Gino DiCaro

Andrea Hoch Confirmation On Hold: Attorneys disagree with work comp regs

By Gino DiCaro, VP, Communications

Capitol Update, March 4, 2005 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

Andrea Hoch, Administrative Director of the Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC), was scheduled to appear for a vote on her confirmation before the Senate Rules Committee on February 23, 2005 but the hearing was suddenly cancelled by the Rules Committee. The reason given for the cancellation was to allow more time for the committee to receive and review the huge amount of correspondence in opposition and support of her confirmation as Administrative Director (AD).

It is common knowledge in the Capitol that the California Applicant Attorneys Association (CAAA) has made defeating her confirmation a top priority and is actively working committee members for "no" votes. Based on past experience, CAAA knows that the best way to delay and defeat the development of effective regulations to implement SB 899 is to create uncertainty and instability in the DWC by defeating her confirmation.

Director Hoch’s confirmation is also opposed by organized labor but for different reasons. Labor representatives have very specific concerns with the way that the permanent disability rating schedule (PDRS) is being developed and implemented. In our discussion with labor representatives, there was little disagreement that under SB 899 the PDRS will reduce PD payments for some injured workers. What labor is upset about is they believe that the current reductions go too far and that the AD has not followed the law in developing the regulation because it is not based on empirical data. This is a huge obstacle to overcome in the short time period left before the regulation is to take effect on April 4, 2005, but CMTA is committed to exploring every avenue to resolve this issue.

The bad news is unless Director Hoch is confirmed, her term will expire on April 25, 2005. At that time, Governor Schwarzenegger will appoint another director who could hold the post for up to one year without confirmation. CMTA is concerned that this would play right into the hands of CAAA.

On the other hand it could be a major setback for organized labor. If the governor appointee knows that they are not going to be confirmed, there is no incentive to be responsive and conciliatory to labor as Director Hoch has demonstrated in developing regulations. With nothing to lose, the temporary AD could take a "meat ax" approach to developing and implementing regulations.

CMTA believes that Ms. Hoch is the most qualified candidate for this post and we don’t want to lose her due to political pressure from interest groups that oppose the Governor’s reforms.

CMTA request that you write a letter of support to Senate Pro Tem Don Perata and members of the Rules Committee and ask that he hold a hearing to confirm Andrea Hoch.

Since her appointment by Governor Schwarzenegger after the enactment of Senate Bill 899 last year, Ms. Hoch has proven herself to be a consummate professional and capable administrator. She has made herself available to all stakeholders, while meeting an aggressive timetable for promulgating regulations under SB 899. Due to her leadership and efforts, the major policy changes contained in SB 899 are now in place and beginning to impact the system. CMTA believes that this effort is particularly commendable given the DWC's previous poor track record in meeting statutory deadlines.

We cannot afford to derail the reform efforts by removing Ms. Hoch from this important position just as key reforms are being implemented.

It is important that you take action now and send a letter to members of the Senate Rules Committee to urge a "yes" vote for Ms. Hoch’s confirmation. Send letters to:

* Senator Don Perata, Chair, Senate Rules Committee State Senate, Room 4035 Sacramento, CA 95814
* Senator Jim Battin, State Senate, Room 3063 Sacramento, CA 95814
* Senator Roy Ashburn, State Senate, Room 5094 Sacramento, CA 95814
* Senator Debra Bowen, State Senate, Room 4040 Sacramento, CA 95814
* Senator Gil Cedillo, State Senate, Room 3048 Sacramento, CA 95814

CMTA would appreciate you sending a copy of your letter to us.
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