the veto message here.
AB 875-Medi-Cal Demonstration Project. AB 875 would implement the proposed Medi-Cal hospital financing and enrollment-related changes contained in Governor Newsom’s California Advancing and Innovating Medi-Cal (CalAIM) proposal. These changes include ensuring youth and adults being released from county correctional facilities are assisted with applying for health coverage through Medi-Cal and Covered California, continuing the hospital Global Payment Program that incentivizes coverage for the remaining uninsured at lower cost settings, and the extension of performance-based incentive payments to district and municipal hospitals.
This bill was held in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
AB 942-CalAIM Initiative. This bill would implement the proposed Medi-Cal behavioral health changes contained in Governor Newsom’s California Advancing and Innovating Medi-Cal (CalAIM) proposals. These changes include revisions to the existing medical necessity requirements to ensure the timely provision of care, and a redesign of the financing of specialty mental health services and substance use disorder services in the Medi-Cal program in order to increase access to those services, ease the administrative burden of the program and provide greater financing certainty. To help prepare counties and health care providers for implementation of the multiple behavioral health changes that are part of the waiver proposal, this bill would establish a Behavioral Health Quality Improvement Program.
This bill did not move forward in 2021.
AB 1130-Office of Health Care Affordability. This bill will create the Office of Health Care Affordability (OHCA), an entity that would collect and analyze the entire health care market for cost drivers and trends in order to develop data-informed policies, establishing cost targets for lowering and controlling health care costs, with the ultimate goal of providing quality and affordable health care to all Californians. In 2021, with the support of Governor Newsom’s Administration, discussions of the legislation moved to the development of budget trailer language and engaged stakeholders in extensive discussions. Those discussions paused. Although some progress was made, an agreement was not completed.
This bill will be taken up again in the Senate in January 2022, with a full commitment by the author to having it signed in 2022.
AB 1131-Health Information Network. Patients need access to their medical records no matter where they are in the state and these records must be accessible by any provider treating them. This bill would establish a statewide health information network to provide the data infrastructure needed to meet California’s health care access, equity, affordability, public health and quality goals. The bill would also require a health care entity, including a hospital, health system, skilled nursing facility, laboratory, physician practice, health care service plan, health insurer and the State Department of Health Care Services, to submit specified data to the operating entity.
This bill did not move forward in 2021.
AB 1132-Medi-Cal. This bill would require the Department of Health Care Services to develop and implement a mandatory process for county jails and county juvenile facilities to coordinate with Medi-Cal managed care plans and Medi-Cal behavioral health delivery systems to facilitate continued behavioral health treatment in the community for inmates and would authorize the sharing of prescribed data with and among counties and other specified entities, as determined necessary by the department.
This bill did not move forward in 2021.
AB 1212-Tribal Gaming Compact Ratification. The existing federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 provides for the negotiation and execution of tribal-state gaming compacts for the purpose of authorizing certain types of gaming on Indian lands within a state. The California Constitution authorizes the Governor to negotiate and conclude tribal-state gaming compacts, subject to ratification by the Legislature. This bill would ratify the tribal-state gaming compact entered into between the State of California and the following tribes: the Cahto Tribe of the Laytonville Rancheria, the Resighini Rancheria, and the Sherwood Valley Rancheria of Pomo Indians of California.
This bill passed the Assembly on January 14, 2022, and is now in the Senate.
AB 1311-Recycling Centers. For decades, California’s recycling program, in place since 1987, was one of the most successful in the country. Drops in commodity prices and the system filling with mostly plastic that has no value, has led to the closing of more than 1,000 recycling centers in California since 2013, many in rural communities. At the beginning of 2021, there were no certified redemption centers in Humboldt, Trinity, Sierra, or Alpine county and given the rural nature of these regions, it was not financially feasible for them to operate and difficult for consumers to recover their California Refund Value (CRV) deposits.
Working closely with the Humboldt Waste Management Authority the bill was written to improve flexibility in how these centers can operate. The bill authorizes CalRecycle to allow certified recycling centers to operate on an alternative schedule, less than the currently required 30 hours per week, if it best serves the needs of the community and the goals of the program. It requires CalRecycle to develop a process that would allow recycling centers to apply for authorization to operate by appointment. It authorizes the use of reverse vending machines and bag drop recycling centers, setting a 3-day standard for customers to receive payment of CRV without requiring full-time staffing.
The Governor signed this bill on October 5, 2021.
AB 1513-Health Facilities. This bill was introduced to address law that requires the State Department of Public Health to license and regulate each health facility, defined to mean a facility, place, or building that is organized, maintained, and operated for the diagnosis, care, prevention, and treatment of human illness, and includes, among others, a general acute care hospital, an acute psychiatric hospital, and a skilled nursing facility.
This bill did not move forward in 2021.