California Legislature Advances Health-Related Measures
On Thursday, the Assembly passed a bill (AB 1522) that would require California employers to provide workers with at least three paid sick days per year, the Los Angeles Times' "PolitiCal" reports.
The bill, by Assembly member Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), calls for one hour of paid sick leave to be provided for every 30 hours that an employee works (Mason, "PolitiCal," Los Angeles Times, 5/29).
It also includes provisions that would:
- Allow sick days to be used to care for an ill relative or to take leave related to domestic violence or sexual assault;
- Exempt employees covered by collective bargaining; and
- Allow unused sick leave to be carried over into the next year.
Under the bill, employers would be exempt from paying for accumulated sick leave when an employee leaves an organization (California Healthline, 3/20).
The bill now heads to the Senate. If the bill is signed into law, it would become effective July 1, 2015 (Gardner, U-T San Diego, 5/30).
Reaction to Passage of AB 1522
The measure was opposed by business groups in the state, with the California Chamber of Commerce calling it a "job killer."
Republican lawmakers also opposed the bill. Assembly member Donald Wagner (R-Irvine) said the measure was "ill-considered, heavy-handed [and] one-sided" ("PolitiCal," Los Angeles Times, 5/29).
Democratic lawmakers and labor groups supported the measure, with Gonzalez calling it a "family-friendly proposal." Supporters also noted that about seven million workers in California currently lack paid sick leave (U-T San Diego, 5/30).
Hospital Violence Prevention Bill Passes
In related news, the state Senate on Thursday passed a bill (SB 1299), by Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima), that would require the state's Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board to implement violence prevention plans to shield health care workers from aggressive and violent behavior (California Nurses Association/National Nurses United release, 5/29).
The bill was introduced after two separate attacks occurred at Los Angeles-area medical centers in April (California Healthline, 4/22).
Rx Drug Comparison Bill Passes
The state Senate also voted to advance a measure (SB 1052) aimed at allowing consumers to compare prescription drug coverage when selecting a health insurance plan.
The bill calls for Covered California, the state's health insurance exchange, to develop an online tool allowing consumers to enter the type of medications they take and find plans that cover those drugs. It also would require health plans to post uniform information on drug formularies and costs (Plevin, "Impatient," KPCC, 5/29).
Medical Marijuana Regulation Bill Fails
Meanwhile, a measure (AB 1894) that would have created a state agency under the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control to oversee the medical marijuana industry failed in the Assembly in a 27-30 vote, the Sacramento Bee's "Capitol Alert" reports.
The measure was opposed by law enforcement groups and some politicians who said it could interfere with local regulations for the drug.
The state Senate advanced a separate bill (SB 1262) that would create stricter rules for physicians who prescribe medical marijuana and call for the Department of Consumer Affairs to issue licenses to dispensaries and producers of the drug (White, "Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 5/29).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.