July 2012 News

 

Workers Comp 7.31

CA OSHA Takes a Proactive, Comprehensive Approach to Protect Workers From Heat Illness  Cal/OSHA is reminding all employers to protect their outdoor workers from the risk of heat illness, especially with heat waves expected this week in the Central and Inland Valleys.

Workers’ Compensation, Reinsurance Costs Increasing, Says Long Beach Insurance Executive With natural disasters happening across the United States over the past couple of years and the slow rate of job recovery, insurance rates are beginning to increase, according to a local insurance executive.

Marysville, California Farms Are Desperate For Workers, Despite High Unemployment  There seems to be a shortage of peach-pickers in Marysville, California. Or maybe not. Peach farms in the Marysville region -- in particular, the peach farm of one Dalvir Gill -- are covered in rotting fruit, according to a report last Friday from Fox40 News.

California: $5.9 million grant aims to stop worker's compensation fraud On Thursday, June 21, 2012 the California Department of Insurance made an announcement that it would award a $5.9 million grant to the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office to counteract the increase in workers' comp fraud in the state's counties.

States' Hidden Jobless Woes  California and Nevada are struggling with some of the nation's highest rates of workers who are looking for jobs or not putting in as many hours as they would like, new government data show.

California’s Bankrupting Cities: Don’t Blame the Workers  As more American cities sink into the quicksand of bankruptcy, a veritable Scapegoats’ Olympics has been inaugurated – crowd-pleasing blame games that usually point fingers at workers. Harold Meyerson was having none of it the other day, however, in an LA Times op-ed:

 

State News 7.31

California borrowing $4.3 billion from special funds  California's borrowing from special fund accounts has reached nearly $4.3 billion, more than five times the amount from June 2008, according to a semi-annual report issued today by the Department of Finance.

Walters: Jerry Brown may be the issue in California's tax initiative duel  Gov. Jerry Brown released an Internet ad the other day, asking voters to embrace his multibillion-dollar tax increase. But the word "tax" is nowhere to be found.

Deals to save state parks in question after department scandal  For months, the city of Benicia has been working with the California state parks department on an agreement to keep the Benicia State Recreation Area open.

 

Workers Comp 7.30

CA State Fund Issues First Dividend in Over Ten Years State Compensation Insurance Fund (State Fund) began issuing dividend payments to eligible policyholders—the first time in a decade. The $50 million dividend disbursement will be paid to qualifying policyholders on the 2011 policy year.

Employer Right to Control Workers Comp Medical Care Challenged By Court of Appeals Under current workers’ compensation laws, employers in California have the right to choose the medical facility where an injured employee is treated by properly implementing a designated Medical Provider Network (MPN). This network ensures that an injured employee will receive necessary medical care pursuant to their workers’ compensation claim at a screened facility that is chosen and screened by the employer, or their insurance carrier.

Court: Workers' comp owed A Morris County employee is entitled to workers’ compensation benefits because she was struck by a car as she walked from her employer-controlled parking lot to the county administration building in Morristown, an appeals court has ruled.

 

State News 7.30

Delta tunnels would mean higher prices  If tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta actually get built, more than 2 million people in the Bay Area will see their water bills increase to help pay for them.

California Democratic Party endorses Jerry Brown tax initiative  The California Democratic Party has made its support of Gov. Jerry Brown's tax initiative official.

Walters: California needs more than Proposition 31 to fix what ails it  California's chronic budget deficits – even in times of economic expansion – testify to its political dysfunction, which is reason to wonder whether a November ballot measure on budget procedures, if enacted, would have much positive effect

US Secretary of Labor, Union Leaders and Workers Call on Congress to Bring Jobs Home There is no issue more important in California and America right now than jobs. All of us know someone struggling to find one- you might even be struggling to find one yourself.  So why is our tax money helping to ship jobs to other countries?

 

Workers Comp 7.27

Worker's Comp Costs Call for Chiropractic In light of the Supreme Court's deliberation of the strengths and drawbacks of the Obama health care plan designed to rescue an ailing American health care system, one fact remains indisputable: Health care costs as administered by conventional medicine are continuing to spiral out of control with few signs of abating.

CA Students Gather For Annual Youth Leadership Forum - Ambition Trumps Disability Fifty-nine California high school students with disabilities gathered on the steps of the State Capitol today to show lawmakers they have the talent, drive and desire to become tomorrow’s leaders and policy makers.

