Proposals Seek Changes to State Workers’ Compensation System
Three ballot proposals that would repeal "large portions" of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's (R) workers' compensation system reform have been cleared for signature gathering, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The proposals would increase weekly payments for permanently disabled workers and eliminate provisions from the law requiring injured workers to use medical clinics and pharmacies chosen by their employer. One of the measures would repeal a 1913 statute and allow workers' compensation claimants to sue employers for damages caused by accidents.
It is unclear who is financing the proposals, the Times reports. However, Democrats, labor groups and attorneys for workers' compensation claimants said the threat of a ballot measure could prompt Schwarzenegger to negotiate changes in the workers' compensation system. Legislation modifying the system was signed into law in April 2004.
The state legislative analyst's office said if one of the measures passes, "[t]he magnitude of these increased costs would be major -- potentially in the billions of dollars annually for private and public employers."
A coalition of employers, led by the California Chamber of Commerce, a small business advocate and an executive of Costco Wholesale, is mounting an opposition campaign, according to the Times (Lifsher, Los Angeles Times, 2/21).