Its Official, Workers’ Comp Conference Committee Called

By Loretta Macktal, Executive Assistant to the Vice President, Government Relations

Capitol Update, July 14, 2003 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

All the commotion surrounding 20 workers’ compensation bills scheduled to be heard on July 9th by policy committees in each house turned out to be much ado about nothing. Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee Chair, Richard Alarcon (D-Sun Valley) and Assembly Insurance Committee Chair, Juan Vargas (D-San Diego) both announced at the opening of the hearings that all workers’ compensation bills would be gutted, legislative intent language inserted, voted on without any debate and sent to the conference committee. It was over...that quick.

Ordinarily, conference committees are convened on major policy issues where there are so many competing ideas between both houses that it is too difficult for the policy committees to effectively deal with the issues (workers’ compensation is an outstanding example). Conference committees usually consist of six members, two members of the majority party (Democrats) and one member of the minority party (Republicans) in each house that are appointed by the majority party leaders. So far, no members have been appointed to the conference committee and a meeting schedule has not been established.

Many experienced lobbyists believe that a conference committee created solely for the purpose of dealing with workers’ compensation reform provides a better opportunity for employer success. A major advantage is that the committee can meet as often and as long as the chair deems necessary without concern about bill deadlines. Parties at interest will have more opportunities to present their positions, offer alternative solutions and perhaps even observe the development of the final report.

The conference committee is required to develop a final report that may be approved by a simple majority vote. The report is then sent to both houses where it may be debated on the floor by all of the members and may be approved by a simple majority vote. However, the report cannot be amended by either house and can only be approved or disapproved.

CMTA expects to fully engage in the process and work with a coalition of employer representatives in order to secure reforms that are desperately needed to help reduce employer's workers’ compensation costs.
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