CMA Capitol Insight: March 2, 2015

March 02, 2015
Area(s) of Interest: Advocacy 

CMA Capitol Insight is a biweekly column by veteran journalist Anthony York, reporting on the inner workings of the state Legislature.

Major Policy Proposals

They’re baaaack…in the Capitol. Nurse practitioners and their allies in Sacramento are back with legislation that will renew the scope of practice fight that has dogged the Capitol for the last several years.

State Senator Ed Hernandez and Assemblywoman Susan Eggman are carrying the bill, which would open the way for nurse practitioners to perform dozens of core health care functions without doctor supervision.

For now, Senate Bill 323 is a "spot" bill that is short on specifics but is similar to Hernandez’s SB 491, which died in 2013 after a coalition led by the California Medical Association (CMA) highlighted the impact it would have on patient safety. CMA has not yet taken a formal position on the new measure.

Also this week, a group of female legislators introduced a series of new proposals aimed at ensuring equal pay for equal work for women.The key measure by Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson would strengthen protections against pay discrimination and retaliation against workers who make inquiries about pay, according to the author.

“Equal pay for equal work is long overdue,” Jackson said in a statement. “The time is now. It isn’t just the right thing for California women. It’s also the right thing for our economy and for California.”

A woman in California working full time made an average of 84 cents for every dollar a man earned, according to Equal Rights Advocates, a national civil rights organization based in San Francisco.

Also this week, Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins unveiled her plan to address the state’s affordable housing crisis. Republicans and Democrats alike have complained that the availability of affordable housing has decreased since lawmakers banished redevelopment agencies at Gov. Jerry Brown’s behest.

The action returned billions in property tax dollars to city and county governments, as well as school districts, but took away a key economic development tool for cities. Many of them used money from redevelopment agencies to entice developers to build affordable housing units.

The Speaker’s proposal would place a fee of up to $225 on property transfers and increase state low-income housing tax credits by $300 million.

“We have a housing crisis in California. And it’s time we offer some bold suggestions and solutions,” Atkins said at a news conference at a Los Angeles affordable housing complex, where she unveiled her initiatives. “These bills are crucial to stabilizing the state’s construction and development marketplace.”

The proposals were met with a lukewarm response by Republican leaders in both houses, though both praised Atkins for making the issue a priority. Bipartisan support would be needed for the Legislature to approve any new fee.

“We prefer to see state government focus on immediate action that will help get more construction projects started right away,” GOP Assembly Leader Kristin Olsen said in a statement. “We will soon be introducing legislation that will lower costs by reducing red tape and removing government barriers to home building.”

While the discussions are early, the trickling out of major policy proposals sets the stage for the legislative fights to come over the next several months in Sacramento.

So, if you’re keeping score at home, add scope of practice, affordable housing and equal pay to the list.


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