Legislation

Report: California Elementary School Truancy Crisis Persists, New Research Shows Racial, Income Disparities

September 12, 2014
Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

LOS ANGELES - Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today issued the second annual report on elementary school truancy in the state which reveals that the truancy crisis in California continues. The report provides new research on how students of color and students from low-income families are missing a disproportionate amount of school each year.

Attorney General Harris’ second annual report, In School + On Track 2014, outlines recommendations to reduce state truancy rates. These recommendations were put into action in the Every Kid Counts legislative package (http://bit.ly/X7pZYU) sponsored by the Attorney General that passed the state legislature and currently awaits Governor Jerry Brown’s signature.

"California elementary school students continue to miss school at unacceptably high rates," Attorney General Harris said. "Improvements in education policy are moot if students are not in class. California needs common sense solutions that help parents and educators reduce elementary school truancy. The Every Kid Counts legislative package helps us get this done."

Information broken down by school district and county is available here: https://oag.ca.gov/truancy/2014/ch1

The report contains key updates and new research on income and racial disparities, including:

  • A quarter of a million elementary school students in California missed 10% or more of the 2013-2014 school year.
  • Over the last three years, school districts have lost over $3.5 billion directly from student absences.
  • 1 in 10 school districts reported they do not know their chronic absence rate for the 2013-2014 school year.
  • Almost 90% of the elementary students who are missing over a month of school per year are from low-income families.
  • More than 1 in 5 African American students is chronically absent which is more than double the average for white students.
  • African American elementary school students are chronically truant at nearly 4xs the rate of all students.

If signed into law, Attorney General Harris’ legislation will:

  • Help schools and counties work with parents to address the core reasons behind truancy and chronic absence.
  • Give local school districts and counties tools to comply with attendance tracking requirements in the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), state truancy mandates and state and federal reporting requirements.
  • Modernize state and local systems to track and prevent truancy and chronic absence.
  • Ensure that schools, districts, counties and the state can evaluate the success of interventions to combat truancy and chronic absence.

 “California is investing billions of dollars to help low income, English learner, foster and disabled students succeed,” said Assemblymember Isadore Hall, III. “But students cannot succeed if they are not in the classroom. I am honored to author AB 2141 and to join Attorney General Kamala D. Harris in helping schools and school districts focus its resources on developing effective truancy prevention and intervention strategies. AB 2141 is a common sense measure that will help keep our students off the street and in the classroom. I urge the Governor to sign AB 2141 and all of the Attorney General’s truancy reduction bills into law.”

“I applaud Attorney General Kamala Harris for tackling the issue of truancy and dropout rates head on,” said Assemblymember Chris Holden. “One of my goals is to keep children in the classroom and out of the courtroom, which is why I was happy to join with the Attorney General in crafting legislation to increase accountability for school attendance review boards in order to make them more effective. The measure, now awaiting the Governor’s signature, will show on the district and state level how large the truancy problem is and how we are addressing it. With this slate of bills we are not putting more students in the juvenile justice system, but inviting the community to intervene before they end up in the penal system.” 

“Attorney General Harris' report is another profound testament to the need for my Assembly Bill 1866, which is currently awaiting the Governor's signature,” said Assemblymember Raul Bocanegra. “By creating precise and longitudinal records of student attendance statewide, this measure will empower educators to detect at-risk students early and develop effective intervention programs for this population. AB 1866 is the first integral step to solving California's attendance crisis and the negative outcomes that ensue.”

"I applaud Attorney General Kamala Harris' commitment to shining the light on the problem of truancy and her work in San Francisco and Sacramento to keep children in school, on track, and ready to graduate,” said Assemblymember Joan Buchanan  “Their future and our future depends on every student graduating college and career ready."

“The findings of this report are alarming and should serve as a wake up call for elected leaders, school districts and California families,” said Senator Ricardo Lara. “Latinos are the majority in California so when 1 in 5 of Latino kids are chronically absent, we have a problem. We must begin addressing this crisis because our state's success is tied to the success of all students.”

