This month, CALCASA is celebrating two state-level policy wins with SB 534 and AB 898, both of which will have a positive impact on the work of our members. In addition to these state-level issues, we are working to support several federal policy issues such as the Public Health Block Grant, Sexual Assault Service Program funding and the reauthorization of VAWA. Continue reading to get the complete CALCASA Public Policy Update.

Bills that CALCASA has sponsored:
SB 534 (Corbett D) Victims of sexual assault
SB 534 — Corbett was chaptered on Sept. 29, 2011, bringing California into compliance with the Violence Against Women (VAWA) Services*Training*Officers*Prosecution (STOP) State Formula Grant Program. Effective Jan. 1, 2012, SB 534 clarifies that all victims are entitled to a forensic exam regardless of whether or not they choose to cooperate with the criminal justice system. SB 534 stipulates that the forensic exam, colloquially referred to as a “Jane Doe Exam,” must be offered at no cost to the survivor. The cost will be incurred by local law enforcement and local law enforcement can seek reimbursement from Cal EMA for the cost of the examinations where a victim does not participate in the criminal justice system. The bill does not provide language about who will store the evidence and for how long the evidence will be stored. The VAWA Implementation Committee and Forensic Exam Workgroup, of which CALCASA participates, are working to create clarifying guidelines and language that will address the logistics of how SB 534 will be implemented. Rape crisis centers, SART teams and local law enforcement will need training and guidelines for how SB 534 will work in their communities. Once the Committee and Workgroup publish their FAQ sheets and guidelines, CALCASA will provide all of the information that it has available to members through emails and trainings.
AB 898 (Alejo D) Crime victims: restitution: fine
AB 898 — Alejo was chaptered on Sept. 29, 2011. This bill makes the minimum restitution fine not less than $300, if the person is convicted of a felony; and not less than $150, if the person is convicted of a misdemeanor; and make other conforming changes. This bill marks the first time that restitution fines have been increased in nearly two decades and will generate money for the California Victim Compensation Program (CalVCP).
AB 322  (Portantino D) Forensic evidence: rape kits
AB 322 — Portantio was vetoed by the Governor. AB 322 would have required the Department of Justice to establish a ten-county pilot project to open and test all rape kits collected in those counties during the period of the pilot project. In his veto message, the Governor wrote that the ten counties did not want to participate and that he didn’t understand why the state should mandate participation and spend the money on a program that the counties didn’t want, in light of all of the programs that the counties do want that are being cut. The Governor believes that local officials are in the best position to determine whether to participate in such a program.
Additional federal level policy issues that may impact members:
Public Health Block Grant: The Preventative Health and Health Services Block Grant (PHHSBG) allows states, tribes and territories to address public health needs and challenges with innovative and community driven methods. Out of FY 2010’s $100 million budget for PHHSBG, approximately $7.5 million was used to support sexual assault services and prevention efforts. The $7.5 million is referred to as the “rape set aside.” The rape set aside funding directly responds to the goal of the Centers for Disease Control to reduce chronic disease and its impact. In addition to the immediate trauma caused by sexual abuse, the violence contributes to a number of chronic health problems, including depression, chronic pain, alcohol and substance abuse, sexually transmitted diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, and often limits the ability of women to manage other chronic illnesses such as diabetes and hypertension. California receives $800,000 of the $7.5 million dollars. This portion of the $800,000 is essential to prevention programming such as technical assistance, capacity building, program development, and program implementation.
Currently, the House budget preserves funding for the PHHSBG and subsequently the $7 million set aside funding. The Senate has eliminated the PHHSBG funding and set aside mirroring the President’s FY 2012 budget, which proposes to eliminate PHHSBG and consolidate chronic disease block grant programs. The Senate Committee has included additional funding for this purpose in the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, although the specific amount of funding remains unclear. The elimination of the rape set aside funding would be extremely detrimental to the prevention against sexual assault and would put a multitude of prevention programs in California in jeopardy of discontinuing services. CALCASA is closely following this issue and is advocating for the government to keep the rape set aside funds. CALCASA will connect with members when new information develops or if there are any action steps that can be taken on a local level.
Sexual Assault Service Program Funding: Sexual Assault Services Program (SASP) is a program that was created through the 2005 reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). SASP creates a federal funding stream dedicated explicitly to the provision of direct services for sexual violence victims. The Senate is currently debating on increasing SASP funding to $25 million (a $10 million increase over 2011 and a $5 million increase from the budget proposed by the House). Money allocated to SASP is funneled through Cal EMA and then distributed to rape crisis centers throughout California. An increase in national SASP funding translates into an increase in the funding available through Cal EMA for the direct services you provide at your agency. CALCASA partnered with the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence by asking member agencies to sign a joint letter, along with agencies from across the country. CALCASA is deeply appreciative of the more than 45 member agencies that quickly responded to the email regarding SASP and signed on to this letter.
VAWA reauthorization:  CALCASA is working closely with the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence to support VAWA reauthorization. The NAESV is focused on looking to garner bi-partisan support for the bill. Terri Poore of the National Alliance summarized this focus by stating, “Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the prime sponsor, has released a pre-introduction draft bill. We are now looking for Republican co-sponsors. As you know, VAWA has always enjoyed broad bipartisan support. Vice-President Joseph Biden (formerly a Senator from Delaware) and Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) were the original co-sponsors. This iteration of VAWA streamlines programs, reduces funding authorizations, and increases accountability so it meets the new fiscal requirements of Congress and includes provisions that everyone should be able to support.” CALCASA will connect with members when new information develops or if there are any action steps that can be taken on a local level.