BILL ANALYSIS Senate Appropriations Committee Fiscal Summary Senator Christine Kehoe, Chair 1233 (Oropeza) Hearing Date: 05/27/2010 Amended: 05/17/2010 Consultant: Maureen Ortiz Policy Vote: ER&CA: 5-0 Jud: 4-0 _________________________________________________________________ ____ BILL SUMMARY: SB 1233 removes the sunset for the "Safe at Home" programs, and requires the Secretary of State to permanently retain name change records for program participants. _________________________________________________________________ ____ Fiscal Impact (in thousands) Major Provisions 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 Fund Safe at Home extension $0 $0 $303 General _________________________________________________________________ ____ STAFF COMMENTS: SUSPENSE FILE. The Safe at Home program, known as the "Address Confidentiality for Victims of Domestic Violence and Stalking", is scheduled to be repealed on January 1, 2013. SB 1233 permanently removes that sunset. Full year annual ongoing costs will be $606,000 beginning FY 2013-14. In addition to conducting outreach, processing applications and mail, and providing assistance to participants, staff also provides training for and responds to calls from over 325 Safe at Home enrolling agencies statewide. The Safe at Home program was originally created by SB 489 (Alpert), Chapter 1005, Statutes of 1998, to allow victims of domestic violence or stalking to apply to the Secretary of State (SOS) to request an alternate address be used in public records. The SOS provides a substitute address for these victims while protecting their actual residences, and also acts as the participants' agent for service of process and forwards mail received at the substitute address. A participate must be certified, and may stay in the program for four years unless recertified. Any person filing a new affidavit of voter registration may have the information relating to his or her residence address, telephone number, and email address declared confidential, as well as having their DMV information suppressed. In 2002, the Safe at Home program was expanded to include reproductive health care services providers, employees, volunteers and patients who are fearful of their safety. Since the inception of the Safe at Home program, over 4,900 survivors of domestic violence, stalking, and sexual assault, as well as reproductive health care doctors, nurses, volunteers and patients have been protected. The number of current active participants is 2,437, of which approximately 43% are children. During 2009, more than 244,000 pieces of mail were forwarded to program participants. The sunset has been extended twice since the inception of the program. SB 1233 will remove the sunset, thereby making the program permanent. SB 1233 (Oropeza) Page 2 Existing law provides that any records or documents pertaining to the Safe at Home program shall be retained for a period of three years after termination of certification in the program. SB 1233 provides that name change records will be retained by the SOS permanently. Safe at Home participants often legally change their name. Part of the address confidentiality provision exempts the publishing of the name change in a newspaper of general circulation, and also requires the courts to keep the name change confidential. Existing law requires the old name to be removed from court records and the new name to be filed with the Secretary of State. As a result, the Secretary of State maintains the only complete record of the participant's confidential name change. Since records are currently destroyed three years after the participant no longer participates in the Safe at Home program, all of the records pertaining to a participant's previous name are lost. This bill will require the SOS to maintain all name change records permanently. This is consistent with the requirements currently imposed on trial court clerks with respect to the maintenance of name change court records for individuals who are not participants in the Safe at Home program. According to the Safe at Home 2009 Annual Report released by the Secretary of State on January 8, 2010, some of the program highlights in 2009 were: 1) Partnering with the Judicial Council to ensure Safe at Home participants are protected from publication of confidential name changes in any public forum including the Internet and court calendars, 2) Strengthening the security of the Safe at Home database, reducing operating expenses, and expanding outreach efforts to minority communities, and 3) Compiling a detailed procedure manual to serve as both a training tool in California and a model for other states.