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CALIFORNIA | PREVIEW | CAPITOL MATTERS

Not Giving Up

May 16, 1997|Legi-Tech News Service

In January as the welfare reform debate was gaining momentum, business advocates proposed a deal to state lawmakers: They would help the state meet federal mandates to move hundreds of thousands of welfare recipients into jobs if the state would help them achieve a long-sought overhaul of wrongful-termination laws.

Four months later, that strategy is in tatters. The Legislature this week rejected the three business-supported bills that would have eliminated lifetime-pay jury awards and capped punitive damages in wrongful termination suits.

"Three strikes and we're out," said Fred Main, general counsel for the California Chamber of Commerce, after the Assembly Judiciary Committee on Wednesday rejected a bill by Assemblyman Scott Baugh (R-Huntington Beach) that would have limited damage awards in those cases to five years of an employee's future earnings.

Earlier in the day, the committee shot down legislation by Howard Kaloogian (R-Carlsbad) that would have limited damages to a one-year period. The day before, the Senate Judiciary Committee also rejected a bill to limit damages.

This summer, business leaders will push Gov. Pete Wilson to fight to add reform amendments when budget talks intensify.

APPOINTMENTS

Three weeks after Senate Democrats blocked her reappointment as chairwoman of the Industrial Welfare Commission, Robyn Black has been appointed by the governor to a new labor post not subject to Senate confirmation.

Wilson named Black deputy director for management and labor relations for the Department of Industrial Relations. The job pays $66,804 a year.

Black, 33, drew the ire of state labor leaders and top Democratic lawmakers when she oversaw the Industrial Welfare Commission's 3-2 vote on April 11 to eliminate the rule requiring overtime pay after eight hours of work for nonunion employees.

Black, who voted to require overtime pay only after 40 hours of work a week, was denied reappointment to the commission April 24, when the Senate voted not to confirm her.

HOT BILLS

* L.A. Revitalization Zone

Bottom Line: Backers want to extend the life, and thus the tax incentives, of the sprawling Los Angeles revitalization zone, created after the 1992 riots.

Chances: The bill, which would extend tax benefits through 2003, easily cleared the Assembly Revenue and Taxation Committee on Monday.

Next Step: Hearing later this month, Senate Appropriations Committee

Details: AB 82 author Antonio Villaraigosa (D-Los Angeles) can be reached at (916) 445-7533.

WEB SITES

* State Assembly: Current and past bill information at http://assembly.ca.gov

* California Chamber of Commerce: Legislative Alerts, free business plan software at http://calchamber.com

* Department of Industrial Relations: California Labor Code at http://www.dir.ca.gov

* Industrial Welfare Commission: Recent minimum-wage order at http://www.dir.ca.gov /DIR/Labor--Law/IWC/iwc.html

Please send Capitol Matters comments via e-mail to cyndia.zwahlen@latimes.com

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