Senate Bill 899 (Poochigian – 2004)
Chapter 34, Statutes of 2004 SB 899
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Numerous sections of the Labor Code relating to workers compensation were affected in 2004 following legislative approval of Senate Bill 899. (See Exhibit A, #1e) This bill was introduced on February 21, 2003 by Senator Charles Poochigian of Fresno at the request of the California Chamber of Commerce. (See Exhibit A, #1a and #3, page 2) As introduced, the measure proposed only to amend Labor Code section 139.3. (See Exhibit A, #1a) In this form, the bill was reviewed by the Senate Committee on Labor and Industrial Relations and the Assembly Committee on Insurance. (See Exhibit A, #2, #3 and #7)
On July 14, 2003, the Assembly amendments deleted the entire contents of the bill and turned it into a spot bill on the topic of workers’ compensation. (See Exhibit A, #1c) “Spot Bills” are basically “bookmarks” for a later incorporation of
a lengthier legislative proposal once its terms are finalized. It assures that legislative time frames for the introduction and consideration of bills are timely met.
However, the Senate refused to concur in these Assembly amendments and a Conference Committee was called. (See Exhibit A, #2) The purpose of a Conference Committee is to bring together six legislators, three from each House, in an attempt to reach a compromise on a bill’s language which is acceptable to both the Senate and the Assembly.
On April 15, 2004, eight months after it was convened, the Conference Committee proposed massive amendments to the bill, which were accepted by the Legislature. (See Exhibit A, #1d and #2) At this same time, Senator Poochigian was joined by numerous members of both Houses as co-authors. (See Exhibit A, #1d, page 1) Within a few days thereafter, the bill was presented to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger for his signature, who approved it on April 19, 2004. (See Exhibit A, #2) Senate Bill 899 was recorded by the Secretary of State on that same day as Chapter 34 of the Statutes of 2004. (See Exhibit A, #1e and #2)
Senate Bill 899 was an urgency bill going into immediate effect. The reason necessitating the urgency was noted in the bill as follows:
In order to provide relief to the state from the effects of the current workers’ compensation crisis at the earliest possible time, it is necessary for this act to take effect immediately.
(See Exhibit A, #1e, page 75, SEC.49)