This is the CCB Legislative Report for November 2014 Prepared by Mitch Pomerantz, Chair, Governmental Affairs Committee.
As I write this in mid-November, the CCB Governmental Affairs Committee met last week to consider advocacy initiatives for 2015, as well as other related matters. Beginning in December, proposed legislation may be introduced so it is definitely time to "get on the stick," as they say.
Assuming you are reading this sometime in early to mid-January, we're interested in hearing from those who would like to attend. Unfortunately CCB is not in a position to cover your expenses.
What we are looking for are individuals who can:
If you think this sounds like something you'd like to do, please contact me either via email: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone: 626-844-4388.
This is the CCB Legislative Report for June 27, 2014 Prepared by Jeff Thom, Chair, Governmental Affairs Committee.
AB1703, our bill to include reading and document completion as an IHSS benefit, passed out of Senate Human Services and is on to Senate Appropriations. It was unanimous, except for an abstention from the Republican vice-chair. His only concern was what would happen if the federal money to pay for half the cost didn't come. Since we think this is now a mere formality, we are not concerned with this. The big unknown still remains the Governor's office.
AB1193, a bill that would allow local governments to approve bike lanes known as cycle tracks, passed Senate Transportation and Housing and is on to Senate Appropriations. There is still some hope that an amendment we are seeking, which would require Caltrans to consult with specified entities in developing standards for the bill, will be accepted by the author, but that is up in the air. Thus, we did express our opposition based on serious pedestrian safety concerns. However, it does appear as if the bill will have clear sailing, although stranger things have happened.
AB1602, a bill that CCB is supporting, and which would require the state, rather than BEP roadside rest vendors, to pay the utility costs for their vending machines, passed its first Senate committee and is now in Senate Appropriations. It has full bipartisan support, and will almost certainly pass the Legislature, although I do not know if the Brown Administration has taken any position as yet.
As many of you know, the state budget for the 2014-15 fiscal year has been signed by the Governor. It was, as usual, a mixed bag for persons who are blind or who have low vision. We secured federal funding for the 2014-15 fiscal year to maintain the operation of the state system for producing K-8th grade textbooks in braille and large print, but perhaps as soon s the following year, such funding will be partly composed of a fee to be paid by the districts. We must ensure that this fee is low enough so that districts will have no incentive to try and arrange for the production of these books on their own. The Legislature also rejected a Governor's proposal to limit IHSS providers to 40 hours per week, so as to avoid the federal requirement, which begins in 2015, of paying overtime to domestic workers. The Legislature did agree to some hour limitations, but in the vast majority of cases they will have no impact upon IHSS recipients.
On the negative side, however, the Governor successfully fought against a legislative effort to provide a state increase in SSI benefits. This increase has rarely happened in the last 20 years, and benefit levels have clearly not kept up with our state's cost of living. In addition, the Legislature failed to reinstate various optional Medi-Cal benefits, including podiatric services which are so important for many blind and low vision individuals suffering from diabetic retinopathy.
This is my final Governmental Affairs report, and I want to thank all of you that have advocated on the national, state, or local level to improve the lives of persons with visual impairments. Without you, we would not be the leading advocacy organization of persons who are blind or have low vision in California. I also want to thank President Pomerantz for her leadership and incredibly hard work in leading our advocacy efforts. Under her leadership, as I have said before, we have turned a corner in the scope and breadth of our involvement on advocacy issues in this state. Finally, I extremely gratified to let you know that our new Governmental Affairs Committee chair is the most qualified individual we could possibly have, namely Mitch Pomerantz. Under his leadership and with your continued efforts, we will remain a real force in Washington, D.C. and Sacramento.
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