2011 California Legislation

SB 364 Will Hold Corporations Accountable for Tax Credits

By State Senator Leland Yee

On Friday, September 2, 2011, Senate Bill 364 cleared its final legislative hurdle and was sent to Governor Brown for his consideration. The bill holds corporations accountable for job creation promises in exchange for tax breaks, and requires all future tax breaks related to job creation to have clear goals and performance measures. Should a corporation fail to meet those promises, the state could recoup the tax credit.

If you are a working mother on CalWORKS or disabled senior receiving in-home supportive services, you have to jump through numerous bureaucratic hoops to receive minimal life-sustaining benefits. Yet, if you are a big corporation looking for scarce tax credits, no one asks any questions. I believe California taxpayers deserve better, and that this legislation will create and maintain California jobs. It is also a revenue solution that could potentially save billions of dollars for critical social services and education.

Don't Erase People With Disabilities From Our History Books

By Katie Laackmann
River City High School

For me and other youth with disabilities, the “back to school” season has special significance this year.  Over the summer, our state legislature passed a bill that will finally require California public schools to include the history of the disability rights movement in social studies and history lessons and on July 14, Governor Brown signed it into law.  

In 2010, youth with disabilities led the effort to establish the second week in October as Disability History Week and on the heels of that victory, SB 48 (Leno), the Fair, Accurate, Inclusive and Respectful (FAIR) Education Act will now ensure that our peers in K-12 schools learn about the contributions people with disabilities have made in our country.   

Why the State Assembly Should Reject SB 923 (De Leon)

By Robert Weinmann

SB 923 (DELEON) is reportedly devised to correct a payment gap to primary treating physicians (PTPs). This bill would mandate increased pay for PTPs by lowering payments currently made to specialists and by redistributing the money to the PTPs. It would accomplish this task by replacing the current Office Medical Fee Schedule with a Medicare fee schedule. However, careful reading of the bill does not show that the bill would be obliged to increase PTP reimbursement.

AB 52: Disappointed But Not Defeated

By Anthony Wright
Health Access

Perhaps the most lobbied bill not just in health care but in the whole legislature, AB52 (Feuer) would allow state regulators to reject unjustified rate hikes by health insurance companies. It was a common sense consumer protection that was widely supported by the public, and by a broad coalition of consumer, community, and constituency groups.

Assemblymember Feuer, the author of Assembly Bill 52, announced yesterday that he was parking the measure. Despite an outpouring of strong support from small business, working families and consumers throughout California, the bill has hit a temporary roadblock in the Senate. Right now, not enough Senators are prepared to vote for any form of health insurance rate regulation. Until a majority of the Senate supports giving the state authority to reject excessive health insurance increases, millions of Californians will continue to pay unreasonable rates or not be able to afford to go to the doctor at all.

Governor Signs Senator Simitian’s Identity Theft Prevention Bill

By Richard Holober
Consumer Federation of California

Persistence paid off for Senator Joe Simitian. Governor Jerry Brown just signed Simitian’s Senate Bill 24, which will arm consumers with information to help prevent identity theft. In 2008, 2009 and 2010, Senator Simitian placed three previous versions of his security breach notification bill on the desk of former Governor Schwarzenegger, only to encounter vetoes.

If you are one of the many Californians who had your confidential information compromised in a security breach, you most likely found out by receiving a letter in the mail. After reading it, you were probably quite upset, but confused about what you should do about it. SB 24 will help consumers make sense of these notices, and help arm us to stop identity theft.

Rate Regulation And Other Key Health Reform Bills Head to Final Floor Votes

By Anthony Wright
Health Access

Important California legislation to improve our health system for the future and implement the new federal health law are headed to final floor votes, after passing key Appropriations Committees in both the Assembly and Senate.

The California Senate passed high-profile, heavily-debated bills like AB52(Feuer), on rate regulation, so consumers are protected from unjustified rate hikes. Other bills that advanced included crucial consumer protections for Californians, from a reorganization and expansion of consumer assistance for California patients, to the streamlining of eligibility and enrollment systems so that Californians get the coverage they want and need. Another bill would limit the amount of our premium dollar that goes to administration and profit, rather than patient care.

Health Insurance Rate Regulation Approved By Key Senate Committee

By Richard Holober
Consumer Federation of California

AB 52 (Feuer) won passage in the Senate Appropriations Committee this morning on a 6-3 party line vote. Democrats on the committee voted Aye and Republicans voted No. The bill would give state regulators authority to approve or reject health insurance and HMO premium rate increases.

It’s Time to Think Big on Transit

By Assemblymember Bob Blumenfield
Chair of the Assembly Budget Committee

Traffic is killing us.  It eats up our time, it thins our wallets as our cars idly burn through expensive gasoline, and it spoils the air we breathe.  We need a path to real public transportation alternatives in order to get out of our cars and on with our lives.

That’s why I have authored legislation calling for a group of experts to develop California’s first statewide public transit development and financing plan.  And, ever mindful of our trying budget times, it will not cost our state’s besieged General Fund a dime.

Vernon Disincorporation Threatens Home Rule

By Tom Hogen-Esch

Can state government wipe a California city from the map? AB 46, headed to the Senate floor, proposes exactly that for the scandal-plagued city of Vernon. If it passes, the event would mark the first time in decades that state government abolished a city against its will.

Local officials are watching the case closely. Many are wondering what will be left of the California’s tradition of local autonomy if Vernon is stripped of cityhood.

Much like relations between the national government and the states, the relationship between state and city governments in California has a long and complicated history. At the core of the debate lies a conflict between two long-standing legal principles: Dillon’s rule and home rule.

Landmark Health Care Reform Legislation Introduced by Senate President Steinberg

By Marty Omoto

Potential sweeping landmark health care insurance reform legislation was introduced Tuesday by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg that would require health managed care plans and health insurance plans to provide as a covered benefit behavioral health treatment for persons with autism spectrum disorders.  The legislation would take effect, if passed by the Legislature before it adjourns for the year on September 9th and signed by the Governor on or before October 9th, on January 1, 2012.

The bill, which Steinberg said he was committed to see passed before the Legislature adjourns for the year on September 9th, will likely meet fierce opposition from health managed care plans and strong support from advocates for children and adults with autism spectrum disorders and their families. Health plans who have opposed previous efforts, have said that behavioral health treatments for persons with autism are more appropriately provided by school districts and other entities.