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AB-1957 Social Services Modernization, Efficiency, and Due Process Protection Act of 2018.(2017-2018)

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Date Published: 04/20/2018 04:00 AM
AB1957:v95#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Assembly  April 19, 2018
Amended  IN  Assembly  April 09, 2018
Amended  IN  Assembly  April 02, 2018
Amended  IN  Assembly  March 14, 2018

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2017–2018 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill No. 1957


Introduced by Assembly Member Berman

January 30, 2018


An act to add Sections 11023.6, 11023.7, and 11023.8 to the Welfare and Institutions Code, relating to public social services.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 1957, as amended, Berman. Social Services Modernization, Efficiency, and Due Process Protection Act of 2018.
Existing law provides for various public social services programs for purposes of providing on behalf of the general public, and within the limits of public resources, reasonable support and maintenance for needy and dependent families and persons, including, among others, the California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) program, under which each county provides cash assistance and other benefits to qualified low-income families and individuals, CalFresh, under which supplemental nutrition assistance benefits allocated to the state by the federal government are distributed to eligible individuals by each county, the Medi-Cal program, under which qualified low-income individuals receive health care services, and the Cash Assistance Program for Aged, Blind, and Disabled Legal Immigrants (CAPI), which provides cash benefits to aged, blind, and disabled legal immigrants who meet specified criteria.
This bill, to extent permitted by federal law, guidance, or waiver, would authorize applicants for and recipients of benefits under CalWORKs, Medi-Cal, CalFresh, or CAPI to, at any time, permit communications and notices of action to be sent via the United States Postal Service only, or, within the capacity of the county, either electronically only or both electronically and via the United States Postal Service, as specified. The bill would require a record of each notice of action and communication sent electronically or otherwise to be maintained in the recipient’s case record. The bill would authorize an applicant or recipient to revoke his or her permission to receive electronic notices of action and communications, and would provide for the privacy and security of an applicant’s or recipient’s electronic information, as specified.
This bill would prohibit a county from requiring an applicant for or recipient of CalWORKs or CalFresh benefits to provide verification of information to the county, unless verification is federally required and necessary to determine current eligibility for services or to compute the amount of aid, and the current information is not already available to the county eligibility worker. The bill would require a county human services agency to maximize the use of electronic means of verifying information required to be verified for any applicant or recipient, except as specified. The bill provides, would provide, to the extent permitted by federal law, guidance, or waiver thereof, that information that is verified for CalWORKs or CalFresh shall be deemed to be verified for all the other program.
The bill would require the State Department of Social Services and the State Department of Health Care Services to implement these provisions through an all-county letter or similar instruction from the director of those departments no later than July 1, 2019, as specified. The bill would require counties to be in full compliance with the letter or instruction by January 1, 2020.
By increasing the duties of counties administering public social services programs, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program.
Existing law continuously appropriates moneys from the General Fund to defray a portion of county costs under the CalWORKs program.
This bill would provide that the continuous appropriation would not be made for purposes of implementing the bill.
The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.
This bill would provide that, if the Commission on State Mandates determines that the bill contains costs mandated by the state, reimbursement for those costs shall be made pursuant to the statutory provisions noted above.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: YES  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 This act shall be known, and may be cited, as the Social Services Modernization, Efficiency, and Due Process Protection Act of 2018.

SEC. 2.

 The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(a) CalFresh is our state’s most important defense against hunger, and CalWORKs is needed to prevent homelessness and basic needs deprivation among our state’s poorest families with children.
(b) While low-income consumers struggle to secure and maintain regular access to telephone and Internet service, especially in rural communities, making forms and notices for social safety net programs available electronically or telephonically can benefit a significant portion of applicants and recipients.
(c) The State Department of Social Services and county human services agencies in the state have been leaders in increasing access to applications, forms, and notices of actions electronically and telephonically, which has increased efficiency for county workers and improved outcomes for applicants and recipients.
(d) Modernization of state law is needed to reflect these recent changes in practice and to protect the due process and privacy of all applicants and recipients as the use of technology continues to advance in the delivery of social safety net services.

