Governor signs two Wolk bills

2013-10-08T15:44:00Z Governor signs two Wolk billsFOR THE STAR Napa Valley Register
October 08, 2013 3:44 pm  • 

Governor Jerry Brown recently signed Senate Bill 609, legislation introduced by State Sen. Lois Wolk (D-Davis) would increases penalties for long-term care providers who hinder investigations by California’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman program.

“Penalties haven’t changed for 30 years, and they’re not deterring bad actors from violating state and federal law,” said Wolk, who also authored legislation last year to strengthen the independence and accountability of California’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program. “By increasing the penalty for interfering with an ombudsman, SB 609 will help the state’s ombudsman program better defend the rights, safety and welfare of the state’s vulnerable long-term care residents.”

SB 609 increases the penalty from $1,000 to $2,500 per incident for long-term care providers who inhibit state ombudsman’s access to residents or otherwise interfere with state efforts to investigate facilities.

Federal and state law authorizes ombudsman staff to enter long-term care facilities, tour facilities unescorted, and speak unhindered to residents. Yet some facilities in California have, on several occasions, prevented representatives of the ombudsman’s office from walking into residents’ rooms without an escort, prevented the ombudsman’s staff from meeting privately with residents, or refused access to residents altogether.

Bill establishes state olive oil commission

The Governor recently signed Senate Bill 250, a measure by Wolk establishing a state commission to help coordinate efforts by state olive growers and oil manufacturers to strengthen the competitiveness of California’s olive oil industry.

SB 250 creates the Olive Oil Commission of California within the Department of Food and Agriculture to allow the industry to conduct research and establish product grades and standards through the Secretary of Food and Agriculture. There are currently 16 active, industry-funded agricultural commissions in California created to enhance their industries competitiveness through promotion, advertising, education, marketing research, scientific research, and the creation and regulation of quality standards.

SB 250 is part of Wolk’s ongoing effort to address challenges facing state’s expanding olive oil industry, including competitors selling fraudulent and low-quality olive oil. A study conducted by the UC Davis Olive Center found that 65 percent of imported extra-virgin olive oils bought off the shelves of California supermarkets failed to meet international standards for olive oil quality — concluding that many of the imported olive oils tested were falsely labeled as extra virgin grade.

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