Governor Sets Deadline for Workers’ Compensation Reform

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

Capitol Update, Jan. 9, 2004 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

Calling himself California's "Job Czar" during his first State of the State address, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger stressed the importance of creating and retaining jobs. He indicated that one way is to reform the workers’ compensation system.

Two identical bills, ABx4 1 by Assemblyman Abel Maldonado, (R-Santa Maria), and SBx4 3 by Senator Charles Poochigian, (R-Fresno) sponsored by the administration are estimated to reduce employers' workers' compensation costs by as much as $11.4 billion. They are currently being heard in each legislative house. The Governor demanded lawmakers pass his workers’ compensation proposal by March 1, 2004 or he would seek to place it on the November ballot.

While this appears to be rather strong language, the administration has stated that the Governor's priority is to work with the Legislature before supporting any sort of initiative. The use of the initiative process is not new or unexpected. There are at least two workers’ compensation initiatives already in various stages of the qualifying process now. The Small Business Action Committee (SBAC), a business group with ties to the Governor has already proposed an initiative that would mandate many of the Governor's proposals for reducing workers’ compensation costs. Ted Costa, who ran the recall initiative of Governor Gray Davis, is also sponsoring a workers’ compensation initiative. These two initiatives are pending with the Attorney General for preparation of the title and summary and they can be found at

Both of the administration's sponsored bills are in the fourth extraordinary legislative session and have had at least one hearing without a vote being taken. Amendments to the bills are necessary but none have surface yet. Now, the Governor has thrown down the gauntlet and set the March deadline to put pressure on Legislators and staff to get the job done.
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