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2009 CCB Legislative Reports
as prepared by Frank Welte, CCB Director of Governmental Affairs

September 14, 2009

This is the CCB Legislative Report for September 14, 2009
Prepared by Frank Welte, Director of Advocacy and Governmental Affairs


The California State Legislature has just finished its regular session for this year. While it may be called into special session this fall, it won't deal with normal business again until January, so I'll leave my summary of state legislation to the end of this report. During the fall CCB convention, our organization will set its legislative priorities for the coming year. If you have ideas for bills that CCB can present to the legislature, now is the time for you to put your thoughts into the form of resolutions that we can consider at the convention. I'm happy to help you write a resolution. Also, I invite you to attend the meeting of the CCB Governmental Affairs Committee. Check your convention program for the time and place of that meeting.


The U.S. Congress has returned from its summer recess, and CCB is seeking co-sponsors for four pieces of important federal legislation. You can reach the office of your member of congress by calling the U.S. Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121.


Hybrid cars and other alternative fuel vehicles pose an increasing danger to pedestrians, especially those who are blind and visually impaired. This is because they operate much more quietly than conventional vehicles, so they are difficult to detect by sound. A bill that would address this problem, H.R. 734, the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2009, has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives, and its companion bill, S 841, has been introduced in the U.S. Senate. H.R. 734 directs the federal Department of Transportation to conduct a study of the quiet car problem, and based on the results of the study, to prepare a requirement for the minimum sound to be emitted by new cars.


So far, eleven members of congress from California have signed on as co-sponsors of H.R. 734;Representatives Howard Berman, Lois Capps, Bob Filner, Jane Harman, Barbara Lee, Dorris Matsui, Dana Rohrabacher , Linda Sanchez, Adam Schiff, Pete Stark and Maxine Waters. We're seeking more co-sponsors. If your member of the House of Representatives is on this list, please thank them. If your representative isn't yet a co-sponsor, please ask them to do so. We also encourage you to ask our U.S. Senators, Diane Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, to co-sponsor S 841.


The California State Legislature gave a boost to our quiet car advocacy effort by passing a resolution sponsored by CCB, SJR 6, by Senator Allen Lowenthal. This resolution has placed the state legislature on record in support of H.R. 734. Be sure to mention this when you contact your member of Congress.


Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) reintroduced comprehensive legislation to ensure that people with disabilities have access to Internet-based telecommunications and video programming technologies. The bill, the Twenty-first Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2009 (H.R. 3101), will--
  1. require that mobile and other Internet-based telecommunications devices be fully hearing aid compatible, have accessible user interfaces, and offer people with disabilities use of a full range of text messaging and other popular services that are currently largely inaccessible;
  2. provide people who are deaf-blind with vital but costly technologies they need to communicate electronically, establish a process for the provision of real-time text capability, and clarify existing relay-to-relay, Lifeline and Linkup service requirements to ensure their relevance to the real world communications needs of people with disabilities;
  3. restore the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC's) modest video description rules and unambiguously establish the Commission's current and ongoing authority to expand such regulations, require emergency announcements and similar information to be accessible to people with disabilities through audible presentation of on-screen alerts, ensure that video programming offered via the Internet will be both captioned and described, and call for all devices that receive and playback video programming to employ accessible user interfaces and allow ready access to captioning and description;
  4. strengthen consumers' ability to enforce their rights to communications and video accessibility through the establishment of a clearinghouse of information about service and equipment accessibility and usability, a meaningful FCC complaint process that holds industry accountable for their accessibility obligations, and judicial review of FCC action to ensure the Commission's own accountability.


All Members of the United States House of Representatives should be actively encouraged to cosponsor H.R. 3101. California Representatives Barbara Lee and Linda Sanchez are co-sponsors.


H.R. 1708 by Rep. Gene Green (D-TX) and its companion, S.700 by Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), have been introduced in United States Congress. These identical peaces of legislation are entitled, Ending the Medicare Disability Waiting Period Act of 2009. So Far, 95 Representatives, including eleven Californians, have co-sponsored H.R. 1708. They are Mary Bono Mack, Anna Eshoo, Sam Farr, Bob Filner, Mike Honda, Barbara Lee, Zoe Lofgren, Grace Napolitano, Lucille Roybal Allard, Maxine Waters and Lynn Woolsey. . Senator Barbara Boxer has co-sponsored S 700. We encourage you to call your congressional representatives and U.S. Senator Diane Feinstein in support of these bills.


Last, but not least, you will recall that CCB has relied on vehicle donations for a significant portion of its funding in recent years. In 2004 some unfavorable federal tax rules took effect, and since then revenues from car donations have been greatly diminished. The U.S. House of Representatives is considering a bill, H.R. 571, by Congressman Bill Delahunt from Massachusetts, that would bring balance back to the way the IRS treats vehicle donations, so that CCB and other nonprofits will receive the amounts of donations that will allow them to greatly expand their vital services. H.R. 571 has 54 co-sponsors including Californians Brian Bilbray, Dennis Cardoza, Jim Costa, Tom McClintock and Dana Rohrabacher. We need more co-sponsors for this bill.


