The Senate went through so many bills that we were in session for more than 25 hours during the last four days. Today, the big item was SB 128, the assisted suicide bill. The LA Times covers it with its online piece. It will probably be in tomorrow’s dead-tree version. FOX News Channel 5 in San Diego also picked it up. It is the first piece below. It mentions my opposition statement.
Inside Bay Area, from the Oakland area, provides the second piece. It mentions my theme of what type of society we were living in (see MOORLACH UPDATE — SB 3 — June 2, 2015 June 2, 2015 John Moorlach).
In my comments, I found it ironic that parents have been thwarted on the ability of having a choice on vaccinations for their children with SB 277, but their parents had the ability to receive the ultimate vaccination. Assisted suicide is not a new concept. And it is legal in the country of my birth, the Netherlands. I am familiar with the policy. But, I am personally opposed to it.
On to more relaxed news, Zov’s has been selected for recognition as the Small Business of the Year from the 37th Senate District. They are located in a few places within my District, including at John Wayne Airport. My wife and I have their cookbooks and eat there frequently. The OC Register provides the news in the third piece below. Congratulations to the Karamardian family!
The Voice of OC provides the great news that the County of Orange has found a suitable location for a year-round homeless shelter in the fourth piece below (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Day Two — March 26, 2015 March 26, 2015 John Moorlach and MOORLACH UPDATE — Seeking Shelter 2014 — December 26, 2014 December 26, 2014December 26, 2014 John Moorlach).
The fifth and final piece is from Union Watch and proposes a fun challenge for me and Senator Steve Glazer (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Senator Steve Glazer — May 29, 2015 May 29, 2015May 29, 2015 John Moorlach).
Assisted-death bill approved by California Senate
By Patrick McGreevy
The state Senate on Thursday approved a bill that would allow physicians in California to prescribe lethal doses of drugs for terminally ill patients who want to hasten their deaths.
Democratic state Sens. Lois Wolk of Davis and Bill Monning of Carmel modeled their End of Life Option Act after the voter-approved law that took effect in 1997 in Oregon.
The measure would allow mentally competent adults with six months or less to live the option to request prescription medication that they can take to end their life.
"SB 128 is about how we die in California," Wolk (D-Davis) told her colleagues, adding allowing the terminally ill to get fatal doses of drugs "will allow them to voluntarily end their lives in peace."
The measure was approved on a largely party line vote of 23-14. Democrat Tony Mendoza of Artesia joined the Republicans in voting against the bill.
Republican Sen. John Moorlach of Irvine said the practice is not moral.
"I call it assisted suicide. For me it’s unconscionable and I can’t be a party to it," Moorlach said during the emotional floor debate.
The legislation includes safeguards against abuse. It would require two separate physicians to confirm the patient’s prognosis of six months or less to live and that the patient has the mental competency to make healthcare decisions.
The patient would have to make two oral requests by the patient to a physician, a minimum of 15 days apart, with two witnesses attesting to the request. The medication must be self-administered. In addition, the bill creates felony penalties for coercing or forging a request.
SB 128 received a boost last week when the California Medical Assn. dropped its opposition, saying it would allow physicians to decide whether to participate in the assisting of deaths by prescribing drugs.
The measure continues to be opposed by many physicians, who say their role is to heal patients, and by religious leaders and activists for the disabled who fear that group may be put under duress to end their lives prematurely.
Groups in opposition include the California Catholic Conference, the Medical Oncology Assn. of Southern California and the California Disability Alliance.
Still, the proposal has gained momentum since Californian Brittany Maynard, 29, received national attention last year by moving to Oregon and ending her life there after months of debilitating and painful effects from brain cancer. Maynard’s husband and mother have lobbied for the California bill, saying it was one of her dying wishes.
In a 17-year period ending last year, 1,327 Oregon residents asked for aid in dying prescriptions and 859 patients had died from ingesting medication, according to a study by that state’s health officials. Since Oregon adopted its law, medical aid in dying has also been authorized in Washington state, Montana, Vermont and New Mexico.
After the vote, Maynard’s mother, Debbie Ziegler, tearfully hugged lawmakers, telling them “I’m so grateful.”
“I feel her presence swirling around, her energy, her love,” said Ziegler, in tears at a press conference just outside the Senate chamber later. “She used the last portion of her life to fight for the rights of other terminally ill patients. These are people who have no hope.”
