Wednesday, September 4, 2013

What Will Get Brown's Signature

There are 2 weeks left in the 2013 California legislative session with a few bills pending relating to workers' compensation. Here's my list of what's going to be sent to the Governor's desk, and will obtain his signature.

AB 1373, by Speaker John A. Perez, D-Los Angeles, would double to 480 weeks the current 240-week window in which dependents of public safety officers can seek benefits for deaths caused by cancer, tuberculosis, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or a blood-borne infectious disease.

This bill will get out of the legislature - it passed the Appropriations Committee 5-2 on Friday despite lack of a cost projection - but Gov. Brown will not sign it. He vetoed a similar measure last year for lack of cost projections.

AB 454, by Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento, would require that indemnity benefits for a worker injured on a project subject to federal, state or city prevailing wage requirements be calculated at the prevailing wage rate, regardless of what the worker actually was paid.

This bill is backed by powerful labor unions and building/contracting lobbies to "even the playing field" against contractors who engage in unfair competition tactics with their employees on government projects. I give it an 80% chance of getting Gov. Brown's signature to help dissuade unfair competition.

AB 1309, by Henry Perea, D-Fresno, would impose restrictions on cumulative trauma and occupational disease claims by professional athletes in addition to imposing tighter jurisdictional requirements on claims made by football, baseball, hockey and basketball players.

The NFL's unprecedented settlement of the class action brain injury lawsuit in federal court last week was just a warmer for this bill - an obstacle that could have derailed NFL's ambitions because AB 1309 could be seen as an attempt to skirt responsibility for the league's players.

Consequently, I'm calling AB 1309 a slam dunk, a touch down, a goal, a home run; the Governor has pen in hand ready to sign.

And Los Angeles will thus eventually get a football team...

Senate Bill 258, a bill by Sen. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance is an SB 863 clean up bill that clarifies the prohibition against selling liens unless the service provider has gone out of business to apply only to liens that were sold after the reform bill took effect on Jan. 1, 2013. In addition the bill would require that all seven members of the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board be experienced attorneys.

An amendment to the bill posted on the Legislature’s website on Friday clarifies that the employer or carrier is required to reimburse a lien claimant for the $150 filing fee if the claimant prevails.

I'm also giving this bill a high probability of signature by the Governor, assuming it can get out of the Legislature without additional amendment that would require debate.

SB 375 corrects erroneous references in SB 863 to sections of the Government Code and the Labor Code. The bill would also replace a reference to “administrative hearing” interpreters to “medical examination” interpreters. This is an obvious candidate for Brown's pen.

Brown has already signed SB 527, by Marty Block, D-San Diego, that would give full-time lifeguards in San Diego the same enhanced temporary disability benefits as other safety officers and another to simplify pharmacy billing requirements.

And Brown has already signed SB 146 by Ricardo Lara, D-Long Beach, which eliminates the requirement to include a copy of an original prescription when submitting invoices to work comp payers that got in the way of submitting bills electronically.

The 2013 legislative session ends on Sept. 13.

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