California Healthline Rounds Up Health-Related Bills Approved by the Legislature
California Healthline today rounds up health-related bills recently approved by the Legislature before adjourning. Summaries of the legislation are provided below.
- The Senate on Thursday voted 24-14 to approve an amended bill (SB 71) that would streamline the parental consent process for sex education classes, the AP/Sacramento Bee reports (AP/Sacramento Bee, 9/12). Sen. Sheila Kuehl (D-Santa Monica), the bill's sponsor, has said that the measure would require schools that teach sex education or HIV prevention classes to send notices to parents at the start of the school year informing them of the dates students are scheduled to take sex education or HIV/AIDS prevention classes and if they are scheduled to participate in sexual behavior surveys. Under the bill, parents who do not want their children participating in the classes or surveys can return the notification form indicating that they wish to exclude their child from the instruction or survey. However, if the notification form is not returned, parental consent for all classes or surveys is assumed (California Healthline, 9/10). The bill now goes to GOv. Gray Davis (D) (AP/Sacramento Bee, 9/12). Davis has said that he would sign the bill if it passed both chambers (California Healthline, 9/10). Capital Public Radio on Thursday reported on the issue. The segment included comments from Kuehl and Assembly member Sharon Runner (R-Lancaster) (O'Mara, Capital Public Radio, 9/11). The full segment is available online in RealPlayer.
- The Assembly on Friday approved a bill (AB 1676) that would make HIV testing a routine part of prenatal care, the Oakland Tribune reports (Oakland Tribune, 9/13). The bill, introduced by Assembly member John Dutra (D-Fremont), would require physicians to include HIV testing in a battery of tests performed on pregnant women and provide counseling for women who find out that they are HIV-positive (AB 1676 text, 9/14). The bill now goes to Davis for consideration (Oakland Tribune, 9/13).
- The Assembly early Saturday voted 41-31 to approve a bill (AB 17) that would require companies contracting with the state to offer the same benefits to their employees' domestic partners that they offer to spouses, the AP/Sacramento Bee reports (AP/Sacramento Bee, 9/13). The bill, which was sponsored by Assembly member Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego), would include health benefits and family medical leave (California Healthline, 6/10). The requirement can be waived in emergencies or when there is only one bidder. If enacted, the law would cost the state "millions of additional dollars" on the approximately $6 billion currently spent each year through state contracts, according to the AP/Bee. The bill now goes to Davis for consideration (AP/Sacramento Bee, 9/13).
- The Legislature early Saturday ratified contracts -- including health benefits provisions -- with several state employee unions, the Sacramento Bee reports. Under the contracts, the union members agreed to forego a 5% pay increase for one year in exchange for a guarantee that the state will cover 80% or 85% of their health insurance premiums, as well as an additional day per month of paid vacation time (Hill, Sacramento Bee, 9/14). The agreements cover 11,000 state employees represented by the California State Employees Association, Professional Engineers in California Government, California Union of Safety Employees and the California Association of Professional Scientists (AP/Los Angeles Daily News, 9/11).