State Legislation

Visually impaired Californians have been harmed by the economic downturn and the large state budget cuts that have resulted from it. CCB is conducting a survey to determine just how visually impaired people have been effected. You can take part in the survey by calling Kamilla Ryding at the CCB office, (800) 221-6359 during regular business hours, or you can request a survey form via Email by writing to kamilla.ryding@ccbnet.org. The last day to submit survey forms is October 9, 2009.


Here's a summary of California state legislation that CCB has followed this year.

Bills signed into law

AB 23, by Jones and others, requires employers to notify employees that they can receive federal premium assistance for CAL-COBRA health benefits.


As mentioned above, SJR 6, by Senator Alan Lowenthal, was sponsored by CCB. IT placed the state legislature on record in support of H.R. 734, the quiet car bill which I talked about earlier.


SB 475, by Senator Alex Padilla, was supported by CCB. This law will raise the registration fees that guide dog schools pay to support the California State Board of Guide Dogs for the Blind. It would specify that the annual license fee charged to guide dog schools would be no more than 0.005% of each school's annual expenses as set forth by regulations, and that the fee would be payable before April 30 of each year. Previously, the annual registration fee was 0.004% of the school's expenses.


Bills passed by the legislature and waiting for the Governor's signature

AB 144, by Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, was passed by the Legislature. If it is signed by the governor this bill will increase the penalty for abuse of a parking placard reserved for people with disabilities.


AB 386, by Assemblymember Ira Ruskin, is supported by CCB. It is close to passage in the legislature. If enacted, it would expand the range of accessible educational material provided to disabled students at California's state colleges.


Bills held over until next year's legislative session

AB 378, Cook, has been passed by the Assembly, and it has also been passed by the relevant Senate Committees, but it was placed on the Senate inactive file. This bill would require each public authority or nonprofit consortium providing in-home supportive services, with consultation from its stakeholders, to develop training standards and topics to be used in the training it provides its IHSS workers. CCB is supporting this bill.


AB 452, by Assemblymember Mariko Yamada, has stalled in the Assembly Committee on Human Services. The bill would establish the California Independence Program, a voluntary, fee-based program for the provision of in-home supportive services to certain aged, blind and otherwise disabled individuals who are otherwise ineligible for I H S S services.


AB 885, by Assemblyman Brian Nestande, has stalled in the Assembly Appropriations Committee. This bill would allow the state to borrow federal funds to pay for area centers on aging during times when the passage of the state budget has been delayed. CCB opposes this bill because it doesn't address the funding needs of other agencies serving the blind.


AB 1532, by Assemblymember Lieu,has stalled in the Assembly Human Services Committee. This bill would provide additional state funds for in home supportive services.


SB 92, by State Senator Sam Anestad, failed in the Senate Committee on Health. It may be taken up again next year. Among other things, it would set up a demonstration project to turn Medi-Cal from a defined benefit plan to a defined contribution plan.


SB 246, by Senator John Benoit, is stalled in the Senate Human Services Committee. This bill would mandate criminal background checks, including fingerprinting, for I H S S workers. CCB is supporting this bill.


SB 250, by State Senator Dean Florez, has passed the Senate, and it has also been passed by the relevant Assembly Committees. It was defeated by the Assembly, but it is likely to be reconsidered. It has been placed on the Assembly inactive file. This bill would, with certain exceptions including breeders of dog guides, require owners of dogs and cats to have their animals spayed or neutered.


SB 389, by State Senator Ingrate McLeod, has passed out of the State Senate, and it was also passed by the Assembly Business and Professions Committee. It was rejected by the Assembly Committee on Public Services, but it may be reconsidered. This bill would expand the types of professions for which practitioners must submit fingerprints to the California State Government, and it would be applied retroactively to people licensed before 1990.


SB 638, by State Senator Negrete McLeod, has passed through the Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee. It deals with the administration of various state boards, including the Guide Dog Board. It would move the sunset reviews for these boards from the legislature's Sunset committees to the individual committees that regularly oversee the respective boards.


SB 755, by State Senator Negrete McLeod, has stalled in the Senate Appropriations Committee. This bill would require state agencies to award at least 1% of their contracts to Persons with Developmental Disabilities Business Enterprises.


SB 810, by State Senator Mark Leno and others, has stalled in the Senate Appropriations Committee. This bill would create the California Health Care System. This would be a statewide health insurance program for Californians. >



Check with the California Connection to find out when the next Capitol Report will be Updated and for federal legislative information, please check with the Washington Connection 800-424-8666 or the acb.org website.



July 27, 2009

Last week, the Governor and the leaders of the California State Legislature came to an agreement on a revised state budget for the 2009 2010 fiscal year. After passing the revised budget the legislature adjourned for its summer recess, which will run until August 17. Meanwhile, the United States congress is approaching a recess that will take place during August. While our legislators are in recess, they will come home to their respective districts.


This is the perfect time for you to make appointments with your state and federal lawmakers and to attend their many public meetings. In this report, I'll tell you how to contact your legislators and what you need to be talking to them about.


Sure, you voted in November, but now you can't remember the names of your elected representatives. What to do?


It's easy to find out the name and contact information for your member of the California State Assembly, of the California State Senate and of The U.S. House of Representatives. Here's how.


First, you can find out who represents you by calling the Registrar of Voter's office in your county, and asking which legislative districts cover your neighborhood and the names of the people representing those districts. Then you can call directory assistance to get the legislators' respective district offices nearest to you.


