On April 25, the Business and Professions Committee will hear California Assembly Bill 1705 starting at 9:00 a.m. The hearing will determine whether to extend the term of the California State Board of Guide Dogs for the Blind to January 1, 2022. Under the existing bill, the board will sunset on January 1, 2018. This is an impactful decision that affects many members of the LightHouse community. Take a moment to gain some background on the bill and let your voice be heard in the outcome of this vote.
The California State Board of Guide Dogs for the Blind was established in the 1940s, in response to an influx of people with insufficient skill, expertise or knowledge claiming to be guide dog trainers. The guide dogs they provided weren’t trained properly and, rather, were ineffective and dangerous to blind people. At that time, a state-mandated governing body for guide dogs was a necessary regulatory and safety measure.
Now, however, the usefulness of this Board is being called into question by numerous blindness organizations and prominent guide dog users, including California Council of the Blind.
California is the only state with a board of this kind, most likely because the International Guide Dog Federation (IGDF), established in 1989, serves a similar purpose. IGDF is the industry-elected body responsible for the development, monitoring and evaluation of guide dog training standards applied within all IGDF-member organizations.
In light of this body, many think having a state-mandated board is redundant and a misuse of state resources, as well as a drain on the time and resources of the California guide dog schools, all of whom are accredited by IGDF.
LightHouse Board Member Gena Harper, who has been a guide dog user for 35 years, is taking a firm stance on the matter.
“As a blind person, the presence of the board is frustrating,” she says. “It is patronizing that the state feels the need to have a protective body over guide dogs for the blind, especially when that body doesn’t actually do anything to provide the protections it claims.”
If you are a guide dog user who has traveled to or from the state of California or spent time in that state, and/or if you anticipate traveling with your guide dog to California, we urge you to let your voice be heard on this matter. Contact the Legislative Committee described below to express your view on extending the term of the State Board of Guide Dogs for the Blind.
To have your voice heard, contact the committee members below and relay your stance on AB1705. Voting YES will extend the board’s term for four years, while voting NO will uphold the dismantling date of January 1, 2018.
Rudy Salas, Jr. (Chair) Dem – 32
Capitol Office, Room 4016
P.O. Box 942849, Sacramento, CA 94249-0032; (916) 319-2032
William P. Brough (Vice Chair) Rep – 73
Capitol Office, Room 3141
P.O. Box 942849, Sacramento, CA 94249-0073; (916) 319-2073
Dr. Joaquin Arambula Dem – 31
Capitol Office, Room 5155
P.O. Box 942849, Sacramento, CA 94249-0031; (916) 319-2031
Catharine B. Baker Rep – 16
Capitol Office, Room 2130
P.O. Box 942849, Sacramento, CA 94249-0016; (916) 319-2016
Richard Bloom Dem – 50
Capitol Office, Room 2003
P.O. Box 942849, Sacramento, CA 94249-0050; (916) 319-2050
David Chiu Dem – 17
Capitol Office, Room 4112
P.O. Box 942849, Sacramento, CA 94249-0017; (916) 319-2017
Jordan Cunningham Rep – 35
Capitol Office, Room 4102
P.O. Box 942849, Sacramento, CA 94249-0035; (916) 319-2035
Brian Dahle Rep – 01
Capitol Office, Room 4098
P.O. Box 942849, Sacramento, CA 94249-0001; (916) 319-2001
Susan Talamantes Eggman Dem – 13
Capitol Office, Room 4117
P.O. Box 942849, Sacramento, CA 94249-0013; (916) 319-2013
Mike A. Gipson Dem – 64
Capitol Office, Room 3173
P.O. Box 942849, Sacramento, CA 94249-0064; (916) 319-2064
Timothy S. Grayson Dem – 14
Capitol Office, Room 4164
P.O. Box 942849, Sacramento, CA 94249-0014; (916) 319-2014
Chris R. Holden Dem – 41
Capitol Office, Room 5136
P.O. Box 942849, Sacramento, CA 94249-0041; (916) 319-2041
Evan Low Dem – 28
Capitol Office, Room 4126
P.O. Box 942849, Sacramento, CA 94249-0028; (916) 319-2028
Kevin Mullin Dem – 22
Capitol Office, Room 3160
P.O. Box 942849, Sacramento, CA 94249-0022; (916) 319-2022
Marc Steinorth Rep – 40
Capitol Office, Room 5128
P.O. Box 942849, Sacramento, CA 94249-0040; (916) 319-2040
Philip Y. Ting Dem – 19
Capitol Office, Room 6026
P.O. Box 942849, Sacramento, CA 94249-0019; (916) 319-2019