 

State News 7.27

California investigates up to $2.3 billion in public funds hiding in plain sight  A week after uncovering a hidden-funds scandal at the state parks department, finance officials are now trying to piece together why the balance sheets for similar "special funds" are off by $2.3 billion -- money that appeared to be right under their noses amid California's financial meltdown.

 

Workers Comp 7.26

Report: Calif. Head and Spine Injuries Cost $500M in 10 years Head and spinal injuries cost California’s workers’ compensation insurers more than $500 million over 10 years, according to the California Workers’ Compensation Institute’s “Injury Score Card.” The report issued on Wednesday reflects data on California work injury claims for head and spinal injuries without spinal cord involvement.

For Temp Workers, 'Temp' Looking More Permanent While the job market remains sluggish, temporary work is one area that's done very well in the economic recovery. Companies are keeping their temps longer and are even using them to fill professional and high-ranking positions.

US Secretary of Labor, Union Leaders and Workers Call on Congress to Bring Jobs Home There is no issue more important in California and America right now than jobs. All of us know someone struggling to find one- you might even be struggling to find one yourself.  So why is our tax money helping to ship jobs to other countries?

Labor union advise Rite Aid workers to reject new contract proposal Rite Aid workers throughout Southern California were urged Thursday to reject their employer's latest contract proposal and authorize union leaders to call a strike. "A strong vote against the proposals will give union leaders authority to call a strike if a labor action becomes necessary to negotiate a fair contract with Rite Aid," a United Food and Commercial Workers statement said.

California Labor Commissioner Julie A. Su honored as top labor and employment lawyer California Labor Commissioner Julie A. Su was recently recognized by the Daily Journal as one of the Top 75 Labor and Employment Attorneys in California. This is the first time that a state Labor Commissioner has received such recognition.

California: Combined ratio up to 122 percent for calendar year 2011  The combined loss and expense ratio in California's workers' comp system increased by five percentage points from 2010 to 2011. The 122 percent is the highest combined ratio for the state since 2001, according to the Workers' Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau. The WCIRB released its annually mandated report on workers' comp losses and expenses for 2011.

 

State News 7.26

New state water plan: tunnels under delta  State and federal officials announced Wednesday they intend to build two large tunnels to move massive amounts of water under the fragile Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, reigniting California's storied intrastate battle over fresh water.

 

Workers Comp 7.25

Workers Cough Up Blood While Loading Wal-Mart Goods Onto Trucks  The NFI Crossdock warehouse, near the city of Ontario, California, is where laborers work in 100F heat [or warmer], unloading shipping containers that arrived at California ports, and loading them again on trucks that go to Wal-Mart stores across America.

Bankrupt cities? Don't blame unions  The reporting and commentary on the bankruptcies of California cities over the last month haven't been journalism's finest hour. From reading the voluminous accounts of the fiscal woes of Stockton and San Bernardino, you'd think that municipal unions and feckless city officials are primarily what led these cities down the path to fiscal ruin.

 

State News 7.25

Jerry Brown calls parks scandal a 'first,' downplays significance  In his first public remarks about the California state parks scandal, Gov. Jerry Brown downplayed its significance this morning, suggesting it was better to find nearly $54 million in apparently hidden money than to discover money missing.

Gov. Jerry Brown fires first shot in new water war  Against the backdrop of loud and vociferous opposition from environmentalists and Northern California Democrats, Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday embarked on what could only be likened to a ride through the white rapids of water politics.

 

Workers Comp 7.24

California workers to rally for minimum wage increase  California workers in Inglewood and Sacramento will join labor advocates across the country at rallies today to support forthcoming legislation by U.S. Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., that would increase the federal minimum wage by $2.55 per hour.

 

State News 7.24

Union political donation ballot measure questioned  At a news conference, leaders from Common Cause California and League of Women Voters said that Proposition 32, dubbed "Stop Special Interest Money Now," is an age-old assault on union power dressed up as campaign finance reform.

California's next North-vs.-South battle over water begins Wednesday  Opening a major new chapter in California's decades-old battle over water, Gov. Jerry Brown is scheduled Wednesday to unveil plans to build a $14 billion pair of tunnels to move water more easily from the north to the thirsty south.

 

Workers Comp 7.23

 

Workers' comp claims decline Workers' compensation claims fell 2.1 percent last year for private self-insured employers in California, according to the California Workers' Compensation Institute. The Oakland-based workers comp group said medical and indemnity payments for new comp claims among California self-insureds last year totaled $192 million.

