BILL ANALYSIS Ó Senate Appropriations Committee Fiscal Summary Senator Kevin de León, Chair AB 2264 (Levine) - Victim compensation: guide, signal, and service dogs. Amended: August 4, 2014 Policy Vote: Public Safety 7-0 Urgency: No Mandate: No Hearing Date: August 4, 2014 Consultant: Jolie Onodera This bill does not meet the criteria for referral to the Suspense File. Bill Summary: AB 2264 would expand eligibility for reimbursement under the Victim Compensation Program (CalVCP) to cover costs associated with the injury or death of a guide, signal, or service dog as a result of a crime, as specified. Fiscal Impact: Potential minor increase in claims reimbursement likely less than $50,000 (Special Fund*) annually paid to victims to cover costs for veterinary services, replacement costs, and other reasonable expenses as ordered by the court. Assuming reimbursement for two victims at the maximum reimbursement amount of $10,000 would result in additional costs of $20,000. Arrest and conviction data from the Department of Justice (DOJ) for the past three years indicate only one or two arrests (and no convictions) per year for the specified crimes potentially eligible for compensation. Minor ongoing costs (Special Fund*) the VCGCB to process additional claims for compensation. *Restitution Fund Background: Existing law provides that it is an infraction punishable by a fine of up to $250 for any person to permit any dog owned, harbored, or controlled by him or her to cause injury to, or the death of, any guide, signal, or service dog, and the injury or death to the dog was caused by the person's failure to exercise ordinary care in the control of his or her dog. Under existing law, it is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one AB 2264 (Levine) Page 1 year in county jail and/or a fine of between $2,500 and $5,000 if the injury or death to any guide, signal, or service dog was caused by a person's reckless disregard in the exercise of control over his or her dog, as specified. Additionally, a person convicted of causing injury or death of any guide, signal, or service dog may also be ordered to make restitution to the person who had ownership or custody of the dog, and may be liable for any veterinary bills and replacement costs, or other reasonable costs deemed appropriate by the court. (PC § 600.2.) Under existing law, any person who intentionally causes injury to, or death of any guide, signal, or service dog, as defined, while the dog is in the discharge of its duties is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for up to one year in county jail and/or a fine of up to $10,000. (PC § 600.5(a).) Proposed Law: This bill provides that when a person causes injury to, or the death of, any guide, signal, or service dog through the failure or reckless disregard to exercise control over his or her dog or through his or her intentional actions, the person whose dog was injured or died may apply for compensation by the Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board. This bill would extend eligibility criteria for reimbursement from the CalVCP to include the expenses of veterinary services, replacement costs, or other reasonable expenses, as ordered by the court, in an amount not to exceed $10,000. Related Legislation: AB 1801 (Pavley) Chapter 322/2004 increased the penalties and fines for interfering with a guide, signal, or service dog, as specified, and for causing or permitting any other dog to cause injury to, or the death of, any guide, signal, or service dog, as defined. Staff Comments: By expanding the crimes for which eligibility for compensation from the CalVCP is authorized, this bill could result in additional claim payments from the Restitution Fund. Based on arrest and conviction data from the DOJ for the past three years (2011 through 2013), there have been only four arrests and no convictions for alleged violations of the specified Penal Code provisions related to the injury or death of a guide, signal, or service dog due to reckless disregard. AB 2264 (Levine) Page 2 As a result, it is estimated the number of claimants for compensation under the provisions of this bill will be few, resulting in a very small number of potential claims eligible for reimbursement of less than $50,000 (Special Fund*) annually paid to cover the costs for veterinary services, replacement costs, and other reasonable expenses as ordered by the court. Assuming reimbursement for two claimants at the maximum compensation amount of $10,000 would result in additional costs of $20,000. While reasonable expenses could potentially include the cost of training the dog, which it has been estimated could be in the range of $50,000, the $10,000 cap on expenses would preclude the reimbursement for the full value of these costs. The VCGCB would incur minor and absorbable ongoing costs to process the additional claims for compensation.