2021-2022 Legislative Priorities
1. Behavioral and Mental Health
AB 58 (Salas) Pupil Health: Suicide Prevention Policies and Training
Description: Requires that local education agencies (LEAs) update their suicide prevention training materials and encourages LEAs to provide suicide awareness and prevention training to teachers annually beginning with the 2024-25 school year.
Status: Two-year bill. Passed Senate Ed on 6/8, Referred to Sen Appropriations suspense file on 6/20.
AB 552 (Quirk-Silva) Integrated School-Based Behavioral Health Partnership Program
Description: Authorizes community behavioral health programs and local education agencies to establish partnership programs to provide prevention, early intervention, and access to behavioral health services for pupils with serious emotional disturbances or substance use disorders.
Status: Two-year bill. Passed Sen Ed on 6/1, passed Sen Health on 6/16, set for Sen Appropriations hearing on 8/1.
AB 748 (Carillo) Pupil Mental Health: Mental Health Assistance Posters
Description: Would require each school-site in a school district, county office, of education, or charter school serving students grades 6-12 to create a poster that identifies approaches and shares resources regarding mental health.
Status: Two-year bill. Passed Sen Ed on 6/1, passed Sen Judiciary 6/14, Sen Appropriations placed on suspense file 6/27.
AB 1969 (Gipson) Pupil Health: Peer-to-Peer Mental Health Program
Description: Would provide funding to community-based organizations to support peer-to-peer mental health programs within schools. Trainings would emphasize trauma informed care practices and would be specifically geared towards schools without other mental health services. Status: Introduced in the Assembly 2/10, referred to committees on health and education. Currently in Assembly Education, hearing date pending.
SB 387 (Portantino) Pupil Health: School Employee and Pupil Training: Youth Mental and Behavioral Health
Description: Would require local education agencies to ensure that 75 percent of its classified employees who have direct contact with pupils at school have received specific youth behavioral health training.
Status: Two-year bill. In Asm Ed, hearing date pending (6/29 hearing postponed by committee).
SB 1019 (Gonzalez) Medi-Cal Managed Care Plans: Mental Health Benefits
Description: Would require a Medi-Cal managed care plan to conduct annual outreach and education to its enrollees regarding the mental health benefits that are covered by the plan, and to also develop annual outreach and education to inform primary care physicians regarding those mental health benefits.
Status: Passed Senate floor vote 5/26. Passed Asm Health 6/21, referred to Asm Appropriations hearing date pending.
2. Health Equity
AB 408 (Quirk-Silva, Rivas) Homeless Children and Youths: Reporting
Description: Requires local education agencies to establish homeless education program policies, requires homeless education liaisons to offer training to specified school staff, and requires the California Department of Education to develop a risk-based monitoring plan for homeless education requirements. This bill arose from a 2019 state audit that found some education sites do not follow best practices to identify students experiencing homelessness.
Status: Two-year bill. Passed Sen Ed on 5/4, in Sen Appropriations hearing set for 8/1.
AB 558 (Nazarian) School Meals: Child Nutrition Act of 2022
Description: Creates an additional per-meal reimbursement for local education agencies (LEAs) that elect to increase their meal offerings to accommodate student dietary restrictions including plant-based food and beverages, vegetarian food, and religious dietary restrictions. Also requires the CA department of education to develop guidance for LEAs serving K-6th grade children on how to serve eligible non-school aged children breakfast or a morning snack at an LEA site.
Status: Two-year bill. Passed Sen Ed 6/27, Sen Appropriations set for 8/1.
AB 1001 (Garcia) Environment: Mitigation Measures for Air and Water Quality Impacts: Environmental Justice
Description: Amends the CA Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to 1. Require mitigation to compensate for adverse air or water quality impacts in a disadvantaged community to mitigate those impacts directly in the affected community and 2. Require all public agencies implementing CEQA to give consideration to the principles of environmental justice by ensuring the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of people of all races, cultures, incomes, and national origins.
Status: Two-year bill. In Sen Environmental Quality hearing set for 6/15, hearing cancelled at the request of author.
AB 1930 (Arambula) : Medi-Cal Comprehensive Perinatal Services
Description: Would promote maternal and infant health as well as help prevent ACEs by ensuring Medi-Cal provides social needs assessments and related services throughout the additional 10 months postpartum eligibility period launching April 1, 2022 under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.
Status: Passed Asm Health on 4/27, referred to Asm appropriations.
AB 2402 (Rubio) Medi-Cal: Continuous Eligibility
Description: Would ensure that children under the age of 5 qualify for continuous enrollment in Medi-Cal by removing the requirement for providing income information at the end of 12 months.
Status: Passed Sen Health hearing 6/15, Sen Appropriations referred to suspense file on 6/27.
SB 234 (Weiner) Transition Aged Youth Housing Program
Description: This bill creates the Transition Aged Youth Housing Program to create housing for youth under 26 years of age who have been removed from their homes, are experiencing homelessness unaccompanied by a parent or legal guardian, or are under the jurisdiction of a dependency court.