Pregnant Workers  Yes, employers are legally prohibited from discriminating against women and the disabled. Yet getting pregnant can cause a woman to lose her job ­ or cause her to be denied a job in the first place.

As California Warehouses Grow, Labor Issues Are a Concern As the freeway snakes toward this city an hour’s drive east of Los Angeles, the strip malls gradually give way to the warehouses that supply their goods. There are dozens and dozens of them — in some places, the gray squat buildings are the only things visible from the road — a labyrinth of sprawling distribution centers for retailers that include Walgreens and Wal-Mart, Toyota and Home Depot.

California workers comp claim frequency falls Workers compensation claim frequency fell 2.1% last year for private self-insured employers in California, according to the California Workers' Compensation Institute.

2 workers killed in crash on LA freeway Two suspected drunken drivers were involved in a collision early Sunday that killed two road workers and forced the closure of a major Southern California freeway, authorities said.

State News 7.23

Walters: Enterprise zones hit wall in California Senate  One of the Capitol's hoarier public dialogues is Republicans complaining about Democrats' excessive spending and Democrats bemoaning Republicans' refusal to close unjustified corporate tax loopholes. Both sides have a point.

Bay Area faces new high-speed rail costs  Now that Gov. Jerry Brown has signed legislation to allow the state to spend billions on high-speed rail, Bay Area residents had better brace for the real ride - a push for $650 million in toll hikes and new San Francisco taxes. That's how much will be needed to help pay for a tunnel to connect the Transbay Terminal to the Caltrain station at Fourth and King streets.

Good news on job growth but 'long row to hoe'  Dan Walters says that while California's unemployment rate has gone down, it's still high.

 

Workers Comp 7.20

 

State caps on prescription drug prices reduce workers comp costs: WCRI State regulations that cap the prices doctors can charge when dispensing pharmaceutical drugs work effectively to reduce workers compensation costs, yet they do not limit patient access to pharmaceuticals, a study released Thursday reports.

Report: Inland Area Warehouse Employees Poorly Trained, Overworked  A study on working conditions at inland-area warehouses, which appears in this month's issue of Policy Matters, a UCR publication, indicates that sweeping improvements are needed to "ensure workplace safety and fairness for warehouse workers."

Taking heat for farm workers During the summer of 2005, my older daughter worked for the Executive Officer of the California Occupational Health and Safety Administration. Twelve outdoor workers died that summer -- six of whom were farmworkers. She would always ask me, "Why isn't anyone doing anything about this?"

State News 7.20

Raises for legislative staffers condemned by taxpayer activists  The decision of state lawmakers to provide hundreds of their staffers with raises before cutting the pay for most other state workers drew a rebuke Thursday from taxpayer advocates who said it undermines Gov. Jerry Brown’s argument that an $8 billion tax increase is desperately needed.

A good end to a rough year for California taxes  California ended the last fiscal year on a high note, raking in 5.6% more tax revenue than expected in June.

 

Workers Comp 7.19

1% Betcha thought I was going to write about the 1% versus the 99%. No, today the 1% in the news is the 1% that CalPERS earned during its fiscal year that ended June 30th. CalPERS is working off of projections of over 7% annual return per year, so returns of a mere 1% can cause severe funding gaps in a system that is already underfunded.

Surgical implants estimated to add $67.5 million to California comp  Legislation before the California legislature would eliminate a controversial loophole that critics say leads to double billing in the workers' comp system. Lawmakers were considering the measure as a new study was released showing the pass-throughs added nearly $67.5 million in medical costs to the system in 2010.

Complaint Filed Against California Walmart Warehouse Workers stacking heavy boxes and driving forklifts in the dark. Thick black dust that causes nosebleeds and vomiting. Broken hand carts that give workers the choice between carrying heavy boxes by hand or struggling with carts so slow that they could be fired for not meeting strict piecework quotas.

Study says doctors increasingly fill prescriptions Doctors are increasingly filling — and not just writing — prescriptions for workman's compensation patients in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, sometimes getting paid much more per pill than a pharmacy, according to a study to be released Thursday by a research group funded by insurers and state governments.

