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AB-868 State of emergency: funeral expense assistance.(2021-2022)

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Date Published: 03/18/2021 09:00 PM
AB868:v98#DOCUMENT

Revised  April 22, 2021
Amended  IN  Assembly  March 18, 2021

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2021–2022 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill
No. 868


Introduced by Assembly Member Eduardo Garcia Members Eduardo Garcia and Carrillo
(Coauthors: Assembly Members Chiu, Cristina Garcia, Gipson, McCarty, Ramos, and Santiago)

February 17, 2021


An act relating to emergency services. An act to add Chapter 7.2 (commencing with Section 8670) to Division 1 of Title 2 of the Government Code, relating to emergency services.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 868, as amended, Eduardo Garcia. Emergency services. State of emergency: funeral expense assistance.
The California Emergency Services Act authorizes the Governor to declare a state of emergency when specified conditions of disaster or extreme peril to the safety of persons and property exist, and authorizes the Governor or the appropriate local government to exercise certain powers in response to that emergency.
This bill would require the State Department of Social Services to provide, to a person that applies for funeral expense assistance, for eligible funeral home contract costs, as defined, incurred by the person for a decedent who died due to COVID-19 on or after March 4, 2020, or who died as a result of an emergency that is the basis of a state of emergency declared by the Governor on or after January 1, 2022. The bill would require a person seeking funeral expense assistance to contact a nonprofit organization selected by the department to complete an application for such assistance. The bill would require a nonprofit organization selected by the department to conduct intake for funeral expense assistance, and to process applications, developed by the department, on a first-come-first-served basis. The bill would require the application to include specified information, including an affidavit provided under penalty of perjury that eligible funeral home contract costs have not been fully paid for by other public or private sources. By expanding the crime of perjury, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program.
This bill would require the department to review and approve completed applications by regions designated by the department and in the order the nonprofit organization assisted and completed the application for the person seeking funeral expense assistance. The bill would require the department to award, upon receipt of a completed application that fulfills the bill’s requirements, $5,000 or the amount of the eligible funeral home contract costs for the decedent, whichever is less, for each decedent.
This bill would create the Emergency Funeral Expenses Fund for purposes of implementing the bill’s provisions. The bill would make moneys in the fund available only upon appropriation by the Legislature. The bill would also require the department to allocate moneys for each region designated by the department based on the percentage of low-income individuals in the region and to achieve equitable distribution of funds for underserved regions.
This bill would make the operation of these provisions subject to appropriation by the Legislature.
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.

The California Emergency Services Act authorizes the Governor to declare a state of emergency when specified conditions of disaster or extreme peril to the safety of persons and property exist, and authorizes the Governor or the appropriate local government to exercise certain powers in response to that emergency.

This bill would state the intent of the Legislature to enact legislation that would create, in accordance with assistance that the Federal Emergency Management Agency provides, a statewide program to provide financial assistance to low-income individuals for the funeral expenses of an individual whose death is related to a state emergency.

Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: NOYES   Local Program: NOYES  

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


SECTION 1.

 Chapter 7.2 (commencing with Section 8670) is added to Division 1 of Title 2 of the Government Code, to read:
CHAPTER  7.2. Funeral Expense Assistance

8670.
 For purposes of this chapter, all of the following definitions apply:
(a) “Department” means the State Department of Social Services.
(b) “Eligible funeral home contract costs” means costs that are incurred by a person seeking funeral expense assistance pursuant to a contract with a funeral home and that are for any of the following:
(1) Casket.
(2) Mortuary services.
(3) Transportation of the deceased.
(4) Identification of the deceased by up to two family members of the decedent who live within the state.
(5) Two death certificates.
(6) Burial plot.
(7) Interment or cremation.
(8) Reinterment of a disinterred coffin, if disinterment is caused by the emergency that is the basis for a state of emergency declared by the Governor pursuant to Section 8625 and occurs in a family cemetery on private property.
(c) “Funeral home” means an establishment where the deceased are prepared for burial or cremation or that provide other burial or funeral services for the deceased and their families.
(d) “Nonprofit organization” means any private, nonprofit organization that qualifies under Section 501(c)(3) of the United States Internal Revenue Code of 1986.

