Legislative Update - Appropriations Committees

The following bills were heard in the Senate Appropriations Committee this Monday July 11, 2011:

AB 211:
This bill would provide, for injuries that cause permanent partial disability and occur on or after January 1, 2012, for a supplemental job displacement benefit in the form of a voucher for up to $6,000 to cover various reeducation and skill enhancement expenses which would expire two years after the date the voucher is furnished to the employee or five years after the date of injury, whichever is later.  This bill would exempt employers who make an offer of reemployment or continued employment from providing vouchers.  This bill would require the Administrative Director of the Divisions of Workers' Compensation within the Department of Industrial Relations to adopt regulations implementing the program.

This bill was placed on the Suspense file.

AB 325:
This bill would prohibit an employer from refusing to grant a request by any employee to take up to three days off for bereavement leave.  The provisions of the bill would not apply to an employee who is covered by a valid collective bargaining agreement that provides for bereavement leave and other specified working conditions.

This bill passed the committee with a vote of 6-3.

AB 335:
This bill would require the Administrative Director (AD) of the Division of Workers' Compensation, in consultation with the Commission on Health and Safety and Workers' Compensation to prescribe reasonable rules and regulations for serving workers' compensation claims notices on an employee.  This bill would require the AD, in consultation with the commission, to make available on the Department of Industrial Relations' Internet Web site, and make available at district offices, informational material that describes the overall workers' compensation claims process.

This bill passed the committee with a vote of 8-0.

AB 584:
This bill would require psychologists, for purposes of workers' compensation, to be licensed by California law.  It would require physicians who authorize medical treatment, for purposes of workers' compensation utilization review, to be licensed by California law.  It would also revise the Unemployment Insurance Code in order to provide that medical eligibility for state disability insurance benefits administered by the Employment Development Department may also be supported by a certificate of a health professional.

This bill was placed on the Suspense file.

AB 841:
This bill authorizes the California Public Utilities Commission to require interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol service providers to collect and remit state universal surcharges on their California intrastate revenues.

This bill was passed the committee with a vote of 6-0.

AB 1136:
This bill would require all general acute care hospitals to maintain a safe patient handling policy and provide trained lift teams or other support staff trained in safe lifting techniques.  The bill would also require employers to adopt a patient protection and health care worker back and musculoskeletal injury prevention plan as part of the injury and illness prevention programs required by existing state regulations.

This bill was placed on the Suspense file.

The Assembly Appropriations met this past Wednesday and heard the following bill:

SB 711 (Committee on Insurance):
This bill would extend the time for bonds to be issued on behalf of the California Insurance Guarantee Association (CIGA) to pay claims of insolvent workers compensation insurers from January 1, 2013, to January 1, 2023, and makes clarifications regarding SB 1408 (Committee on Insurance; Chapter 334, Statutes of 2010) as it pertains to the California Life and Health Insurance Guarantee Association.

SB 711 passed the committee with a vote of 16-0.