First Tuesday is Near

By: Mark Webb

November 8 is election day. There are very consequential and very partisan campaigns being waged throughout the United States, if the seemingly hourly reporting from outlets large and small are to be believed. Certainly, the stakes are high, particularly regarding the partisan control of the United States Senate and House of Representatives.


In California, the stakes are also high, but perhaps for different reasons.


The enormously expensive race for Mayor of Los Angeles is one of those campaigns that will gain considerable attention. The outcome, amidst all the other turmoil at City Hall, will set the course for that City for the next four years.  Ballot measures in Duarte and Inglewood will test the voters on the issue of minimum wage for private acute care hospital workers. Voters in Los Angeles and other cities in Southern California will have a chance to weigh in on that issue two years from now, assuming the Legislature does not take it upon itself to decide the issue statewide.


And speaking of the Legislature, for the workers’ compensation community the most important question is not on the ballot. That question is who will succeed Tom Daly (D-Anaheim) as the Chair of the Assembly Insurance Committee? Daly assumed the Chair of that all important policy committee in 2015. A considerable number of very important (good) bills went through that Committee before getting signed by Governors Brown or Newsom. More recently, a considerable number of very disruptive (bad) bills were stopped there.


In the most recent session, Daly authored the bill, Assembly Bill 1751, extending the COVID-19 presumptions set to sunset at the end of this year. The presumptions will expire at the end of next year, provided the Legislature, and the Insurance Committee, do not decide to keep it on the books longer. The disposition of AB 1751 is a reflection of Daly’s pragmatic leadership, recognizing the wisdom that sometimes giving all stakeholders in the system half a loaf is the best outcome.


Daly believed throughout his tenure in the value of research to inform the decisions of the Committee, rather than the litany of anecdotes usually offered by proponents and opponents of legislation. He also believed in dialogue between the stakeholders. That has been increasingly difficult to maintain, as the recent debacle about extending the employee personal information exception to the California Privacy Rights Act demonstrated.


So, while November 8 is Election Day, and the results of elections across the country will be known, likely, weeks later, it might also be important to note December 5th on your calendar. Per Article IV, Section 3(a) of California’s Constitution, “the Legislature shall convene in regular session at noon on the first Monday in December of each even-numbered year and each house shall immediately organize.”


Organizing means electing leadership, appointing committee chairs, and making committee assignments. Shortly thereafter, we will likely know a lot more about the coming year in Sacramento and what it may hold in store for the workers’ compensation system.


Note: The opinions expressed herein may or may not be those of Workers’ Comp Executive. Mark Webb is a former Arizona insurance regulator, insurance company chief compliance officer, and is an expert in corporate governance, risk and compliance. He is the owner of Prop 23 Advisors.