Attorney General Harris’ 2013 In School + Track (https://oag.ca.gov/truancy/2013) report contained the first statewide statistics on California’s elementary school truancy crisis. The report showed the direct link between public education and public safety. Students who reach third grade but are not at third grade reading level are statistically more likely to drop out of high school. Annually, dropouts cost California taxpayers an estimated $46.4 billion in incarceration, lost productivity and lost taxes.

As the District Attorney of San Francisco, Attorney General Harris started a citywide truancy initiative in 2006.  In the course of investigating factors contributing to the city’s violent crime rate, she found that 94% of San Francisco homicide victims under age 25 were high school dropouts.  Then-District Attorney Harris formed a partnership with the school district to inform parents that they had a legal duty to ensure that their children attended school, provide parents of chronically truant students with wrap-around services and school-based mediation, and prosecute parents in the most severe cases where other interventions did not work.

Over a two-year period, then-District Attorney Harris’s initiative reduced truancy among elementary students in San Francisco by 23%, according to the San Francisco Unified School District.  The initiative also served as a model for SB 1317 (Leno), which defined “chronic truancy” for the first time under state law and established the initiative’s model of combining meaningful services with smart sanctions in the California Penal Code.  The bill was sponsored by then-District Attorney Harris and was enacted in law in 2010.

The report is available in its entirety online at: https://oag.ca.gov/truancy/2014

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Applauds Passage of S.B. 1094

August 29, 2014
Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today issued the following statement on the passage of Senate Bill 1094: 

“SB 1094 is about good public health policy that ensures choice and access to quality, affordable healthcare for underserved communities. I want to thank Senator Lara for introducing this bill and applaud the Assembly and Senate for passing this important legislation.”

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Announces Package of Truancy Legislation Passes State Legislature

August 28, 2014
Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today announced that a package of legislation to help local school districts and communities address California’s elementary school truancy crisis has passed out of both legislative houses and is on its way to the Governor’s desk.

“Each year approximately one million California elementary school children are truant from class. Good education policies are meaningless if students aren’t at their desks,” Attorney General Harris said. “I applaud the legislature for bringing us one step closer to stopping this crisis.”

If signed into law, these bills will:

  • Help schools and counties work with parents to address the core reasons behind truancy and chronic absence.
  • Give local school districts and counties tools to comply with attendance tracking requirements in the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), state truancy mandates and state and federal reporting requirements.
  • Modernize state and local systems to track and prevent truancy and chronic absence.
  • Ensure that schools, districts, counties and the state can evaluate the success of interventions to combat truancy and chronic absence.

Attorney General Harris announced her sponsorship of the four bills and introduced the legislative package at a March 10, 2014 press conference with State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and Assemblymembers Raul Bocanegra, Rob Bonta, Joan Buchanan, Isadore Hall and Chris Holden.

A complete list of education, public policy, and law enforcement leaders and organizations who have endorsed the legislation is available here: http://bit.ly/1liXv9O.

The legislation will, if signed, put recommended reforms from Attorney General Harris’ 2013 report, In School + On Track (https://oag.ca.gov/truancy) into law. The report contained the first state-wide statistics on California’s elementary school truancy crisis. It revealed that in the 2012-2013 school year, 1 million elementary school students were truant and 250,000 elementary school students missed 18 or more school days at a cost of $1.4 billion in lost funds to California school districts. Annually, dropouts cost California taxpayers an estimated $46.4 billion in incarceration, lost productivity and lost taxes.

Next month, Attorney General Harris will issue the 2014 In School + On Track report containing updated statewide figures on elementary school truancy and its fiscal impact on local school districts.

Attorney General Harris’ Truancy Legislation Package

ASSEMBLY BILL 1866 - Statewide Attendance Data System

Author: Assemblymember Raul Bocanegra

Adds truancy and absenteeism to the information collected by the state Department of Education. California is one of only a few states in the country that does not collect student attendance data. This bill will allow local school districts to monitor and analyze attendance patterns, as required under the Local Control Funding Formula.

