New Coalition Launches Petition Drive To Challenge Employer-Sponsored Benefits Law
Officials from a newly formed coalition on Friday announced that they will begin collecting signatures for a petition to place a repeal for a recently enacted health benefits law (SB 2) on the March statewide ballot, the Contra Costa Times reports (Silber, Contra Costa Times, 10/25). SB 2 mandates that employers with 200 or more employees provide health coverage to workers and their dependents by 2006 to avoid paying into a state fund that would provide such coverage; businesses with 50 to 199 workers will have to offer health insurance to employees only by 2007; and employers with fewer than 20 workers will be exempt from the law. Those with 20 to 49 employees will be exempt from the law unless the state provides tax credits to offset the cost of health benefits. Employers who already offer health benefits that comply with the new law can continue offering those plans provided that the plans meet the law's minimum requirements. In response, the California Chamber of Commerce has submitted a petition to the state to place on the ballot a referendum to eliminate the measure, and the group is also likely to challenge the law in court (California Healthline, 10/17). The chamber, the California Taxpayers Association, the California Retailers Association, the California Restaurant Association and the California Business Properties Association have now formed a new coalition, called Californians Against Government Run Healthcare, to challenge the law. The California Restaurant Association provided $500,000 to launch the effort (Contra Costa Times, 10/25). The group must collect signatures from at least 373,816 registered voters to place the initiative on the ballot, according to the Office of the Secretary of State. The Sacramento Bee reports that several sources indicated that the coalition would pay petition workers $2 per signature that they collected, but coalition officials declined to confirm that amount (Rapaport, Sacramento Bee, 10/25).
Additional information on SB 2 is available online.