2022 Elder Justice Legislative Update
A number of Elder Justice-focused bills made it to the Governor’s desk at the end of the 2021-22 Legislative Session in September. While CEJC’s focus this year was on budget actions and work with Elder & Disability Justice Coordinating Council, the Governor’s action on several important bills is worth noting.
- SB 1054 (Ochoa-Bogh), signed into law in September, gives county Adult Protective Service and Child Welfare Service agencies the ability to share information across multidisciplinary teams. The new law will help address information gaps and enable coordination when dealing with cases of elder and child abuse within the same family. The bill was sponsored by Riverside County and the County Welfare Director’s Association.
- AB 1663 (Maienschein) was signed in October and implements significant changes to the Probate Conservatorship system. The law requires documented consideration of less restrictive alternatives to conservatorship and creates a supported decision-making system to be delivered through self-help centers in every county court. The law emphasizes the proposed conservatee’s preferences in the outcome of a conservatorship proceeding and makes it easier to terminate a conservatorship. The legislation also creates a new definition of “adult with a disability,” adding older individuals with cognitive impairments, Alzheimer’s and dementias to the definition of disabled adults who can object to their proposed conservatorship or request its termination, among other things.
- AB 2520 (Gabriel), which sought to create an Office of Access to Justice (OAJ) in the State Attorney General’s Office, was vetoed by Governor Newsom due to fiscal concerns. The OAJ was intended to ensure all Californians have meaningful access to justice through policy recommendations and advice to the Attorney General, and through establishment of a Legal Aid Interagency Roundtable focused on emerging legal issues in underserved and tribal communities.
- AB 960 (Ting) was signed into law, amending California’s Compassionate Release laws for incarcerated persons, with specified exceptions, who have a terminal diagnosis. The law authorizes the Department of Corrections’ (CDC) Chief Medical Officer, rather than the CDC Secretary, to recommend a prisoner with a serious, advanced illness and a terminal prognosis to the court for compassionate release. If the court finds the prisoner meets the eligibility criteria for compassionate release, the law creates a presumption that the prisoner will be re-sentenced and released within 48 hours of the court’s determination.
- SB 1338 (Umberg and Eggman), signed in September, creates the Community Assistance, Recovery and Empowerment (CARE) Act, better known as CARE Court. The law creates a court-ordered long-term intervention process for adults with psychotic disorders like schizophrenia who are deemed to be failing voluntary treatment. Eligible individuals will be referred to the court by family, emergency responders, social services, or mental health providers and must first be found mentally incompetent. The law authorizes the court to order an individualized “CARE plan,” providing the individual with services including housing, behavioral health, stabilizing medications, and other supports for up to 12 months.
- SCR 112 (Dodd) was approved by the Legislature and established June 2015 as California Elder and Dependent Adult Abuse Awareness Month. Co-sponsored by CEJC and the California Commission on Aging, this annual legislative resolution is designed to raise public awareness each June around elder and dependent adult abuse and increase opportunities for advocates to hold events and promote their work to fight abuse in the month surrounding World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.