BILL ANALYSIS Ó Senate Appropriations Committee Fiscal Summary Senator Kevin de León, Chair AB 535 (Quirk) - Emergency Alert System. Amended: April 10, 2013 Policy Vote: Public Safety 7-0 Urgency: No Mandate: Yes Hearing Date: June 24, 2013 Consultant: Jolie Onodera This bill does not meet the criteria for referral to the Suspense File. Bill Summary: AB 535 would specify that for purposes of activating the Emergency Alert System (EAS), an abductor may include a custodial parent or guardian where the abducted child is in imminent danger of serious bodily injury or death. Fiscal Impact: Potential annual costs in the range of $45,000 to $90,000 (Special Fund*) to the extent the provisions of this bill result in additional AMBER alerts. As the provisions of this bill essentially clarify current practice, additional costs are not estimated to be significant. *Motor Vehicle Account Background: Current law provides that if an abduction has been reported to a law enforcement agency and the agency determines that a child 17 years of age or younger, or an individual with a proven mental or physical disability, has been abducted and is in imminent danger of serious bodily injury or death, and there is information that, if disseminated to the general public, could assist in the safe recovery of the victim, the agency, through a person authorized to activate the EAS, shall, absent extenuating investigative needs, request activation of the EAS within the appropriate local area. Law enforcement agencies shall only request activation of the EAS for an abduction if these requirements are met (Government Code § 8594(a)). In California, AMBER (America's Missing Broadcast Emergency Response) alerts are administered by the California Highway Patrol (CHP). In conjunction with criteria established by the Department of Justice, alerts are issued subject to the criteria noted above. Since 2002, the CHP has activated 205 alerts, AB 535 (Quirk) Page 1 resulting in the safe return of 244 victims. As noted in the Assembly Committee on Public Safety analysis of this measure, there have been at least two cases where AMBER alerts have not been issued for children believed to be at risk after being taken by a parent with legal custody. In 2005, relatives contacted local authorities with serious concerns about a mother and her five-year old daughter. Ultimately, the mother and daughter were found dead in the mother's car in an apparent murder-suicide. Although sought by local authorities, no AMBER alert was issued in the case. The CHP determined that because the mother had sole custody of her daughter, an abduction could not have occurred for purposes of issuing an AMBER alert. Proposed Law: This bill provides that, for purposes of activation of the EAS, an abductor may include a custodial parent or guardian where the abducted child is in imminent danger of serious bodily injury or death. Related Legislation: AB 415 (Runner) Chapter 517/2002 required law enforcement agencies to use the EAS and issue an AMBER alert to assist recovery efforts in child abduction cases by disseminating information to the general public. Staff Comments: The provisions of this bill are not estimated to have a significant fiscal impact on existing CHP operations. To the extent the clarification of existing law results in the activation of one or two additional AMBER alerts per year, annual costs are estimated in the range of $45,000 to $90,000 (Motor Vehicle Account). However, as the provisions of this bill essentially clarify current practice, ongoing costs are not estimated to be significant.