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AB-242 Certificates of death: veterans.(2017-2018)

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Date Published: 03/07/2017 09:00 PM
AB242:v98#DOCUMENT

Revised  April 26, 2017
Amended  IN  Assembly  March 07, 2017

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2017–2018 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill No. 242


Introduced by Assembly Members Arambula and Patterson
(Coauthors: Assembly Members Cervantes, Mathis, Chávez, Dababneh, Cristina Garcia, Grayson, Maienschein, Mathis, Salas, Gallagher, Gonzalez Fletcher, and Wood)

January 30, 2017


An act to amend Section 27521 of, and to add Section 27521.2 to, the Government Code, relating to coroners. 102875 of, and to add Section 102791 to, the Health and Safety Code, relating to certificates of death.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 242, as amended, Arambula. Coroners’ reports: veterans: suicide. Certificates of death: veterans.
Existing law establishes the State Department of Public Health under the direction of the State Public Health Officer. Existing law sets forth the powers and duties of the State Public Health Officer, including, but not limited to, designation as the State Registrar of Vital Statistics, having supervisory powers over local registrars and responsibility for the uniform and thorough enforcement of provisions relating to the registration of certain vital statistics.
Existing law requires that each death be registered with the local registrar of births and deaths in the district in which the death was officially pronounced or the body was found. Existing law sets forth the persons responsible for completing the certificate of death and the required contents of the certificate, including, but not limited to, the decedent’s name, sex, and birthplace. Certain violations of these requirements are a crime.
This bill would require a person completing the certificate of death to record whether the decedent was ever in the Armed Forces of the United States. The bill would also require the State Department of Public Health to access data within the electronic death registration system to compile a report on veteran suicide in California and require the department to annually provide that report to the Legislature and the Department of Veterans Affairs. By changing the definition of existing crimes, this bill would impose a state-mandated local program.
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 no reimbursement is required by this act for a specified reason.

Existing law requires a coroner to perform or cause to be performed an autopsy on a decedent, for which an autopsy has not already been performed, on request of specified relatives. Existing law requires a coroner, medical examiner, or other agency performing a postmortem examination or autopsy to prepare a final report of investigation that lists or describes certain information collected pursuant to the postmortem examination or autopsy.

This bill would also require the final report of investigation to indicate whether the deceased person was an active or reserve member of the United States military, or was a member of the California National Guard, California Air National Guard, or California National Guard Reserve, either at or prior to the time of his or her death. The bill would require the person preparing the report to consult with the county veterans service officer, if he or she is unable to determine the deceased person’s Armed Forces status. The bill would also require the coroner to make data on veteran suicides available to the State Department of Public Health and would require the State Department of Public Health to annually report data on veteran suicides to the Legislature and the Department of Veterans Affairs. By imposing new duties on county coroners, this bill would impose a state-mandated local program.

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.

 Section 102791 is added to the Health and Safety Code, to read:

102791.
 (a) The State Department of Public Health shall access data within the electronic death registration system implemented pursuant to Section 102778 to compile a report on veteran suicide in California. The report shall include, at a minimum, information on the ages, sexes, nationalities, and methods of suicide of veterans.
(b) (1) The department shall, notwithstanding Section 10231.5, annually provide the report compiled pursuant to subdivision (a) to the Legislature and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
(2) A report to be submitted pursuant to paragraph (1) shall be submitted in compliance with Section 9795.

SEC. 2.

 Section 102875 of the Health and Safety Code is amended to read:

