BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    Ó







                      SENATE COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC SAFETY
                            Senator Loni Hancock, Chair              A
                             2013-2014 Regular Session               B

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          AB 508 (Ian Calderon)                                       
          As Amended April 9, 2013
          Hearing date:  May 14, 2013
          Penal Code
          MK:mc

                                   DEBT COLLECTION: 

                                  HOMELESS VETERANS  


                                       HISTORY

          Source:  Author

          Prior Legislation: AB 1111 (Fletcher and Mitchell) - Chapter  
          466, Stats. 2011
                            AB 2264 (De León) - Vetoed 2010

          Support: National Association of Social Workers - California  
                   Chapter; California Public Defenders Association;  
                   Housing California; AMVETS-Department of California;  
                   VFW-Department of California; Vietnam Veterans of  
                   America-California State Council; Taxpayers for  
                   Improving Public Safety

          Opposition:Unknown

          Assembly Floor Vote:  Ayes 77 - Noes 0


                                         KEY ISSUE
           




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          WHEN, IN THE COURSE OF ITS ROUTINE EFFORTS TO COLLECT FINES, THE  
          COURT OBTAINS INFORMATION INDICATING THAT A PERSON WHO HAS AN  
          OUTSTANDING UNPAID CITATION FOR LOITERING, CURFEW VIOLATIONS OR  
          ILLEGAL LODGING IS A HOMELESS VETERAN, SHOULD THE COURT BE  
          PROHIBITED FROM GARNISHING THE WAGES OR LEVYING AGAINST A BANK  
          ACCOUNT OF THAT PERSON FOR A PERIOD OF FIVE YEARS?





                                       PURPOSE

          The purpose of this bill is to delay garnishing wages or levying  
          against the bank account of a veteran to pay for specified  
          violations when a court determines that the person is homeless.
          
           Existing law  authorizes a county or court to establish a  
          comprehensive collections program to enhance the collection of  
          delinquent court-ordered debt and improve recovery efforts, and  
          requires the comprehensive collection program to include at  
          least 10 of a possible 16 characteristics, as specified.  Among  
          the characteristics provided are: 

          a) monthly bill or account statements to all debtors; 

          b) telephone contact with delinquent debtors to apprise them of  
            their failure to meet payment obligations; 

          c) issuance of warning letters to advise delinquent debtors of  
          an outstanding obligation; 

          d)requests for credit reports to assist in locating delinquent  
          debtors; 
          e) access to Employment Development Department employment and  
          wage information; 
          f) the generation of monthly delinquent reports; 

          g) participation in the Franchise Tax Board's Interagency  




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          Intercept Collections Program; 

          h) the use of Department of Motor Vehicle information to locate  
          delinquent debtors; 

          i) the use of wage and bank account garnishments.  (Penal Code §  
          1463.007.) 

           Existing law  provides that if a court, during the course of its  
          routine process to collect fees, fines, forfeitures, or other  
          penalties imposed by a court due to a citation issued for the  
          violation of a state or local law, obtains information  
          indicating that a person under 25 years of age, who has been  
          issued a citation for truancy, loitering, curfew violations, or  
          illegal lodging that is outstanding or unpaid, is homeless or  
          has no permanent address, the court shall not garnish the wages  
          or levy against bank accounts of that person until that person  
          is 25 years of age or older. (Penal Code § 1463.011.) 

           Existing law  defines a "homeless person" as any person who lacks  
          a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence, or has a  
          primary nighttime residence in one of the following: 

          a) a supervised publicly or privately operated shelter designed  
            to provide temporary living accommodations, including, but not  
            limited to, welfare hotels, congregate shelters and  
            transitional housing for the mentally ill; 

          b) an institution that provides a temporary residence for  
            individuals intended to be institutionalized; 

          c) a public or private place not designed for, or ordinarily  
            used as, a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings.   
            (Health and Safety Code § 50582(b).) 


