Political Action Committee To Spend $75,000 on Campaign Supporting Proposition 72
Election Watchdog, the political action committee of advocacy group Consumer Watchdog, plans to spend $75,000 on a campaign to support passage of Proposition 72, a November ballot referendum on whether to retain a law (SB 2) that will require some employers in the state to provide health insurance to their employees or pay into a state fund to provide such coverage, The Recorder reports (The Recorder, 8/9). Under SB 2, which is scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, 2006, employers with 200 or more employees will be required to provide health insurance to workers and their dependents by 2006 or pay into the state fund. Employers with 50 to 199 employees will have to provide health insurance only to workers by 2007. Companies with fewer than 20 workers will not have to comply with the law, and the law also will exempt employers with 20 to 49 workers unless the state provides them with tax credits to offset the cost of health coverage (California Healthline, 8/3).
Officials at Election Watchdog said they intend to use half of a $150,000 grant they received from the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights to fund the effort.
In other ballot initiative news, representatives from groups including the California Nurses Association are signing ballot arguments opposing Proposition 64, an initiative that would restrict lawsuits under the state's unfair competition law (The Recorder, 8/9). California's Unfair Competition Law is the only consumer protection law in the United States that allows people to sue companies even when the plaintiff has not been harmed personally. Proposition 64 would limit lawsuits to people who can prove a loss of money or property as a result of the companies' actions. It also would make it more difficult for individuals to file lawsuits aimed at obtaining court orders to halt particular business practices statewide.
Supporters of the ballot initiative, including Kaiser Permanente and Blue Cross of California, say their efforts are intended to help prevent frivolous and costly lawsuits. However, consumer groups say that the supporters of Proposition 64 are seeking to take valuable protections away from California residents (California Healthline, 7/7).
Election Watchdog also plans to spend the remaining $75,000 of its grant on efforts to defeat Proposition 64. Jamie Court, executive director of FTCR, said the group may be able to collect an additional $100,000 from environmental, civil rights and public interest groups opposed to the measure (The Recorder, 8/9).
Additional information on SB 2 is available online.