Sunday, June 16, 2013

AB 76, a Trailer Bill that Makes a Difference


AB 76 is a 120 page trailer bill that made it through the legislature to the Governor's desk without a public hearing. Trailer bills are expected to be limited to technical changes and are not expected to contain substantive language that should be presented in public hearings.

AB 76 was introduced on January 10, 2013 by the Committee on Budget.  It was amended in the State Senate on June 12, 2013.  In between these dates there were no public hearings.

On page 61 there is mention of "a return-to-work program administered by the director, funded by one hundred twenty million dollars ($120,000,000) ... for the purpose of making supplemental payments  to workers whose permanent disability benefits are disproportionately low in comparison to their earnings loss. Moneys shall remain available for use by the return-to-work program without respect to the fiscal year."

The bill then says "eligibility for payments and the amount of payments shall be determined by regulations adopted by the director  ... subject to review at the trial level of the appeals board  upon the same grounds as prescribed for petitions of reconsideration ... on or after July 1, 2013, all civil penalties collected pursuant to this chapter shall be deposited in the Labor Enforcement and Compliance Fund."

AB 76 deprives  injured workers of benefits if they were injured prior to 2013. The bill states re eligibility that "this section shall apply only to injuries sustained on or after January 1, 2013." 

We are at a loss to explain why language of this importance wasn't deemed worthy of a public hearing. We notice that all of the Democrats voted for the bill while all of the Republicans voted against it.  So the bill passed on partisan or strict party lines -- nothing astonishing about that, is there? What's quizzical in this instance is that organizations representing injured workers did not testify at public committee hearings since there weren't any.  All of the Democrats voted for the bill, all of the Republicans voted against, a traditional and routine party-line vote.   Pundits who find that the language on page 61 is harmful to injured workers should seek comment from organizations that represent injured workers such as the California Labor Federation.  

In the meantime, it can be stated with reasonable political probability that page 61 and the interests of injured workers weren't of top concern  in the consideration of this bill.  Injured workers took back seat to everything else in the other 119 pages.

3 comments:

  1. For decades, injured workers who deserve higher paid disability wage replacement for their severe disabilities have received little to no honest ratings OR wages. With QME's making false and fraudulent reports all the while understanding they commit perjury and committing perjury is routine. I would like to know where all the insurance disability money has gone because the severely injured worker not only does receive that money but also end up on Social Security and Medicare with the federal tax dollar subsidizing what and insurance companies are not paying out for these many and high amount claims. As anyone who is on both programs know that they will get medical care to a point and the social security monthly payouts are minimal at best. Injured workers who do receive social security receive even less had they had the opportunity to work until they were 66 and half.
    Cal-fed is not the only injured worker advocate and if they are, Cal Fed has been agreeing on enacted legislation that continually taking away or minimizing benefits. Injured workers are just a cog in the wheel of inhumanity of the worker's comp system and everyone else attached like CAL-FED, FAC, CHS&WC, Democratic legislators and Republicans, who ever favors business and insurance and many others (who in all likely would off them selves had they been injured so severely with no real safety net)...ALL who have known for a very long time WHO has been riding on that bicycle of money!
    Dina J. Padilla
    President of VOICES/B.E.S.T.
    Advocate for Injured Workers.

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  2. Cal Fed teamed up last year with Grimmway Farms to get SB 863 passed. Angie Wei, lobbying for Cal Fed, worked with Sean McNally, then Vice President for Corporate Affairs for Grimmway. Her goal was to increase permanend disability (PD). His goal was to limit the damages. These goals were partially achieved. PD was increased but sexual dysfunction caused by spinal disability was removed from the PD equation. So was dyssomnia caused by chronic pain and aspects of psychiatric dysfunction. Governor Brown wanted the bill to satisfy the insurance industry so he could get his tax bill. That goal also succeeded. Injured workers never had a chance.

    AB 76 reaps further havoc on injured workers. But, because of a section in it that would restrict access to public records, the bill is reported to be delayed from gubernatorial signature. The expectation is that the denial of public access to records will be fixed and that the denial of benefits to injured workers as stated on page 61 of the bill will remain.

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