Gov. Gavin Newsom has vetoed a bill that would have prohibited apportionment to race, religion, color, national origin and other characteristics.
The recently-re-elected governor vetoed Senate Bill 788 on Sept. 28, which was introduced by state Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena). The bill would have barred apportionment to race, religious creed, color, national origin, gender, marital status, sex, sexual identity, or sexual orientation. The bill also contained a sentence that expressed the Legislature’s intent to eliminate bias and discrimination in the workers’ compensation system.
Newsom issued a veto message stating that existing law already bars apportionment to gender, race, and other personal characteristics. In other words, physicians cannot just invent inappropriate apportionment.
“While I support efforts to combat bias within the medical profession, this bill creates confusion with well-settled law, which is likely to result in increased litigation and subsequent delays to much-needed benefits to workers,” he wrote. “Ongoing efforts by the Division of Workers’ Compensation to implement mandatory continuing education of medical-legal evaluators related to current anti-bias laws and apportionment training is better suited to achieve the intent of this bill.”
Newsom’s predecessor, Gov. Jerry Brown, stated in vetoes of similar bills that under existing law, employers can only be deemed liable for industrial conditions.
Can the Legislature override the veto? Yes, if both the Assembly and state Senate vote with a two-thirds majority, they absolutely can.
Will the Legislature override the veto? Probably not. Why is that?
Well, they don’t want to bite the gubernatorial hand that could provide much-needed support of future bills. One might note that Newsom could wield even more political power after decisively winning the 2021 recall election, especially if he waltzes through the 2022 election with a similar blowout victory.
And there have been suggestions that workers’ compensation reforms could be on the way after another Newsom win.
Please recall that back in July, Assembly Insurance Committee Rep. Tom Daly (D-Anaheim), stated that if Newsom wins a second term in 2022, we will all see significant changes to the workers’ compensation system.
“We will be living with workers’ comp reform in the coming months and years,” he said during an Assembly Insurance Committee meeting.
Already, I’ve seen criticism from applicant’s attorneys that Gov. Newsom is somehow in the pockets of employers or insurance companies. I would say that’s far from the truth.
Truth is, your humble blogger can’t recall ever seeing a QME apportion to race, religious creed, color, national origin, gender, marital status, sex, sexual identity, or sexual orientation on any of my cases. During a recent meeting with colleagues, we discussed this bill and my respected peers could not recall ever seeing a QME do that on any of their cases either.
This bill may sound nice, but in truth it is in search of a problem that doesn’t exist. That’s why Democrat and Republican governors have vetoed this and other bills like it for years.
We will have more updated on the 2021 legislative session as the governor continues to veto or approve bills sent to his desk.
Got a question about workers’ compensation defense issues involving the coronavirus? Feel free to contact John P. Kamin. Mr. Kamin is a workers’ compensation defense attorney and partner at Bradford & Barthel’s Woodland Hills location, where he monitors the recent legislative affairs as the firm’s Director of the Editorial Board. Mr. Kamin previously worked as a journalist for WorkCompCentral, where he reported on work-related injuries in all 50 states. Please feel free to contact John at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (818) 654-0411.
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