CFRW Capitol Update October 17, 2023

California Federation of Republican Women
Officially Chartered by the National Federation of Republican Women
and the California Republican Party

From the Desk of Mary Ervin, CFRW President
Submitted by Jeanne Solnordal, CFRW Legislative Analyst
October 17, 2023



Image of the homeless living in tents with the words "Treatment not Tents".

IN CALIFORNIA, more than 171,000 people experience homelessness on any given day. California is home to 12% of the nation’s population yet we have 30% of the nation’s homeless population. While homelessness is a major issue for California, fixing the problem has proven to be difficult if not impossible. There are many conflicting ideas about what should be done. 

University of CA – San Francisco study homelessness.

The University of CA – San Francisco recently conducted research and here are a few of their findings.

Many participants had symptoms of mental health conditions, yet few had access to treatment. Participants noted that the stresses of homelessness exacerbated their mental health symptoms. Two thirds (66%) noted symptoms of current mental health conditions, including serious depression (48%), anxiety (51%), trouble concentrating or remembering (37%), and hallucinations (12%). Only 18% had received non-emergent mental health treatment recently; only 9% had received any mental health counseling and only 14% were receiving medications for their mental health conditions.

Almost one third (31%) reported regular use of methamphetamines, 3% cocaine, and 11% non-prescribed opioids. Sixteen percent reported heavy episodic drinking. Twenty  (20) percent of those who report current regular use of illicit drugs or heavy episodic alcohol use reported that they wanted treatment but were unable to receive it.  


CARE ACT – In 2022 Senate Bill (SB) 1338 established the Community Assistance, Recovery, and Empowerment (CARE) Act, also known as the CARE Act.

This act provides community-based behavioral health services and support to Californians living with untreated schizophrenia or other psychotic disorders as well as those struggling with substance use challenges. The premise is that a new civil CARE court can mandate up to 24 months of treatment for those in need.

All of these new bills are signed just as the CARE Courts begin to roll out in seven counties. Glenn, Orange, Riverside, San Diego, San Francisco, Stanislaus, and Tuolumne counties opened their  Community Assistance, Recovery, and Empowerment (CARE) Courts on Oct. 2 and Los Angeles County will open its court on Dec. 1. The rest of the state will follow next year. 

SB 43 –  Behavioral Health passed 75 Ayes nvr 5.

Governor Newsom signed Senate Bill 43 on 10/10/2023 which significantly updates California’s conservatorship laws for the first time in more than 50 years. Californians experiencing serious mental illness or severe substance use disorder and most at-risk of harm to themselves can have a conservator appointed to direct their care – with continued protection of individual rights and increased transparency on data, equity, and outcomes. This was a controversial bill as many people felt that it infringed upon a person’s free will to not choose treatment. History has shown that many people prefer to live in homeless camps and refuse treatment as they succumb to their addictions.

AB 531 – The Behavioral Health Infrastructure Bond Act of 2023 – signed 10/12/2023 by Governor Newsom.

This is the bill to be most Leary of.

It authorizes $6.380 billion, subject to voter approval, in bond funds to be expended as follows:  

a) $1.05 billion for loans or grants to develop supportive housing for veterans experiencing or at risk of homelessness with behavioral health challenges, administered by the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVet);  

b) $922 million for loans or grants to develop supportive housing for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness with behavioral health challenges, administered by HCD;  

c) $1.5 billion to be awarded to counties, cities and tribal entities for grants for behavioral health treatment and residential settings eligible under the Behavioral Health Continuum Infrastructure Program (BHCIP), of which $30 million is designated to tribal entities; and  

d) $2.893 billion for grants for behavioral health treatment and residential settings authorized under BHCIP, to be administered by the Department of Health Care Services  

This equates to approximately 10,000 new treatment beds and supportive housing, and an overhaul of California’s 20-year-old law that funds mental health services with a tax on millionaires. 

8 Republicans voted against this bill due to the new tax burden on California residents 

SB 326 – The Behavioral Health Services Act – passed unanimously on 9/14 and was signed by the Governor on 10/12/2023.

This bill revises and recasts the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) as the Behavioral Health Services Act (BHSA) if voters approve amendments to the MHSA at the March 5, 2024 statewide primary election. This bill clarifies that county behavioral health programs are permitted to use BHSA funds to treat primary substance use disorder conditions and makes conforming changes throughout the BHSA. This bill restructures current MHSA funding buckets. This bill enhances the current process for local planning of various services funded by the BHSA, and for oversight, accountability, and reporting of BHSA funds. 

Watch for PROP 1. – On March 5th ballot – Newsom’s signing of these two bills means the legislation will be sending a ballot measure to voters that includes two key provisions: a $6.4 billion bond to pay for Newsom’s overhaul of the Mental Health system and adding substance abuse to the list of disorders.

Newsom said in a written statement. “The mental health crisis affects us all, and people who need the most help have been too often overlooked. We are working to ensure no one falls through the cracks, and that people get the help they need and the respect they deserve.”

While the desire to do good is admirable, why do the taxpayers bear the cost burden when other expenses such as services to illegal immigrants could be cut?   

The DEMS will be asking for a YES vote and the REPS will be asking for a no vote.  

Ironically, while focusing on the needs of the homeless and the great mental health reform, the state passed a new rental security deposit requirement that will cause the homeless harm.

Currently, landlords are allowed to collect a security deposit of up to two months rent plus the first month’s rent. Two months security deposit is often charged when an application has blemished credit or a lower income making the applicant high risk. This new bill limits the security deposit to one month’s rent giving the landlord no cushion of money or time should rent go unpaid. An eviction would need to be filed sooner giving the tenant no opportunity to repay the rent. Unfortunately, many landlords will now stop taking risks on the lesser credit worthy applicants. Explain to me how this helps our homelessness and mental health crisis.

AB 12, Haney. Tenancy: security deposits 

This bill would, beginning July 1, 2024, instead prohibit a landlord from demanding or receiving security for a rental agreement for residential property in an amount or value in excess of an amount equal to one month’s rent, regardless of whether the residential property is unfurnished or furnished, in addition to any rent for the first month paid on or before initial occupancy. The bill, unless the prospective tenant is a service member, as defined, would prohibit a landlord from demanding or receiving security for a rental agreement for residential property in an amount or value in excess of 2 months’ rent, in addition to any rent for the first month, if the landlord (1) is a natural person or a limited liability corporation in which all members are natural persons and (2) owns no more than 2 residential rental properties that collectively include no more than 4 dwelling units offered for rent.  

Newsom stated in his press conference – Treatment not Tents, on 10/12/2023,  that “there are two kinds of people – the diagnosed and the undiagnosed”. He encouraged us “not to be hard on ourselves as it is stressful out there.” 

I would say he has hit that one on the head as he has definitely contributed to my stress.