SACRAMENTO (July 9, 2013) -- The California Legislature has sent one autism bill to Governor Jerry Brown for his signature and moved seven others towards final passage. Six of the bills were recommended by the Autism Diversity Task Force created last year by Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg.
Autism Speaks is sponsoring one of the bills, SB.126, which would extend California's 2011 autism insurance reform law, due to expire next summer, until 2019. Sponsored by Steinberg, the bill has been approved by the Senate 37-0 and the Assembly Health Committee 18-0, and is now before the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
The bill sent to Brown, AB.1232, would require the state Department of Developmental Services (DDS) to account for issues of diversity and equity when assessing the quality of services provided by regional centers. The bill is sponsored by Assemblyman V. Manuel Perez.
The bill is one of six that emerged from the task force, which was co-chaired by advocate Areva Martin [left], co-founder of the Special Needs Network, and Sergio Aguilar-Gaxiola, M.D., Ph.D, founding director of the UC Davis Center for Reducing Health Disparities. Steinberg created the task force after a Senate Select Committee heard testimony suggesting inequities in the provision of services.
The other task force bills include:
- SB.158, sponsored by Sen. Lou Correa, which would establish an autism demonstration program to improve linguistic and cultural competency in Regional Centers. The bill has been voted out of the Senate and the Assembly Human Services Committee and is now before the Assembly Appropriations Committee
- SB.208, sponsored by Sen. Ricardo Lara, which would require Regional Centers to evaluate the ability of outside vendors to provide culturally and linguistically competent services before awarding contracts. The bill also has cleared the Senate and the Assembly Human Services Committee and is before the appropriations committee
- SB.367, sponsored by Sen. Marty Block, which would require Regional Centers to develop annual strategic plans addressing issues of linguistic and cultural competency. The bill has passed the Senate and is scheduled for a hearing before the Assembly Human Services Committee on Aug. 13
- SB.468 , sponsored by Sen. Bill Emmerson, which is designed to give participants and their families in Regional Centers more flexibility and choice in choosing services under their Individual Program Plan (IPP). Emmerson's bill has cleared the Senate and awaits a hearing before the Assembly Human Services Committee
- SB.555 , sponsored by Correa, which would establish guidelines for Regional Centers in providing IPPs in a culturally and linguistically competent manner. The bill also awaits a hearing before the Assembly Human Services Committee after being voted out of the Senate
The eighth bill, AB.1231, sponsored by Perez, would require DDS to facilitate the use of telehealth and teledentistry services in the Regional Center system. The bill has passed the Assembly and two Senate committees, and is now befiore the Senate Appropriations Committee.