Second, for the technically-minded do-it-yourselfers out there, follow these steps.


To find your member of the California State Assembly and your member of the California State Senate,
  1. Open your web browser.
  2. Go to the web site of the California State Assembly http://www.asm.ca.gov
  3. Follow the link, "Find My District"
  4. Following this link will cause your browser to open a web page in a new window where you'll enter your home address, and then click on the Find button.
  5. Your browser will then display a web page showing the name and contact information for your state Assembly member and for your State Senator along with links to their respective web sites.
To find your member of the U.S. House of Representatives,
  1. Open your web browser.
  2. Go to the web site of the U.S. House of Representatives http://www.house.gov
  3. Search for the phrase "Find Your Representative"."
  4. This phrase is immediately followed by a pair of edit boxes where you can enter your zip code and the optional plus4 suffix for your zip code. What? You're not the kind of geek who has your plus four zip code memorized? No problem! There's a link you can follow that takes you to a form where you can enter your regular address to get that little piece of data.
  5. After entering your zip code, click the "GO, Find Your Representative button".
  6. Your browser will then display a web page showing the name of your Representative with a link to his/her web site. Most representatives have their office contact information at the bottom of their web site home pages.
Once you've found out the contact information for your representatives, you can call their district offices, and ask if you can schedule an appointment with them. Also, be sure to ask about public events, such as town hall meetings or community festivals where your legislators will make appearances. When asking for an appointment, don't worry if you are invited to speak with a staff member instead of talking with the representative. This is normal, and it's perfectly fine.


What subjects should you discuss with your legislators?


For your California State legislators, please tell them any personal stories you can share about how the many state budget cuts are effecting you and your loved ones. We need to impress upon them that all these cuts are hurting real people, and that the California State government needs to find more humane ways to manage its finances. Please take some time to share these stories with me as well, so I can remind the legislators about your experiences when they all get back to Sacramento.


There are several important pieces of federal legislation that you need to explain to your member of Congress.


Hybrid cars and other alternative fuel vehicles pose an increasing danger to pedestrians, especially those who are blind and visually impaired. This is because they operate much more quietly than conventional vehicles, so they are difficult to detect by sound. A bill that would address this problem, H.R. 734, the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2009, has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives, and its companion bill, S 841, has been introduced in the U.S. Senate. H.R. 734 directs the federal Department of Transportation to conduct a study of the quiet car problem, and based on the results of the study, to prepare a requirement for the minimum sound to be emitted by new cars.


So far, twelve members of congress from California have signed on as co-sponsors of H.R. 734;Representatives Howard Berman, Lois Capps, Bob Filner, Jane Harman, Barbara Lee, Dorris Matsui, Dana Rohrabacher , Linda Sanchez, Adam Schiff, Pete Stark, Ellen Tauscher and Maxine Waters. We're seeking more co-sponsors. If your member of the House of Representatives is on this list, please thank them. If your representative isn't yet a co-sponsor, please ask them to do so. We also encourage you to ask our U.S. Senators, Diane Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, to co-sponsor S 841.


The California State Legislature has given a boost to our quiet car advocacy effort by passing a resolution sponsored by CCB, SJR 6, by Senator Allen Lowenthal. This resolution has placed the state legislature on record in support of H.R. 734. Be sure to mention this when you contact your member of Congress.


On June 26, Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) reintroduced comprehensive legislation to ensure that people with disabilities have access to Internet-based telecommunications and video programming technologies. The bill, the Twenty-first Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2009 (H.R. 3101), will--
  1. require that mobile and other Internet-based telecommunications devices be fully hearing aid compatible, have accessible user interfaces, and offer people with disabilities use of a full range of text messaging and other popular services that are currently largely inaccessible;
  2. provide people who are deaf-blind with vital but costly technologies they need to communicate electronically, establish a process for the provision of real-time text capability, and clarify existing relay-to-relay, Lifeline and Linkup service requirements to ensure their relevance to the real world communications needs of people with disabilities;
  3. restore the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC's) modest video description rules and unambiguously establish the Commission's current and ongoing authority to expand such regulations, require emergency announcements and similar information to be accessible to people with disabilities through audible presentation of on-screen alerts, ensure that video programming offered via the Internet will be both captioned and described, and call for all devices that receive and playback video programming to employ accessible user interfaces and allow ready access to captioning and description;
  4. strengthen consumers' ability to enforce their rights to communications and video accessibility through the establishment of a clearinghouse of information about service and equipment accessibility and usability, a meaningful FCC complaint process that holds industry accountable for their accessibility obligations, and judicial review of FCC action to ensure the Commission's own accountability.
All Members of the United States House of Representatives should be actively encouraged to cosponsor H.R. 3101, the Twenty-first Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2009, and you are urged to contact your Member of Congress immediately to make such a request.


Recently S.700 and its companion H.R.1708 have been introduced in UnitedStates Congress. These identical peaces of legislation are entitled, Ending the Medicare Disability Waiting Period Act of 2009. Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Rep. Gene Green (D-TX) are the chief sponsors of the legislation in each body. We encourage you to call your congressional representatives and our U.S. Senators in support of these bills.