Dan Diaz, Maynard’s husband, also was emotional in describing what the bill means. “It will not lead to more people dying. It will lead to fewer people suffering.”
1:19 p.m.: This post was updated with comments from state Sens. Lois Wolk and John Moorlach, and with the vote total.
2:05 p.m.: This post was updated with comments from Debbie Ziegler.
This post originally published at 1:05 p.m.
Right-to-die bill clears California Senate 23-14
By Lisa M. Krieger and Jessica Calefati Staff writers
SACRAMENTO — The California Senate on Thursday cleared the way for a landmark "right to die" law allowing competent adults with a terminal illness to seek a medication from a doctor to end their lives.
After an impassioned debate filled with tales of personal loss, the controversial End of Life Option Act won wide approval, passing 23 to 14.
If the measure is approved by the full Assembly, it will go to Gov. Jerry Brown, who has not indicated whether he will sign it.
California has spurned previous attempts to pass similar laws, either at the ballot box or through the Legislature. If it becomes law, California will join three other states with physician-assisted death laws: Oregon, Vermont and Washington. Court rulings in New Mexico and Montana also allow the practice in those two states.
Inspired by a East Bay woman’s highly publicized quest to end her grueling battle with cancer, lawmakers sought to allow California’s terminally ill greater choice over how and when they die.
"We count today’s vote as a historic step forward," said Sen. Bill Monning, D-Monterey, co-sponsor of the measure, which he said protects "a fundamental human right."
"We hear a lot of different tough issues being debated, but I can’t remember an issue that commanded greater attention," he said. "It was a pretty powerful engagement marked by respect and civility."
The Senate vote was split along party lines, with all Republicans opposed and all Democrats except Tony Mendoza, D-Artesia, voting in support.
The vote was watched in the Senate chamber by the family of 29-year-old Brittany Maynard, a UC Berkeley graduate and newlywed diagnosed with aggressive terminal brain cancer, who could not receive physician-prescribed medications to end her life last year at her East Bay home. So she and her husband moved to Portland, Oregon, to take advantage of that state’s Death with Dignity law.
In the final weeks of her life, Maynard partnered with the national nonprofit group Compassion & Choices to launch a state campaign to legalize aid in dying.
"The Senate vote is an affirmation of what Brittany started," said Dan Diaz, Maynard’s widower. "It reaffirms that she was simply doing what anyone in her predicament would do, which is want to be in control of their own dying process."
Asked if she fears Gov. Jerry Brown’s veto pen, Deborah Lynn Ziegler, Maynard’s mother, said she thinks the governor will struggle with the legislation if it reaches his desk.
"I believe that he is a kind and thoughtful man, and I think he will struggle with this," Ziegler said. "I have faith that he will listen to the population of California."
"Our leaders are swayed by the people they represent," Ziegler said. "We need to speak up and let them know how we are feeling on this subject."
The measure is modeled after Oregon’s Death with Dignity law, with two differences. It requires a translator for non-English speakers. And pharmacists, not just physicians, are given legal immunity for participating in deaths.
Oregon’s 17 years of experience with the law shows it is rarely used and has not triggered any legal disputes. Since the Oregon law went into effect in 1997, 1,327 people have requested prescriptions. Of these, 35 percent have not used them.
The authors said they’re "cautiously optimistic about the bill’s chances in the Assembly. The bill now heads to the Assembly Health Committee. If advanced, it will be heard by the judiciary and appropriations committees before moving to the Assembly floor.
The wrenching case of Maynard triggered a shift in this debate, said co-authors Sen. Monning and Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis.
Maynard’s video — explaining why she was making use of Oregon’s law — has been watched by more than 11.7 million people on YouTube.
Wolk’s other influence was the traumatic cancer death of her mother, a Philadelphia social worker, when Wolk was only 17. "Her suffering was prolonged and unbearable," she told her Senate colleagues.
Monning said the bill will allow the terminally ill to "exercise their autonomy and choice as individuals, sharing their love and goodbyes. Compare that with the right in California to be anesthetized with morphine in ever-greater doses, unable to communicate with loved one, families holding vigil … that is the status quo in California."
"This bill seeks to establish a compassionate alternative to other horrific options," said Monning, whose wife is a physician.
Monning warned that if the bill was rejected, the issue would be presented next November as a ballot inititiative, "not subject to reform, revision or to change."
Opponents faulted the measure for failing to deal with what they believe is the core issue: the need for better health care for more people. They warned it will place pressure on sick patients without financial resources to take a quick way out. They also say doctors cannot reliably predict when a person has only six months to live.