ASSEMBLY BILL 1672 - Enhanced Student Attendance Review Board (SARB) Reports

Author: Assemblymember Chris Holden

Expands annual reports from local School Attendance Review Boards (SARBs) to include information on student enrollment, absence and truancy rates, district attorney referrals and SARB intervention outcomes. Current annual SARB reports provide minimal information about intervention outcomes, so it is difficult to get the full picture of SARB efforts around the state. This bill ensures schools, districts and counties can evaluate the success of truancy intervention efforts.

ASSEMBLY BILL 1643 - Improved SARBs

Author: Assemblymember Joan Buchanan

Adds representatives of a county district attorney’s office and county public defender’s office to both county and local School Attendance Review Boards (SARBs). This will provide local courts with a broader understanding of attendance issues and will enhance the ability of SARBs to solve the root cause of truancy problems.

ASSEMBLY BILL 2141 - District Attorney Referral Outcome Reports

Authors: Assemblymember Isadore Hall, Assemblymember Rob Bonta

Requires that district attorney’s offices provide a report to school officials on the outcome of a truancy related referral. This helps school officials determine which outcomes are most effective and guarantees baseline information sharing between referring agencies and prosecutors.

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Attorney General Kamala D. Harris and Legislative Leaders Unveil Truancy Legislation

March 10, 2014
Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

SACRAMENTO – Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today announced a package of legislation to help local school districts and communities address California’s elementary school truancy crisis. Each year, an estimated one million elementary school students are truant and 250,000 elementary school students miss 18 or more school days at a cost of $1.4 billion in lost funds to California school districts.

Joined by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, State Senator Bill Monning and Assemblymembers Raul Bocanegra, Rob Bonta, Joan Buchanan, Isadore Hall and Chris Holden, Attorney General Harris announced her sponsorship of five bills that will help schools, parents and government effectively intervene when children are chronically absent, and improve local school districts’ and counties’ ability to track attendance patterns.

“California’s Constitution guarantees our children the right to an education, yet our elementary schools face a truancy crisis,” Attorney General Harris said. “When children in kindergarten through sixth grade miss school, they fall behind and too many never catch up. The consequences for California’s economy and public safety are very serious. These bills modernize attendance monitoring and build the support schools, parents and communities need to get California’s children to class."

The legislation will:

-          Assist schools and counties as they work with parents to address the core reasons behind truancy and chronic absence.

-          Provide local school districts and counties tools to comply with attendance tracking requirements in the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), state truancy mandates and state and federal reporting requirements.

-          Modernize state and local systems to track and prevent truancy and chronic absence.

-          Ensure that schools, districts, counties and the state can evaluate the success of interventions to combat truancy and chronic absence.

“It is an honor to be able to partner with Attorney General Harris on SB 1107. We have long known the importance of early childhood education, and that full attendance of elementary school students is one of the keys to later academic success. By mandating the annual tracking and reporting by the Attorney General, we will be able to offer local school districts additional tools in tackling this very complex issue,” Senator Monning said.

“I’m proud to stand with Attorney General Harris to unveil this package of legislation that will help to address the truancy crisis here in California. AB 1866 will allow educators and stakeholders to identify students at risk of becoming truants earlier in the process, which will allow preventative steps to be taken to ensure these students get back to school and back on track. Hundreds of thousands of our young men and women are truant from school each and every year. That is simply unacceptable and I applaud Attorney General Harris for helping to shine a spotlight on this critical issue,” Assemblymember Bocanegra said.

“Putting our children on the right path starts with making sure they are in school, and requires that we all work together to ensure that happens. That means developing the lines of communication between schools, parents and law enforcement to address the issue—which is what AB 2141 does. Additionally, this package of bills being put forward by the Attorney General will help stakeholders intervene early when students are not in class,” Assemblymember Bonta said.

“With the right individuals at the table, such as mental health or social service agencies, we can work with students and families to find a positive solution to attendance challenges. By requiring every county to have a SARB, we guarantee that this important tool is available across the state,” said Assemblymember Buchanan.