Last, but not least, you will recall that CCB has relied on vehicle donations for a significant portion of its funding in recent years. In 2004 some unfavorable federal tax rules took effect, and since then revenues from car donations have been greatly diminished. The U.S. House of Representatives is considering a bill, H.R. 571, by Congressman Bill Delahunt from Massachusetts, that would bring balance back to the way the IRS treats vehicle donations, so that CCB and other nonprofits will receive the amounts of donations that will allow them to greatly expand their vital services


If you have questions about legislative matters, please contact Frank Welte by calling the CCB office at (800) 221-6359, or send Email to frank.welte@ccbnet.org


Check with the California Connection to find out when the next Capitol Report will be Updated and for federal legislative information, please check with the Washington Connection 800-424-8666 or the acb.org website.


July 6, 2009

Hybrid cars and other alternative fuel vehicles pose an increasing danger to pedestrians, especially those who are blind and visually impaired. This is because they operate much more quietly than conventional vehicles, so they are difficult to detect by sound. A bill that would address this problem, H.R. 734, the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2009, has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives, and its companion bill, S 841, has been introduced in the U.S. Senate. H.R. 734 directs the federal Department of Transportation to conduct a study of the quiet car problem, and based on the results of the study, to prepare a requirement for the minimum sound to be emitted by new cars.


So far, twelve members of congress from California have signed on as co-sponsors of H.R. 734;Representatives Howard Berman, Lois Capps, Bob Filner, Jane Harman, Barbara Lee, Dorris Matsui, Dana Rohrabacher , Linda Sanchez, Adam Schiff, Pete Stark, Ellen Tauscher and Maxine Waters. We're seeking more co-sponsors. If your member of the House of Representatives is on this list, please thank them. If your representative isn't yet a co-sponsor, please ask them to do so. We also encourage you to ask our U.S. Senators, Diane Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, to co-sponsor S 841.


The California State Legislature has just given a boost to our quiet car advocacy effort by passing a resolution sponsored by CCB, SJR 6, by Senator Allen Lowenthal. This resolution has placed the state legislature on record in support of H.R. 734. Be sure to mention this when you contact your member of Congress.


On Friday afternoon, June 26, Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) reintroduced comprehensive legislation to ensure that people with disabilities have access to Internet-based telecommunications and video programming technologies. The bill, the Twenty-first Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2009 (H.R. 3101), will--
  1. require that mobile and other Internet-based telecommunications devices be fully hearing aid compatible, have accessible user interfaces, and offer people with disabilities use of a full range of text messaging and other popular services that are currently largely inaccessible;
  2. provide people who are deaf-blind with vital but costly technologies they need to communicate electronically, establish a process for the provision of real-time text capability, and clarify existing relay-to-relay, Lifeline and Linkup service requirements to ensure their relevance to the real world communications needs of people with disabilities;
  3. restore the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC's) modest video description rules and unambiguously establish the Commission's current and ongoing authority to expand such regulations, require emergency announcements and similar information to be accessible to people with disabilities through audible presentation of on-screen alerts, ensure that video programming offered via the Internet will be both captioned and described, and call for all devices that receive and playback video programming to employ accessible user interfaces and allow ready access to captioning and description;
  4. strengthen consumers' ability to enforce their rights to communications and video accessibility through the establishment of a clearinghouse of information about service and equipment accessibility and usability, a meaningful FCC complaint process that holds industry accountable for their accessibility obligations, and judicial review of FCC action to ensure the Commission's own accountability.


All Members of the United States House of Representatives should be actively encouraged to cosponsor H.R. 3101, the Twenty-first Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2009, and you are urged to contact your Member of Congress immediately to make such a request.


You can reach the office of your member of congress by calling the U.S. Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121.


As I prepare this report the State legislature is still struggling to close a $26.3 billion defecit in the state's 2009 2010 budget. The governor has proposed massive cuts to education, social services, prisons, and other state programs. We are concerned about how these proposed cuts will impact the lives of blind Californians. I encourage each of you to contact your assemblymember and your state senator to let them know how various state programs touch your life.


Believe it or not, there's more going on than the budget discussions in Sacramento. Here's an update on the bills CCB is watching.


Federal Legislation

Recently S.700 and its companion H.R.1708 have been introduced in UnitedStates Congress. These identical peaces of legislation are entitled, Ending the Medicare Disability Waiting Period Act of 2009. Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Rep. Gene Green (D-TX) are the chief sponsors of the legislation in each body. We encourage you to call your congressional representatives and our U.S. Senators in support of these bills.


Check with the California Connection to find out when the next Capitol Report will be Updated and for federal legislative information, please check with the Washington Connection 800-424-8666 or the acb.org website.


June 26, 2009

Hybrid cars and other alternative fuel vehicles pose an increasing danger to pedestrians, especially those who are blind and visually impaired. This is because they operate much more quietly than conventional vehicles, so they are difficult to detect by sound. A bill that would address this problem, H.R. 734, the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2009, has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives, and its companion bill, S 841, has been introduced in the U.S. Senate. H.R. 734 directs the federal Department of Transportation to conduct a study of the quiet car problem, and based on the results of the study, to prepare a requirement for the minimum sound to be emitted by new cars.


