Newsom signs Lackey’s bills that benefit individuals with disabilities

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Assemblyman Tom Lackey, R-Palmdale, has added two new laws to his advocacy efforts on behalf of individuals with disabilities.

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 169, which aims to offer more protection for guide, service and signal dogs, regardless of whether they’re on duty.

The bill would essentially expand the crime of causing injury to or the death of the said animal, and adds the medical expenses and lost wages of the owner to the existing list of recoverable restitution costs, according to the analysis of the bill, which was signed into law last week, just ahead of Newsom’s deadline to sign bills. 

“A guide dog is an extension of the person being led; when the animal is attacked, so is their handler,” said Lackey in a statement. “This bill not only protects animals, it protects individuals with disabilities across the state, especially in a time of crisis.”

The Golden State Guide Dog Handlers Inc. said it’s important for broad protections as attacks against guide dogs, “whether or not engaged in their duties, are quite frequent. The training costs for a guide dog are approximately $60,000. Moreover, an attack may result in loss of income to the guide dog handler, and the incurring of veterinary and other expenses.” 

The governor also signed AB 1351, which starts the process for “easier and quicker” access to public transportation for individuals with disabilities, especially when visiting areas outside of their primary service area.  

“Currently, there is a cumbersome process to maneuver before one can travel across county lines,” said Lackey. “In some instances, this process can take up to four weeks. This is very concerning, especially if a person with disabilities needs specialized services that is not offered near their home.”

AB 1351 will now help in determining the eligibility of an applicant within seven days of a submitted application and offer service to an eligible person at any requested time and day in response to requests made the day before.  

Other elected officials representing the Santa Clarita Valley also voted in support of the two bills. 

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