"A student's chronic truancy is a symptom of larger problems in a young person's life. Our efforts to reduce student truancy mean very little when we don't know which programs work and which ones don't. My AB 2141 is an important tool in helping to identify successful outcomes which will help us to better coordinate state and local efforts needed to keep students on track and in the classroom,” Assemblymember Hall said.

“I am proud to author a bill that will help more students stay in the classroom and out of the courtroom.  If schools aren’t tracking what students are missing you won’t be able to effectively fix the problem. Second graders are missing school and arriving late for very different reasons than 11th graders. Requiring County Offices of Education to forward the complete reports to the Department of Education will allow the State to identify trends and find best practices to address this crisis,” Assemblymember Holden said.

In School +On Track also made the point that elementary school truancy is at the root of the state’s chronic criminal justice problems. Missing large amounts of school is one of the strongest predictors of falling behind academically and dropping out, even in early grades. According to one study, students who missed 10% of their kindergarten and first grade years scored, on average, 60 points below similar students with good attendance on third-grade reading tests. And, students who don’t read proficiently by the third grade are four times more likely not to receive a high school diploma than proficient readers, which puts them at risk of becoming a victim or perpetrator of crime. An increase of graduation rates by just 10% would result in a 20% drop in violent crime, and prevent 500 murders and more than 20,000 aggravated assaults per year in California.

Annually, dropouts cost California taxpayers an estimated $46.4 billion in incarceration, lost productivity and lost taxes.

As the District Attorney of San Francisco, Attorney General Harris started a citywide truancy initiative in 2006.  Over a two-year period, then-District Attorney Harris’ initiative reduced truancy among elementary students in San Francisco by 23%, according to the San Francisco Unified School District.  The initiative also served as a model for SB 1317 (Leno), which defined “chronic truancy” for the first time under state law and established the initiative’s model of combining meaningful services with smart sanctions in the California Penal Code.  The bill was sponsored by then-District Attorney Harris and was enacted into law in 2010.

Attorney General Harris’ Truancy Legislation Package

SENATE BILL 1107 - Mandated Annual Report Legislation

Author: Senator Bill Monning

Mandate that the California Attorney General issue an annual report on elementary school truancy and chronic absenteeism similar to 2013’s In School + On Track report. This will help track truancy and chronic absence rates and highlight effective programs to improve attendance across the state.

ASSEMBLY BILL 1866 - Statewide Attendance Data System

Author: Assemblymember Raul Bocanegra

Enhance the state Department of Education’s student record system to include fields on truancy and absenteeism. California is one of only four states in the country that does not collect student attendance data. This will allow local school districts to monitor and analyze attendance patterns, as required under the LCFF.

ASSEMBLY BILL 1672 - Enhanced SARB (Student Attendance Review Board) Reports

Author: Assemblymember Chris Holden

Require that local SARBs (School Attendance Review Boards) report annually on referral rates to county offices of education and expand these reports to include information on student enrollment, absence and truancy rates, district attorney referrals and SARB intervention outcomes. Current annual SARB reports provide minimal information about intervention outcomes, so it is difficult to get the full picture of SARB efforts around the state. This bill ensures schools, districts and counties can evaluate the success of truancy intervention efforts.

ASSEMBLY BILL 1643 - Mandatory SARBs

Author: Assemblymember Joan Buchanan

Require that every county create a SARB. Forty years ago, the legislature created SARBs in order to divert students who were having school attendance issues from the juvenile justice system. County SARBs are a great local tool to provide training, guidance and oversight to local SARBs within a county to ensure consistency and achievement of the SARB’s core mission: improved attendance.

ASSEMBLY BILL 2141 - District Attorney Referral Outcome Reports

Authors: Assemblymember Isadore Hall, Assemblymember Rob Bonta

Require that when a parent or student is referred to district attorney’s office or any other agency engaged in prosecution or charges are considered to enforce state school attendance laws, the prosecuting agency must provide a report on the outcome of the referral. This helps school officials determine which outcomes are effective and guarantees baseline information sharing between referring agencies and prosecutors.