So far, twelve members of congress from California have signed on as co-sponsors of H.R. 734; Representatives Howard Berman, Lois Capps, Bob Filner, Jane Harman, Barbara Lee, Dorris Matsui, Dana Rohrabacher , Linda Sanchez, Adam Schiff, Pete Stark, Ellen Tauscher and Maxine Waters. We're seeking more co-sponsors. If your member of the House of Representatives is on this list, please thank them. If your representative isn't yet a co-sponsor, please ask them to do so. We also encourage you to ask our U.S. Senators, Diane Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, to co-sponsor S 841.


The California State Legislature has just given a boost to our quiet car advocacy effort by passing a resolution sponsored by CCB, SJR 6, by Senator Allen Lowenthal. This resolution has placed the state legislature on record in support of H.R. 734. Be sure to mention this when you contact your member of Congress.


On Friday afternoon, June 26, Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) reintroduced comprehensive legislation to ensure that people with disabilities have access to Internet-based telecommunications and video programming technologies. The bill, the Twenty-first Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2009 (H.R. 3101), will--
  1. require that mobile and other Internet-based telecommunications devices be fully hearing aid compatible, have accessible user interfaces, and offer people with disabilities use of a full range of text messaging and other popular services that are currently largely inaccessible;
  2. provide people who are deaf-blind with vital but costly technologies they need to communicate electronically, establish a process for the provision of real-time text capability, and clarify existing relay-to-relay, Lifeline and Linkup service requirements to ensure their relevance to the real world communications needs of people with disabilities;
  3. restore the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC's) modest video description rules and unambiguously establish the Commission's current and ongoing authority to expand such regulations, require emergency announcements and similar information to be accessible to people with disabilities through audible presentation of on-screen alerts, ensure that video programming offered via the Internet will be both captioned and described, and call for all devices that receive and playback video programming to employ accessible user interfaces and allow ready access to captioning and description;
  4. strengthen consumers' ability to enforce their rights to communications and video accessibility through the establishment of a clearinghouse of information about service and equipment accessibility and usability, a meaningful FCC complaint process that holds industry accountable for their accessibility obligations, and judicial review of FCC action to ensure the Commission's own accountability.
All Members of the United States House of Representatives should be actively encouraged to cosponsor H.R. 3101, the Twenty-first Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2009, and you are urged to contact your Member of Congress immediately to make such a request.


You can reach the office of your member of congress by calling the U.S. Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121.


As I prepare this report the State legislature is still struggling to close a $24.3 billion defecit in the state's 2009 2010 budget. The governor has proposed massive cuts to education, social services, prisons, and other state programs. We are concerned about how these proposed cuts will impact the lives of blind Californians. I encourage each of you to contact your assemblymember and your state senator to let them know how various state programs touch your life.


Believe it or not, there's more going on than the budget discussions in Sacramento. Here's an update on the bills CCB is watching.


Federal Legislation

Recently S.700 and its companion H.R.1708 have been introduced in UnitedStates Congress. These identical peaces of legislation are entitled, Ending the Medicare Disability Waiting Period Act of 2009. Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Rep. Gene Green (D-TX) are the chief sponsors of the legislation in each body. We encourage you to call your congressional representatives and our U.S. Senators in support of these bills.


Check with the California Connection to find out when the next Capitol Report will be Updated and for federal legislative information, please check with the Washington Connection 800-424-8666 or the acb.org website.


June 1, 2009

In the past week I testified in behalf of CCB at two hearings of the Budget Conference Committee in the California State legislature. The legislature is struggling to close a $24.3 billion defecit in the state's 2009 2010 budget. The governor has proposed massive cuts to education, social services, prisons, and other state programs. We are concerned about how these proposed cuts will impact the lives of blind Californians. I encourage each of you to contact your assemblymember and your state senator to let them know how various state programs touch your life.


Believe it or not, there's more going on than the budget discussions in Sacramento. Here's an update on the bills CCB is watching.


The California State Senate has passed a resolution sponsored by CCB, SJR 6, by Senator Allen Lowenthal. SJR 6 will soon be taken up by the Assembly Committee on Transportation. This resolution would place the state legislature on record in support of >H.R. 734, the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2009, which is under consideration by the U.S. congress. That bill would direct the U.S. Department of Transportation to develop minimum sound levels for new, quiet cars.


AB 386, by Assemblymember Ira Ruskin, has passed the Assembly, and it is waiting to be taken up by the state Senate. Existing law requires publishers of printed educational materials used at public colleges and universities in California to provide the material, upon request, in an electronic format that is compatible with commonly used Braille translation and speech synthesis software. Existing law also requires non-printed electronic education materials to be made available when feasible in a format that is compatible with Braille translation and speech synthesis software. This bill would expand the definition of non-printed instructional materials to include audiovisual works, podcasts, web clips and video and audio tapes. It would also require that the electronic versions of non-printed educational materials be compatible with audiovisual captioning for the deaf as well as Braille translation and speech synthesis software for the blind. CCB is supporting this bill.


SB 475, by Senator Alex Padilla, has been passed by the State Senate, and it has been sent to the Assembly Business and Professions Committee. This bill will raise the registration fees that guide dog schools pay to support the California State Board of Guide Dogs for the Blind. It would specify that the annual license fee charged to guide dog schools would be no more than 0.005% of each school's annual expenses as set forth by regulations, and that the fee would be payable before April 30 of each year. Currently, the annual registration fee is 0.004% of the school's expenses. CCB is supporting this bill.


