The legislative crunch is upon us. Bills of dubious merit are being rewritten and shoved hastily through the legislative process. Other bad bills have gone through in the full light of day. Three of the worst are outlined below.
Senate Bill 7, authored by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg of Sacramento, would deny all state construction funding to charter cities that use their own municipal funds for public works projects and, therefore, do not adhere to the state's prevailing wage law. Under a recent court ruling, they are not required to do so.
Because of the way California calculates prevailing wage rates, it is, in effect, the union rate. For many impoverished municipalities, the union rate is wildly inflated. As a result, poor cities can't afford to fix roads, upgrade water systems or build schools. SB 7 not only challenges the sovereignty of charter cities, it runs up the cost of public construction.
Senate Bill 556, authored by Sen. Ellen Corbett of San Leandro, would require all contractors hired by a government entity to announce on their uniform or vehicle that they are not government employees. In its current form, the bill applies only to those workers providing public health or safety. Sponsored by the powerful state firefighters union, its real goal is to make it more difficult and costly for local governments to contract out for ambulance service.
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Assembly Bill 1373, authored by Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez of Los Angeles, would double the statute of limitations for death benefits for public safety officers or firefighters who die from a service-related injury or illness. Under current law, the firefighter or cop would have to die within 240 weeks of sustaining an injury on the job for survivors to qualify for a lump-sum death benefit payout, worth more than $300,000 in some cases. AB 1373 expands the statute of limitations to 480 weeks.
Police officers, firefighters and prison guards in California are among the most lavishly compensated public servants on the planet. When they die in the line of duty, family members are well compensated. Perez's bill goes beyond what is reasonable, fair and affordable.
All these bad bills have something in common: introduction by Democrats at the behest of labor unions. When these bad bills reach Gov. Jerry Brown's desk, he should veto them.