SEC. 3.

 Section 11023.6 is added to the Welfare and Institutions Code, to read:

11023.6.
 (a) (1) Applicants for and recipients of benefits under CalWORKs (Chapter 2 (commencing with Section 11200)), Medi-Cal (Chapter 7 (commencing with Section 14000)), CalFresh (Chapter 10 (commencing with Section 18900) of Part 6), or Cash Assistance Program for Aged, Blind, and Disabled Legal Immigrants (Chapter 10.3 (commencing with Section 18937) of Part 6) may, at any time, permit communications and notices of action to be sent via the United States Postal Service only, or, within the capacity of the county, either electronically only or both electronically and via the United States Postal Service, as provided by this section. The application, semiannual reporting forms, and annual recertification forms for CalWORKs, Medi-Cal, CalFresh, and CAPI shall provide applicants and recipients with these options.
(2) For the purposes of this section, “electronically” means a communication made by email, interactive voice response, or via online server, but does not include computer-generated text messages, the regulation of which is as prescribed in Section 11023.7.
(3) The State Department of Social Services and State Department of Health Care Services shall ensure that applications, semiannual reporting forms, and annual recertification forms for CalWORKs, Medi-Cal, CalFresh, and CAPI shall notify the applicant or recipient of both of the following:
(A) An applicant or recipient providing a telephone number or email address implies permission to be contacted by telephone or email. A county is not precluded from seeking affirmative consent in order to contact an applicant or recipient by telephone or email.
(B) The applicant or recipient has a right to revoke the permission specified in subparagraph (A) and how to revoke the permission.
(4) A record of each notice of action and communication sent electronically or otherwise shall be maintained in the recipient’s case record.
(5) An applicant or recipient may revoke his or her permission to receive electronic notices of action and communications in any form of communication available, including, but not limited to, in writing, in person, by telephone, by electronic mail, or online. A request to revoke permission shall be processed as expeditiously as possible, but no later than three business days after the receipt of the request. A written receipt confirming the cancellation of electronic communication shall be mailed. If a county receives a request in person or by telephone to terminate electronic notices of action and communications from an applicant or recipient and the applicant or recipient states that this request is being made because of domestic abuse, the county shall immediately, within one business day, cease all electronic communication with the applicant or recipient until and unless the applicant or recipient requests to receive electronic notices of action and communications again.
(6) Notices of action that are sent electronically shall be sent via a secured server. A notice of action shall not be sent as an electronic mail attachment.
(7) Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, notices of action terminating benefits, sanctioning benefits, imposing financial penalties, or establishing an intentional program violation for any household member or for establishing or collecting an overpayment, underpayment, overissuance, or underissuance from recipients or former recipients shall also be sent via the United States Postal Service in addition to being sent electronically.
(8) A county human services agency employee shall not have any electronic communications with an applicant or recipient through the employee’s private email or telephone.
(9) Every effort shall be made to maintain the privacy and security of applicant or recipient information at all times.
(10) Notices of action and communications that are sent electronically and data storage shall comply with state security standards, which shall be posted on the department’s Internet Web site and on all online applications.
(b) Under no circumstances shall data that is available electronically and that identifies an applicant or recipient, the permanent or temporary internet protocol (IP) address assigned to an applicant or recipient, or the geographic location of the IP address or mobile device, their Internet activity, or any other information that is available through the Internet, be collected or used for any purpose other than transmitting information to the applicant or recipient as authorized by this section.
(c) An applicant or recipient shall have the opportunity to review and make corrections to his or her contact information and communication preferences periodically in the semiannual report form or annual recertification form.
(d) All electronic technology used pursuant to this section shall be in compliance with state information technology policy, and related state and federal law, including, but not limited to, Sections 7405 and 11135 of the Government Code, Section 508 of the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. Sec. 794d), as amended, and the regulations implementing that act, as set forth in Part 1194 (commencing with Section 1194.1) of Chapter XI of Title 36 of the Code of Federal Regulations and Appendices A, C, and D of that part, the federal Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C. Sec. 12101 et seq.), and the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, or a subsequent version, published by the Web Accessibility Initiative of the World Wide Web Consortium at a minimum Level AA success criteria.
(e) This section shall only apply to the extent permitted by federal law, guidance, or waiver thereof.

