Workers’ Comp Remains an Issue for Schwarzenegger
"Ever since the Legislature acceded to" Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) and approved his 2004 changes to the state's workers' compensation insurance system, "Democratic legislative leaders have tried to at least partially undo what they wrought," Dan Walters writes in a Sacramento Bee column.
"The pushback took several forms in the just-ended legislative session, most prominently a union-backed, employer-opposed bill" (SB 936) by Senate President Pro Tempore Don Perata (D-Oakland) "that would soften the 2004 reforms by increasing payments to permanently disabled workers," Walters writes.
However, "Schwarzenegger has often boasted of his pro-business attitude and has reinforced it during the past three years by vetoing almost every bill tagged with the 'job killer' epithet by" the California Chamber of Commerce, "so his rejection of Perata's measure is almost a given," according to Walters.
"The annual political confrontation over workers' compensation, however, did produce one bill that -- almost miraculously -- drew support from both sides," Walters argues, referring to AB 338 by Assembly member Joseph Coto (D-San Jose).
According to Walters, the measure "extends the eligibility window for temporary disability benefits from two years to four years, while maintaining the current cap of 104 weeks of payments."
"Both business and the labor-attorney coalition want Schwarzenegger to sign it, but it's uncertain whether he would even slightly reopen what has been for three-plus years a closed book on workers' compensation eligibility rules," Walters concludes (Walters, Sacramento Bee, 9/26).