Gino DiCaro

No Action on Governor's Workers’ Comp Proposal

By Gino DiCaro, VP, Communications

Capitol Update, Jan. 20, 2004 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

In his State of the State address, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger demanded that state lawmakers “pass his workers’ compensation proposal by March 1, 2004 or he would seek to place it on the November ballot.” Since then, the legislature has taken no action. Given the normally slow pace of moving legislation through the process, it looks like the Governor may have to use the initiative process to seek real workers’ compensation reforms.

The Governor has stated that his priority is to work with the Legislature before supporting any sort of initiative. However, while the legislature has made little headway, initiative proponents have been busy. Two weeks ago there were three competing workers’ compensation initiatives already at the Attorney General's office awaiting title and summary. Now, recognizing the folly of trying to run competing initiatives, the sponsors have agreed to run just one.

The Small Business Action Committee (SBAC), a business group with ties to the Governor, pulled their proposed initiative back from the Attorney General's office for amendments. The amendments add provisions from the other initiatives, modify some of the original language and include most of the Governor's proposals for reducing workers’ compensation costs. The amended initiative is expected to be agreed upon by the other two initiative proponents and returned to the Attorney General within the week.

Both legislative policy committees held hearings on workers’ compensation legislation this week, but with no positive results. The Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee heard and defeated (with only one member in support) SB 264 (Jeff Denham, R-Salinas) that would have established a Commission on Workers’ Compensation Reform to examine the cost drivers; make recommendations on relief for employers suffering from high costs, the proper treatment and return to work of injured workers, and how to increase jobs. The bill also required the commission to submit a report to the Legislature in two years. SB 414 (Tom McClintock, R-Thousand Oaks) was taken up for vote only and failed by a 2-4 vote. The bill would have required workers' injuries to be certified by a physician using medical evidence based on objective medical findings.

AB 451 (Dennis Mountjoy, R-Monrovia) was scheduled to be heard by the Assembly Insurance Committee but was pulled off file by the author. The bill requires workers’ compensation laws to be liberally construed only after it is determined that an injury in the course of employment has occurred and that the injury is both a “specific” injury, and results in serious physical or bodily harm.

No other Legislative hearings on workers’ compensation are scheduled at this time.
Read more Workers' compensation articles

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