8670.0.2.
 (a) (1) The department shall solicit nonprofit organizations to conduct intake, pursuant to Section 8670.0.3, for funeral expense assistance under this chapter and shall select one nonprofit organization to serve each region, as described in paragraph (2).
(2) The department shall create regions for purposes of conducting intake and allocating funds pursuant to this chapter.
(b) (1) The department shall adopt guidelines for the creation of regions, allocation of funds for each region, and conducting intake pursuant to this chapter, and shall develop an application for nonprofit organizations to conduct intake pursuant to Section 8670.0.3. The adoption of guidelines by the department pursuant to this subdivision is exempt from the Administrative Procedure Act (Chapter 3.5 (commencing with Section 11340), Chapter 4 (commencing with Section 11370), Chapter 4.5 (commencing with Section 11400), and Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 11500) of Part 1 of Division 3).
(2) The application shall include, at a minimum, all of the following:
(A) Date of completed application.
(B) Full name of applicant.
(C) Full name of decedent.
(D) Death certificate.
(E) Documentation from an attending physician, medical examiner’s office, coroner’s office, or other state or local entity that attributes the decedent’s death to COVID-19 or to an emergency that is the basis for a state of emergency declared by the Governor pursuant to Section 8625.
(F) Funeral home contract for the decedent that describes eligible funeral home contract costs and provides the total amount to be paid by the applicant. The applicant shall be a party to the contract.
(G) Explanation of whether the applicant is seeking reimbursement for eligible funeral home contract costs already paid pursuant to the contract in subparagraph (F), or for eligible funeral home contract costs yet to be paid under the contract in subparagraph (F). If the applicant is seeking a reimbursement, the applicant shall also attach proof of payment.
(H) Affidavit provided under penalty of perjury that eligible funeral home contract costs have not been fully paid for by other public or private sources.

8670.0.3.
 (a) The department shall provide, to a person that applies for assistance pursuant to subdivision (c), funeral expense assistance for either of the following:
(1) Eligible funeral home contract costs incurred by the person for a decedent who died due to COVID-19 on or after March 4, 2020.
(2) Eligible funeral home contract costs incurred by the person for a decedent who died as a result of an emergency that is the basis of a state of emergency declared by the Governor, pursuant to Section 8625, on or after January 1, 2022.
(b) A person is not eligible for funeral expense assistance under this chapter if any of the following apply:
(1) The decedent’s death is not attributed to an emergency that is the basis of a state of emergency declared by the Governor pursuant to Section 8625.
(2) Eligible funeral home contract costs have already been fully paid by another public or private source.
(3) The person provides incomplete or insufficient information or documentation on their application.
(c) A person seeking funeral expense assistance pursuant to this chapter shall contact a nonprofit organization selected by the department to complete an application for such assistance.
(d) A nonprofit organization selected by the department to conduct intake for funeral expense assistance shall process an application, as developed by the department pursuant to Section 8670.0.2, for a person seeking funeral expense assistance on a first-come-first-served basis.
(e) (1) The department shall review and approve completed applications by region and in the order the nonprofit organization assisted and completed the application for the person seeking funeral expense assistance.
(2) The department shall award, upon receipt of a completed application that fulfills the requirements of this chapter, five thousand dollars ($5,000) or the amount of eligible funeral home contract costs for the decedent, whichever is less, for each decedent.
(3) If a successful applicant seeks reimbursement, the assistance shall be provided in the form of a check made out in the applicant’s name. If a successful applicant seeks assistance for expenses yet to be paid under the funeral home contract, the assistance shall be sent to the funeral home directly in the form of a check made out to the funeral home.

8670.0.4.
 (a) There is hereby created the Emergency Funeral Expenses Fund for purposes of implementing this chapter. Moneys in the fund shall be available to implement this chapter only upon appropriation by the Legislature.
(b) The department shall allocate moneys for each region, as described in paragraph (2) of subdivision (a) of Section 8670.0.2, based on the percentage of low-income individuals in the region and to achieve equitable distribution of funds for underserved regions.

8670.0.5.
 This chapter shall become operative when an appropriation is made by the Legislature for purposes of carrying out the provisions of this chapter.

SEC. 2.

 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.

It is the intent of the Legislature to enact legislation that would create, in accordance with assistance that the Federal Emergency Management Agency provides, a statewide program to provide financial assistance to low-income individuals for the funeral expenses of an individual whose death is related to a state emergency.

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REVISIONS:
Heading—Line 1.
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