           This bill  provides that notwithstanding any other law, if a  
          court, during the course of its routine process to collect fees,  
          fines and forfeitures, or other penalties imposed by a court due  




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          to a citation issued of the violation of a state or local law,  
          obtains information including that a person who has been issued  
          a citation for loitering, curfew violations, or illegal lodging  
          that is outstanding or unpaid served in the military within the  
          last eight years and is homeless or has no permanent address,  
          the court shall not garnish the wages or levy against bank  
          accounts of that person for five years from the date that the  
          court obtained that information.

           This bill  provides that a person is to be considered "homeless,"  
          or as having "no permanent address" if that person does not have  
          a fixed, regular, adequate nighttime residence, or has a primary  
          night time residence that is one of the following:

                 A shelter designed to provide temporary living  
               accommodations.
                 An institution that provides temporary residence for  
               individuals intended to be institutionalized.
                 A public or private place not designed for, or  
               ordinarily used as, a regular sleeping accommodation for  
               human beings.

           This bill  provides that nothing in this section shall be  
          construed to prevent a court from engaging in any other lawful  
          debt collection activities.

           This bill provides that nothing in this section shall be  
          construed to require a court to perform any further  
          investigation or financial screening into any matter beyond the  
          scope of its regular duties.

           This bill  provides that nothing in this section shall be  
          construed to prevent the Judicial Council from altering any best  
          practices or recommendations for collection programs.

           This bill  provides that nothing in this section shall be  
          construed to prevent a court from garnishing a person's wages or  
          levying against a person's bank accounts if the court,  
          subsequent to its initial determination that the person was a  




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          homeless veteran exempt from wage garnishment or levy, obtains  
          evidence that the individual is no longer homeless, or that the  
          court had, on a previous occasion, suspended garnishment of that  
          person's wages or levying against that person's bank accounts.

           This bill  makes legislative findings and declarations relating  
          to homeless veterans.


                    RECEIVERSHIP/OVERCROWDING CRISIS AGGRAVATION

          For the last several years, severe overcrowding in California's  
          prisons has been the focus of evolving and expensive litigation  
          relating to conditions of confinement.  On May 23, 2011, the  
          United States Supreme Court ordered California to reduce its  
          prison population to 137.5 percent of design capacity within two  
          years from the date of its ruling, subject to the right of the  
          state to seek modifications in appropriate circumstances.   

          Beginning in early 2007, Senate leadership initiated a policy to  
          hold legislative proposals which could further aggravate the  
          prison overcrowding crisis through new or expanded felony  
          prosecutions.  Under the resulting policy known as "ROCA" (which  
          stands for "Receivership/ Overcrowding Crisis Aggravation"), the  
          Committee held measures which created a new felony, expanded the  
          scope or penalty of an existing felony, or otherwise increased  
          the application of a felony in a manner which could exacerbate  
          the prison overcrowding crisis.  Under these principles, ROCA  
          was applied as a content-neutral, provisional measure necessary  
          to ensure that the Legislature did not erode progress towards  
          reducing prison overcrowding by passing legislation which would  
          increase the prison population.  ROCA necessitated many hard and  
          difficult decisions for the Committee.

          In January of 2013, just over a year after the enactment of the  
          historic Public Safety Realignment Act of 2011, the State of  
          California filed court documents seeking to vacate or modify the  
          federal court order issued by the Three-Judge Court three years  
          earlier to reduce the state's prison population to 137.5 percent  




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          of design capacity.  The State submitted in part that the, ". .  
          .  population in the State's 33 prisons has been reduced by over  
          24,000 inmates since October 2011 when public safety realignment  
          went into effect, by more than 36,000 inmates compared to the  
          2008 population . . . , and by nearly 42,000 inmates since 2006  
          . . . ."  Plaintiffs, who opposed the state's motion, argue in  
          part that, "California prisons, which currently average 150% of  
          capacity, and reach as high as 185% of capacity at one prison,  
          continue to deliver health care that is constitutionally  
          deficient."  In an order dated January 29, 2013, the federal  
          court granted the state a six-month extension to achieve the  
          137.5 % prisoner population cap by December 31st of this year.  

