Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Two bills.

There are two bills we are supposed to be talking about, AB 2424 (Beall) and AB 1192 (Evans.)  Both seem simultaneously well-intended and not helpful but I'm open to having explained to me why the bills are either diabolical or useful.

To summarize briefly, AB 2424 is a wide-ranging 30+ page concoction meant to implement for especially transition-age children with developmental disabilities some of the recommendations of the SB 1270 hearings. Long legislation makes my head swim a little and I definitely need a second or seventh reading but one thing jumps out at me immediately: The law puts a lot of mandates on regional centers to, for instance, do timely IPPs and to have a bias towards work in an integrated setting. We've discussed before here whether or not that bias is appropriate but what is troubling me is that there are already IPP-related mandates that are complied with, if not never, within the statistical margin of error of never. Fair Hearing rights would be one example.  

Until there is some evidence that the legislature controls the executive branch and DDS can and does require compliance with regulations from regional centers, any legislative input into the IPP process seems either pointless or cruel.  To put in the funding contract language requiring compliance is entirely pointless without monitoring and enforcement, which is why no DDS client has ever (with a confidence interval of p=95%) heard of their fair hearing rights unless they were themselves intrepid researchers or were assisted by a wise parent or craven vendor.

AB 1192, which I have also heard referred to as AB 1983 (maybe a pet name) is similarly clearly well-meant and otherwise baffling.  This bill will require establishment of an abuse registry, require that service providers consult said registry and forbid service providers from hiring people listed.  Like the pursuit of integrated employment opportunities, the rationale is unassailable.  I imagine every other ED, like me, loses more sleep over the prospect of employing an abuser than over funding which is otherwise everything we love.  What I can't figure out is the value of the registry.  It seems to me that if a person has been convicted of a crime including abuse, that conviction should appear on the criminal background check we are already required to do.  If a person has not been convicted of a crime, it seems abusive and, perhaps, unconstitutional to prevent that person from working on the basis of a crime they have not been tried for and found guilty.

So, I guess there are two points we can discuss here.  The first is: What don't I get about these bills?  Is there a reason to support them other than their intent?  The second is whether it is harmless to pass harmless legislation or whether such legislation causes damage as a distraction from important advocacy that otherwise might be done.  

Brer Stanley, I know you have in the past expressed enthusiasm for 2424.  Educate me, please.