 

State News 7.19

California Prop. 32 in unions' crosshairs  The stated intention of Proposition 32 on the November ballot is to "ban both corporate and union contributions to candidates." But analysts say that while it could dry up organized labor's primary funding source, it contains a loophole that will allow corporate interests to continue doling out campaign donations.

CA Senate announces plan to freeze pay -- after awarding raises  Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg announced plans Wednesday for a one-year pay freeze for Senate employees, but the move comes in the wake of a recent pay hike for hundreds of the chamber's aides.

Skelton: California's funding mechanism is fundamentally cockeyed  San Bernardino, Stockton and Mammoth Lakes all screwed up and became bankrupt. But the rest of us shouldn't get sanctimonious.

Jerry Brown signs rail bill, avoids Central Valley opponents  It took the promise of nearly $2 billion in rail upgrades in the Bay Area and Los Angeles for Gov. Jerry Brown to secure the Legislature's support for high-speed rail, so it was there that the Democratic governor celebrated on Wednesday.

'Don't worry about the Field Poll,' Jerry Brown says  It wasn't the first time Gov. Jerry Brown has addressed the potentially harmful impact of high-speed rail on his November ballot initiative to raise taxes, but it was perhaps his most direct response yet.

Furthering the Vision of High-Speed Rail  The voices of doom and decline say that high-speed rail cannot be built in California. They’ve tried to stop the forces of progress by calling high-speed rail "a boondoggle" and "a waste."

 

Workers Comp 7.18

State News 7.18

Low funds imperil business, public pensions  A pair of independent studies conclude that workers' retirement security is in danger and that the financial health of governments across the country is strained.

Bid to curb union spending gets big Democratic backer  Proposition 32 just got a big Democratic voice. Former state Sen. Gloria Romero, a Los Angeles Democrat, announced her support this week for the November ballot measure that would ban the practice of political contribution by payroll deduction, the primary method labor unions use to raise political cash.

CalBuzz: What Does Mittens Have to Hide? Part Deux  If Mitt Romney’s senior adviser Ed Gillespie had told only NBC’s David Gregory that Romney had “actually retired retroactively” from Bain Capital after 1999 when he went off to run the U.S. Olympics, it might have been dismissed as a misspeak or a gaffe.

Dan Walters Daily: California's battle over taxes is heating up Dan Walters lays out the tax-measure battle between California Gov. Jerry Brown and wealthy civil rights attorney Molly Munger.

Jerry Brown to sign funding bill for high-speed rail Gov. Jerry Brown will be in Los Angeles this morning and in San Francisco this afternoon as he signs legislation authorizing funding to start construction of the state's controversial high-speed rail project.

Workers Comp 7.17

A.M. Best Special Report: State Funds' Net Premiums Written, Surplus Grew in 2011; Signs of Change Ahead Net premiums written (NPW) by U.S. competitive state compensation funds experienced a 7.1% increase in 2011, reversing a yearly trend that began in 2004, according to a new report from A.M. Best Co.

State News 7.17

Largest public pension fund earns dismal 1 percent  The nation's largest public pension fund reported a dismal 1 percent return on its investments, a figure far short of projections that will likely add pressure on California's state and local governments to contribute more, officials said Monday.

Jerry Brown's tax campaign releases online ad, its first  In its first online ad, Gov. Jerry Brown's campaign to raise taxes heaps praise on Brown for spending reductions he has enacted, while including a direct appeal by Brown for higher taxes.

Walters: Will California go the way of Pennsylvania?  What happened within minutes Monday may just be coincidence, but if so, it's a cosmically foreboding one.

On campaign trail, Obama highlights health care law  President Barack Obama on Monday gave a strong defense of his health care law, weaving multiple mentions of health reform into answers at an Ohio town hall and saying he doesn’t mind the “Obamacare” label “because I really do care.”

Workers Comp 7.16

Injuries on rise for Berkeley police, firefighters The number of police and firefighters getting injured on the job in Berkeley has shot up in the past three years, a trend officials can't exactly explain or attach a price tag.

In California, more Latinos among strawberry workers Alejandro Ramirez was 15 when he crossed the U.S.-Mexico border to work alongside his father and brother in California’s strawberry fields.

Morning letters: Union benefits soon on the chopping block Three California cities, Vallejo, Stockton and, now, San Bernardino, are in the process of bankruptcy [“City can’t pay its debts,” Front Page, July 12]. I am afraid it’s a sign of what is to come for the rest of the state. I would like to warn all those city, county and state employees that your jobs and pensions will not be untouched.