AB 378, Cook, has been passed by the Assembly, and it will be heard by the Senate Committee on Human Services on June 9. This bill would require each public authority or nonprofit consortium providing in-home supportive services, with consultation from its stakeholders, to develop training standards and topics to be used in the training it provides its IHSS workers. CCB is supporting this bill.


SB 250, by State Senator Dean Florez, has passed the Senate Appropriations Committee, and it is headed for the Senate floor. This bill would require owners of dogs and cats to have their animals spayed or neutered. CCB will oppose this bill unless language is included to exempt breeders of dog guides from these requirements.


SB 246, by Senator John Benoit, is stalled in the Senate Human Services Committee. This bill would mandate criminal background checks, including fingerprinting, for I H S S workers. CCB is supporting this bill.


AB 144, by Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, was passed by the Assembly, and it is awaiting consideration by the State Senate. This bill will increase the penalty for abuse of a parking placard reserved for people with disabilities.


AB 452, by Assemblymember Mariko Yamada, has stalled in the Assembly Committee on Human Services. The bill would establish the California Independence Program, a voluntary, fee-based program for the provision of in-home supportive services to certain aged, blind and otherwise disabled individuals who are otherwise ineligible for I H S S services.


AB 885, by Assemblyman Brian Nestande, has stalled in the Assembly Appropriations Committee. This bill would allow the state to borrow federal funds to pay for area centers on aging during times when the passage of the state budget has been delayed. CCB opposes this bill because it doesn't address the funding needs of other agencies serving the blind.


AB 1532, by Assemblymember Lieu,has stalled in the Assembly Human Services Committee. This bill would provide additional state funds for in home supportive services.


SB 92, by State Senator Sam Anestad, failed in the Senate Committee on Health. It may be taken up again next year. Among other things, it would set up a demonstration project to turn Medi-Cal from a defined benefit plan to a defined contribution plan.


SB 389, by State Senator Negrete McLeod, has been stalled in the Senate Appropriations Committee. This bill would expand the types of professions for which practitioners must submit fingerprints to the California State Government, and it would be applied retroactively to people licensed before 1990.


SB 638, by State Senator Negrete McLeod, has passed through the Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee. It deals with the administration of various state boards, including the Guide Dog Board. It would move the sunset reviews for these boards from the legislature's Sunset committees to the individual committees that regularly oversee the respective boards.


SB 755, by State Senator Negrete McLeod, has stalled in the Senate Appropriations Committee. This bill would require state agencies to award at least 1% of their contracts to Persons with Developmental Disabilities Business Enterprises.


SB 810, by State Senator Mark Leno and others, has stalled in the Senate Appropriations Committee. This bill would create the California Health Care System. This would be a statewide health insurance program for Californians.


Finally, >AB 23, by Jones and others, was chartered on May 12. This law requires employers to notify employees that they can receive federal premium assistance for CAL-COBRA health benefits.


Federal Legislation

Hybrid cars and other alternative fuel vehicles pose an increasing danger to pedestrians, especially those who are blind and visually impaired. This is because they operate much more quietly than conventional vehicles, so they are difficult to detect by sound. As mentioned above, a bill that would address this problem, H.R. 734, the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2009, has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives, and its companion bill, S 841, has been introduced in the U.S. Senate. H.R. 734 directs the federal Department of Transportation to conduct a study of the quiet car problem, and based on the results of the study, to prepare a requirement for the minimum sound to be emitted by new cars.


So far, twelve members of congress from California have signed on as co-sponsors of >H.R. 734;Representatives Howard Berman, Lois Capps, Bob Filner, Jane Harman, Barbara Lee, Dorris Matsui, Dana Rohrabacher , Linda Sanchez, Adam Schiff, Pete Stark, Ellen Tauscher and Maxine Waters. We're seeking more co-sponsors. If your member of the House of Representatives is on this list, please thank them. If your representative isn't yet a co-sponsor, please ask them to do so. We also encourage you to ask our U.S. Senators, Diane Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, to co-sponsor S 841.


You can reach the office of your member of congress by calling the U.S. Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121.


Recently S.700 and its companion H.R.1708 have been introduced in UnitedStates Congress. These identical peaces of legislation are entitled, Ending the Medicare Disability Waiting Period Act of 2009. Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Rep. Gene Green (D-TX) are the chief sponsors of the legislation in each body. We encourage you to call your congressional representatives and our U.S. Senators in support of these bills.


Check with the California Connection to find out when the next Capitol Report will be Updated and for federal legislative information, please check with the Washington Connection 800-424-8666 or the >acb.org website.


April 27, 2009

Last week I testified in support of two bills in committee hearings at the State Capitol.


AB 386, Ruskin, Existing law requires publishers of printed educational materials used at public colleges and universities in California to provide the material, upon request, in an electronic format that is compatible with commonly used Braille translation and speech synthesis software. Existing law also requires non-printed electronic education materials to be made available when feasible in a format that is compatible with Braille translation and speech synthesis software. This bill would expand the definition of non-printed instructional materials to include audiovisual works, podcasts, web clips and video and audio tapes. It would also require that the electronic versions of non-printed educational materials be compatible with audiovisual captioning for the deaf as well as Braille translation and speech synthesis software for the blind. It was heard by and passed by the Assembly Committee on Higher Education on April 21, and it was forwarded to the Assembly Committee on Appropriations. CCB is supporting this bill.


