Hijacking of Legislative Reform Bill: “I Haven’t Seen Anything Like This Since West Wing”

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On Wednesday, April 18, the California State Assembly’s Labor and Employment Committee used rude, underhanded tactics to thwart a proposal by Assemblywoman Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield) to require the California State Legislature to abide by the same wage and hour laws that it imposes on private employers in the state.

These wage and hour laws include standard overtime after eight hours in a day, meal and rest periods, vacation and sick pay, and other terms and conditions of work regulated through the state’s 17 Industrial Wage Orders. Business groups in California such as the California Chamber of Commerce often note that California hurts its competitiveness by setting a standard eight-hour day before overtime for private employees, while 47 other states and the federal Fair Labor Standards Act set a standard 40-hour week before overtime. (Nevada and Alaska set eight-hour days before overtime for private employees in certain circumstances.) See a chart compiled by law firms of state overtime laws here or here.

“I haven’t seen anything like this since West Wing,” said someone who was sitting in the audience when the committee proposed and approved on a party-line 5-2 vote a hostile amendment to Assembly Bill 1948 without the approval of Assemblywoman Grove. That amendment reflected suggestions in the official bill analysis written by Democrat committee staff to require the state’s private employers to provide paid sick leave and paid bereavement days and allow legislative employees to organize into unions by signing union authorization cards (card check). Assemblyman Mike Morrell (R-Rancho Cucamonga/Redlands) declared that the amendment broke Assembly parliamentary rules, but Chairman Sandré Swanson (D-Oakland) rebuffed his contention.

Committee Democrats never addressed the rationale behind the legislative exemption itself from the state’s wage and hour laws. As the only person who dared to speak as a witness in support of Assembly Bill 1948, I asked that question and then suggested an answer: the legislature enjoys having the flexibility to establish its own working relationships with employees.

The Sacramento Bee reported on the action:

Shannon Grove Says Dems Hijacked Her “Good Government” Bill – Sacramento Bee – posted April 19, 2012

See the video of the hearing here (go to 03:42:30 of the video):

California State Assembly Labor & Employment Committee April 18, 2012 05h 01m     Video

The Democrat majority’s handling of Assembly Bill 1948 is a metaphor for everything that is wrong with the entrenched majority at the Capitol. Is this any way to run an airline?

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