Calif. Legislative Session Ends, Governor Calls Special Session

September 13, 2007

California’s legislative session for 2007 ended with a flurry yesterday, but at least two priorities failed to materialize, causing Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to call special sessions to focus on those issues.

Topics remaining that need to be discussed include an overhaul of the state’s healthcare system, and legislation to address water resources. Some analysts blame the state’s inability to pass a budget for 52 days as the reason for the lack of time in passing important bills.

Nevertheless, about 960 bills were approved during the nine-month session. Included in those measures are a proposal to increase competition in the workers’ compensation market (SB 316), a proposal to continue insurance industry funding to the California Earthquake Authority (SB 430), and a requirement that booster seats be used until children are either age 8 or at least 4 feet, 9 inches tall, among others.

Also, a bill (AB 1401) that would increase from $1,300 to $5,100 the annual assessment on each insurer to fund activities in the Department of Insurance’s Fraud Division was passed. According to the Association of California Insurance Companies, this “bill would provide a substantial boost in resources for the funding the fight against insurance fraud by, among other things, allowing the DOI to fill 22 vacant positions in its fraud unit.” The bill is awaiting action by the governor.

If the governor signs those bills into law, they will begin taking effect in 2008.

Meanwhile, the governor already has signed a bill (SB 645) that prevents motorists from attending traffic safety schools to mask serious traffic violations, such as hit-and-run, reckless driving, and driving under the influence violations.

ACIC said one disappointment to the legislative session was SB 93, which prevents a jury from receiving evidence that a Medi-Cal recipient who is a plaintiff in a lawsuit had his or her medical bills paid by Medi-Cal. “This ban on evidence would increase damage awards, which in turn would increase liability insurance rates for drivers, homeowners and businesses,” the association said. The group is asking the governor to veto the bill.

Source: California Legislature, ACIC

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