BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    





                             SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE
                         Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, Chair
                             2015-2016  Regular  Session


          AB 2263 (Baker)
          Version: May 23, 2016
          Hearing Date: June 28, 2016
          Fiscal: Yes
          Urgency: No
          NR   


                                        SUBJECT
                                           
           Protection of victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or  
             stalking, and reproductive health care service providers:   
                               address confidentiality

                                      DESCRIPTION  

          This bill would standardize the confidentiality protections for  
          Safe at Home (SAH) program participants, regardless of whether  
          their participation is based on their status as victims of  
          domestic violence, stalking, or sexual assault, or on their  
          status as a patient, employee, or volunteer at a reproductive  
          health care clinic; and would require the Secretary of State  
          (SOS) to provide SAH enrollees with information about how to  
          protect their privacy on real property records.

                                      BACKGROUND  

          With the passage of SB 489 (Alpert, Ch. 1005, Stats. 1998), the  
          Legislature established the SAH within the Office of the  
          Secretary of State (SOS) to allow victims of domestic violence  
          to apply for a substitute address to be used in public records  
          in order to prevent their assailants, or potential assailants,  
          from finding their work or home address.  Through subsequent  
          legislation, the program has been expanded to include victims of  
          sexual assault, stalking, elder abuse, and reproductive health  
          care service providers, employees, volunteers, and patients.   
          (See SB 1318 (Alpert, Ch. 562, Stats. 2000), AB 205 (Leach, Ch.  
          33, Stats. of 2000), AB 797 (Shelley, Ch. 380, Stats. 2002), and  
          AB 849 (Garcia, Ch. 676, Stats. 2013.).)









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          This bill would standardize the protections available to program  
          participants and seeks to enhance participants' ability to  
          maintain anonymity on real property records by requiring the SOS  
          to provide participants with specified information. 


            

                                CHANGES TO EXISTING LAW
          
          Existing law  establishes an address confidentiality (or Safe at  
          Home) program within the Office of the Secretary of State in  
          order to enable state and local agencies to both accept and  
          respond to requests for public records without disclosing the  
          changed name or address of a victim of domestic violence, sexual  
          assault, or stalking.  Existing law permits any such adult  
          victim, or parent or guardian acting on behalf of a minor or  
          incapacitated person, to apply through a community-based  
          victims' assistance program to have an address designated by the  
          Secretary of State as his or her substitute mailing address.   
          (Gov. Code Sec. 6205 et seq.)  Similarly, existing law allows  
          reproductive health care providers, employees, volunteers, and  
          patients to participate in the SAH address confidentiality  
          program, as specified.  (Gov. Code Sec. 6215 et seq.)

           Existing law  provides that no person, business, or association  
          shall knowingly and intentionally publicly post or publicly  
          display on the Internet the home address, home telephone number,  
          or image of a program participant or other individuals residing  
          at the same home address with the intent to threaten the  
          participant or cause the participant, or co-resident, harm, as  
          specified. (Gov. Code Sec. 6208.1.)

           Existing law  prohibits the SOS from disclosing a program  
          participant's name change or address, other than the designated  
          address, unless it is requested by, and disclosed to, law  
          enforcement, or directed by a court, or if the participant's  
          certification has been canceled. (Gov. Code Secs. 6206, 6206.4  
          and 6208)

           Existing law  prohibits a person, business, or association from  
          knowingly posting or displaying on the Internet the home  
          address, home telephone number, or image of any provider,  
          employee, volunteer, or patient of a reproductive health service  
          facility, with the intent to incite a third person to cause  







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          imminent bodily harm to a person protected by this provision.   
          Permits a person whose personal information is posted to bring  
          an action for injunctive relief of damages, as specified.   
          Provides that no person shall post or display on the Internet  
          any personal information about a person protected by this  
          provision if the person has requested that the information be  
          removed, as specified. (Gov. Code Sec. 6218.)
          
           This bill  would specify that no person, business, or association  
          shall publicly post or display on the Internet the address of an  
          SAH program participant, as specified, who has made a written  
          demand of that person, business, or association to not disclose  
          the home address of the program participant.

           This bill  would specify that no person, business, or association  
          shall knowingly post the home address of an SAH program  
          participant, as specified, or of the program participant's  
          residing spouse or child, on the Internet, knowing that person  
          is a program participant and intending to cause imminent great  
          bodily harm or threatening to cause imminent great bodily harm  
          to the program participant or his or her residing spouse or  
          child.  However, this provision does not apply to an interactive  
          computer service or access software provider, as defined, unless  
          the service or provider intends to abet or cause imminent great  
          bodily harm that is likely to occur or threatens to cause  
          imminent great bodily harm to a program participant.
          
