Dozens and dozens of 6Beds members and supporters flooded the State Capitol on April 12, 2016 for 6Beds’ Lobby Day with 6Beds’ testimony before the Assembly Human Services Committee in opposition to the civil penalties bill, AB 2231, one of the focal points of the day.
AB 2231 addresses violations, including repeat violations and serious/zero tolerance violations, as well as the civil penalties associated with these types of violations. 6Beds’ official comment letter on the bill can also be found here as well as the Assembly Human Services Committee’s bill analysis, which incorporated 6Beds’ comments. Similar to the complainant appeal process that was proposed in 2015, 6Beds was once again the only provider organization to formally take an opposition position.
Although AB 2231 did not propose to change the highest civil penalty amounts of $15,000 and $10,000, which took effect with the passage of AB 2236 two years ago, 6Beds advocated that AB 2231 be amended to include the scaling down of these penalty amounts for RCFEs and ARFs serving six or fewer persons given the disproportionate economic impact and risk of closure these penalties expose small facilities to. 6Beds also advocated for an amendment that would tighten up the definition of a repeat violation to prevent situations where violations with different facts and circumstances could unfairly be labeled as repeat violations, subjecting licensees to costly civil penalties. Finally, in light of Community Care Licensing’s (CCL) move towards collecting civil penalties upfront even if the deficiency is under appeal, 6Beds advocated for an amendment that would codify historic practice of having to pay a civil penalty only after the conclusion of an unsuccessful appeal. It is fundamentally unfair for licensees to be asked to pay civil penalties while their appeals are pending.
The audience in the room that held the Assembly Human Services Committee hearing resembled a sea of blue, dominated by a large number of 6Beds members wearing blue 6Beds shirts. 6Beds’ testimony and the dozens of 6Beds members that formed a long line to individually express their opposition following the testimony made a powerful statement to both legislators and CCL that licensees of small residential care facilities are not to be ignored. In response to 6Beds’ message and presence, the Chair of the Assembly Human Services Committee, Susan Bonilla (D – Concord), and the author of AB 2231, Ian Calderon (D – Whittier) both recognized the treatment of licensees with respect to sometimes inconsistent and subjective enforcement by CCL. In the longer term, 6Beds believes that this recognition may help pave the way for future reforms of the Community Care Licensing system with the aim of improving the treatment and rights of licensees. In the immediate term, 6Beds’ advocacy has caused Mr. Calderon to commit to working with 6Beds, particularly on amendments related to the definition of a repeat violation as well as the timing of civil penalty payments.
6Beds’ leadership would like to convey a heartfelt thank you to all of its members and supporters for their participation on April 12, 2016. Everyone did a tremendous job of representing 6Beds, which has only increased 6Beds’ efficacy and will help 6Beds build upon the following positive changes relative to previous proposals for the bill that were already made prior to April 12, 2016:
Civil Penalty Amounts
The bill proposes to increase civil penalty amounts for serious/zero tolerance violations (e.g. fire clearance violations, overcapacity, ambulatory status, inoperable smoke alarms, absence of supervision, accessible bodies of water, accessible firearms/ammunition, refused entry to a facility, etc.). Currently, the civil penalty amount for these types of violations is $150. Prior to the introduction of AB 2231, it was proposed that the civil penalty amount for serious/zero tolerance violations be $1,000. 6Beds’ advocacy helped reduce this amount to the $500 that is currently proposed in AB 2231.
AB 2231 also proposes to increase civil penalty amounts for repeat violations of serious/zero tolerance violations, as well as other violation types. Prior to AB 2231, it was proposed that the civil penalty amount for repeat violations of serious/zero tolerance violations be $2,000 plus $1,500 for each day the violation is not corrected. 6Beds’ advocacy helped reduce this amount to the current $1,000 plus $100 for each day the violation is not corrected that is proposed in AB 2231.
Prior to AB 2231, it was proposed that the civil penalty amount for repeat violations that were not of the serious/zero tolerance type be $500 plus $100 for each day the violation is not corrected. 6Beds’ advocacy helped reduce this amount to the current $250 plus $100 for each day the violation is not corrected that is proposed in AB 2231.
Imposition of Separate Civil Penalty for Underlying Violations
Prior to AB 2231, it was proposed that there could be imposed a separate civil penalty for an underlying violation that resulted in the imposition of a larger civil penalty. For example, if absence of supervision resulted in the death of a resident, the previous proposal would have allowed for the imposition of a civil penalty for the death of the resident as well as a civil penalty for absence of supervision. As a result of 6Beds’ advocacy, AB 2231 would only allow for the imposition of the higher civil penalty amount. No double dipping.
Thanks again to everyone for their support and stay tuned for more updates on this bill as 6Beds works diligently to improve upon the bill.