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FlashReport Weblog on California Politics

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Katy Grimes

Obamacare: This is going to hurt!

Ouch! That’s the cry of someone trying to sign up for the Affordable Care Act, usually called Obamacare.

Health insurance cancellation notices have gone out to millions of Americans. Many cannot get insurance at all. And for many who can, “premium shock” strikes those seeing their health plans canceled and renewed at higher rates.

Insurance industry experts are warning that two-thirds of already insured Americans will see their current insurance dumped into the hospital waste bin.

Obamacare is supposed to take care of people with pre-existing health conditions. But the actual “preexisting health condition” turns out to be already having private insurance. Obamacare means you have to sign up to find out whether that “condition” still exists — or has been canceled.

Another Obamacare bombshell about toRead More

Katy Grimes

Do union activists work for Gov. Brown, farm board?

SACRAMENTO — The revolving door among political consultants, community organizers and state government revolves right into the governor’s office and the Agriculture Labor Relations Board.

In 2011, Gov. Jerry Brown appointed Martha Guzman-Aceves deputy legislative secretary for agriculture, environment and natural resources. Before that, she was a founding partner of Cultivo Consulting, which says it engages in lobbying, political campaigning and community organizing in California. It’s a lobbying and outreach firm specializing in social, economic and environmental justice.

She also was listed on 2011 tax returns (pictured nearby) as… Read More

Katy Grimes

Farm workers fighting UFW unionization

The United Farm Workers labor union and the state Agricultural Labor Relations Board have found themselves on the brink of ruination and even irrelevance.

The labor union boasted 50,000 members by the end of the 1970s. But according to the UFW’s last Labor Organization Annual Report filed with the U.S. Department of Labor, as of Dec. 31, 2012 the union had only 4,443 members. So it has declined by more than 90 percent. By contrast, today the California Teachers Association lists 325,000 members.

In order to breathe new life into the union, many in the farming community claim the ALRB and UFW appear to have joined forces to reverse their misfortune by targeting one… Read More

Katy Grimes

Sacto arena bill signed, but it’s not over yet

I hate “I told ya so” moments.

Gov. Jerry Brown just signed SB 743, “easing environmental regulations for developments in California cities, including a new basketball arena in downtown Sacramento,” the Los Angeles Times said.

In March I predicted Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento would jam legislation through exempting the Sacramento Kings new arena plan from the restrictions of the California Environmental Quality Act, in order to meet a dubious deadline imposed by the NBA.

March 30, after Steinberg’s office told me he did not plan on authoring legislation to streamline or bypass the required environmental process for the proposed Sacramento NBA arena, I predicted they weren’t being straight with me.

Steinberg’s office denied any plan to do this. But the reason I wrote the story and asked about this was I knew this was the next step in scamming the public with the publicly subsidized arena.

The need to bypass California’s absurdly strict environmental guidelines and restrictions prevent most large scale projects from ever taking place without legislative intervention. And Sacramento officials shoved the… Read More

Katy Grimes

Steinberg’s “enviro reform” hidden under Sacto basketball stadium

The California Legislature ended the 2013 legislative session Thursday by passing hundreds of new bills. Most of the controversial bills were passed along party lines. However a bill from Sen. Pres. Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, granting a Sacramento arena development an exemption from the state’s strict environmental laws, had plenty of help from state Republicans.

Reform or worsen?

Steinberg insists he’s only trying to reform the California Environmental Quality Act. SB 743, is a gut-and-amend bill by Steinberg is titled, “Environmental quality: transit oriented infill projects, judicial review streamlining for environmental leadership development projects, and entertainment and sports center in the City of Sacramento.”

That’s the long way of saying this is not really a CEQA reform bill. It’s a face-saving way out for Steinberg who has been awkwardly intertwined for more than 13 years with the haphazard development of a new sports arena in downtown Sacramento.

On its way to the Gov

This isn’t a one-off bill. Exemptions from the California Environmental Quality Act were granted… Read More

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

Parents fighting for kids; SEIU fighting for more money

SACRAMENTO — A modest rally at the Capitol this morning supporting a state audit of Child Protective Services competed with a humongous rally held by the SEIU.

On the South steps of the Capitol, the CPS audit rally was made up of parents and families who are victims of overly aggressive Child Protective Services divisions.

On the West steps of the Capitol, the SEIU rally was made up of thousands of purple t-shirt-wearing SEIU members demanding raises. Their t-shirts were made up for today’s rally and said “2013 CONTRACT TOUR.” The back of the t-shirt said “YOUR CONTRACT STARTS WITH YOU,” and listed the cities for the SEIU “Townhall Circuit” for 2013 contract negotiations.

Yet what should have overshadowed the small gathering of emotional parents, did not. Although, the contrast was stark.

It was mothers and fathers who said their children had been stolen from… 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

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