Assemblywoman Christy Smith, D-Santa Clarita, announced Monday that Assembly Bill 3267, which would require the Office of Emergency Services to address the special needs community in updating California’s State Emergency Plan, passed the Assembly.
Smith, who authored the bill, said it also would extend the time Cal OES has to complete an after-action report following each declared disaster, from 120 days to 180 days.
The proposed legislation comes after a state auditor’s report found that vulnerable populations or people who have access or functional needs are especially at risk during disasters, due to disabilities, language difficulties or transportation disadvantages.
The report recommended OES review counties’ emergency plans to make sure they align with best practices and involve organizations that represent individuals with access and functional needs when developing California’s State Emergency Plan.
“We have seen over and over again how wildfires — a persistent threat in the 38th Assembly District and California — disproportionately affect older adults, people with disabilities and our medically vulnerable population,” said Smith in a prepared statement. “During disasters, it’s essential everyone gets to safety and individual needs are met. This bill ensures, from planning to recovery, representatives from the access and functional needs community are heard.”
Functional needs support services are services that help people with access and functional needs to maintain their independence in a general population shelter, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Individuals who may require these services may have physical, sensory, mental health and cognitive and/or intellectual disabilities that can affect their ability to carry on without assistance. Women in the late stages of pregnancy and older adults may also benefit from functional needs support services.
Smith’s bill, which has not received any “no” votes, now moves on to the Senate.