Status: Two-year bill. Passed Asm Committee on Housing & Community Development 6/15, passed Asm Human Services 6/29, referred to Asm Appropriations hearing date pending.
SB 532 (Caballero) Pupil instruction: High School Coursework and Graduation
Description: Expands and strengthens the rights for foster youth, homeless youth, former juvenile court school students, children from military families, and migratory children to be exempt from local graduation requirements if certain conditions are met (must have moved high schools after the second year). It requires local education agencies (LEAs) to provide these students the option to remain in school for a fifth year of high school to complete coursework requirements to ensure that these vulnerable populations have the chance to obtain a high school diploma.
Status: Two-year bill. Passed Asm Ed 6/21, in Asm Appropriations hearing date pending.
SB 1016 (Portantino) Special Education: Eligibility: Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder
Description: Would require that Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) be included under the “other health impairment” definition for Individual Education Plans to expand eligibility for pupils to receive special education and related services.
Status: Passed Asm Ed 6/29, in Asm Appropriations hearing date pending.
3. Immigrant Youth Health
AB 1777 (Aguiar-Curry) Migrant Education: Average Daily Attendance
Description: This bill aims to improve the education for migrant children within CA, which has the highest number of migrant pupils within the US (1 out of 3 migrant children who live in the US reside in CA). Achievement gaps experienced by migrant children are attributed in part due to lost instructional time when traveling with parents. This bill would provide additional funding to local education agencies to provide migrant children specific educational services for children in pre-K through 8th grades.
Status: Passed Sen Ed 6/29, in Sen Appropriations hearing date pending.
COVID-19 Vaccine Bills
AB 1797 (Weber) Immunization Registry
Description: Would authorize children aged 12 years and older to consent to receive the COVID-19 vaccine without parental or guardian consent.
Status: Passed Sen Health 6/23, in Sen Ed hearing set for 6/30.
SB 866 (Wiener, Pan) Minors: Vaccine Consent
Description: Would allow schools to access vaccine databases to more easily track the vaccination status of their students.
Status: In Asm pending floor vote.
SB 871 (Pan) Public Health: Immunization
Description: Would add the COVID-19 vaccine to the list of required vaccinations for children to enter into public schools. This bill is currently broad, with edits and specifications to come when heard in committees.
The Quorum: Monthly Policy Updates
July 2022: Federal Gun Safety Legislation – The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act
On June 25th President Biden signed into law the first major gun safety legislation passed by Congress in nearly 30 years. The signing of this legislation, called the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, came after a horrific string of mass shooting in Buffalo New York and Uvalde Texas. The Senate passed the legislation 65 to 33 with 15 Republicans joining all 50 Democrats to overcome the 60-vote filibuster. The House voted 234-193 to pass the bill. So, what’s in the bill, is it supported by research, and does it address the AAP’s call for gun violence prevention?
Components of S.2938 – The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act
$750 million to states to encourage the implementation of red flag laws: Red flag laws allow authorities to temporarily remove guns from people deemed dangerous to themselves or others by the court.1 Red flag laws are currently in place in 19 states and the District of Columbia and are essentially petitions that law enforcement, family members, teachers, or even employers can file to a court to have an individual’s gun temporarily removed. Research on red flag laws is overall promising, particularly in preventing suicides, with studies finding that for every 10 to 20 firearms removed, approximately one life can be saved through an averted suicide.2,3 In terms of red flag laws ability to reduce mass shootings, the research is also promising. A study from the Violence Prevention Research Program at UC Davis found that California’s gun violence restraining order (GVRO) law, which went into effect on January 1, 2016, was used most often by law enforcement to prevent firearm assault and homicide.4 Mass shooting threats occurred in 58 out of 200, or almost 30%, of all GVROs, of which 6 of the cases involved minors, all of whom targeted schools. Thus, the overwhelming consensus around gun violence research is in support of red flag laws. The AAP has also listed red flag laws as a top gun violence prevention advocacy priority.
Increased federal funding for mental health programs: This provision has been touted heavily by Republicans who have grasped onto the narrative that mass shootings are not a result of guns but mental illness. And while increases in mental health funding is obviously welcomed, mental health advocates are concerned that this will further perpetuate the idea that people with mental health diagnoses are dangerous and largely responsible for gun violence, which is not the case. Research shows that only 3% to 5% of violent acts are committed by individuals with a serious mental illness. 5 So even if we cured all cases of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression, there would only be a 4% reduction in gun violence. Since mental health is not a central problem of gun violence, this provision will do little to prevent mass shootings.