           This bill  would require the SOS to post on its Internet Web site  
          and provide new SAH enrollees information about how to protect  
          personal privacy on real property records as follows:
           a notice that the participant may request to use his or her  
            SOS SAH address on real property deeds, change of ownership  
            forms, and deeds of trust when purchasing or selling a home;
           a notice that the participant may wish to protect his or her  
            home address from disclosure in real property transactions by  
            creating a trust and placing his or her real property into the  
            trust;
           a notice that the participant may wish to legally change his  
            or her name in order to protect his or her anonymity; and
           a list of contacts for entities, such as county bar  
            associations, legal aid societies, domestic violence  
            prevention organizations, or other state or local nonprofits  
            who can provide more information and legal services to create  
            a trust or accomplish a name change.








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                                        COMMENT
           
           1.Stated need for the bill
           
          According to the author: 

            Unfortunately, there is one gaping loophole in the Safe at  
            Home Program: the title to property recorded in local  
            Assessor's Offices. As a result, victims of domestic violence  
            and other Californians intended to be protected by Safe At  
            Home can be found by perpetrators who go to the Assessor's  
            Office to locate them and track them down. 

            The ability to access information freely on the Internet can  
            be dangerous for victims. If a victim owns property, the title  
            of the property is available as a public document at the  
            county's Assessor's Office.  The victim's abuser can freely  
            access the property information, potentially exposing the  
            victim to further harm.

           2.Standardizes treatment of participants in SAH 
           
          Under existing law victims of specified abuse (i.e., domestic  
          violence, stalking, and sexual assault) are protected by SAH.   
          In addition, patients, employees, or volunteers at a  
          reproductive health care center may enroll in the program. Both  
          groups of participants enjoy the restrictions on disclosures by  
          public agencies that help maintain the participants'  
          confidentiality, but victims of domestic violence, stalking, and  
          sexual assault have one additional protection: a private person,  
          business, or association is prohibited from posting or  
          displaying on the Internet the home address of an SAH  
          participant if the SAH participant has demanded that the person,  
          business, or association remove the home address.  In addition,  
          existing law prohibits a person, business, or association from  
          posting the SAH participant's home address online with the  
          knowledge and intent to cause that person imminent harm.   
           
           Although similar protections are afforded to patients and  
          reproductive health care providers under other statutes, the  
          author believes that consolidating all participants under one  
          SAH framework will clarify the legislative intent to provide  
          both groups with privacy protections.  

          In opposition, the California Right to Life Committee writes,  







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          "this bill may be protecting domestic violence victims and  
          others with an alternate and approved address, but it appears to  
          single out family planning personnel who, basically, are  
          abortion providers and would provide them with an additional  
          cloak of privacy.  Other healthcare providers who are not  
          providing abortion and abortion related services are not  
          included in this proposed protection of personal information.   
          Agencies that provide services and are considered anti-abortion  
          should merit equal protection and confidentiality of their  
          personal information."

          The author responds, "AB 2263 standardizes the confidentiality  
          protections for existing enrollees in the SAH program, and  
          requires the SOS to provide SAH enrollees with information about  
          how to protect their privacy on real property records. This bill  
          also extends to all SAH enrollees the protections law  
          enforcement and elected officials currently have by specifying  
          that no person, business, or association shall publicly post or  
          display on the Internet the address of a SAH program participant  
          who has made a written request that the home address not be  
          disclosed. This bill covers only existing categories of SAH  
          enrollees. It does not expand access to the SAH program to any  
          new categories of enrollees, nor does it single out any category  
          of enrollee for special treatment. AB 2263 ensures uniform  
          protections for those who are already currently eligible for the  
          program, including anyone who is a victim of stalking of  
          violence, regardless of profession."
           
           3.Provides SAH participants with information about how to  
            protect confidentiality with respect to real property  
            transactions
           
          This bill would require the SOS to provide to SAH participants  
          information about how to keep his or her address and/or name  
          anonymous on specified real property records.  In support, the  
          California State Sherriff's Association writes:

            Current law provides that state and local agencies may use a  
            Secretary of State designated address when creating public  
            records for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and  
            stalking as well as reproductive health care service  
            providers.  Unfortunately, this protection does not prevent a  
            county assessor's office from publishing certain records,  
            which creates a loophole in maintaining the victim's  
            confidentiality.  Consequently, potential predators are able  







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            to access a victim's private home address by using the county  
            assessor records.

