BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    






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          |SENATE RULES COMMITTEE            |                       SB 1331|
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                                   THIRD READING 


          Bill No:  SB 1331
          Author:   Pavley (D) 
          Amended:  4/11/16  
          Vote:     21 

           SENATE BUS., PROF. & ECON. DEV. COMMITTEE:  8-0, 4/18/16
           AYES:  Hill, Bates, Berryhill, Block, Galgiani, Hernandez,  
            Jackson, Mendoza
           NO VOTE RECORDED:  Wieckowski

           SENATE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE:  Senate Rule 28.8

           SUBJECT:   State Board of Guide Dogs for the Blind:   
                     membership:  out-of-state schools:  followup services


          SOURCE:    California Council of the Blind
          
          DIGEST:   This bill changes the composition of the State Board  
          of Guide Dogs for the Blind (Board); allows for out-of-state  
          guide dog instructors to come into California to provide  
          follow-up services without having to obtain a license from the  
          Board, but only when they notify the Board that they will be  
          providing the follow-up services and submit themselves to the  
          jurisdiction of the Board; and requires the Board to provide a  
          factsheet as specified on its website and to schools who provide  
          guide dog training and to those receiving the training.

          ANALYSIS:  

          Existing law:

          1)Establishes the Board within the Department of Consumer  








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            Affairs (DCA) which consists of seven members appointed by the  
            Governor and requires that two of the Board members be persons  
            who are blind or visually impaired who use guide dogs.   
            (Business and Professions Code (BPC)  7200)

          2)Provides that the Board shall have exclusive authority in this  
            state to issue licenses for the instruction of persons who are  
            blind or visually impaired in the use of guide dogs and for  
            the training of guide dogs for use by persons who are blind or  
            visually impaired, and provides that the Board shall also have  
            exclusive authority in this state to issue licenses to operate  
            schools for the training of guide dogs and the instruction of  
            persons who are blind or visually impaired in the use of guide  
            dogs.  (BPC  7200.5)

          This bill:

          1)Changes the composition of the Board to require at least three  
            members to be either blind or visually impaired instead of  
            just two members.  Of the three, requires one from each of the  
            two major consumer organizations representing Californians who  
            are blind or visually impaired and requires the Governor to  
            consider recommendations from these organizations in making  
            the appointments.  

          2)Provides that notwithstanding any other law, whenever an  
            individual has received training or instruction from a school  
            outside of this state that is certified by the International  
            Guide Dog Federation or a successor entity, as determined by  
            the Board, personnel from that school may provide, in this  
            state, any follow-up service to that individual with respect  
            to the specific guide dog for whom the training or instruction  
            was originally provided outside of this state.

          3)Requires the Board, until January 1, 2018, to prepare a  
            factsheet that provides a description of the purposes served  
            by the Board, a description of the Board's role in assisting  
            guide dog users who are victims of alleged guide dog  
            discrimination, and a description of the Board's arbitration  
            procedure.  Requires the Board to post the factsheet on its  
            Internet Web site and provide copies to each licensed guide  
            dog school by the Board and that each school shall provide a  
            copy of the factsheet to every student receiving training from  
            the school.







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          Background
          
          The Board was established in 1948 to ensure that blind persons  
          receive well-trained guide dogs, to confirm that blind persons  
          are thoroughly trained to be effective and safe guide dog users,  
          and to assure donors to guide dog charities that their donations  
          will be used for the intended charitable purpose.  The Board  
          licenses guide dog schools, guide dog instructors, and  
          fundraising programs to open new guide dog schools. The Board  
          inspects all schools, requires new active guide dog instructors  
          to take a legally defensible written and practical examination,  
          and requires instructors to submit proof of eight hours of  
          continuing education each year to remain licensed.  California  
          is the only state that has such a regulatory program.

          According to the author, existing law pertaining to the Board is  
          not adequate to protect the needs of persons who are blind and  
          visually impaired.  This bill seeks to improve services by  
          focusing on three areas in need of reform

           Board composition.  As stated by the author, "Currently, the  
            composition of the Board of Guide Dogs for the Blind does not  
            adequately understand the needs and challenges of the blind  
            and visually impaired.  Of the seven members on the Board,  
            only two are required to be guide dog handlers.  Also, there  
            is not adequate representation from the two consumer advocacy  
            organizations whose central mission is to help the blind gain  
            full independence and equality of opportunity in all walks of  
            life.  This can create a situation where a majority of board  
            members lack the knowledge to make the best decisions  
            concerning the administration of the board's authority." 

           Follow-up services from out-of-state schools.  The author  
            explains that in recent years, the Board has interpreted its  
            authority as requiring an out-of-state school that has  
            provided training to a California resident at the school to  
            obtain a license from the Board for any staff to come into  
            California for the sole purpose of providing follow-up  
            services to the student, with respect to the dog for which the  
            original training was received out-of-state. This has taken  
            guide dog owners by surprise throughout the state.  For  
            decades, out-of-state schools have been allowed to provide  
            follow-up care and there have been no adverse incidents on  







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            record in terms of this assistance.