Closure of the “Boyfriend Loophole”: This is a background check issue or law that would prevent individuals convicted of domestic abuse from owning a gun. Prior to S.2938, the law only applied to people who were married to, living with, or had a child with, the victim. However, this previous law didn’t protect individuals, many times women, who were victims of domestic violence but never married or had a child with their abuser. Under previous law, for example, if a woman was dating a man who was convicted of domestic abuse, but not living with and didn’t have a child with him, he could still purchase a gun and pass a background check. S.2938 closes this loophole. However, many researchers argue that this provision doesn’t go far enough as abusers who are subjected to restraining orders and perhaps not yet convicted of domestic violence can still purchase a gun. This is incredibly problematic as more than a thousand women are killed by intimate partners every year in the US, according to CDC data.6 Researchers view this provision as a missed opportunity to include all domestic violence convicts and individuals with restraining orders, the latter of which implies that the individual engaged in violent behavior and should not be in possession of a gun.
Tougher Background Checks on Buyers Younger than 21: This provision would give authorities up to 10 business days to review the juvenile and mental health records of gun purchasers younger than 21. This is similar to the red flag laws outlined above in that it attempts to keep guns out of the hands of potentially violent individuals, however, it differs in preventing some individuals from ever purchasing a gun. Researchers argue that this provision will be extremely hard to implement as juvenile records are typically sealed and mental health records are protected, with the exception being if an individual was committed. Overall, researchers view this provision as more of a symbolic change than one that will actually keep guns away from violent individuals.
Overall, S.2938, the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, is a mixed bag, with some provision that will likely be effective in reducing gun violence and some that won’t. But perhaps what is most significant is what’s NOT in the bill, including AAP recommended provisions such as an assault rifle ban and gun safety lock provisions, the latter of which evidence has shown are associated with a reduction in gun deaths of children.7 Moreover, the last assault weapons ban was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1994 and expired on September 3, 2004. A 2019 study found that mass shooting fatalities were 70% less likely to occur during the federal ban period.8
According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been at least 281 mass shootings in the US in 2022.9 And as of June 8, 20222, there has been 27 school shootings. The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act is undoubtably a step in the right direction, but more must be done.
1. Kaste, M. Do Red Flag Laws Work? NPR News. May 2022. https://www.npr.org/2022/05/29/1101973246/do-red-flag-laws-work
2. Jeffrey W. Swanson et al., Implementation and Effectiveness of Connecticut’s Risk-Based Gun Removal Law: Does it Prevent Suicides?, 80 Law and Contemporary Problems 179-208 (2017)
Available at: http://scholarship.law.duke.edu/lcp/vol80/iss2/8
3. Spivey, A. Medical Sociologist Jeffrey Swanson on the Complex Puzzle of Gun Violence. Duke University School of Medicine. June 2022. https://medschool.duke.edu/news/medical-sociologist-jeffrey-swanson-complex-puzzle-gun-violence
4. Pear, M., Pallin, R., Schleimer, J., et al. Gun Violence Orders in California, 2016-2018: Case Details and Respondent Mortality. Injury Prevention. June 2022. https://injuryprevention.bmj.com/content/early/2022/06/01/injuryprev-2022-044544
5. Mental Health Myths and Facts. MentalHealth.gov. https://www.mentalhealth.gov/basics/mental-health-myths-facts
6. Treisman, R. The Senate Gun Bill Would Close the ‘Boyfriend Loophole.’ NPR News. June 2022. https://www.npr.org/2022/06/23/1106967037/boyfriend-loophole-senate-bipartisan-gun-safety-bill-domestic-abuse
7. Schaechter, J. Guns in the Home: Keeping Kids Safe. Healthy Children.Org. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/at-home/Pages/Handguns-in-the-Home.aspx
8. DiMaggio, C., Avraham, J., Beryy, C., et al. Changes in US Mass Shooting Deaths Associated with the 1994-2004 Federal Assault Weapons Ban: Analysis of Open-Source Data. J trauma Acute Care Surg. 2019. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30188421/
9. Clyde, D., Miranda, S. Biden Signs Gun Safety Bill into Law. NPR News. 25 June 2022. https://www.npr.org/2022/06/25/1107626030/biden-signs-gun-safety-law
The Quorum is a monthly policy spotlight. For any inquiries, please email Chapter 2 legislative and policy analyst, Karinne Van Groningen, at KVanGroningen@dhs.lacounty.gov
Previous Legislative Spotlights:
Get Involved with Advocacy
Pediatricians can play a unique role in facilitating policy change. We know first-hand what it takes to care for vulnerable populations and by educating the public, conducting research, and assisting in the interpretation of medical research – our potential impact on driving policy change is immeasurable.
Advocacy doesn’t just happen in Sacramento. We all have a role to play and it is our responsibility to speak up on behalf of the children in our Chapter.
Are you interested in joining the advocacy committee, writing letters, and/or speaking at public forums? If so, contact the chapter legislative and advocacy analyst below:
Karinne Van Groningen, MD, MPH, FAAP
AAP-CA2 State Government Affairs (SGA) Committee Representatives and Staff:
Susan Wu, MD, FAAP (SGA)
Marti Baum, MD, FAAP (SGA)