SACRAMENTO — Reading through Assemblywoman Julia Brownley’s (D-Santa Monica) legislative to-do list is an undertaking.
The 22 bills and resolutions that comprise just her 2011 load focus heavily on education reform, an area Brownley was very familiar with in her time on the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Board of Education, but also run through a broad spectrum of goals like a statewide ban on single use plastic bags and a program to put illuminated digital ads on the sides of Big Blue Buses.
“Most of my bills come from issues I’ve been working on. Other times, I carry bills because I become aware of particular problems,” Brownley said. “I’m carrying a pretty heavy load. I have a lot of things I want to accomplish.”
Three of those items, at least, can get checked off.
This week, Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law two pieces of Brownley’s agenda dealing with government accountability and making sure the medical community is more responsive to patient complaints.
The first, Assembly Bill 782, gives the California Public Employee Retirement System (CalPERS) the ability to charge government agencies and contract employers for long wait times when CalPERS conducts audits to make sure that public funds are being spent correctly.
“In some cases, agencies are not as responsive as they should be,” Brownley said, delicately. “When that occurs, this allows CalPERS to recover administrative costs from the employer for an audit that exceeds a certain time to complete.”
The bill gives extra incentives to those agencies to get audits done quickly and efficiently, or literally pay the price.
The second follows along the same lines.
Assembly Bill 1127 streamlines the process by which the Medical Board of Investigations looks into complaints made by patients against doctors.
“In most cases, doctors are very cooperative,” Brownley said. “Every once in a while, there’s a physician or two that’s not. This helps streamline that investigation process in helping to protect the patient.”
The genesis of the bill came in almost nine years ago, when the Department of Consumer Affairs was asked to monitor and evaluate the Medical Board’s procedures. The resulting report showed an issue of enforcement and a feeling that there was a long wait time to turn around complaints.
“AB 1127 was in response to that, in some sense,” Brownley said.
The legislature also approved a joint resolution requesting that Congress put money behind school-based health centers.
Putting doctors in places where low-income students, or those not covered by health insurance, can get access to medical care is critical to keeping kids healthy, Brownley said.
“Having a school-based system where children and families come every single day is an appropriate portal for those services,” she said.
In 1998, Brownley helped set the stage for a partnership between Santa Monica High School and the Venice Family Clinic, located on Pico Boulevard, to provide one such clinic on the high school campus.
The clinic operates on Mondays and Thursdays, for approximately three hours in the morning.
The legislature voted to support Congress in putting money, found in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, more commonly referred to as “Obamacare,” or the No Child Left Behind Act, toward supporting the health centers.
“I certainly believe there is tremendous need out there, and it’s an appropriate place to fund school-based health centers,” Brownley said.