Sunday, October 14, 2007, 09:15 AM - Political developmentsMy last couple of posts mentioned Schwarzenegger's Friday veto of the Perata bill to raise permanent disability benefits and the VIAW-sponsored bill to speed issuance of retraining vouchers.
Yesterday he did sign 2 comp reform bills, AB 1073 (Nava) and AB 338 (Coto).
AB 1073 will allow the Division of Workers' Compensation to develop rules for post surgical physical therapy, in effect lifting the Draconian caps on therapy that applied even where a worker had surgery after previously using the alloted therapy visits.
AB 338 (Coto) will allow a worker to use 2 years of temporary disability over a 5 year period from the commencement of TD.
In later posts, I'll be looking at the fine points of these new changes.
Meanwhile, you can see the legislative analysis of AB 338 by clicking here:
http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/07-08/bil ... floor.html
And to see the legislative analysis of AB 1073, click here:
http://leginfo.ca.gov/pub/07-08/bill/as ... floor.html
These bills were signed on a day that the Governor vetoed several worker-friendly employment law bills, including the bereavement leave bill sponsored by State Senator Ellen Corbett (SB 549) and the bill that would have expanded family leave to enable workers to care for a sibling, grandparent or grandchild, SB 727 (Kuehl). Overall, it was a bleak weekend for employees and injured workers.
The Governor's carefully crafted moderate image masks an agenda that hews closely to the script of the California business and insurance lobbyists.
More on all this later. You can subscribe to the blog by ussing the RSS reader buttons on the lower right hand corner of the scrollbar.
Friday, October 12, 2007, 08:14 PM - Political developmentsHere is the statement by Fabian Nunez commenting on the Schwarzenegger veto of SB 936, a bill that would have provided a benefit increase for permanently disabled workers:
Friday, October 12, 2007, 05:00 PM - Political developmentsThis afternoon Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed 2 worker's comp bills.
SB 936 (Perata), the bill to increase permanent disability benefits over a period of several years, was nixed by the Governor. The press release issued by the Governor's office claiming that the bill was a "job killer" can be seen here:
Also vetoed was SB 1636 (Mendoza), a bill pushed by Voters Injured At Work. AB 1636 would have accelerated the issuance of job retraining vouchers to workers unable to return to their jobs due to injury at work.
These vetos were not surprises. But the veto of both bills highlights the fact that Schwarzenegger continues to take his cues from insurance industry and Chamber of Commerce interests. More analysis later.
Thursday, October 11, 2007, 10:31 PM - Political developmentsAmerican political history is a treasure trove of little dramas.
Hunkers and Soft Shells. Logrollers. Silver Grays. Scalawags. Pewter Muggers. Popocrats. Mugwumps. Hot Water Warriors. Free Soilers. Claybanks and Charcoals.
Remember the Era of Good Feeling?
And what about Clintonians? They weren't always of the Arkansas version. A Clintonian faction existed in 1812 in New York.
By contrast, today's California legislators are relatively colorless. Sure, we have an Assembly Speaker who appears to have a taste for expensive wines and other epicurean delights. And an actor who jets from here to there while he "governs." Like an Arabian sheikh, the Guv's policy is sometimes made in his cigar-friendly tent on the capitol roof. And we've got a deal-making Senate Pro Tem who continues under the cloud of a federal probe.
But where's the drama in the legislative process this year? On issues such as health care reform and water policy, special interests have taken a cue from World War I warfare. Build a trench and engage in periodic attacks and retreats in the service of your cause. Much change occurs through attrition.
And workers' comp? Workers' comp never managed to become a major legislative focus this year. Bills were proposed, considered, and passed, all with a fatalism that the Governor has already made up his mind on the issue. As of earlier today, Governor Schwarzenegger still hadn't acted on a number of workers' comp and employment law reform bills.
He must act by October 14. These bills are among the 300-plus items awaiting disposition on his desk.
I'll be covering this over the next few days. And next week, I'll be uploading a copy of the brief opposing risk factor apportionment that was filed in a Sacramento area court by AARP, the ACLU and the Impact Fund.
Tuesday, October 9, 2007, 08:20 AM - Political developmentsHeidi Fleiss' father, a Los Angeles pediatrician, is being disciplined over his record-keeping practices. But you probably already knew that via some tabloid journal.
We love to see celebrities stuck in the tar pits of life. I'd bet that more Californians are yakking about Fleiss over the breakfast table than debating the progress of the special session on health care reform.
The legislature is in special session, but you would hardly know it. If there is movement towards a health care reform deal, it's under tight wraps.
Assembly Speaker Nunez said earlier this year that a deal could possibly be reached in just a few minutes between himself and the Governor. But with all the interest groups involved, walking the gauntlet to a deal and turning it into workable form is a big mountain to climb.
Could the special legislative session fail altogether, leaving Schwarzenegger with nothing to show for this effort? Perhaps. The other subject of the special session, water policy, appeared yesterday to be devolving into competing ballot initiatives for 2008. Neither the Governor nor Senate Pro Tem leader Perata may have the votes to pass a bill or even put an initiative on the ballot. Special interests may need to qualify an initiative. That's great for campaign consultants, ad agencies, and broadcast outlets.
Should there be no success in the special session on water policy or health care reform, cynics will say that it once again proves that California is ungovernable. An unpopular legislature will become more unpopular. And it will become more evident that one of Schwarzenegger's only "victories" is his 2004 workers' comp reform.
So don't hold your breath expecting the Governor to sign a significant increase in PD benefits. Yesterday, the Governor signed a lot of bills, but over 500 remain on his desk for action this week.