SB 475, Padilla, will raise the registration fees that guide dog schools pay to support the California State Board of Guide Dogs for the Blind. It would specify that the annual license fee charged to guide dog schools would be no more than 0.005% of each school's annual expenses as set forth by regulations, and that the fee would be payable before April 30 of each year. Currently, the annual registration fee is 0.004% of the school's expenses. The bill was heard by and passed by the Senate Committee on Business, Professions and Economic Development on April 20, and it is likely to be voted on by the Senate this week. CCB is supporting this bill.


Federal Legislation

Hybrid cars and other alternative fuel vehicles pose an increasing danger to pedestrians, especially those who are blind and visually impaired. This is because they operate much more quietly than conventional vehicles, so they are difficult to detect by sound. A bill that would address this problem, H.R. 734, has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. H.R. 734 directs the federal Department of Transportation to conduct a study of the quiet car problem, and based on the results of the study, to prepare a requirement for the minimum sound to be emitted by new cars.


So far, twelve members of congress from California have signed on as co-sponsors of >H.R. 734;Representatives Howard Berman, Lois Capps, Bob Filner, Jane Harman, Barbara Lee, Dorris Matsui, Dana Rohrabacher , Linda Sanchez, Adam Schiff, Pete Stark, Ellen Tauscher and Maxine Waters. We're seeking more co-sponsors. If your member of congress is on this list, please thank them. If your representative isn't yet a co-sponsor, please ask them to do so.


Last week this bill was introduced in the U.S. Senate as S 841 by Senators Kerry and Arlen Specter. CCB has called the offices of Senators Boxer and Feinstein in support of S 841, but you may want to do the same. You can reach the office of your member of congress by calling the U.S. Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121. >



Recently S.700 and its companion H.R.1708 have been introduced in UnitedStates Congress. These identical peaces of legislation are entitled, Ending the Medicare Disability Waiting Period Act of 2009. Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Rep. Gene Green (D-TX) are the chief sponsors of the legislation in each body. We encourage you to call your congressional representatives and our U.S. Senators in support of these bills.


The federal Department of Education, DOEd, normally provides the ONLY funding used to make educational videos for students accessible for students who are blind. The DOEd annually funds grants which pay audio description producers to add audio description to educational videos, so that students with visual impairments will have equal access to the information. Under somewhat unusual circumstances, the new grants which were announced for 2009 have suddenly vanished from the DOEd website. It is urgent that community leaders such as yourself immediately contact key Congressional representatives and demand that the audio description grants be reinstated. The unprecedented last minute withdrawal of the grant RFPs announced in December 2008 will negatively impact blind students in K-12 classrooms and will cost people with disabilities their jobs in media production. For more information about this issue check the Washington Connection, or call Frank Welte at the CCB office. >


Other State Legislation

As I write this report, the California State Senate is poised to consider a resolution sponsored by CCB, SJR 6, by Senator Allen Lowenthal, that would place the state legislature on record in support of H.R. 734.


The state legislature is currently holding hearings on a number of other bills of interest to CCB. Here is a summary of those bills.


AB 378, Cook, would require each public authority or nonprofit consortium providing in-home supportive services, with consultation from its stakeholders, to develop training standards and topics to be used in the training it provides its IHSS workers. The bill was heard by and passed by the Assembly Committee on Human Services on April 15, and it has been referred to the Assembly Committee on Appropriations. CCB is supporting this bill.



SB 246, Benoit, would mandate criminal background checks, including fingerprinting, for I H S S workers. It is to be heard in the Senate Committee on Human Services on April 28. CCB is supporting this bill.


AB 23, by Jones and others, will require employers to notify employees that they can receive federal premium assistance for CAL-COBRA health benefits. The bill was heard and passed by the Assembly Committee on Health on April 16, and it was scheduled to be heard by the Assembly Committee on Appropriations on April 27. CCB is watching this bill.


AB 144, Ma, will increase the penalty for abuse of a parking placard reserved for people with disabilities. The bill was heard and passed by the Assembly Committee on Transportation on April 15, and it has been referred to the Assembly Committee on Appropriations. CCB is watching this bill.


AB 452, Yamada, would establish the California Independence Program, a voluntary, fee-based program for the provision of in-home supportive services to certain aged, blind and otherwise disabled individuals who are otherwise ineligible for I H S S services. This bill has been referred to the Assembly Committee on Human Services. CCB is watching this bill.


AB 885, Nestand, will allow the state to borrow federal funds to pay for area centers on aging during times when the passage of the state budget has been delayed. The bill has been passed the Assembly Committee on Aging and Long Term Care, and it has been referred to the Assembly Health committee. CCB opposes this bill because it doesn't address the funding needs of other agencies serving the blind.


SB 250, Florez, would require owners of dogs and cats to have their animals spayed or neutered. The bill was heard and passed with amendments by the Senate Committee on Local Government on April 21, and it was referred to the Senate Committee on Appropriations. CCB will oppose this bill unless language is included to exempt breeders of dog guides from these requirements. We are seeking to verify if the amended bill meets our requirements.