"What kind of society are we? I don’t believe we are in a disposable one, when it comes to short-cutting the natural course of life," said Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa.
"Life should be protected from beginning to end," said Sen. Mike Morrell, R-Rancho Cucamonga. "Patients at end of life need care, not tools to take their life. We are sending signal that suicide is OK. We are becoming a culture that devalues life."
Sen. Sharon Runner, R-Lancaster, the recipient of a lung transplant, said she thought about giving up during her two months in an intensive care unit due to lung failure — and was grateful to have persevered. "You are not making good decisions when you are in pain and medicated," she said. "I considered it and didn’t do it, but look at the life I have now."
Sen. Andy Vidak, R-Hanford, worried that the prescription could be accidentally ingested by children or stolen by thieves. Sen. Ted Gaines, R-Roseville, warned that "our cultural attitudes towards life would suffer a fundament shift under this bill, if we stopped fighting for life."
Pharmacist Sen. Jeff Stone, R-Temecula, called it "suffocation" and "may not cause a quick death," citing examples in Oregon and Washington where it took many hours, even days, to die after ingesting lethal drugs. "The drug used to kill patients can increase their stimulation to pain although they cannot express it."
Choking back tears, Sen. Joel Anderson, R-San Diego, said "I was disabled for a number of years and couldn’t provide for my family. … You bet I thought about suicide. For me to face my family and think about limiting their future, that maybe we won’t have a roof …." it felt like an option, he said. He opposed the bill because "I don’t want to strip people of hope. I don’t want to pile on the guilt they feel to fight for their lives. I don’t want to pray on their good nature. … Let’s not sponsor death on this floor."
But supporters of the measure, such as Sen. Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, called it "an issue of personal choice."
"This bill is not a mandate. It is not a matter of public health," she said. "It empowers us to give the residents of California a personal choice."
Sen. Cathleeen Galgiani, D-Stockton, who once worked in hospital intensive care units, said: "We have science to prolong life. … Now we have the gift of science that allows the gift of ending suffering. It will give loved ones the ability to move into their next life without guilt and shame, and give loved ones a chance to say goodbye."
The campaign to pass the legislation was buoyed in May by the decision of the politically influential California Medical Association to drop its long-held opposition to death-with-dignity legislation.
There are safeguards in place, legislative sponsor Wolk told the Senate. Only end-stage terminal illness qualifies a patient to use the treatment, she said. "Our work with the California Medical Association has been very helpful in zeroing in on protections," she said.
In his final appeal for its passage, Monning said: "It is our constitutional responsibility to navigate the shores of a changing world — a world that sees this option as a compassionate option: death with dignity."
Contact Lisa M. Krieger at 650-492-4098.
End of Life Option Act
Modeled after a 1997 Oregon law, the legislation by Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, and Sen. William Monning, D-Monterey, would give any terminally ill, mentally competent California adult resident the right to ask and receive from his or her physician a prescription to hasten death. The patient at any time could rescind the request or choose not to use the medication. Physicians, pharmacists and health care providers could opt out. It would be a felony to coerce someone to request the medication, or forge a request. The legislation exempts Catholic hospitals.
The legislation requires that:
The medication be self-administered.
The patient is mentally competent to make health care decisions, which excludes dementia patients.
Two physicians confirm a prognosis of six months or less to live.
The attending physician discusses alternatives or additional treatment, such as pain control and palliative and hospice care.
A written and two oral requests must be made at least 15 days apart.
Two witnesses attest to the request.
Zov’s, a restaurant with locations in Tustin, Newport Beach, Irvine, Anaheim and Santa Ana, is one of 80 California companies to be recognized as a Small Business of the Year. Zov’s was selected for the award by state Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa. Moorlach informed Armen Karamardian, the company’s president and chief executive officer, of the honor. The award ceremony will be held on Wednesday, California Small Business Day, in Sacramento. Zov’s was founded in 1987.
Plans For OC’s First Year-Round Homeless Shelter Move Forward
By Nick Gerda June 3, 2015 at 12:24 PM
Longstanding efforts to establish Orange County’s first year-round homeless shelter took a major step forward Tuesday, when county supervisors started the process to buy a building in a commercial area of Anaheim.
Following a marathon public comment session – 55 people spoke, the vast majority in support – supervisors unanimously approved a $4.25 million purchase agreement for property at 1000 N. Kraemer Pl. in Anaheim, which includes a 24,000 square-foot industrial building.
