BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                                                                  SB 475
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          SB 475 (Padilla)
          As Introduced  February 26, 2009
          Majority vote 

           SENATE VOTE  :36-0  
           BUSINESS & PROFESSIONS         11-0                  
          APPROPRIATIONS      14-0                            
          |Ayes:|Hayashi, Emmerson,        |Ayes:|De Leon, Nielsen,         |
          |     |Conway, Eng, Hernandez,   |     |Ammiano, Coto, Davis,     |
          |     |Nava, Niello,             |     |Duvall, Fuentes, Hall,    |
          |     |John A. Perez, Ruskin,    |     |Harkey, John A. Perez,    |
          |     |Smyth, Hill               |     |Skinner, Solorio, Audra   |
          |     |                          |     |Strickland, Torlakson     |
          |     |                          |     |                          |
           SUMMARY  :   Increases the annual renewal fee limit for guide dog  
          schools from 0.004 to no more than 0.005 of the schools annual  
          expenses, requires the State Board of Guide Dogs for the Blind  
          (Board) to establish the exact amount of the fee by regulation,  
          and requires the renewal fee to be paid by April 30th of each  

           EXISTING LAW  :

          1)Establishes within the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA),  
            the Board which licenses schools for the training of guide  
            dogs for the blind and the instruction of blind persons in the  
            use of guide dogs.

          2)Requires a fee equal to 0.004 of a school's annual expenses to  
            be paid for renewal of a school's license.

           FISCAL EFFECT  :   According to the Assembly Appropriations  
          Committee, an increase in annual fee-supported special fund  
          revenues of between $8,000 and $35,000 to be used to support the  
          workload of the Board.

           COMMENTS  :  According to the author's office:  "Guide dog  
          training schools operate as non-profits and do not charge the  


                                                                  SB 475
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          blind for the cost of training service dogs.  The Board is 100%  
          special funded by licensee fees.  The current fund reserve or  
          the operations of the Board will have a projected negative  
          balance by the end of FY 2012-13."

          In the 1940s, before the California State Board of Guide Dogs  
          for the Blind was created to maintain professional standards of  
          training, the guide dog field suffered from many of the same  
          problems the service dog industry is experiencing today.   
          Besides considerable public confusion as to the role and  
          function of guide dogs in public places, a long list of  
          scandalous activities historically characterized their field.   
          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 significant features of many of the  
          "guide dogs schools" operating in California.

          While dogs had been used to assist blind people for thousands of  
          years, the aftermath of the unregulated Industrial Revolution  
          and horrible wounds of World War II increased the number of  
          persons who were visually impaired.  With no minimum standards  
          set for schools, it was possible for any person to start a guide  
          dog program.  By the 1940s, programs of varying quality and  
          competence were emerging throughout the country, most of them in  

          Many people and organizations that provided services to the  
          blind felt that the growth of unregulated operations was  
          potentially so dangerous to consumers that something had to be  
          done.  A small group of blind people, the California Council of  
          the Blind, and the editors of the Pasadena Star-News joined with  
          highly supportive legislators to lay the groundwork for an  
          agency that would ensure that blind people would receive  
          competent instruction with properly trained dogs.  It would also  
          ensure that funds raised for guide dogs would be spent properly  
          and that the public would be educated as to the services a dog  
          provides.  The Guide Dog Act that created the Board became law  
          in 1947.

          The Board was established effective January 1, 1948 for the  
          specific purpose of enabling blind persons to receive  
          well-trained dogs and the important training of blind persons as  
          dog handlers.  A secondary purpose was to assure that donors to  


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          guide dog charities might be certain that their donations would  
          be utilized for the intended purpose.  California is the only  
          state that has such a regulatory program.  

          The Board developed licensing examinations for guide dog  
          instructors, and criteria for use in determining whether guide  
          dog school license applicants possess the requisite resources  
          and special capacities important to providing guide dogs to  
          blind persons.

          In 2007, 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, 2008, 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.  In  
          response to this shortfall, this bill would increase the Board's  
          statutory authority to set annual school renewal fees.

           Analysis Prepared by  :    Rebecca May / B. & P. / (916) 319-3301 

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