102875.
 The certificate of death shall be divided into two sections.
(a) The first section shall contain those items necessary to establish the fact of the death, including all of the following and those other items as the State Registrar may designate:
(1) (A) Personal data concerning decedent including full name, sex, color or race, marital status, name of spouse, date of birth and age at death, birthplace, usual residence, and occupation and industry or business. business, and whether the decedent was ever in the Armed Forces of the United States.
(B) Commencing July 1, 2015, a A person completing the certificate shall record the decedent’s sex to reflect the decedent’s gender identity. The decedent’s gender identity shall be reported by the informant, unless the person completing the certificate is presented with a birth certificate, a driver’s license, a social security record, a court order approving a name or gender change, a passport, an advanced health care directive, or proof of clinical treatment for gender transition, in which case the person completing the certificate shall record the decedent’s sex as that which corresponds to the decedent’s gender identity as indicated in that document. If none of these documents are presented and the person with the right, or a majority of persons who have equal rights, to control the disposition of the remains pursuant to Section 7100 is in disagreement with the gender identity reported by the informant, the gender identity of the decedent recorded on the death certificate shall be as reported by that person or majority of persons.
(C) Commencing July 1, 2015, if If a document specified in subparagraph (B) is not presented and a majority of persons who have equal rights to control the disposition of the remains pursuant to Section 7100 do not agree with the gender identity of the decedent as reported by the informant, any one of those persons may file a petition, in the superior court in the county in which the decedent resided at the time of his or her death, or in which the remains are located, naming as a party to the action those persons who otherwise have equal rights to control the disposition and seeking an order of the court determining, as appropriate, who among those parties shall determine the gender identity of the decedent.
(D) Commencing July 1, 2015, a A person completing the death certificate in compliance with subparagraph (B) is not liable for any damages or costs arising from claims related to the sex of the decedent as entered on the certificate of death.
(E) Commencing July 1, 2015, a A person completing the death certificate shall comply with the data and certification requirements described in Section 102800 by using the information available to him or her prior to the deadlines for completion specified in that section.
(2) Date of death, including month, day, and year.
(3) Place of death.
(4) Full name of father and birthplace of father, and full maiden name of mother and birthplace of mother.
(5) Informant.
(6) Disposition of body information information, including signature and license number of embalmer if body embalmed embalmer, if the body is embalmed, or name of embalmer if affixed by attorney-in-fact; name of funeral director, or person acting as such; and date and place of interment or removal. Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, law, an electronic signature substitute, or some other indicator of authenticity, approved by the State Registrar may be used in lieu of the actual signature of the embalmer.
(7) Certification and signature of attending physician and surgeon or certification and signature of coroner when required to act by law. Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, law, the person completing the portion of the certificate setting forth the cause of death may attest to its accuracy by use of an electronic signature substitute, or some other indicator of authenticity, approved by the State Registrar in lieu of a signature.
(8) Date accepted for registration and signature of local registrar. Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, law, the local registrar may elect to use an electronic signature substitute, or some other indicator of authenticity, approved by the State Registrar in lieu of a signature.
(b) The second section shall contain those items relating to medical and health data, including all of the following and other items as the State Registrar may designate:
(1) Disease or conditions leading directly to death and antecedent causes.
(2) Operations and major findings thereof.
(3) Accident and injury information.
(4) Information indicating whether the decedent was pregnant at the time of death, or within the year prior to the death, if known, as determined by observation, autopsy, or review of the medical record. This paragraph shall not be interpreted to require the performance of a pregnancy test on a decedent, or to require a review of medical records in order to determine pregnancy.

SEC. 3.

 No reimbursement is required by this act pursuant to Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution because the only costs that may be incurred by a local agency or school district will be incurred because this act creates a new crime or infraction, eliminates a crime or infraction, or changes the penalty for a crime or infraction, within the meaning of Section 17556 of the Government Code, or changes the definition of a crime within the meaning of Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution.
SECTION 1.Section 27521 of the Government Code is amended to read:
27521.

(a)A postmortem examination or autopsy conducted at the discretion of a coroner, medical examiner, or other agency upon an unidentified body or human remains is subject to this section.

(b)A postmortem examination or autopsy shall include, but shall not be limited to, the following procedures:

(1)Taking of all available fingerprints and palm prints.

(2)A dental examination consisting of dental charts and dental X-rays of the deceased person’s teeth, which may be conducted on the body or human remains by a qualified dentist as determined by the coroner.

(3)The collection of tissue, including a hair sample, or body fluid samples for future DNA testing, if necessary.

(4)Frontal and lateral facial photographs with the scale indicated.

(5)Notation and photographs, with a scale, of significant scars, marks, tattoos, clothing items, or other personal effects found with or near the body.