Additional statements of support for this legislation and graphics from the press conference are available at: https://oag.ca.gov/news

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Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Applauds Governor for Signing Do Not Track Legislation

September 27, 2013
Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

SACRAMENTO -- Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today applauded Governor Jerry Brown’s signature of Assembly Bill 370, which she sponsored.

“AB 370 makes the invisible practice of online tracking more transparent to consumers, and I applaud the Governor for signing this important bill,” Attorney General Harris said.

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Applauds Governor for Signing Bill to Upgrade California’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program

September 27, 2013
Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

SACRAMENTO -- Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today applauded Governor Jerry Brown’s signature of legislation she sponsored to upgrade and expand California’s prescription drug monitoring program.

The Department of Justice’s Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System (CURES) program and Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) allow authorized prescribers and pharmacists to quickly review controlled substance information and patient prescription history in an effort to identify and deter drug abuse and diversion.

“I applaud Governor Brown for signing this important piece of legislation, which allows us to strengthen a critical tool to fight prescription drug abuse in California," Attorney General Harris said.

Senate Bill 809 by Senator Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord) will require all prescribers and dispensers to enroll in and use the system.

“SB 809 is an important step in fighting the prescription drug abuse epidemic,” Senator DeSaulnier said. “Governor Brown’s signature ensures sustainable funding for one of the Department of Justice’s most powerful tools in fighting prescription drug abuse. SB 809 prevents California going from first to worst when it comes to monitoring prescription narcotics. The funding for an upgraded CURES program is a small price to pay when so many lives are at stake.”

Attorney General Harris has worked hard to save the CURES program, which had its funding slashed to almost nothing when the Department of Justice took a $71 million budget cut two years ago. She formed a working group with interested parties to push for an improved prescription drug monitoring system.

SB 809 includes a small increase in the provider license fee of 1.16 percent to pay for the annual cost to operate the program and a one-time assessment on health care plans for the upgrade, which will modernize and improve the information gathering and sharing.

Current funding sources are insufficient to operate and maintain CURES.  If another source of funding is not identified, the program will be eliminated on July 1, 2013.

Nine Attorneys General Voice Strong Opposition to Chemical Safety Improvement Act

July 30, 2013
Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

SAN FRANCISCO -- Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today released a letter that she and eight other Attorneys General sent to Congress strongly objecting to the Chemical Safety Improvement Act (S.1009) in its current form.

The letter outlines their shared concern that S.1009, which amends the Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA), jeopardizes public health and safety by severely limiting states’ long-standing power to protect the public from toxic chemicals.

“This bill puts Californians at risk from toxic chemicals and inhibits the development of safer, cleaner products,” said Attorney General Harris. “California is a national leader in protecting public health and the environment from dangerous chemicals–and we aim to stay that way.”

California was joined by Attorneys Generals from Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Oregon, Vermont and Washington. The letter outlines shared concern that S.1009’s preemption provisions are too broad.

In California the following programs, among others, are at risk under the current version of S.1009:

  • The statewide ban on certain flame retardants.
  • Laws limiting the use of volatile organic compounds in consumer products—a significant cause of ozone pollution and asthma.
  • Proposition 65, which has resulted in manufacturers disclosing dangerous chemicals and reformulating products to reduce their levels. Examples include the reduction of lead in children’s bounce houses, playground structures and costume jewelry.
  • California’s Green Chemistry Program, which promotes the use of safer alternatives to toxic chemicals in everyday products.

Michael Troncoso, Senior Counsel to Attorney General Harris, will testify Wednesday on the bill in front of the U.S. Senate’s Committee on Environment and Public Works.

Last month, Attorney General Harris’ office sent a letter to U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer outlining initial concerns about S.1009.

The Attorneys General letter can be found attached to this release at www.oag.ca.gov/news

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Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Releases Report on Data Breaches; 2.5 Million Californians Had Personal Information Compromised

July 1, 2013
Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

SAN FRANCISCO -- Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today released the first report detailing the 131 data breaches reported to her office in 2012, showing that 2.5 million Californians had personal information put at risk through an electronic data breach.

The report found that 1.4 million Californians would have been protected if companies had encrypted data when moving or sending the data out of the company’s network.