          Staff notes that when California became a state in 1850, one of  
          the first acts of the Legislature was to institute a system for  
          recording interests in real property.  By providing for evidence  
          of title to be collected and made available at central  
          locations, recording statutes protect buyers against secret  
          conveyances and interests and make real property readily and  
          freely transferable. The recording statutes provide that, after  
          being acknowledged, any instrument or judgment affecting real  
          property may be recorded.  Prohibitions against recording  
          contained in documents that could otherwise be recorded would be  
          considered contrary to public policy, and the document may be  
          recorded in spite of the attempted prohibition.  

          Thus, the Legislature has repeatedly determined that regarding  
          real property, public policy requires a clean chain of title to  
          prevent fraud and protect individual interests in land.  That  
          being said, methods of protecting confidentiality in real  
          property records have been created.  For example, individuals  
          who wish to protect their street address from disclosure have  
          been advised to create a revocable living trust and place their  
          real property into the trust.  Staff notes that this method of  
          keeping a street address private is, by and large, only  
          available to individuals with sufficient means to hire an  
          attorney to establish a revocable living trust.  

          Further, this bill would require the SOS provide participants  
          with a list of contact information for entities that the program  
          participant may "contact to receive information on, or receive  
          legal services for, the creation of a trust to hold real  
          property or obtaining a name change, including county bar  
          associations, legal aid societies, state and local agencies, or  
          other nonprofit organizations that may be able to assist program  
          participants."  How the SOS would determine which organizations  
          to include on this list is not outlined in the bill, but  
          including any specific organizations could arguably advantage  
          some companies over others in the form of free advertising.  As  
          a matter of public policy, such favoritism could be seen as  
          contrary to the role of a neutral governmental body.   
          Accordingly the author may wish to remove this provision from  
          the bill.  Further the author may wish to consider how to  
          educate SAH participants about the availability of  
          confidentiality options, regardless of the participant's  







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          economic ability to establish a living trust.



           Support  :  California State Sheriffs' Association; California  
          Partnership to End Domestic Violence; Community Action Fund of  
          Planned Parenthood of Orange and San Bernardino Counties; Contra  
          Costa County District Attorney's Office; Crime Victims United of  
          California; Planned Parenthood Action Fund of Santa Barbara,  
          Ventura, & San Luis Obispo Counties; Planned Parenthood Action  
          Fund of the Pacific Southwest; Planned Parenthood Advocacy  
          Project Los Angeles County; Planned Parenthood Advocates  
          Pasadena and San Gabriel Valley; Planned Parenthood Mar Monte;  
          Planned Parenthood Northern California Action Fund

           Opposition  :  California Right to Life Committee 

                                        HISTORY
           
           Source  :  Author

           Related Pending Legislation  :  None Known

           Prior Legislation  :

          AB 849 (Garcia, Ch. 676, Stats. 2013.) See Background. 

          AB 2483 (Blumenfield, Ch. 102, Stats. 2012) removed the  
          requirement that victims alleging stalking as the basis of their  
          eligibility for the address confidentiality program provide  
          specific evidence attached to the application.  

          SB 1082 (Corbett, Ch. 270, Stats. 2012) made a number of changes  
          to the SAH, including requiring applicants and participants of  
          the program to be domiciled in California, and authorizing a  
          minor participant to renew his or her participation upon  
          reaching 18 years of age.

          AB 906 (Galgiani, 2012) would have authorized witnesses who have  
          testified in murder trials to participate in the SAH.  This bill  
          died on the Senate Appropriations Suspense File.  

          AB 454 (Silva, Ch. 101, Stats. 2011) required notice regarding a  
          request to cancel or modify a protective order be given by  
          service on the Secretary of State when a protected party is  







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          registered with the SAH.

          SB 1062 (Bowen, Ch. 639, Stats. 2006) added victims of sexual  
          assault to the list of eligible SAH participants.

          AB 792 (Shelley, Ch. 380, Stats. 2002) See Background. 

          SB 1318 (Alpert, Ch. 562, Stats. 2000) See Background.

          AB 205 (Leach, Ch. 33, Stats. 2000) See Background.

          SB 489 (Alpert, Ch. 1005, Stats. 1998) See Background.

           Prior Vote  :

          Assembly Floor (Ayes 70, Noes 0)
          Assembly Appropriations Committee (Ayes 20, Noes 0)
          Assembly Privacy and Consumer Protection Committee (Ayes 11,  
          Noes 0)
          Assembly Judiciary Committee (Ayes 10, Noes 0)

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