Rehab Riviera: Legislation hits the wall
Here are the major addiction-treatment-related bills that aimed to change things – but wound up in suspended animation in the California Legislature in the 2017-18 session. There’s next year, lawmakers and advocates say.
- SB 1317, by Sen. Anthony Portantino, D–La Cañada Flintridge, and Sen. Pat Bates, R-Laguna Niguel. Originally, this bill would have allowed local governments to register sober living homes so officials know where they are, who’s running them and how many beds and baths they have. That language was deleted, and it was amended to require the California Department of Health Care Services to figure out how to handle suspected unlicensed treatment facilities, and to determine California’s capacity for licensed residential treatment centers, among other things. In the end, the bill was held in committee.
- AB 2214, by Assemblymembers Freddie Rodriguez, D-Pomona, and Melissa Melendez, R-Lake Elsinore. This bill would have set up a voluntary certification process for sober living homes, which are now unlicensed and unregulated; given the California Department of Health Care Services the authority to respond to complaints about them; and required government agencies to refer patients only to certified recovery residences when possible.
- SB 1290, by Bates. This bill would have forbidden licensed centers from paying for patients and would have created a “Commission on Substance Abuse and Recovery” to help the Legislature do a complete overhaul of treatment industry regulations, much as was done in Florida. It was held in committee.
- SB 902, by Bates. This bill would have required the Department of Health Care Services to run state and federal criminal background checks on those who want to open and work in rehabs, before issuing initial licenses. It would have also prohibited some from working in the industry. It was held in committee.
- SB 1268, by Sen. Steven Bradford, D-Gardena. This was an update on a proposal that hit a wall in the Senate last year. It aimed to make patient brokering – giving or getting anything of value for the referral of someone seeking rehab treatment – a misdemeanor punishable by a fine. It was held in committee.
- AB 572, by Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva, D-Fullerton. This bill would have moved one of the state inspectors of addiction treatment centers from Sacramento to the the epicenter of the Rehab Riviera – Orange County. Quirk-Silva argued that analysts are needed where the action is, but opponents argued that an OC-based inspector might go rogue and apply different standards. Quirk-Silva’s text was deleted and the bill turned into a police training bill in the Senate. It was ordered to the “unfinished business file” Aug. 29.
- AB 2200, by Assemblyman Jim Patterson, R-Fresno. This bill would have also required criminal background checks for those working in the addiction treatment industry to ensure that drug counselors are not guilty of non-drug-related crimes. The California Consortium of Addiction Programs and Professionals, one of the organizations that certifies counselors on behalf of the state, said it would only support background checks for independent practitioners who see clients in private settings, arguing “that this should occur as a part of a licensing process for the profession.” The bill was held in committee.