SEC. 4.

 Section 11023.7 is added to the Welfare and Institutions Code, to read:

11023.7.
 (a) (1) If it is within the capacity of the county, a county may communicate with an applicant or recipient via computer-generated text message. All communications and notices of actions sent via computer-generated text message shall comply with Section 227 of Title 47 of the United States Code.
(2) Communications sent via computer-generated text message shall not include case-identifying information nor both the first and last name of the applicant or recipient. Communications sent via computer-generated text message pursuant to this section may only do so via a link to a secure online portal where the applicant or recipient can access the notice of action after securely logging in.
(3) The county shall notify the applicant or recipient that his or her first or last name, but not both, may appear in the computer-generated text message. This notification shall take place at the time the applicant or recipient provides permission to receive computer-generated text messages regarding his or her case.

SEC. 5.

 Section 11023.8 is added to the Welfare and Institutions Code, to read:

11023.8.
 (a) Notwithstanding any other law, a county shall not require an applicant for or recipient of benefits under CalWORKs (Chapter 2 (commencing with Section 11200)) or CalFresh (Chapter 10 (commencing with Section 18900) of Part 6) to provide verification of information to the county, unless verification is federally required and necessary to determine current eligibility for services or to compute the amount of aid, and current information is not already available to the county eligibility worker.
(b) A county human services agency shall maximize the use of electronic means of verifying information required to be verified for any applicant or recipient, except for information that federal law permits to be verified through self-attestation statement of the applicant or recipient. A county human services agency shall not request verification of information that is available electronically to the county human services agency and that is assessed by the county to be current and accurate.
(c) To the extent permitted by federal law, guidance, or waiver thereof, information that is verified in CalWORKs or CalFresh shall be deemed to be verified for the other program.
(d) An applicant or recipient whose information is electronically verified pursuant to this section shall be given an opportunity to review the information obtained electronically and to make corrections if that information has led to a denial of eligibility or a reduction in benefits.
(e) (1) In order to ensure privacy and accuracy, privately maintained databases may be used for verification and eligibility determination purposes in CalWORKs and CalFresh if the use complies with relevant federal and state laws, including, but not limited to, the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (15 U.S.C. Sec. 1681 et seq.) and Section 11023.
(2) The requirements for the use of information contained in a consumer credit report for the determination of CalWORKs or CalFresh eligibility or benefit level is prescribed in Section 11023.
(3) A consumer reporting agency that contracts with a county human services agency for verification or eligibility determination purposes shall report to the department or the county human services agency when a security breach has impacted its database, and shall include in the report the date of the security breach and the number of individuals impacted by the security breach.

SEC. 6.

 Notwithstanding the rulemaking provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act (Chapter 3.5 (commencing with Section 11340) of Part 1 of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Government Code), the State Department of Social Services and the State Department of Health Care Services shall implement this act through an all-county welfare directors letter or similar instruction from the director of each department issued no later than July 1, 2019. As part of the all-county welfare directors letter or similar instruction, the departments, in consultation with client and patient advocates, representatives of county human services agencies, and representatives of county eligibility workers, shall provide guidance to counties for electronic delivery of notices of actions and other communications to the applicant or recipient by computer-generated text message. Counties shall be in full compliance with the all-county welfare directors letter or similar instruction by January 1, 2020.

SEC. 7.

 No appropriation pursuant to Section 15200 of the Welfare and Institutions Code shall be made for purposes of this act.

SEC. 8.

 If the Commission on State Mandates determines that this act contains costs mandated by the state, reimbursement to local agencies and school districts for those costs shall be made pursuant to Part 7 (commencing with Section 17500) of Division 4 of Title 2 of the Government Code.