(6)Notations of observations pertinent to the estimation of the time of death.

(7)Precise documentation of the location of the remains.

(c)The postmortem examination or autopsy of the unidentified body or remains may include full body X-rays.

(d)(1)At the sole and exclusive discretion of a coroner, medical examiner, or other agency tasked with performing an autopsy pursuant to Section 27491, an electronic image system, including, but not limited to, an X-ray computed tomography scanning system, may be used to fulfill the requirements of subdivision (b) or of a postmortem examination or autopsy required by other law, including but not limited to, Section 27520.

(2)Nothing in this subdivision imposes a duty upon any coroner, medical examiner, or other agency tasked with performing autopsies pursuant to Section 27491 to use an electronic image system to perform autopsies or to acquire the capability to do so.

(3)A coroner, medical examiner, or other agency tasked with performing an autopsy pursuant to Section 27491 shall not use an electronic imaging system to conduct an autopsy in any investigation where the circumstances surrounding the death afford a reasonable basis to suspect that the death was caused by or related to the criminal act of another and it is necessary to collect evidence for presentation in a court of law. If the results of an autopsy performed using electronic imaging provides the basis to suspect that the death was caused by or related to the criminal act of another, and it is necessary to collect evidence for presentation in a court of law, then a dissection autopsy shall be performed in order to determine the cause and manner of death.

(4)An autopsy may be conducted using an X-ray computed tomography scanning system notwithstanding the existence of a certificate of religious belief properly executed in accordance with Section 27491.43.

(e)The coroner, medical examiner, or other agency performing a postmortem examination or autopsy shall prepare a final report of investigation in a format established by the Department of Justice. The final report shall list or describe the information collected pursuant to the postmortem examination or autopsy conducted under subdivision (b) and indicate whether the deceased person was an active or reserve member of the United States military, or was a member of the California National Guard, California Air National Guard, or California National Guard Reserve, either at or prior to the time of his or her death. If the coroner, medical examiner, or other agency preparing the final report is unable to determine the deceased person’s Armed Forces status, the person preparing the report shall consult with the county veterans service officer.

(f)The body of an unidentified deceased person shall not be cremated or buried until the jaws (maxilla and mandible with teeth), or other bone sample if the jaws are not available, and other tissue samples are retained for future possible use. Unless the coroner, medical examiner, or other agency performing a postmortem examination or autopsy has determined that the body of the unidentified deceased person has suffered significant deterioration or decomposition, the jaws shall not be removed until immediately before the body is cremated or buried. The coroner, medical examiner, or other agency responsible for a postmortem examination or autopsy shall retain the jaws and other tissue samples for one year after a positive identification is made, and no civil or criminal challenges are pending, or indefinitely.

(g)If the coroner, medical examiner, or other agency performing a postmortem examination or autopsy with the aid of the dental examination and any other identifying findings is unable to establish the identity of the body or human remains, the coroner, medical examiner, or other agency shall submit dental charts and dental X-rays of the unidentified deceased person to the Department of Justice on forms supplied by the Department of Justice within 45 days of the date the body or human remains were discovered.

(h)If the coroner, medical examiner, or other agency performing a postmortem examination or autopsy with the aid of the dental examination and other identifying findings is unable to establish the identity of the body or human remains, the coroner, medical examiner, or other agency shall submit the final report of investigation to the Department of Justice within 180 days of the date the body or human remains were discovered. The final report of investigation shall list or describe the information collected pursuant to the postmortem examination or autopsy conducted under subdivision (b), and any anthropology report, fingerprints, photographs, and autopsy report.

SEC. 2.Section 27521.2 is added to the Government Code, to read:
27521.2.

(a)The coroner shall make data on veteran suicides available to the State Department of Public Health.

(b)(1)The State Department of Public Health shall, notwithstanding Section 10231.5, annually report data on veteran suicides to the Legislature and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

(2)A report to be submitted pursuant to paragraph (1) shall be submitted in compliance with Section 9795.

SEC. 3.

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.

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REVISIONS:
Heading—Lines 3 and 4.
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