2012 California Legislation

SB 863: Why Are Worker Advocates In Opposition?

By Julius Young

Boxer & Gerson, Oakland, CA
Publisher Of WorkersCompZone.com Blog

Today the legislature is holding an informational hearing on SB 863, a comprehensive workers’ comp reform bill.

Although the bill has some good elements, has been improved from recent versions and although any progressive workers’ comp reform effort may involve some compromises, SB 863 has too many takeaways for workers and should be rejected.

SB 863: Real Workers’ Comp Reform to Reduce Costs and Help Injured Workers

By Angie Wei
California Labor Federation

Arnold Schwarzenegger rode into the Governor’s office in 2004 on the campaign promise to “fix” the workers’ compensation system. Every day in 2004, the media hammered home Schwarzenegger’s talking points that California’s highest-in-the-nation workers’ compensation costs were driving employers, and jobs, out of the state.

In the face of a relentless media campaign and the threat of an extreme workers’ comp reform ballot measure, the Legislature passed SB 899 in 2004—a draconian bill that gutted the workers’ compensation system and created more pain and suffering for injured workers.

The Case for Progressive CEQA Reform

By Robert Cruickshank

A last-minute end of session gut and amend effort to change the California Environmental Quality Act will not move forward - but that doesn't mean the effort to reform CEQA has come to an end, nor does it mean that the broken system of environmental review can be left to continue to rot. The same coalition that came together this month to push reforms will merely redouble their efforts ahead of a 2013 push to change CEQA. They've got the money and the momentum. I would not bet against them.

Many progressive groups across the state mobilized to block this specific reform proposal, charging that it would in fact carve out a series of loopholes to existing laws and help environmentally unfriendly things like offshore oil rigs avoid CEQA review.

2012-13 Budget Essay No. 7: Of Cabbages and Kings, the June Legislative Budget

By Sheila Kuehl

This is the seventh in a series of essays exploring California's 2012-13 budget. It presents the budget sent on June 15th from the Legislature to the Governor, still lacking his agreement on several large issues.   

The first essay in this series explained the general provisions of the Governor's January budget. The second discussed specific cuts proposed to welfare-to-work (CalWORKS), child care and Medi-Cal.  The third analyzed the January proposals related to K-14 and higher education.  The fourth revealed the details of proposed realignment funding, and proposed "government efficiencies".  The fifth set forth the revised May budget concerning the general financial picture, the new plunging deficit and education, 0-16.  The sixth presented May revisions in Social Services and Prisons.

Conservationists Beat Back Attack on CEQA

By Bruce Reznik

Planning & Conservation League

Conservation groups are hailing Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg for preventing a last-minute attempt to gut the California Environmental Quality Act from moving forward. State Senator Michael Rubio tried to sneak drastic changes to CEQA through the legislature using the infamous “gut-and-amend” procedure.

Senator Rubio’s legislation, known as SB 317, would have made comprehensive changes to CEQA without giving the legislature – and the public – an opportunity to explore what these changes would mean to environmental quality in the state.

Time to Ban the Bag

By Jenesse Miller
California League of Conservation Voters

It's time for the state of California to follow the lead of more than 50 of our cities and dump the plastic bag.

Named by Guinness World Records as "the most ubiquitous consumer item in the world," single-use plastic bags are a leading source of pollution worldwide, including in California. Californians use and throw away 12 billion (yes, that's billion with a "b") of these bags each year with devastating consequences for marine life.

US Secretary of Labor, Union Leaders and Workers Call on Congress to Bring Jobs Home

By Danielle Tipton
California Labor Federation

There is no issue more important in California and America right now than jobs. All of us know someone struggling to find one- you might even be struggling to find one yourself.  So why is our tax money helping to ship jobs to other countries?

On Tuesday, I joined hundreds of California labor activists, along with U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis and Communications Workers of America (CWA) President Larry Cohen, in San Francisco’s Union Square, where we rallied, chanted and danced to get our simple message across: Bring Our Jobs Home! It’s time to get rid of tax breaks that reward corporations that outsource jobs and ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent on creating American jobs, not shipping them overseas.

Communications technician and CWA member Christina Huggins has seen the impacts first-hand, as AT&T shipped jobs overseas before her very eyes. At the rally, she told me:

U.S. Attorney Attacks on Medical Cannabis Don’t Make Anyone Safer

By State Assemblymember Tom Ammiano

In the past, the U.S. Attorney General said his prosecutors should only go after medical cannabis providers that were clearly violating state laws. In the past, we had also been told that operations would focus on dispensaries that operated near schools and parks. But now Melinda Haag, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District was quoted last week as saying, “The larger the operation, the greater the likelihood that there will be abuse of the state's medical marijuana laws, and marijuana in the hands of individuals who do not have a demonstrated medical need.”

Gov. Jerry Brown Should Sign the TRUST Act and Be "Anti-Arizona" on Immigration

By Frank Sharry
America's Voice Education Fund

Years ago, California tried to take the punitive and xenophobic approach to immigration with Prop 187 -- a 1994 ballot initiative whose stated goal was to keep undocumented immigrants from receiving public benefits, but would have essentially turned California into a police state for immigrants. Fortunately, Proposition 187 was invalidated by the courts.  But instead of learning from California, states like Arizona, Alabama, and a handful of others are repeating the same mistakes and passing similar laws designed to turn anyone who looks or sounds “like an immigrant” into a suspect and make them feel unwelcome in their own homes.

But last week, the California State Senate showed just how far the state has come—by passing Assemblyman Tom Ammiano’s (D-San Francisco) TRUST Act, the antithesis of Arizona’s anti-immigrant SB 1070 law.

Governor Jerry Brown Signs Landmark Foreclosure Legislation Into Law

By Kevin Stein
California Reinvestment Coalition

At a signing ceremony in Los Angeles this morning, Governor Jerry Brown signed landmark legislation that reforms bank’s foreclosure practices and creates a fairer foreclosure process for California’s homeowners. This legislation finally brings accountability to the banks for harmful foreclosure practices and allows homeowners to protect themselves from the commonplace violations that banks have exhibited in this foreclosure crisis.

Introduced by Attorney General Kamala Harris and championed by consumer advocates and homeowners, the California Foreclosure Reduction Act— AB 278 (Eng, Feuer, Mitchell) & SB 900 (Leno, Corbett, DeSaulnier, Evans, Pavley, Steinberg)—passed 53-25 in the Assembly and 25-13 in the Senate last week. This is a major victory for California homeowners, and a blow to banks that have spent millions of dollars to combat this legislation over the last three years.