The California legislators have left the building – on July 6 as they began their summer recess. They have headed back to their districts to prepare for the fall elections and meet with constituents. But come Aug. 6, they will be back in session and the war games will begin. That is the day they will reconvene and attempt to finish what they started. They have from then until Aug. 31 to try and pass legislation before the legislative session ends. A few of the bills that will be debated during this hectic period have the potential to change California’s legal system – some for the better, and others for the worse. The bills that legal reform advocates should be watching are:
SB 1528 (Steinberg) – This bill would artificially inflate medical damage awards in personal injury cases by allowing an injured party to recover expenses never actually incurred. This cute little lawyer magic trick has come to be known as “Phantom Damages.” This would ultimately result in increased rates for auto, health, workers’ compensation and general liability insurance. The people should strongly oppose this bill.
SB 1186 (Steinberg/Dutton) – This is a bipartisan attempt to stop the rampant Americans With Disabilities Act lawsuits that have been plaguing our state and hurting small businesses. The final language of this bill is due at the end of July. It will be interesting to see whether an agreement can be made that will both reduce the lawsuits and improve ADA compliance.
AB 2346 (Butler) – This bill will create excessive, unnecessary new rules for agricultural workers and open the door for more lawsuits. It will increase the price of food and may even force growers to move their crop production to other states and countries, hurting California’s economy.
AB 1450 (Allen) – This bill would expose businesses to costly litigation by prohibiting employers from legitimately inquiring into a job applicant’s most recent employment history.
When our legislators return to Sacramento next week, their votes on these bills will make a mighty difference to the legal climate here in California. It is sad that at a time when our state is hurting and many are struggling to find jobs, some California legislators are voting to make our legal climate worse, not better. You need to become engaged in the fight to improve our legal climate. Call your legislators on these important bills. Remember, the number one overriding issue in California is creating jobs, not lawsuits.