Attorney Odjaghian Loses Claim of "Significant Role" in California's Record Worker's Compensation Settlement Woodland Hills attorney Tina Odjaghian has lost an "anti-SLAPP" motion brought by former law partner Christopher Asvar in response to Odjaghian's lawsuit.  Ms. Odjaghian's suit attempted to silence Mr. Asvar's rightful public commentary on Odjaghian's efforts to falsely claim credit for a groundbreaking worker's compensation case.

State News 7.16

Gov. Jerry Brown signs 48 new bills  Gov. Jerry Brown approved a flurry of new laws Friday, including an exception to the ban on texting while driving, an increase in fines for staging bear and rooster fights, and a prohibition against law enforcement officers having sex with arrestees.

Workers Comp 7.13

The War On Workers Comes to California, in Disguise After the victory in Wisconsin, many wondered where conservative interests would strike next to finish off unions and permanently alter the power relationship between labor and capital. It appears the next step is California. In November, voters will decide on an initiative, Prop 32, that would “eliminate unions from having any voice in politics whatsoever,” according to one labor official.

Opioid Use by Injured California Workers Declining The use of powerful opioid painkillers such as oxycodone by injured California workers has dropped to its lowest level since 2007, according to a new study. Researchers say the data suggests that insurers may be making the drugs more difficult to obtain.

Save Mart/Lucky Reaches Tentative Deal with Union  Lucky and Save Mart workers won't go on strike; the deal will reportedly save the grocery chain money and give employees more hours. Talks with Raley's and Safeway workers continue. Modesto-based Save Mart Supermarkets, which operates two Lucky stores in Napa, has reached a tentative deal with its labor union.

State News 7.13

Walters: California just as insolvent as bankrupt cities  So far this summer, three California cities have moved toward bankruptcy and several others are distressed enough that the b-word has left the lips of their elected and appointed officials – including those in the two largest, Los Angeles and San Diego.

Brown's allies form committee to oppose Munger measure  The likelihood of open warfare between Gov. Jerry Brown and civil rights attorney Molly Munger, who have rival tax increase measures on the November ballot, has increased with the formation by Brown's supporters of a committee to oppose Munger.

Workers Comp 7.12 

Lump-sum payments in workers’ comp cases don’t halt return to work Lump-sum settlements paid in workers’ compensation cases appear to encourage people to return to work, according to a new study. The Workers Compensation Research Institute’s (WCRI) study, based on the analysis of 2,138 workers in Michigan who were injured in 2004, found that 78% of those injured workers receiving lump-sum settlements did not change their work status. The study tracked them through 2008.

Save Mart, union workers reach tentative contract Save Mart Supermarkets and its union workers have reached a tentative deal on a new contract. The United Food and Commercial Workers union says the agreement will give the Modesto-based grocery chain ""temporary labor cost reductions"" to help the company confront its financial challenges.

California eyes health coverage under WC system for low-income workers Community health centers are being encouraged to create programs that ensure that low-wage workers in businesses without insurance have access to medical treatment under workers' compensation.

State News 7.12 

Jerry Brown administration issues furlough orders for holdout California state worker unions  It's official. Gov. Jerry Brown has accomplished what his predecessor couldn't: All state workers under the governor's authority are now furloughed.

CalBuzz: Jerry Brown Has to Prove He’s the Adult in Charge  The recent Field Poll showing Gov. Brown’s tax increase proposal ahead 54-38% fails to convey a critical underlying dynamic: the only way Brown is going to get his measure passed in November is to convince voters that there’s an adult in charge in Sacramento who’s going to spend their money wisely – or at least not blow it.

Skelton: Bullet train vote demonstrates California Legislature working well  The Senate's approval of high-speed rail funding may or may not be wise policy. But it illustrates what the political process looks like when it's done right.

Workers Comp 7.11 

California workers comp opioid use drops to lowest level since 2007 The use of Schedule II opioid painkillers to treat injured California workers has dropped to its lowest level since 2007, according to a study that the California Workers’ Compensation Institute released Tuesday.

California task force cracks down on unlicensed building contractors A surprise sweep for unlicensed building contractors has resulted in 104 enforcement actions by a multi-agency state task force.

