BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    Ó

                                                                     SB 519  

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          Date of Hearing:  August 19, 2015


                                 Jimmy Gomez, Chair

          SB 519  
          (Hancock) - As Amended July 16, 2015

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          Urgency:  No  State Mandated Local Program:  NoReimbursable:  No


          This bill makes reforms to rules governing the processing of  
          claims by the California Victim Compensation and Government  
          Claims Board (board). Specifically, this bill:  


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          1)Requires the board to approve or deny an application within 90  
            days of acceptance.

          2)Provides that a felon on probation or parole is eligible for  
            compensation for mental health counseling despite this status.

          3)Prohibits the denial of a claim for a victim who is a minor  
            based on the grounds of failing to cooperate with law  

          4)Prohibits the board from establishing policy or regulations  
            limiting the amount recoverable for funeral expenses to less  
            than $7,500.

          5)Requires all correspondence by the board to an applicant to be  
            written in specified languages.

          FISCAL EFFECT:

          1)Moderate administrative costs to the board to make a  
            determination within the required 90 days of receipt of the  
            claim, since this will increase the number of appeals.  If a  
            claim is incomplete, the board will deny the claim and the  
            claimant will appeal the decision.  The language requirement  
            for all correspondence is consistent with current board  


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          2)Increased ongoing claim costs in the $200,000 (GF) range,  
            $100,000 to provide mental health counseling for felons and  
            $100,000 to reimburse qualifying minors.  The $7,500 minimum  
            reimbursement for funeral expense is the current reimbursement  


          1)Purpose.  According to the author, "Making sure that victims  
            are compensated by their victimizers is not only good economic  
            policy, but morally sound.  Providing justice and compensation  
            to Californians who are the victims of crime are among the  
            paramount missions of our government." 

            SB 519 provides some reforms to the process the board uses to  
            compensate crime victims.

          2)Background:  The California Victim Compensation Program  
            (CalVCP), administered by the board, provides compensation for  
            victims of violent crime.  It reimburses eligible victims for  
            many crime-related expenses, such as medical treatment, mental  
            health services, funeral expenses, home security, and  
            relocation services.    

            Under current law, the board has up to 180 days to process  
            claims.  While the average time to process a claim is  
            currently less than 60 days, some claims can take longer than  
            90 days due to incomplete applications, such as lack of  
            documentation.  SB 519 requires that the claim be processed  
            within 90 days of submittal.  In a 2008 audit, the Bureau of  
            State Audits noted various instances in which the board did  
            not demonstrate that it approved or denied the applications as  
            promptly as it could have after receiving the information  
            necessary to make the determination.  


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            The committee may wish to clarify the 90-day clock begins with  
            a complete application.  Staff is concerned that the board may  
            deny incomplete claims 90 days after receipt of the claim,  
            only to approve the claim during the more resource intensive  
            appeal process when all the proper documentation will be  

            Current law prohibits compensation for a felon until that  
            person has been discharged from probation or is released from  
            a correctional institution and has been discharged from  
            parole.  SB 519 provides and exemption if the compensation is  
            solely used to fund mental health counseling.

            Claims by minors are often denied due to perceived lack of  
            cooperation with law enforcement in the apprehension of the  
            criminal responsible for the crime.  SB 519 prohibits the  
            denial of a claim due to lack of cooperation with law  
            enforcement if the victim eligible for compensation is a  

            Current law limits the qualifying funeral expense benefit at  
            $7,500.  In the past, the board reduced this benefit to  
            $5,000.  SB 519 prohibits the board from adopting regulations  
            to reduce this benefit below $7,500.  

          3)Argument in Support:  According to Californians for Safety and  
            Justice, "Through our outreach, time and again we have  
            encountered victims and survivors of crime in need of support  
            opportunities to heal from trauma. The overwhelming impact of  
            serious crime is often exacerbated by the justice system  
            process and crime victims often face challenges finding the  
            right supports for recovery. We often hear survivors talk  
            about how support services to heal from trauma are an ongoing  


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            unmet need.  Our 2013 survey of crime victims in California,  
            the first of its kind, found that four of the five services  
            available to crime victims, including assistance accessing  
            victims' compensation and navigating the criminal justice  
            process, were unknown to the majority of victims.  SB 519 will  
            begin to address these barriers and help more crime victims  
            get the support they need."   

          4)Related Legislation: 

               a)     AB 1140 (Bonta), pending in Senate Appropriations,  
                 revises various rules governing the CalVCP.  
               b)     SB 556 (De León), on the Assembly Floor, defines  
                 "application processing time" for the approval or denial  
                 of a victim's compensation claim.  

          5)Prior Legislation:

             a)   AB 1911 (Patterson), of the 2013-2014 Legislative  
               session, which was not set for a policy hearing, would have  
               shortened the time period in which the board must approve  
               or deny an application to within 30 calendar days of the  
               date of acceptance, and also would have shortened the time  
               period in which the board must make disbursements of funds  
               for emergency awards.  
             b)   AB 2809 (Leno), Chapter 587, Statutes of 2008, allowed a  
               minor who suffers emotional injury as a direct result of  
               witnessing a violent crime to be eligible for reimbursement  
               for the costs of outpatient mental health counseling if the  
               minor was in close proximity to the victim when he or she  
               witnessed the crime.
             c)   AB 2869 (Leno), Chapter 582, Statutes of 2006, specified  
               that the provisions authorizing reimbursement for funeral  
               and burial expenses apply without respect to any felon  
               status of the victim.


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          Analysis Prepared by:Pedro R. Reyes / APPR. / (916)