"Data breaches are a serious threat to individuals' privacy, finances and even personal security,” Attorney General Harris said. "Companies and government agencies must do more to protect people by protecting data."

In 2003, California was the first state to pass a law (AB 700, Simitian) mandating data breach notification, which requires businesses and state agencies to notify Californians when their personal information is compromised in security breach. In 2012, companies and state agencies subject to the law were required for the first time to report any breach that involved more than 500 Californians to the Attorney General’s Office. (SB 24, Simitian)

While not required by law, Attorney General Harris is issuing this report that analyses the data breach notices reported in 2012, provides information to the public about those breaches, and makes recommendations to companies, law enforcement agencies, and the legislature about how data security could be improved. Those recommendations include practices that would decrease the number of data breaches, make it easier for consumers to recover from the loss or theft of their personal information, and call for law enforcement agencies to more aggressively target breaches involving unencrypted personal information.

First, companies should encrypt digital personal information when moving or sending it out of their secure network.  In 2012, encryption would have prevented reporting companies and agencies from putting over 1.4 million Californians at risk. The Attorney General’s Office will make it an enforcement priority to investigate breaches involving unencrypted personal information.

In addition, companies should review and tighten their security controls on personal information, including training employees and contractors.

Companies should make the breach notices they send easier to read. The report found that the average reading level of the notices submitted in 2012 was 14th grade, much higher than the average U.S. reading level of 8th grade. Recipients need to be able to understand the notices so that they can take appropriate action to protect their information.

Finally, the report recommends that legislators consider expanding the law to require notification of breaches involving passwords. Attorney General Harris is supporting legislation, SB 46 by Senator Ellen Corbett, which would require notification of a breach involving a user name or email address, in combination with a password or security question and answer that would permit access to an online account.

Additional key findings of the report include:

  • The average (mean) breach incident involved the information of 22,500 individuals. The median breach size was 2,500 affected individuals, with five breaches of 100,000 or more individuals’ personal information.
  • More than 1.4 million Californians would not have been put at risk, and 28 percent of the data breaches would not have required notification, if the data had been encrypted.
  • The retail industry reported the most data breaches in 2012: 34 (26 percent of the total reported breaches), followed by finance and insurance with 30 (23 percent).
  • More than half of the breaches (56 percent) involved Social Security numbers, which pose the greatest risk of the most serious types of identity theft.
  • More than half of the breaches (55 percent) were the result of intentional intrusions by outsiders or by unauthorized insiders. The other 45 percent were largely the result of failures to adopt or carry out appropriate security measures.

Attorney General Harris established the Privacy Enforcement and Protection Unit in 2012 to enforce federal and state privacy laws regulating the collection, retention, disclosure, and destruction of private or sensitive information by individuals, organizations, and the government. This includes California’s Online Privacy Protection Act, as well as laws relating to cyber privacy, health and financial privacy, identity theft, government records and data breaches.

In October 2012, Attorney General Harris announced a settlement with Anthem Blue Cross over allegations the company breached its members’ personal data by failing to protect their Social Security Numbers.

A complete copy of the data breach report and a list of all 131 breaches are attached to the online version of this release at http://oag.ca.gov.

To learn more about the Attorney General’s privacy work, visit http://oag.ca.gov/privacy.

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Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Praises Increased Funding for Armed and Prohibited Persons Program

May 1, 2013
Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

SACRAMENTO -- Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today applauded Governor Jerry Brown for signing a bill that provides $24 million for a Department of Justice program that takes firearms out of the hands of individuals who are prohibited by law from owning them.

“California is leading the nation in a common-sense effort to protect public safety by taking guns away from dangerous, violent individuals who are prohibited by law from owning them,” said Attorney General Harris. “These funds will allow the Department of Justice to increase the number of agents conducting these smart and effective operations. I commend Governor Brown for signing this critical public safety investment into law.”

Senate Bill 140, which takes effect immediately, will allow the Attorney General to hire 36 additional agents for the Armed and Prohibited Persons program (APPS). It will enable the Department of Justice to increase enforcement operations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento, Fresno and Riverside.