Destroying Communities, Abusing Workers: What's Still the Matter With Walmart This past week marked the 50th anniversary of the opening of the first Wal-Mart store. From Rogers, Arkansas, Wal-Mart has sprawled across the globe, opening some 10,000 stores and becoming the world's second-largest corporation—amassing a fortune for the Walton family, and gutting the American middle class.

Insurers Pay Big Markups When Doctors Dispense Drugs When a pharmacy sells the heartburn drug Zantac, each pill costs about 35 cents. But doctors dispensing it to patients in their offices have charged 10 times that price, or $3.25 a pill. … Most common among physicians who treat injured workers, it is a twist on a typical doctor’s visit. Instead of sending patients to drugstores to get prescriptions filled, doctors sell the drugs in their offices to patients who walk out the door with them.

Can we use workers’ compensation data as an effective occupation health and safety tool? A few days ago, I was at a CDC-NIOSH workshop in Washington DC on the topic of using workers’ compensation data for occupational safety and health. This event was organized around six draft white papers that really illustrate the potential, the barriers, and the pitfalls of this pursuit.

NUHW-Machinists Alliance: What’s the Game Plan?  It surprised many when the National Union of Healthcare Workers — a quintessential service sector union — announced in February its intent to affiliate with the Machinists, which has an extensive industrial union history. Details are still under discussion, but an alliance would ultimately bring over 9,000 NUHW members together with 720,000 IAM members.

State News 7.11 

California Deficit $1 Billion Smaller, Controller Says  California ended its fiscal year with a shortfall that was $1 billion less than Governor Jerry Brown estimated in May, after the most-populous U.S. state collected more taxes and spent less in June than projected.

Walters: Jerry Brown's tax plan has a downside  Whatever its other attributes or deficiencies may be, Gov. Jerry Brown's tax increase on the November ballot would make the state budget more dependent on personal income taxes and on the relative handful of wealthy Californians who pay most of those taxes.

California's bullet train faces new challenges after funding approval  As California secures the riches needed to start building a high-speed rail line, some longtime bitter foes of the bullet train are beginning to back off -- yet from the courtroom to the boardroom, other opponents are preparing for one last shot at blocking the historic project.

Workers Comp 7.10 

CA Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones Announces Statewide Joint Enforcement Strike Force Operation Sweep targets contractors operating in California's underground economy. Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones today announced that a statewide joint task force in the fight against California's underground economy has netted contractors allegedly operating illegally, resulting in 104 enforcement actions.

US Labor Department's OSHA cites California-based Toxco for lead overexposure, other serious violations at Lancaster, Ohio, plant The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Toxco Inc. for 14 serious safety and health violations at the company's battery recycling facility in Lancaster, including failing to protect workers from overexposure to lead and cadmium. Proposed penalties total $59,400.

Boycott and Upcoming "Two-Day Siege" of La Playa Carmel Announced at Hotel Workers Rally La Playa Carmel Hotel & Bar has completed its $3.5 million dollar restoration, and former workers who were not rehired when the hotel changed ownership and the construction was completed were joined by community members for a "Rally to Rehire La Playa Hotel Workers" on July 6th. This is the first major protest at the hotel since the completion of the remodel, and the management has stated that it only rehired two of the 113 former La Playa employees.

Historic Pinole: Sad Funeral for Chinese Powder Works Employees  Beliefs and customs complicated the handling of remains following a violent explosion. One reality of Pinole's past is that there were deadly explosions at the California Powder Works plant just outside of town. Another is that the Chinese men employed there lived different and separate lives from the rest of the local population.

 

State News 7.10 

Anti-tax group challenges bill giving Gov. Jerry Brown top ballot position  Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association filed its own appeal today challenging newly enacted budget legislation that gives Gov. Jerry Brown's tax initiative the top spot on the November ballot.

Voters have mixed views on public pensions, Field Poll finds  James Juarez, a 22-year-old Sacramento State student, has watched his tuition costs climb and class availability shrink over the last three years while the state put more money toward its pension obligations. His conclusion: The level of public pension benefits is "outrageous – it's not right." LeWayne Stitt, a 59-year-old disabled former bus driver, thinks that current benefit levels are fair.

Gov. Jerry Brown signs bill removing water bond from November ballot  With his signature, Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday pulled an $11-billion water bond measure from the November ballot, delaying it until the 2014 election.

'Thank God' for high-speed rail funding, Gov. Jerry Brown says  It's a jobs creator, and thank God we got it," Gov. Jerry Brown said of funding for high speed rail, narrowly approved by the Legislature last week. He and U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood were at the Port of Oakland on Monday to take a victory lap.

