BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                       



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                                 THIRD READING


          Bill No:  SB 475
          Author:   Padilla (D)
          Amended:  As introduced
          Vote:     21

           
           SEN. BUS., PROF. & ECON. DEV. COMMITTEE  :  9-0, 4/20/09
          AYES:  Negrete McLeod, Aanestad, Corbett, Correa, Florez,  
            Oropeza, Romero, Walters, Yee
          NO VOTE RECORDED:  Wyland

           SENATE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE  :  Senate Rule 28.8


           SUBJECT  :    Guide dogs for the blind

           SOURCE  :     State Board for Guide Dogs for the Blind


           DIGEST  :    This bill sets the annual renewal fee limit for  
          guide dog schools to no more than 0.005 of the schools  
          annual expenses, requires the State Board of Guide Dogs for  
          the Blind to establish the exact amount of the fee by  
          regulation and requires the renewal fee to be paid by April  
          30th of each year.

           ANALYSIS  :    

          Existing law:

          1.Creates the State Board for Guide Dogs for the Blind  
            (Board), within the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA),  
            to issue licenses for the instruction of blind persons in  
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            the use of guide dogs and for the training of guide dogs  
            for use by blind persons.  The Board also has exclusive  
            authority to license guide dog schools.

          2.Establishes the Guide dog for the Blind Fund (Fund) and  
            imposes an annual renewal fee of no more than 0.004 of  
            the school's annual expenses to be deposited in the Fund.

          This bill sets the annual renewal fee limit for guide dog  
          schools to no more than 0.005 of the school's annual  
          expenses, requires the Board to establish the exact amount  
          of the fee by regulation and requires the renewal fee to be  
          paid by April 30th of each year.

           Background

           In the 1940's, there were no minimum standards for guide  
          dog school operations, and it was possible for anyone to  
          open a school.  The Industrial Revolution and World War II  
          casualties increased the number of persons who were  
          visually impaired.  Guide dog programs of varying quality  
          and competence emerged throughout the country, most of them  
          in California.
           
           There was significant public confusion on the role and  
          function of guide dogs in public places and there was a  
          long list of scandalous activities that characterized the  
          guide dog industry.  Providing dogs with no training,  
          raising funds with no plans to produce trained dogs,  
          selling dogs, accepting people for training and not  
          providing any and selling unauthorized certification papers  
          were commonplace occurrences.  Out of the concern that the  
          blind and visually impaired were being victimized by scam  
          artists, the Board was created to protect the blind by  
          establishing guide dog school operation standards,  
          providing oversight of the disposition of donor funds to  
          licensed schools and licensing and regulating guide dog  
          instructors.

          Prior to the establishment of the Board, there were  
          approximately 20 guide dog school operations.  After the  
          Board was created, only two were able to qualify for  
          licensure.  Those schools still exist today; Guide Dogs for  
          the Blind, Inc. in San Rafael and Guide Dogs of America in  

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          Sylmar.  A third California school, the Guide dogs of the  
          Desert was licensed in 1972.

           Department of Consumer Affairs Legal Opinion  .  In 2007, the  
          Guide Dogs for the Blind, Inc. submitted a request to the  
          Board to have all direct expenses of its Oregon Campus  
          excluded from the calculation of its annual renewal payment  
          on the grounds that it was unfair for them to pay license  
          fees for expenses for services provided outside California  
          and, therefore, the jurisdiction of the Board.  In  
          response, the Board requested a DCA legal opinion on the  
          matter and on March 21, 20008, the Board adopted findings  
          of that opinion.  The DCA opinion stated that the direct  
          costs for operating the Oregon campus should not be  
          included within the total expenses used for the calculation  
          of the annual renewal fee.  The Board believes this  
          decision will reduce its annual revenue by $30,000.

           FISCAL EFFECT  :    Appropriation:  No   Fiscal Com.:  Yes    
          Local:  No

           SUPPORT  :   (Verified  4/28/09)

          State Board for Guide Dogs for the Blind (source)
          California Council of the Blind
          Guide Dog Users of California
          Guide Dogs of America
          Veterinary Medical Board

           ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT  :    According to the sponsor, the  
          State Board of Guide Dogs for the Blind, the annual renewal  
          payment rate was codified in 1994 when the Board changed  
          from a general funded agency to a special funded agency.   
          Since that time, the Board's workload has doubled and it is  
          struggling to maintain a consistent level of services.  The  
          Board reports that it has 1.3 staff positions to perform  
          its essential services (licensing, examination and  
          enforcement) but that if it cannot provide those functions,  
          guide dog consumers will be harmed because they will not  
          have an avenue for redress of grievances, minimum training  
          standards for guide dogs or instruction for guide dog users  
          may be adversely affected and the financial integrity of  
          guide dog schools could be compromised.  Due to the  
          unstable finances of nonprofit organizations, the Board  

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          states that it needs to have the flexibility to set the  
          annual renewal payment at a rate that can project future  
          spending levels.


          JJA:cm  4/29/09   Senate Floor Analyses 

                         SUPPORT/OPPOSITION:  SEE ABOVE

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