Friday, August 31, 2012

The Drama is Almost Over!

Down to the wire, and the politics of workers' compensation reform gets as complicated as SB 863 itself.

According to popular workers' compensation blogger, attorney Julius Young of the Boxer and Gerson law firm in Oakland, California Governor Jerry Brown has been very active in the background the past few days working to drum up support for the bill.

The reason is that Brown needs to minimize resistance to his proposed tax plan that he is taking to the people in the form of Proposition 30. He is hoping that getting pension and workers' compensation reform passed will boost his tax plan by ameliorating objection by Big Business and Big Labor.

But Big Business isn't fully on board. The US Chamber of Commerce has taken out ads attacking Prop 30.

Young says that his information is that Prop 30 is only at about the 50% approval level in the polls, which means it won't make it by popular vote.

And as of last night the California Chamber of Commerce had not yet issued support (or objection) to SB 863.

A spokesman for Sen. Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, told WorkCompCentral that an endorsement from the California Chamber of Commerce could be instrumental in getting SB 863 through the Legislature. If the Chamber supports the bill, it would allow the Republicans to vote for the measure (recall just days ago that SB 863 moved out of an Assembly committee purely along party lines with all Republicans voting "nay").

There seems to be a fait accompli sentiment among those in Labor's camp, even if there is some opposition for various reasons. Many feel that this bill, as secretive as it was and despite some objectionable defects, is better than nothing and thus there is support.

Christy Bouma, a lobbyist for the California Professional Firefighters, and who serves on the Commission on Health and Safety and Workers’ Compensation (CHSWC) along with one of SB 863's primary negotiators, Angie Wei, legislative director for the California Labor Federation, said she is “substantially uncomfortable” with the proposal, but added that “acting now is a benefit to all parties versus waiting.”

There does not seem to be any meaningful objection by Business - there are some grumblings that SB 863 doesn't go far enough in some respects, but overall the sentiment seems to be favorable otherwise Business would be more vocal.

Some have speculated that if reform doesn't pass by midnight tonight that there could be a special session to deal with the issue, perhaps as late as December.

If the political machine is operating as it is thought to be, a special session would not accomplish the overall goal because November elections will seal the fate of Prop 30.

And according to the San Francisco Chronicle, legislators understand that whatever passes will require "clean up" legislation anyhow.

Yesterday I placed my bet that SB 863 would become law - I just don't know exactly what the law will be. But Greg Hayes, communications director for de Leon, said if any amendments are made, the bill would remain “substantially similar” to what was introduced on Monday.

The Chronicle is also betting that SB 863 will become law.

I'm not changing my bet. I won't double down, but I'm holding.

A while ago a television sit com about workers' compensation had made the cable channels for a season. The producers of that show would have done much better to do a reality show to capture the drama and suspense of the SB 863 political process.

On August 13 I warned that this blog would be solely devoted to the California reform drama and called it "Reality Politics." Honestly, this turned out much more interesting than I thought it would.

But I'm not staying up until midnight - when I wake up Saturday we will either have reform or we won't.

And the drama will be over.

At least until the legal challenges start.

1 comment:

  1. The political horse trading continues....while injured workers are being lead away to that's stellar representative government the people can believe in..