Legislative Update on Health Care and CEQA Bills

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Legislation to Limit Health Care Options Dies
Legislation that the AIACC opposed along with several other groups, was pulled from consideration in the last days of this Legislative session: SB 1431 is dead. But it could come back next year when the new Legislature begins its work in January.

SB 1431 would have imposed requirements on small businesses (50 or fewer employees) that chose self-funded health care programs, which would have made this type of health coverage cost-prohibitive.

Under self-funded health care, the employer self-insures the cost of health care. To manage the risk of self-insuring the health costs, employers often obtain stop-loss insurance coverage to cover health costs above a set amount. For example, the employer may self-insure each employee up to $20,000 per year; for any costs above that amount, the employer would receive reimbursement from the stop-loss policy.

SB 1431 would have required employers to self-insure at least $45,000 per employee per year before seeking reimbursement for costs above that amount from the stop-loss carrier. This arbitrary dollar amount would have made this type of health care coverage too financially risky for many firms that choose this type of coverage.

The AIACC worked with Bob Bagdasarian of the Bagdasarian Insurance Group and joined a coalition of several associations to Oppose SB 1431.

CEQA Reform Effort Also Fails
As many of you saw, the AIACC supported an effort to make significant reforms to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), and by email asked you, the members of AIACC, to contact your legislators urging their support.

Many of you did make that contact with your legislators, and we thank you for your efforts.

Many of you also let us know that you disagree with the AIACC position supporting this effort to reform CEQA, both on policy grounds and the last-minute nature of this effort. We also thank you for letting the AIACC know your disagreement with this advocacy effort.

The reform effort was stopped before the bill, SB 317, was brought up for its first vote. In fact, it was stopped before the language was added into SB 317. You can click here to read a summary of the proposed reform, and click here to read the actual language that was going to be amended into SB 317.

The leader of the State Senate, Senator Darrell Steinberg (D – Sacramento), sensing this was a controversial proposal, announced the bill would not be considered in the Senate this year, effectively killing it. The main proponents of the bill, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and the California Alliance for Jobs, have said they will try again next year, when there is more time for the proposal to be vetted and debated.

The AIACC joined this last-minute effort because members have requested over the years that the AIACC work to amend CEQA in a way that improves the process, reduces frivolous litigation, and does not weaken environmental protection. Further, the AIACC Board of Directors voted in October, 2011 to support that direction.

Nevertheless, many Members did not agree with our position on SB 317.

We would like to open a conversation with the Membership about the specifics of SB 317, in both Relevance and through a Task Force.

An upcoming issue of Relevance will contain an article from a Member in support of the proposed CEQA Reform language, and an article from a Member in opposition to that language. We hope the Membership will contribute to that conversation through the comment section to the articles on our website.

The Task Force will be made up of Members on both sides of the issue, and will review your comments, discuss the issue, and see if consensus can be found. The work of the Task Force will be presented to your colleagues who make up the AIACC Board of Directors.

Please feel free to offer your comments below.

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Mark Christian, Hon. AIACC

Mark Christian, Hon. AIACC, is the Director of Legislative Affairs for the AIA California Council, a position he has held since 1999. In this position, Mark is responsible for monitoring the CA State Legislature, identifying bills of interest to the profession, developing and implementing strategies for the positive outcome of legislation of interest to the profession, and representing the profession before the legislature. Prior to joining the AIACC, Mark worked for the State Assembly for nine years in several capacities, including as a policy consultant on several significant environmental laws. He holds a B.A. in Economics from the California State University, Sacramento.

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