 California is the only state with a program like APPS, which identifies people who previously purchased one or more guns, but are later prohibited from owning them. A person becomes prohibited if he or she is convicted of a felony or a violent misdemeanor, is placed under a domestic violence restraining order or is determined to be mentally unstable.

Senate Bill 140, by Senator Mark Leno, appropriates $24 million to the Department of Justice from a fund created by fees paid by gun owners at the time of purchase to hire additional agents and support staff.

“I applaud Governor Brown for signing into law this important legislation that addresses California’s growing backlog of illegally possessed firearms,” said Senator Leno, D- San Francisco. “While our state is the only one in the nation that has a system to track and identify persons who at one time made legal purchases of firearms but are now barred from possessing them, until now we have lacked sufficient resources to take back those weapons. We know for the safety of our communities that these people should not possess guns, and our reinvestment in this tracking program gives us the opportunity to confiscate them.”

Upon taking office in 2011, Attorney General Harris added 10 agents to the program, making a total of 33, in order to increase the number of guns confiscated from prohibited persons. Over the last two years, DOJ agents have investigated nearly 4,000 people and seized nearly 4,000 weapons, including nearly 2,000 handguns and more than 300 assault weapons. In the first three months of 2013, agents have collected 461 firearms and 23,080 rounds of ammunition.

The APPS database cross-references five databases to identify those who legally purchased handguns and registered assault weapons since 1996 with people who are prohibited from owning or possessing firearms.

The database was completed in November 2006, and the first statewide sweep was conducted in 2007.

When Attorney General Harris took office, she directed Department of Justice agents to conduct daily enforcement activities with the support of local law enforcement.

In January, Attorney General Harris sent a letter to Vice President Biden urging the APPS program to be considered as a national model. In February, she announced her support for U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson’s legislation to create a national grant program that will allow other states to start their own APPS programs.

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Applauds Senate Committee’s Passage of Legislation to Upgrade California’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program

April 15, 2013
Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

SACRAMENTO -- Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today praised the passage of a bill she is sponsoring to upgrade and expand California’s prescription drug monitoring program as an important step in combating a serious public health and law enforcement issue. The bill passed out of the Senate Business and Professions Committee on a 7 to 2 vote.

The Department of Justice’s Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System (CURES) program and Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) allow authorized prescribers and pharmacists to quickly review controlled substance information and patient prescription history in an effort to identify and deter drug abuse and diversion.

“This legislation will modernize and strengthen the program and provide doctors and law enforcement with a powerful tool to fight prescription drug abuse,” Attorney General Harris said. “CURES is about making government smarter and more efficient. Senate Bill 809 will help save lives.”

Senate Bill 809 by Senator Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord) will require all prescribers and dispensers to enroll in and use the system.

“SB 809 allows us to not only save, but strengthen, the CURES program,” said Senator DeSaulnier. “This must be a top priority for California. The technology exists for us to make a real difference in the prescription drug epidemic, and too many lives have been lost for us not to take action. The price to pay is small when there are thousands of lives on the line.”

“Criminal street gangs use the sale of prescription drugs to fund their operations in the United States,” said Chief Dan Drummond of the West Sacramento Police Department. “CURES is a multi-faceted tool that can be used for intervention, prevention, education and ultimately enforcement.”

Attorney General Harris has worked hard to save the CURES program, which had its funding slashed to almost nothing when the Department of Justice took a $71 million budget cut two years ago. She formed a working group with interested parties to push for an improved prescription drug monitoring system.

SB 809 includes a small increase in the provider license fee of 1.16 percent to pay for the annual cost to operate the program and a one-time assessment on health care plans for the upgrade, which will modernize and improve the information gathering and sharing.

In addition, an annual fee on narcotic drug manufacturers who do business in California will pay for two State of California Regional Investigative Prescription Teams. These teams will increase investigation into incidents of prescription drug abuse, pursue organized crime and provide oversight and auditing of prescription pad printers.

Current funding sources are insufficient to operate and maintain CURES.  If another source of funding is not identified, the program will be eliminated on July 1, 2013.

Video of the press conference can be seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WV33itjsrxE