SB 389, Negrete McLeod, w ould expand the types of professions for which practitioners must submit fingerprints to the California State Government, and it would be applied retroactively to people licensed before 1990. The bill was heard and passed by the Senate Committee on Business, Professions and Economic Development on April 21, and it was referred to the Senate Committee on Public Safety. CCB is watching this bill.


SB 638, Negrete McLeod, deals with the administration of various state boards, including the Guide Dog Board. It would move the sunset reviews for these boards from the legislature's Sunset committees to the individual committees that regularly oversee the respective boards. The bill was passed by the Senate Committee on Business, Professions and Economic Development on April 20, and it was referred to the Senate Rules Committee. CCB is watching this bill.


Check with the California Connection to find out when the next Capitol Report will be Updated and for federal legislative information, please check with the Washington Connection 800-424-8666 or the acb.org website.


April 15, 2009

Hybrid cars and other alternative fuel vehicles pose an increasing danger to pedestrians, especially those who are blind and visually impaired. This is because they operate much more quietly than conventional vehicles, so they are difficult to detect by sound. A bill that would address this problem, H.R. 734, has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. H.R. 734 directs the federal Department of Transportation to conduct a study of the quiet car problem, and based on the results of the study, to prepare a requirement for the minimum sound to be emitted by new cars.

So far, eleven members of congress from California have signed on as co-sponsors of H.R. 734;Representatives Howard Berman, Lois Capps, Bob Filner, Jane Harman, Barbara Lee, Dorris Matsui, Dana Rohrabacher , Linda Sanchez, Pete Stark, Ellen Tauscher and Maxine Waters. We're seeking more co-sponsors. If your member of congress is on this list, please thank them. If your representative isn't yet a co-sponsor, please ask them to do so. You can reach the office of your member of congress by calling the U.S. Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121.

As I write this report, the California State Senate is poised to consider a resolution sponsored by CCB, SJR 6, by Senator Allen Lowenthal, that would place the state legislature on record in support of H.R. 734.

The state legislature is currently holding hearings on a number of other bills of interest to CCB. Here is a summary of those bills:

AB 378, Cook, would require each public authority or nonprofit consortium providing in-home supportive services, with consultation from its stakeholders, to develop training standards and topics to be used in the training it provides its IHSS workers. CCB is supporting this bill.

AB 386, Ruskin, Existing law requires publishers of printed educational materials used at public colleges and universities in California to provide the material, upon request, in an electronic format that is compatible with commonly used Braille translation and speech synthesis software. Existing law also requires non-printed electronic education materials to be made available when feasible in a format that is compatible with Braille translation and speech synthesis software. This bill would expand the definition of non-printed instructional materials to include audiovisual works, podcasts, web clips and video and audio tapes. It would also require that the electronic versions of non-printed educational materials be compatible with audiovisual captioning for the deaf as well as Braille translation and speech synthesis software for the blind. CCB is supporting this bill.

SB 246, Benoit, would mandate criminal background checks, including fingerprinting, for I H S S workers. CCB is supporting this bill.

SB 475, Padilla, will raise the registration fees that guide dog schools pay to support the California State Board of Guide Dogs for the Blind. It would specify that the annual license fee charged to guide dog schools would be no more than 0.005% of each school's annual expenses as set forth by regulations, and that the fee would be payable before April 30 of each year. Currently, the annual registration fee is 0.004% of the school's expenses. CCB is supporting this bill.

AB 23, by Jones and others, will require employers to notify employees that they can receive federal premium assistance for CAL-COBRA health benefits. CCB is watching this bill.

AB 144, Ma, will increase the penalty for abuse of a parking placard reserved for people with disabilities. CCB is watching this bill.

AB 452, Yamada, would establish the California Independence Program, a voluntary, fee-based program for the provision of in-home supportive services to certain aged, blind and otherwise disabled individuals who are otherwise ineligible for I H S S services. CCB is watching this bill.

AB 885, Nestand, will allow the state to borrow federal funds to pay for area centers on aging during times when the passage of the state budget has been delayed. CCB opposes this bill because it doesn't address the funding needs of other agencies serving the blind.

SB 250, Florez, would require owners of dogs and cats to have their animals spayed or neutered. CCB will oppose this bill unless language is included to exempt breeders of dog guides from these requirements.

SB 389, Negrete McLeod, would expand the types of professions for which practitioners must submit fingerprints to the California State Government, and it would be applied retroactively to people licensed before 1990. CCB is watching this bill.

SB 638, Negrete McLeod, deals with the administration of various state boards, including the Guide Dog Board. It would move the sunset reviews for these boards from the legislature's Sunset committees to the individual committees that regularly oversee the respective boards. CCB is watching this bill.

SB 755, Negrete McLeod, would require state agencies to award at least 1% of their contracts to Persons with Developmental Disabilities Business Enterprises. CCB is watching this bill.

SB 810, Leno and others, would create the California Health Care System. This would be a statewide health insurance program for Californians. CCB is watching this bill.


Check with the California Connection to find out when the next Capitol Report will be
Updated and for federal legislative information, please check with the Washington Connection 800-424-8666 or the acb.org website.



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