Workers Comp 7.09

 

Employers face shortage of skilled workers The fine crafts of welding and woodworking were once skills that were passed on from generation to generation. But as high schools have scaled back on classes like wood shop and auto shop in favor of college preparation, and society has shifted its focus to the latest technological trends, fewer workers are entering the skilled trades.

Workers’ comp rates rising sharply in 2012 Whittling away at reforms, higher utilization behind increases Workers’ compensation insurance rates are climbing sharply in the North Bay, a trend that the region’s brokers attribute to the whittling away at system reforms, rising health care costs and increasing medical utilization that have helped inspire a third round of recommended rate increases by California’s insurance commissioner.

California protections for whistle-blowers don't apply to workers on federal land An obscure legal doctrine leaves whistle-blowers at the San Onofre nuclear plant with less legal protection than other California workers, including employees at the state's only other nuclear plant.

Bay Area's lower-paid workers fail to keep up with inflation, while top earners see bigger checks Puny wage increases that have been chewed up by inflation have left hundreds of thousands of Bay Area workers worse off than they were 10 years ago. But top wage earners have seen their paychecks soar by 26 percent over the same period when adjusted for inflation. That's widened the gap between those on the top and bottom of the workforce.

State News 7.09

 

Walters: City-state relations take a turn  The relationship between state and local governments has always been testy, but more so since voters passed Proposition 13 in 1978, reducing local property taxes.

The two-year budget: Cranking down the gimmicks and hype?  For the second year in a row, a state budget has been approved and signed on time – sort of. The final piece will be left to voters who, weighing in as budget writers, will decide in November whether California’s spending plan will be fueled by revenues from new taxes sought by Gov. Brown.

Schrag: Sacramento’s Mixed Fiscal Message  So was it a threat or just a statement of hard facts? The “it” here was the Field Poll’s finding last week that 72 percent of voters don’t approve of the school budget cuts that would automatically follow failure of Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax increase measure on the November ballot.

Workers Comp 7.06

 

Budget ends furlough protections for State Compensation Insurance Fund employees California's state attorney's union launched its furlough agreement ratification today. While it's 3,700 or so members ponder their vote, several hundred who work at the State Compensation Insurance Fund face a new reality: They're no longer protected from furloughs.

 

State News 7.06

Brown, Senate leader won’t undo San Diego pension overhaul  Gov. Jerry Brown and the leader of the state Senate on Thursday said they will resist any legislative maneuvering to override voter-approved pension reforms in San Diego and San Jose.

California Assembly approves high-speed rail  The California Assembly has approved legislation authorizing about $4.5 billion in state bond funding for a high-speed rail system backed by Gov. Jerry Brown. Lawmakers approved SB1029 on a 51-27 vote Thursday afternoon, with Republicans opposing it.

 

Workers Comp 7.05

WORKERS COMP AND THE AFFORDABLE HEALTHCARE ACT  Assuming that Obamacare isn't grievously wounded by Congressional de-funding and that a Romney win in the election doesn't result in repeal of the law, what effect will it have on workers' comp? I've already received several client e -mails asking whether the Affordable Healthcare Act will have any affect on their cases.

Lien Claimants Question Extent of Problem California's largest state workers union has ratified a furlough agreement to reduce employees' pay by roughly 5 percent for a year.

State Claims Doctors Ran 'Patient Mills' Two doctors and a slew of their "patient mills" bilked California for millions of dollars by submitting bogus workers' compensation claims, the state claims in Federal Court.

 

State News 7.05

For California unions accepting cuts, what will next year bring? There's been plenty of attention given to how state workers will be taking another round of furloughs for the next 12 months, but here's the really intriguing question: What happens after that?

Skelton: Bullet train could shoot down Brown's tax initiative  California voters may not be inclined to support higher taxes if the governor pumps money into the unpopular rail project.

 

State News 7.04

Brown rejects Democratic pension plan  Tough battles are everywhere these days at the state Capitol, but changing public employee pensions is probably the toughest -- which should mean there's no surprise talks between Democrats and Gov.

How Senate districts would benefit from CA high-speed rail  As lawmakers prepare for a contentious vote later this week over billions of dollars in funding for high speed rail, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg's office distributed a chart that shows the potential benefit of the project to each member of the upper house.

 


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