          Given that the Board is now requiring out-of-state schools to  
            obtain licensure in California for this limited time period,  
            there is a growing backlash from out-of-state schools, as  
            stated by the author.   One school in New Jersey has already  
            been fined and sent a cease and desist letter.  They are no  
            longer providing services in California leaving guide dog  
            owners who received original training from this school with no  
            follow-up assistance whatsoever.  While the Board has been  
            unable to identify any instance of objectionable care rendered  
            by a non-state school relating to follow-up care, they believe  
            follow-up care is "instruction" and any instruction in this  
            state must be licensed.  The California Council for the Blind  
            states that follow-up service is not "basic instruction,"  
            which was provided originally at the school.  This is simply  
            follow-up assistance to help the dog after he has graduated  
            from the school and there should not burdensome licensing  
            requirements to assist in these limited circumstances.  No  
            other state in the nation requires the licensure of guide dogs  
            schools or instructors.

          This bill, as pointed out by the author, is intended to allow  
            follow-up assistance in very limited circumstances. "This  
            issue is very important to the blind and visually impaired for  
            many reasons.  Schools have very different philosophies in  
            terms of training.  It is important to have a continuum of  
            care with the original school because they know and understand  
            the guide dog owner and guide dog which received comprehensive  
            training at their school and can appropriately intervene in a  
            timely fashion."

           Guide dog Board fact sheet.  As further explained by the  
            author, guide dog handlers are often unaware of the authority  
            of the Board, and even those who have some knowledge about the  
            Board are unclear as to its powers and duties.   While there  
            is some information available on the Board's Web site, it  
            remains challenging for the blind and visually impaired to  
            access the information.  Many of the visually impaired have no  
            computer access.  Others that do have computer access do not  
            have good web searching skills and the Web site is very  
            difficult to navigate.  It would be beneficial, the author  
            believes, to have all the required information in one document  
            - a fact sheet - similar to what is offered by other boards  







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            and departments.  The fact sheet should be required to be  
            handed out to all graduates at guide dog training schools so  
            the visually impaired do not have to worry about computer  
            access.  The guide dogs schools are supportive of making this  
            information available.   A fact sheet will also be helpful to  
            the Board because it will clarify what the Board can and  
            cannot do, so that consumers do not have unrealistic  
            expectations.  Many questions involving services for the  
            blind, as indicated by the author, have to be referred to the  
            Americans With Disabilities Information Assistance Call Line  
            because their questions are outside of the jurisdiction of the  
            Board.  


          FISCAL EFFECT:   Appropriation:    No          Fiscal  
          Com.:YesLocal:   Yes


          SUPPORT:   (Verified5/17/16)


          California Council of the Blind (source)
          Guide Dogs for the Blind
          International Guide Dog Federation


          OPPOSITION:   (Verified5/17/16)




          California State Board of Guide Dogs for the Blind


          ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT:  Supporters believe that adding an  
          additional dog care handler to the Board will help ensure that  
          the board contains sufficient number of members who have the  
          requisite knowledge about guide dog issues to make the best  
          possibly policy determinations in matters that come before the  
          Board.  Providing a factsheet and including it on its Board Web  
          site along with providing to guide dog schools and to their  
          students will ensure that guide dog handlers and others  
          interested in the use of guide dogs will continue to have access  
          to information about the Board.  







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          Supporters also believe that the provisions related to  
          out-of-state schools will not undermine state licensing  
          requirements but merely enable Californians who have chosen an  
          out-of-state school and who need follow-up instruction, often in  
          emergency situations such as the dog having been attacked or  
          been in an accident, to obtain that service.  Supporters note  
          that by requiring that the out-of-state school that is providing  
          one of its staff persons for follow-up services to be from a  
          school that is accredited by the International Guide Dog  
          Federation, there will be safe, unrestricted, independent  
          mobility of guide dogs for all people who are blind or partially  
          sighted for one of their accredited member organizations.   

          Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB) expresses overall support for  
          this bill but has concerns regarding follow-up services provided  
          by instructors from out-of-state who are not licensed by the  
          Board.  The GCB believes that this bill will create  
          inconsistency in the provision of services for California guide  
          dog users by allowing those guide dog users who received their  
          guide dog training from an out-of-state guide dog school to  
          receive follow-up services from an individual who may or may not  
          meet California's standards for instruction and follow-up.   


          ARGUMENTS IN OPPOSITION:     The Board is opposed to this bill  
          and argues that the change in the composition of the Board is  
          not necessary and would further restrict the candidate pool with  
          which the Governor may choose from when making appointments and  
          that representation of those who utilize the service of guide  
          dogs is adequate.  The Board also argues that no other state  
          requires licensure for those who train guide dogs nor provides a  
          standardized examination process for these instructors.  The  
          Board feels strongly that the examination and licensure of  
          instructors is the only way to ensure that consumers are  
          protected from standardized instruction.  Those who provide  
          follow-up services are providing what the Board considers as  
          instruction and therefore should be subject to the jurisdiction  
          and requirements of the Board.  Lastly, the requirement that the  
          Board provide a fact sheet should be handled as a regulatory  
          matter and should be addressed as such.










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          Prepared by:Bill Gage / B., P. & E.D. / (916) 651-4104
          5/18/16 16:28:06


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