Republican Assemblywoman Shannon Grove, who is spearheading an initiative drive for a part-time Legislature, accused Democrats of hijacking one of her "good government" bills at a committee hearing Wednesday.
Grove said the intent of her Assembly Bill 1948 was to require the Legislature to live under labor rules it imposes on private industry. She characterized Democrats who oppose that notion as cowards, saying the incident shows why a part-time Legislature is needed.
"It's just another key to me, and it should be to the citizens of California, that we all need to be part time," the Bakersfield Republican said.
The Democrat who heads the Labor and Employment Committee, Sandré Swanson of Alameda, disagreed with both Grove's characterization of what happened and her contention that it backed up her push to make the Legislature part-time.
Grove said she attended the committee meeting to discuss her measure, which would have required the Legislature to abide by the same overtime pay and meal-and-rest provisions it imposes on private employers.
Before a vote was taken on the bill, Swanson submitted committee-drafted hostile amendments that were contrary to the purpose of the measure, Grove said.
Specifically, the amendments would have extended a form of collective bargaining rights, known as "card check," to legislative employees. The committee provisions also would have required private employers to pay sick leave and allow three days of bereavement leave for employees.
Grove said she did not support the amendments and was not told about them before the meeting. They were approved by the Democrat-controlled committee, with no Republican support, forcing her to kill AB 1948, she said.
The committee's amendments were "burdensome regulations to further punitively punish business when we're in a dire-strait economy, with businesses fleeing our state," Grove said.
Either the Labor Committee was serious about imposing additional burdens on business, or the tactic was a "poison pill" to kill AB 1948, she said.
Swanson said that the committee amendments were consistent with the notion that "what's good for the goose is good for the gander."
Grove apparently was pushing for the Legislature to impose on itself "progressive labor rights and ideas" adopted for private industry, he said. If she truly supported honoring progressive labor ideas, he added, then she should be willing to accept other such proposals -- like those in the committee amendments.
"She withdrew the bill, so that meant the effort wasn't serious," he said.
Swanson also disagreed with Grove's contention that the committee's action is grist for a part-time Legislature.
"What we do around here, representing the people of the state of California, is serious business," Swanson said. "Anyone who tries to make a mockery of that, or tries to take action that purposely attempts to embarrass the Legislature, I think, makes a statement about their respect for the democratic process."