BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    Ó

          |SENATE RULES COMMITTEE            |                        SB 556|
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                                    THIRD READING

          Bill No:  SB 556
          Author:   De León (D)
          Amended:  5/4/15  
          Vote:     21  

           SENATE PUBLIC SAFETY COMMITTEE:  7-0, 4/28/15
           AYES:  Hancock, Anderson, Leno, Liu, McGuire, Monning, Stone


           SUBJECT:   Victims of crime:  indemnification:  applications

          SOURCE:    Californians for Safety and Justice

          DIGEST:  This bill requires the Victims Compensation and  
          Government Claims Board (VCGCB) to 1) annually post on its  
          Internet Web site progress and current average time of  
          processing applications, the number of incomplete applications  
          received and the number of applications approved and denied; and  
          2) define "time processing applications" as the period of time  
          that begins with the date the board receives an application and  
          ends when a decision to approve or deny the application has been  
          made and notice sent to the applicant.


          Existing law:


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          1)Establishes the VCGCB to operate the California Victim  
            Compensation Program (CalVCP).  (Gov. Code §§ 13950 et. seq.)   

          2)Provides than an application for compensation shall be filed  
            with VCGCB in the manner determined by the VCGCB.  (Gov. Code  
            § 13952, subd.(a).)

          3)Provides that the VCGCB shall approve or deny applications  
            within an average of 90 calendar days and no later than 180  
            from "of acceptance" of the application by the board or victim  
            center.  Requires the VCGCB report quarterly to the  
            Legislature until it has met these time requirements for two  
            consecutive quarters. 

          4)Requires, if the VCGCB does not approve or deny a claim within  
            "180 days of the date it is accepted," it advise the applicant  
            in writing of the reasons for the failure to rule on the  
            application.  (Gov. Code § 13958.)

          This bill:

          1)Requires the VCGCB to annually post on its Internet Web site  
            the following:
                 Progress and current average time of processing  
                 The number of incomplete applications received; and
                 The number of approved and denied applications.

          1)Defines "time processing applications" as the period of time  
            that begins with the date the VCGCB receives an application  
            and ends when a decision to approve or deny the application  
            has been made and notice sent to the applicant.


          The Legislature and the State Auditor have evaluated the VCGCB a  
          number of times over the past decade.  A consistent concern has  
          been the length of time the VCGCB takes to review and act on  


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          applications for assistance.  As noted above, the Legislature  
          has set standards for the VCGCB to meet in this regard.   
          However, it appears that it has been difficult to determine if  
          the VCGCB has met the standards for approving or denying  
          applications. This bill defines what constitutes the time for  
          processing an application and requires posting of data and  
          information so that the VCGCB's performance in acting on  
          applications in a timely fashion can be evaluated. 

          FISCAL EFFECT:   Appropriation:    No          Fiscal  
          Com.:YesLocal:   No

          SUPPORT:   (Verified 5/12/15)

          None received

          OPPOSITION:   (Verified 5/12/15)

          None received

          ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT:     According to the author:

               The California Victim Compensation Program (CalVCP  
               helps victims by reimbursing or covering victims for  
               expenses resulting from certain violent crimes,  
               including medical treatment, mental health services,  
               and lost income.  A crime victim must first apply to  
               the program to determine eligibility.  Some  
               applications get held up in the process for extended  
               lengths of time, leaving many eligible victims stuck  
               with paying bills out of pocket or unable to receive  
               treatment or services.

               To curb delays, starting in 2003 the Legislature  
               required CalVCP to act on applications within an  
               average of 90 days, but no later than 180 days, and  
               required the program to report back to the Legislature  
               whenever the 90-day-average standard was not being  


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               met.  In 2004, the board changed the method of  
               calculating the processing time by starting the period  
               only when it accepts a completed application and not  
               including the length of time an application was  
               submitted as incomplete.  The current method used by  
               CalVCP is not a true reflection of how long it takes  
               the program to process applications and may be masking  
               a problem of lengthy processing times that hinders  
               crime victims in their efforts in rehabilitation and  
               moving on with their lives.

               This bill will provide public accountability and  
               transparency in the CalVCP application process.   
               Victims and the Legislature can adequately assess the  
               performance of the CalVCP and determine if  
               improvements in the process should be made.

          Prepared by: Jerome McGuire / PUB. S. /
          5/13/15 15:56:02

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