Friday, January 8, 2016 The CSAC Bulletin
Employee Relations
For more information, please contact Faith Conley at 916.650.8180, or Betsy Hammer at 916.650.8108.

CSAC-Sponsored Bills Pertaining to Vital Records to be Heard in Assembly Health Next Week

CSAC’s Employee Relations policy unit is co-sponsoring two bills related to vital records, and both will be heard in the Assembly Health Committee on Tuesday, January 12. CSAC’s Government Finance and Operations Committee discussed the measures at its December 3 meeting.

AB 1238 (Linder) would authorize the State Registrar, a local registrar, or county recorder to accept electronic acknowledgement, sworn under penalty of perjury, that the requester of a marriage, birth, or death certificate is an authorized person. Existing law requires a notarized affidavit in hard copy, but AB 1238 would allow local jurisdictions to provide consumers with the option to complete an online request for vital records – something that 33 other states currently allow. Requestors would have to complete a knowledge-based authentication method to definitively establish their identity as an authorized person. This option will significantly reduce the amount of time it takes to request vital records, and will also reduce the costs incurred. Both consumers and records offices will benefit from the option to electronically request vital records.

AB 1546 (Olsen) would authorize a certified copy of a birth, death, or marriage record to include a security feature equal or greater than intaglio print. The bill also directs the State Registrar to appoint a Vital Records Protection Advisory Committee to study and make recommendations to protect individual privacy, inhibit identity theft, and prevent fraud involving vital records while providing needed access to the information contained in those records by persons seeking it for a legitimate purpose. While many states require a set of certain security measures for vital records, California is one of only two states that also require specific intaglio printing, which is a type of texture, raised engraving into the paper. In mid-2015, the only company in the United States that met the security requirements abruptly and permanently closed. The state and counties have declining reserves of secure paper and limited options for purchasing additional supplies – many have rationed their provisions, while others refer applicants to the State Department of Public Health or have signed contracts with a Canadian company that meets the current standard. This bill will ensure that certified copies of vital records are available to all when needed, while maintaining high security standards.

Senate and Assembly Hold Joint Hearing on Veterans Housing and Homelessness Prevention Program

The Veterans Housing and Homelessness Prevention Program (VHHP) was the subject of an oversight hearing on Tuesday, January 5. The Senate Veterans Committee met jointly with the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee to discuss this relatively new program and to hear about lessons learned from the first round of funding awards and where the program is headed in the future.

Members heard from three state agencies instrumental in implementing the program: California Department of Veterans Affairs, the California Department of Housing and Community Development, and California Housing Finance Agency. State officials provided a presentation on the problem of veterans experiencing homelessness and some of the features of those with military experience that make veterans a unique population to serve. In 2013, AB 639 (Perez) was signed into law and in June 2014 Proposition 41 (both AB 639 and Proposition 41 were supported by CSAC) was passed by the voters, authorizing $600 million in bonding dollars to fund affordable housing for low-income and homeless veterans. This funding created the Veterans’ Housing and Homelessness Prevention Program (VHHP) (see the HCD and Cal Vet websites about this program for more information). There are also considerable efforts related to homeless veterans at the federal level.

The first round of VHHP funding awards went out in summer 2015. The state agencies reported positive outcomes with some lessons to be learned from this initial experience. For example, feedback was received on the application process and scoring system, and adjustments were made to the classification of case management costs. Round two of funding is currently underway, with final awards for this funding round to be made in spring 2016.

State officials discussed other related programs and collaborative efforts, as well as some initial findings. Some geographical areas are more challenging to serve, like rural communities, and some populations present unique challenges, like veterans with military sexual trauma. Officials also noted that the existing legislation provides broad authority and no legislative changes are needed at this time. The program is on track to meet its goals.
Additional testimony was heard after the state officials completed their presentation. Testifiers included representatives from several organizations that had applied for or received funding from the VHHP program. Feedback was generally really positive, though some suggested improvements were noted.