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AB-557 CalWORKs: victim of abuse.(2017-2018)

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Date Published: 05/27/2017 04:00 AM
AB557:v98#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Assembly  May 26, 2017

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2017–2018 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill No. 557


Introduced by Assembly Member Rubio

February 14, 2017


An act to amend Section 11495.12 of, and to repeal and add Section 11495.15 of, the Welfare and Institutions Code, relating to CalWORKs.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 557, as amended, Rubio. CalWORKs: victim of abuse.
Existing federal law provides for allocation of federal funds through the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant program to eligible states. Existing law provides for the California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) program, under which, through a combination of state and county funds and federal funds received through the TANF program, each county provides cash assistance and other benefits to qualified low-income families.
Existing law authorizes a county to waive a CalWORKs program requirement for a recipient who has been identified as a past or present victim of abuse when it has been determined that good cause exists, as specified. Until implementation of specified regulations, existing law authorizes a county to utilize standards, procedures, and protocols currently available and requires the county to identify them in its county plan. Existing law defines “abuse” for purposes of those provisions, until specified regulations are adopted, to include subjecting a victim to extreme cruelty by sexual abuse, mental abuse, or stalking, among other specified acts of abuse.
This bill would would, among other things, instead require a county to waive a CalWORKs program requirement for an applicant or recipient who when the applicant or recipient, or any member of the applicant’s or recipient’s family, is a past or present victim of abuse when the program requirement, if not waived, and the program requirement, as described, would place the family at risk of harm, unfairly penalize the family, or make it more difficult for the family to escape abuse. The bill would require the waivers to be reevaluated, as specified, and would require the department to issue guidance to counties to ensure that the reevaluation does not result in a lapse of waiver status due to a delay in the submission or processing of the report or a delay in the redetermination of eligibility. The bill would also delete the provision providing for the definition of abuse to be superseded by the adoption of regulations, thereby extending the operation of the statutory definition indefinitely, and would add economic control to the definition as an act of abuse. The bill would state related legislative findings and declarations. By increasing the duties of counties administering the CalWORKs program, this 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 instead 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.

 The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(a) In enacting this act, the Legislature recognizes that some individuals who are in need of public assistance are, or have been, survivors of abuse.
(b) It is the intent of the Legislature to ensure that applicants and recipients of public assistance assistance, and their family members, who are past or present survivors of abuse are not placed at further risk or unfairly penalized by program requirements or procedures.
(c) The Legislature intends that, in implementing this act, program requirements for aid under the CalWORKs program should not be created or applied in such a way as to make it more difficult for applicants or recipients of aid aid, or their family members, to escape domestic abuse.

SEC. 2.

 Section 11495.12 of the Welfare and Institutions Code is amended to read:

11495.12.
 For purposes of this article, the term “abuse” means battering or subjecting a victim to extreme cruelty by (1) physical acts that resulted in or threatened to result in physical injury, (2) sexual abuse, (3) sexual activity involving a child in the home, (4) being forced to participate in nonconsensual sexual acts or activities, (5) threats of, or attempts at, physical or sexual abuse, (6) mental abuse, (7) neglect or deprivation of medical care, (8) stalking, or (9) economic control.

SEC. 3.

 Section 11495.15 of the Welfare and Institutions Code is repealed.

SEC. 4.

 Section 11495.15 is added to the Welfare and Institutions Code, to read:

11495.15.
 (a) A county shall waive a program requirement for an applicant or recipient who recipient, or any member of his or her family, when that person is a past or present victim of abuse when the program requirement, if not waived, and the program requirement would do any of the following:
(1) Place the family at risk of harm.
(2) Unfairly penalize the family.
(3) Make it more difficult for the family to escape abuse.
(b) Nothing in this section shall be interpreted as prohibiting This section does not prohibit a county from waiving a program requirement under other circumstances as deemed necessary for an applicant or recipient who is a past or present victim of abuse. Waivers shall be reevaluated in accordance with other routine periodic reevaluations by the county. abuse to avoid risk of harm.
(c) (1) For the purpose of this section, “program requirement” shall include, but is not limited to, all provisions, laws, conditions, or requirements applicable to or imposed upon, as applicable, a person described in subdivision (a) for the purpose of determining deprivation, asset, or income limits, and homeless assistance benefits.
(2) Any program requirement added after January 1, 2018, shall be waived with respect to the persons described in subdivision (a) pursuant to this section unless specifically exempted by law.
(d) A waiver provided pursuant to this section shall be reevaluated at the same time as the annual redetermination of eligibility and the processing of the semiannual report. The department shall issue guidance to counties to ensure that reevaluation does not result in a lapse of waiver status due to a delay in the submission or processing of the report or a delay in the redetermination of eligibility. The waiver evaluation shall be conducted pursuant to Section 11495.25.
(e) The department shall implement this section to the fullest extent possible for the state to be eligible to receive federal recognition of the domestic violence waivers should the state fail to meet the federal work participation rate.

SEC. 5.

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

SEC. 6.

 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.