Capitol Alert

AM Alert: Lawmakers probe psychotropic drugs in foster care

The Senate Human Services and Health committees today will hold a joint oversight hearing to examine the way children in foster care are given mind-altering drugs. Two bills requiring a more involved process to prescribe psychotropic drugs for foster kids, Senate Bills 238 and 253, have passed the upper house and are awaiting approval from the Assembly.

Almost a quarter of adolescents in the state’s foster care program have been prescribed psychotropic drugs, according to a 2014 analysis by the San Jose Mercury News. A Centers for Disease Control survey showed about 6 percent of kids aged 12-19 use them nationally.

That class of drugs includes anti-psychotics, for which side effects can include weight gain and difficulty controlling muscles.

Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg, chair of the human services committee, said in a statement the number of children taking the drugs could signal a failure to provide long-term mental health services, such as therapy.

The oversight hearing follows one in February, also prompted by McGuire, which covered similar ground. It’s at 2 p.m. in Room 3191 of the Capitol.

STATE OF JEFFERSON: The El Dorado County Board of Supervisors will hear a pitch from those seeking to break off from California. Proponents of the “State of Jefferson,” which would create a new state out of some northern counties, will ask the board to sign a declaration saying they’d like to break away. Other counties, including Yuba, have signed petitions. An opposition group, “Keep it California,” will also make a presentation.

The board doesn’t have a vote or other action scheduled on the issue yet. Ultimately, a separation would likely need to be approved by the Legislature and the U.S. Congress.

GASOLINE REDUCTION: Farm and business groups will hold a press event today in opposition to Senate Bill 350, which requires the Air Resources Board to plan for a 50 percent reduction of petroleum use in motor vehicles by 2030.