BILL NUMBER: AB 2920 CHAPTERED BILL TEXT CHAPTER 829 FILED WITH SECRETARY OF STATE SEPTEMBER 30, 2006 APPROVED BY GOVERNOR SEPTEMBER 30, 2006 PASSED THE SENATE AUGUST 31, 2006 PASSED THE ASSEMBLY AUGUST 31, 2006 AMENDED IN SENATE AUGUST 22, 2006 AMENDED IN SENATE JUNE 20, 2006 AMENDED IN ASSEMBLY APRIL 27, 2006 AMENDED IN ASSEMBLY APRIL 18, 2006 INTRODUCED BY Assembly Member Leno (Coauthors: Assembly Members Berg, Goldberg, Hancock, Koretz, Laird, Nation, Pavley, Saldana, and Yee) (Coauthors: Senators Kehoe and Kuehl) FEBRUARY 24, 2006 An act to add Sections 9103 and 9103.1 to the Welfare and Institutions Code, relating to seniors. LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST AB 2920, Leno Seniors. Existing law, the Mello-Granlund Older Californians Act, establishes the California Department of Aging in the California Health and Human Services Agency. Existing law sets forth the duties and powers of the department. This bill would require the department to ensure that programs and services provided through the Older Americans Act and the Mello-Granlund Older Californians Act in each planning and service area are available to all older adults regardless of specified characteristics or circumstances, or by association with a person or persons with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics or circumstances, that restrict an individual's ability to perform normal daily tasks or that threaten his or her capacity to live independently. The bill would require the department to require that each area agency on aging includes the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender seniors in its needs assessment and area plans and to provide technical assistance to the area agencies on aging regarding the unique needs of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender seniors. The bill would authorize the department to adopt regulations to implement the bill's provisions, and would require the department to do so if necessary, and only after consultation with specified entities. This bill would also express the intent of the Legislature that this act not increase General Fund obligations for programs administered by area agencies on aging. THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: SECTION 1. Section 9103 is added to the Welfare and Institutions Code, to read: 9103. The Legislature finds and declares all of the following: (a) Recent studies have shown that lifelong experiences of marginalization place lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) seniors at high risk for isolation, poverty, homelessness, and premature institutionalization. Moreover, many LGBT seniors are members of multiple underrepresented groups, and as a result, are doubly marginalized. Due to these factors, many LGBT seniors avoid accessing elder programs and services, even when their health, safety, and security depend on it. (b) LGBT seniors often lack social and family support networks available to non-LGBT seniors. They may face particular health risks, as disease prevention strategies often ignore LGBT seniors, and HIV and AIDS drug trials generally do not include older participants. (c) LGBT seniors are denied many vital financial benefits provided to heterosexual married couples. For example, surviving same-sex partners are denied the social security benefits that married couples are provided, and may face heavy taxes on the transfer of assets upon the death of a partner. Moreover, even under California law, LGBT seniors are denied equal long-term care insurance protections. This costs LGBT seniors hundreds of millions of dollars each year in lost benefits. (d) The number of people 65 years of age and older in California is estimated to double to 6.5 million by the year 2020, thereby increasing the number of LGBT seniors who are receiving inadequate services. (e) Ensuring that the needs of LGBT seniors as well as other underrepresented groups are adequately assessed during the planning and development of programs and services will increase access to the programs administered by the California Department of Aging and the area agencies on aging. (f) California leads the nation in the protections it affords to LGBT persons. As failure to meet the needs of LGBT seniors is a problem of national scope, including LGBT seniors and other underrepresented groups in need of assessment and area plan process will help the state to be a model for change in other states and at the federal level. SEC. 2. Section 9103.1 is added to the Welfare and Institutions Code, to read: 9103.1. (a) The department shall ensure all older adults have equal access to programs and services provided through the Older Americans Act and under this division in each planning and services area, regardless of physical or mental disabilities, language barriers, cultural or social isolation, including that caused by actual or perceived racial and ethnic status, including, but not limited to, African-American, Hispanic, American Indian, and Asian American, ancestry, national origin, religion, sex, gender identity, marital status, familial status, sexual orientation, or any other basis set forth in Section 12921 of the Government Code, or by association with a person or persons with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics, that restrict an individual's ability to perform normal daily tasks or that threaten his or her capacity to live independently. (b) This section is not intended to increase General Fund obligations for programs administered by area agencies on aging. (c) The department shall require that each area agency on aging include the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender seniors in their needs assessment and area plans. (d) The department shall provide technical assistance to the area agencies on aging regarding the unique needs of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender seniors. (e) The department may adopt regulations to implement this section. If the department determines that adopting regulations is necessary, it shall do so only after consultation with the area agencies on aging and the California Association of Area Agencies on Aging.