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FlashReport Weblog on California Politics

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Katy Grimes

Corbett bill would end independent union audits

A bill written and sponsored by the union labor group State Building and Construction Trades Council of California, appears to be an effort to eliminate from monitoring and enforcing prevailing wage laws through independent compliance audits and enforcement of building contractors.

SB 776 by Sen. Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro, will be heard today in the Assembly Labor and Employment Committee. This should be interesting.

According to the non-union California Construction Compliance Group, the audits always find labor violations, and particularly those involving employee prevailing wage requirements. It’s ironic that the prevailing wage is supported entirely by unions, but it’s usually union contractors which violate this rule and do not pay prevailing wage to construction workers.

Once an audit is completed, employees receive substantial amounts of back wages they were cheated out of through fraudulent labor practices, or just sheer incompetence by the contractor employers.

If the wages were underpaid due to fraud, the State of California Labor Commissioner assesses fines and penalties on the employer commensurate with the level of fraud or… Read More

Katy Grimes

FBI raids Latino Caucus and Sen. Calderon’s Capitol office

SACRAMENTO — As I left the Capitol today, I noticed several official vehicles double parked around the Capitol. Then I heard that Sen. Ron Calderon’s Capitol office had been raided by the FBI. Calderon, is a Democrat from Montebello, CA.

Additionally, I was contacted by legislative staff and told that the FBI raided the Latino Caucus offices in the Legislative Office building across the street from the Capitol.

“Three cars from the Dept. of Justice and one from the FBI, parked on N Street in front of the legislative office building about 3:30 pm,” I was told by a legislative staffer. “It looked as if there were seven people who entered the building with collapsed boxes.”

Scott Lay, publisher of Around the Capitol, reported more:

The U.S. Attorney in Sacramento (Eastern District of California) has confirmed that it has executed search warrants in… Read More

Katy Grimes

Gov. Brown’s May budget revision balances only by ignoring unfunded liabilities

SACRAMENTO — Balancing the economic realities of the state budget with political influences surely is a challenging task. Unfortunately, in California it is a task which few administrations have managed in recent state history.

Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown announced Tuesday morning that despite a state budget surplus, his May budget revision included projected lower budget figures for fiscal year 2013-14, which begins on July 1, than for the previous fiscal year. The reasons are one-time revenue surges because of federal tax changes that last only one year; and the retroactive part of the Proposition 30 tax increase for 2012.

The result will be less program spending, but with most of the spending increases focused on schools and Medi-Cal.

“We have climbed out of a hole with a Proposition 30 tax,” Brown said, referring to his 2012 initiative which increased taxes on those with incomes exceeding $250,000; and increased sales taxes on everyone. “This is not the time to break out the Champagne,” said Brown, who still called for caution despite an uptick in the state’s revenues.

“I am pleased that for the first time since I was elected to the… Read More

Katy Grimes

Vindictive Obamacare bills speeding through Legislature

It’s always good to see the California Legislature proposing more vindictive bills aimed at penalizing employers.

The new “Walmart loophole” bill, AB 880, would require large employers to “pay their fair share when they dump workers onto Medi-Cal by cutting hours or wages in order to circumvent their responsibilities under the Affordable Care Act,” according to the bill’s author Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez, D-Los Angeles.

Nice.

Under Gomez’s bill, the ACA threshold for fining businesses would be lowered so that large employers would be fined if their part- or full-time workers are enrolled in Medi-Cal.

The legislation — which is supported by the California Labor Federation and United Food and Commercial Workers — “aims to encourage large businesses to offer job-based coverage.”

I’d word that a little differently. The legislation, supported by two of the largest, most aggressive labor unions in the state, aims to force large non-union businesses to cover all employees, regardless of their part-time status.

And remember the other Obamacare penalty bill I wrote about earlier this week:

Read More

Katy Grimes

Politically connected HealthCare Partners sidestepped licensing for 10 years

Part One of a series

May 3, 2013

By Katy Grimes

One of the original pioneers of the Obamacare patient networks, HealthCare Partners, has been operating in California without the required state license. But according to health care experts and a new lawsuit, the California Department of Managed Care has known this, and allowed it for 10 years, saving HealthCare Partners millions of dollars.

HCP has flown under the radar of the California Department of Managed Health Care regulatory authority by claiming it’s a medical group, while in fact operating as an unlicensed Health Maintenance Organization. It has done so by taking standard HMO global risk for the patient — hospital care, medication and physician services.

The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, works through a network of Accountable Care Organizations providing managed health care services to all people throughout the country. Health care experts have said all along there is not enough money in the system to do what the ACA purports it can do.

The acronyms are confusing. What’s the difference between an HMO and an ACO? “ACOs amount to… Read More

Katy Grimes

On gun shows and leisure suits…

What do leisure suits and gun shows have in common? More than you might think. It turns out that some members of the California Senate don’t particularly like either. But I’ll bet in this Legislature, gun shows are despised more.

But this is about constitutional rights, and not the right to wear ugly, pastel, stinky polyester clothing with the knees permanently stretched out.

At issue is whether the California Legislature can dictate who rents the Cow Palace. After taking a vote Thursday on SB 475 by Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, the majority of senators think they should be able to decide.

Leno said the community surrounding the Cow Palace in South San Francisco does not want gun shows at the entertainment and exposition center. According to Leno, local residents… Read More

Katy Grimes

Pattern developing in reform bill killings

It’s the first day of May. If you haven’t noticed, the California Democratic Supermajority is killing all reform efforts. And the targets are not just Republican bills.

Just yesterday, the Senate Committee on Environmental Quality killed a bill which would have stopped the California Air Resources Board from assessing a very expensive administrative fee on California colleges for implementation of AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006.

SB 497, by Sen. Mimi Walters, R-Irvine, said the committee’s failure to approve the bill will likely result in fewer students being able to attend California’s higher education institutions, and higher tuition costs for those who do.

The Senate Education Committee killed SB 441, by Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, which would merely have suggested school districts around the state to assess the performance of teachers and school administrators.

This week SB 453, by Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar, was also killed. SB 453 would have allowed school districts to make staffing decisions based on performance evaluations and factors other than a teacher’s simple date of… Read More

Katy Grimes

California’s new undocumented jurors

The dead Boston Bomber, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, would have been eligible to serve on a jury in California, if state legislators have their way.

The Assembly passed a bill Thursday that would allow non-citizens who are in the U.S. legally to serve on jury duty.

Just when you thought the state couldn’t favor non-citizens any more, once again California is racing to be the first state in the country to pass a ridiculous law affording non-citizens rights previously reserved only for American citizens.

But that’s not all.

Democratic lawmakers at the state Capitol are currently trying to pass a law allowing illegal immigrants to obtain a California driver’s license. Last year they passed a law allowing illegal immigrants to apply for and receive student financial aid benefits and state-funded grants for college.

But here is an interesting thought: The dead Boston Bomber, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, would have been eligible to serve on a jury since he was a “legal immigrant” but not yet a citizen.

This is what life in California has become under a Democratic supermajority.

“Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont, said his bill,… Read More

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