The location has drawn significant support from elected officials, nonprofit groups and homeless advocates, who say creating a homeless shelter there would be crucial for helping get many of the county’s homeless people off the streets and into permanent housing.
“The missing link in this broad continuum of care” is a shelter, said Brad Fieldhouse, the executive director of City Net, which the city of Anaheim has hired to coordinate nonprofits, churches, businesses and others on homelessness.
The shelter proposal wouldn’t just be a place to dump people, Fieldhouse added. “This is a catalytic space for us to work with people.”
Many faith-based groups stand ready to support a shelter, noted Deborah Phares, a former executive director of the Orange County Congregation Community Organization, or OCCCO.
The proposed multi-service center “would go a long way to really help facilitate the participation of people in Orange County that really want a long-term solution,” said Phares.
At the same time, some business owners and residents said they are deeply concerned about how the proposed shelter would impact them, and urged supervisors to reject the site.
Chris Vance, who owns a piano store across the street from the property, predicted that a shelter could “easily” drive away customers and put him into bankruptcy.
“My financial wellbeing and future will lay in the balance. I will lose millions of dollars,” Vance told supervisors. “Essentially I will be the main sacrificial lamb.”
A resident who identified herself as Ms. Allegro said many of her neighbors are opposed to the site, but couldn’t show up to Tuesday morning’s meeting because they had to work.
“I think that [the shelter] would be a detriment to my neighborhood and my area,” Allegro said.
Two residential neighborhoods are about a mile walk from the proposed shelter site.
An attorney, Kevin McCullough of the firm AlvaradoSmith, has been hired by at least one opponent, who he has declined to identify. He alleged that the county would be breaking state law by moving forward with the purchase without conducting an environmental impact review.
County officials, meanwhile, have told the Orange County Register that such a review can’t be performed until a project is proposed, if such an environmental review is even required at all.
As for the opposition to the project, a leading nonprofit provider said it’s crucial to conduct intensive community outreach to businesses and homeowners and acknowledge their concerns.
It begins with a viewpoint that “this is not good versus evil,” said Larry Haynes, executive director of Mercy House.
“When we have that perspective, we can always find ways to solve” our problems.
Orange County is the most populous metropolitan area in the nation without a year-round homeless shelter, according to advocates. Instead, two temporary shelters are opened during winter months, and then close for most of year.
The idea behind the shelter proposal is to not only provide emergency housing but also connect homeless people with services – such as job placement, drug and mental health counseling and veterans services – in a one-stop location, known officially as a “multi-service center.”
Two previous purchase efforts for shelter sites – in Fullerton and Santa Ana – fell apart in recent years amid a community backlash alleging that the county failed to properly engage local residents on the front end of the planning process.
In an apparent reaction to that, the county plans to hold forums at night to solicit more public input, before the final land acquisition approval comes back to supervisors.
Supervisors also largely held off Tuesday on commenting about the shelter proposal, with Chairman Todd Spitzer saying such comments would be premature before the forums.
Elected official supporters at Tuesday’s meeting included Anaheim Councilwoman Kris Murray, Fullerton council members Jennifer Fitzgerald and Doug Chaffee and a representative of state Sen. John Moorlach (R-Orange).
“We have an opportunity to act with genuine kindness and compassion today,” said Murray. “The resolution of that problem cannot be to continue to deter, defer and delay action.”
Two of the county’s most influential business groups – the Orange County Business Council and the Building Industry Association of Orange County – also had representatives voicing their support for the shelter.
Some business owners near the site, meanwhile, have yet to make up their minds about the proposal.
“Frankly it’s shameful the amount of homeless we have in this county,” said Brad Steelman, who owns a business near the site and doesn’t yet know whether the facility would be an asset or not.
“It’s our responsibility as business people, as individual home owners, to really address this problem.”
Supporters from several churches and Muslim organizations also spoke in favor of the project.
Zuhair Shaath of the Islamic Institute of Orange County said the shelter is “something that we need to do.”
“At the end of the day, we may not see [homeless] people on a daily basis, but they’re there and they’re alive and we hope that we give them the best of strength,” he said.
The time and location for the public forums on the shelter haven’t been announced yet, though officials plan to send out a news release with that information in coming days.
You can contact Nick Gerda at ngerda, and follow him on Twitter: @nicholasgerda.