Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

October 13, 2013
Jerry Brown vetoes bill to give Medi-Cal interpreters union rights

RB_Jerry_Brown_Budget.JPGGov. Jerry Brown vetoed legislation Sunday that would have given thousands of Medi-Cal interpreters the right to join a public employee union and bargain collectively with the state.

Assembly Bill 1263, by Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, D-Los Angeles, would have established a certification process and registry of medical interpreters, a measure proponents said would better regulate a service that is critical to patients who do not speak English.

But the bill was also significant to labor unions that believe implementation of the federal healthcare overhaul will result in a wave of new patients and medical professionals they hoped to add to their union ranks.

The Democratic governor avoided the matter of collective bargaining in his veto message, focusing only on the bureaucracy a new certification process would require.

"California has embarked on an unprecedented expansion to add more than a million people to our Medi-Cal program," he wrote. "Given the challenges and the many unknowns the state faces in this endeavor, I don't believe it would be wise to introduce yet another complex element."

The legislation was backed by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and opposed by the National Right to Work Committee.

The bill would have given Medi-Cal interpreters the right to vote to unionize as non-public employees who are ineligible for state pension or other benefits.

PHOTO: Gov. Jerry Brown discusses the state budget at a news conference at the state Capitol in Sacramento in January. The Sacramento Bee/Randall Benton

October 13, 2013
Jerry Brown vetoes inclusionary housing bill

JM_INFILL_TERRASSA_BUILD.JPGGov. Jerry Brown vetoed legislation Sunday that would have authorized cities and counties to establish inclusionary housing requirements as a condition of development, allowing them to force developers to set aside units for low-income residents.

Assembly Bill 1229, by Assemblyman Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, would have effectively overturned a 2009 ruling by the 2nd District Court of Appeal that an affordable housing requirement in Los Angeles conflicted with state law that limited local rent control ordinances. The court ruling left inclusionary housing policies statewide in doubt.

In his veto message, the Democratic governor recalled his experience as mayor of Oakland and questioned the effectiveness of inclusionary housing policies.

"As mayor of Oakland, I saw how difficult it can be to attract development to low and middle income communities," he wrote. "Requiring developers to include below-market units in their projects can exacerbate these challenges, even while not meaningfully increasing the amount of affordable housing in a given community."

He said the California Supreme Court is currently weighing whether cities may require inclusionary housing in new developments and that "I would like the benefit of the Supreme Court's thinking before we make adjustments in this area."

The bill was backed by low-income housing advocates and the League of California Cities. It was opposed by the California Building Industry Association and apartment associations.

Proponents of the legislation said inclusionary housing policies are necessary to make homes affordable for poor people and to create diverse neighborhoods. Opponents said the bill is a form of rent control that would hurt the construction industry.

PHOTO: Houses go up in a south Sacramento infill project south of Franklin Boulevard and Mack Road on Dec. 13, 2006. The Sacramento Bee/ Jay Mather

October 13, 2013
Jerry Brown vetoes public safety death benefits bill

brownmemorial.JPGGov. Jerry Brown vetoed legislation Sunday that would have extended the statute of limitations for survivors of public safety officers to file a workers' compensation claim for death benefits.

Assembly Bill 1373, by Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, D-Los Angeles, would have extended the time limits for survivors' claims for injuries while on duty to 480 weeks from 240 weeks in cases involving cancer, tuberculosis or blood-borne infections diseases.

Brown vetoed a broader version of the bill last year, and in vetoing an unrelated bill Saturday regarding the timeliness of sex abuse victims' claims, the Democratic governor delivered a virtual treatise on the significance of statutes of limitation.

In his veto message, Brown said the measure is "identical to the one I vetoed last year."
"At that time, I outlined the information needed to properly evaluate the implications of this bill," he wrote. "I have not yet received that information."

In his veto a year ago of Assembly Bill 2451, Brown said there was "little more than anecdotal evidence" available to determine how to balance "serious fiscal constraints faced at all levels of government against our shared priority to adequately and fairly compensate the families of those public safety heroes who succumb to work-related injuries and disease."

This year's bill was backed by labor unions representing firefighters and law enforcement officers, who argued existing law fails to provide for the families of firefighters or law enforcement officers who die from a work-related disease more than five years after being diagnosed.

Opponents included the California State Association of Counties and the League of California Cities. They argued the bill would increase local government costs by millions of dollars.

PHOTO: Gov. Jerry Brown attends a memorial ceremony for law enforcement officers on Monday, May 6, 2013 in Sacramento. The Sacramento Bee/David Siders

October 13, 2013
Jerry Brown signs prevailing wage bill for charter cities

AA_NO_NATOMAS_FIRE_station_30_DRILL.JPGCalifornia will withhold state funds from charter cities that do not pay prevailing wages for local public works projects under legislation Gov. Jerry Brown signed Sunday.

Senate Bill 7, by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, was backed by labor unions who argued prevailing wage requirements protect middle-class jobs and ensure high-quality public works projects.

The League of California Cities and other opponents framed the legislation as a test of Brown's commitment to local control - a principle the Democratic governor has invoked frequently in other legislative and policy matters.

About 50 charter cities in California have provisions exempting contractors from paying prevailing wages.

PHOTO: A carpenter works on a fire station being constructed in the Sacramento area on Aug. 27, 2004. The Sacramento Bee/ Andy Alfaro

October 13, 2013
Jerry Brown vetoes bill for AWOL state employees

jerrybrownprisons.jpgGov. Jerry Brown vetoed legislation Sunday that would have granted state employees a better chance of being reinstated if they are fired for being absent without leave.

Existing California law allows state workers to be AWOL for five days without explanation before they can be terminated, but they can be reinstated if they explain to an administrative law judge why they were absent and failed to get leave.

Assembly Bill 855, by Assemblywoman Cheryl Brown, D-San Bernardino, would have required the California Department of Human Resources to reinstate an AWOL employee if he or she was terminated before being absent for five days.

"This bill seeks to remedy the rare circumstance when the state misapplies the absent without leave statute, forcing both the state and the employee to go to court to resolve the dispute," the Democratic governor said in his veto message. "In these cases, both the state and the employee incur both delay and significant expenses. This does not make sense."

Brown said he is directing his administration to reinstate employees in the "limited instances" in which an employee has been improperly dismissed" under the AWOL statute.

The bill was backed by Service Employees International Union Local 1000. Proponents argued it would strengthen due process rights for state employees. Republicans and a handful of Democratic lawmakers opposed the measure, which critics called an excessive benefit for state workers.

PHOTO: Gov. Jerry Brown speaks to reporters at a news conference at the Capitol on Sept. 9, 2013. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua


Capitol Alert Staff

Jeremy White Jeremy B. White covers California politics and edits Capitol Alert's mobile Insider Edition. Twitter: @capitolalert

Amy Chance Amy Chance is political editor for The Sacramento Bee. Twitter: @Amy_Chance

Dan Smith Dan Smith is Capitol bureau chief for The Sacramento Bee.

Christopher Cadelago Christopher Cadelago covers California politics and health care. Twitter: @ccadelago

Micaela Massimino Micaela Massimino edits Capitol Alert.

Laurel Rosenhall Laurel Rosenhall covers the Legislature, the lobbying community and higher education. Twitter: @LaurelRosenhall

David Siders David Siders covers the Brown administration. Twitter: @davidsiders

Dan Walters Dan Walters is a columnist for The Sacramento Bee. Twitter: @WaltersBee

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