Assemblymember introduces hospital-closure bill, separate ordinance to increase funding for K-12 education

Patrick O’Donnell (D-Long Beach), California’s 70th-district assemblymember, recently introduced separate bill proposals in February. They are the following:

AB 1014
Introduced Thursday, Feb. 21, Assembly Bill 1014 (AB 1014) would require hospitals to provide a 180-day public notice before closing or eliminating services. Current law only requires a 30-day notice before closing a hospital and 90 days before eliminating emergency services, according to O’Donnell’s office.

“Hospital closures are devastating for communities,” the assemblymember said. “Just last year, Community Hospital of Long Beach closed its doors after abruptly diverting emergency-room patients to other hospitals with little notice to residents. There was very little time to engage the hospital provider on an alternative to closure, and patients ultimately paid the price. There are now longer wait times for services, longer ambulance-travel times and overcrowding at other facilities.”

O’Donnell’s office stated that the assemblymember is continuing to work with the City of Long Beach and stakeholders to reopen Community Hospital of Long Beach. He plans to introduce legislation to extend the hospital’s seismic-compliance deadline should the City finalize an agreement with a new provider.
Zenei Cortez, co-president of the California Nurses Association and a sponsor of the bill, said that, although AB 1014 won’t solve the issue, it is a step in the right direction.

“Every single year, nurses in California have been forced to watch their patients suffer when hospitals close or end essential services,” Cortez said. “These hospitals provide little or no notice to the communities who count on them. This bill will not solve our state’s healthcare crisis or force hospitals to stay open, but it will take the basic step of allowing neighbors, workers and patients time to figure out what they will do in the next emergency now that their local hospital is gone.”

AB 1014 is pending referral to its first policy committee.

AB 1303
On Monday, Feb. 25, O’Donnell introduced Assembly Bill 1303 (AB 1303), which would provide an additional $150 million to K-12 Vocational/Career Technical Education (CTE) programs.

“As a classroom teacher, I have seen firsthand how vocational programs engage students and guide them to success,” said O’Donnell, who is chair of the Assembly Education Committee. “Vocational or career-technical programs prepare our students for lasting careers and strengthen our California workforce.”

AB 1303 builds upon last year’s appropriation of $300 million in ongoing funds to Vocational/CTE programs, O’Donnell’s office stated. If enacted, funding for Vocational/CTE programs will total $450 million. The bill will also align two existing programs under the direction of the California Department of Education to make it easier for school districts to apply for funding and meet accountability requirements.

“We must offer students options,” O’Donnell said. “Not every student will go to college, and not every job requires a college degree. We have a shortage of workers for jobs requiring technical skills. The State needs to increase its efforts to meet those needs.”

The bill awaits referral to its first policy committee.