2018 Brings New Laws to Help California’s Veterans

Governor Brown has signed a series of Assembly and Senate Bills engendered to improve the lives of our veterans – from sorely needed mental health services and outreach to opportunities to transition into ranching or farming careers. Sierra Sun Times writer Cathy Kenny’s article, 23 New Laws For 2018 Intended to Help California Veterans, provides an excellent organized summary on this topic– here are a few highlights:

AB974- Requires counties to report spending on mental health services for veterans from Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) funds. MHSA, enacted by voters as Proposition 63 in 2004, established a commission for mental heal services oversight and accountability.

AB360 – Provides for free civil legal assistance to veterans and their families who cannot afford legal services. Requires the State Bar of California to coordinate pro bono legal services and post to its website a list of local bar associations, legal aid organizations, veterans service providers and volunteer attorneys willing to provide pro bono legal services to veterans.

AB376- Requires CalVet, the Labor and Workforce Development Agency and the Department of Food and Agriculture to identify and post information about benefits available to assist veterans entering farming or ranching careers. State veteran benefits include education assistance and farm and home loans.

SB156 – Requires CalVet to expand the current California Transition Assistance Program to provide noncitizens leaving military service information about how to become citizens, including information on where to acquire state legal assistance. This bill also requires the state National Guard to inform its members that it will assist noncitizen members in acquiring US citizenship as soon as they are eligible and, when requested, to assist the member in filing all necessary forms and paperwork.

SB449 – Existing law requires that skilled nursing and intermediate care facilities have a precertification training program, which includes at least 60 classroom hours of training on basic nursing skills, patient safety and rights, social and psychological problems of patients, and resident abuse prevention. This bill would require that at least two of the 60 hours of classroom training address the special needs of persons with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

AB89 – Requires applicants seeking psychologist licensure under the Psychology Licensing Law to complete a minimum of six hours of coursework or supervised experience in suicide risk assessment and intervention. The bill also includes a one-time requirement that licensed psychologists complete suicide risk assessment and intervention training prior to the time of their first renewal.

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