          In an order dated April 11, 2013, the Three-Judge Court denied  
          the state's motions, and ordered the state of California to  
          "immediately take all steps necessary to comply with this  
          Court's . . . Order . . . requiring defendants to reduce overall  
          prison population to 137.5% design capacity by December 31,  
          2013."         

          The ongoing litigation indicates that prison capacity and  
          related issues concerning conditions of confinement remain  
          unresolved.  However, in light of the real gains in reducing the  
          prison population that have been made, although even greater  
          reductions are required by the court, the Committee will review  
          each ROCA bill with more flexible consideration.  The following  
          questions will inform this consideration:

                 whether a measure erodes realignment;
                 whether a measure addresses a crime which is directly  
               dangerous to the physical safety of others for which there  
               is no other reasonably appropriate sanction; 
                 whether a bill corrects a constitutional infirmity or  
               legislative drafting error; 
                 whether a measure proposes penalties which are  
               proportionate, and cannot be achieved through any other  
               reasonably appropriate remedy; and
                 whether a bill addresses a major area of public safety  
               or criminal activity for which there is no other  




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               reasonable, appropriate remedy.



                                      COMMENTS

          1.    Need for This Bill  




































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          According to the author:

               According to the National Survey of Homeless Veterans,  
               a new study of 23,000 homeless veterans, homeless  
               veterans are more likely to die on the streets than the  
               average homeless person.  Those who return from serving  
               and become homeless are 11 percent more likely to  
               develop life-threatening diseases than non-veteran  
               homeless.  
               (  http://100khomes.org/sites/default/files/NationalSurvey 
               ofHomelessVeterans.pdf  ) 

               Also, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and  
               Urban Development's most recent annual survey for  
               point-in-time estimates of homelessness, there were  
               16,461 homeless veterans in California in January 2012,  
               of whom 11,949 were considered unsheltered and living  
               on the streets.   
               (  http://www.hudhre.info/CoC_Reports/2012_ca_pops_sub.pdf 
                )

               The homeless are frequently ticketed for offenses  
               synonymous with their homelessness, such as loitering,  
               illegal lodging, and curfew violations.  The inability  
               of homeless veterans to pay for tickets and subsequent  
               fines for offenses related to their homeless status may  
               lead to the garnishment of their wages and bank  
               accounts, damage to their credit history, and create  
               other barriers to their establishing financial  
               stability and independence.  By making it harder for  
               homeless veterans to save money to end their  
               homelessness, such garnishments paradoxically as well  
               increase the likelihood that the public safety offenses  
               the tickets are meant to dissuade will in fact occur. 

               The purpose of this bill is to temporarily prohibit  
               courts from garnishing the wages or levying against  
               bank accounts of a veteran, who has served in the  
               military within the last eight years, who has not paid  




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               a ticket for curfew violations, loitering, or illegal  
               lodging where, in the course of its routine efforts to  
               collect fines, the court obtains information indicating  
               that veteran is homeless.  The veteran is still guilty  
               of the offense and obligated to pay the fines but the  
               garnishment is postponed for five years from the date  
               the court obtained information the veteran is homeless  
               in order to give the veteran a chance to earn their way  
               out of homelessness. 




          2.    No Garnishment of the Wages of Homeless Veterans  

          If a homeless veteran is cited for loitering, curfew violations,  
          or illegal lodging, this bill would not allow the court to  
          garnish his or her wages or levy his or her bank account for  
          five years.  The bill only is triggered if the court learns of  
          the person's homelessness "during the course of its routine  
          process" to collect fines.  It is modeled on a similar statute  
          which applies to homeless youth and applies to offenses that are  
          related to being homeless.


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