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Egg donor payment bill vetoed by Brown

Supporters of the bill wanted California women to be paid for donating eggs to scientific studies. Also, immigrants and their children will make up most of state workforce in 20 years, a study finds.

August 18, 2013|By Marc Lifsher

SACRAMENTO — Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla (D-Concord) says that all she wanted to do was make it easier for scientists to get eggs from women for fertility research.

Currently, women can be paid for their eggs by individuals undergoing fertility treatments in private clinics, and they get a average of $9,000 — sometimes much more. But the state has a ban on paying women to donate eggs for scientific studies.

This year, the Bay Area lawmaker wrote a bill sponsored by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine to scrap the 7-year-old ban. She proposed allowing payments of up to $10,000 to egg donors for their time, inconvenience and discomfort.

Supporters blamed the ban for stalling medical research. Opponents, such as the California Catholic Conference and other religious organizations, as well as women's health groups and bio-ethics advocates, expressed concern about the health risks of egg donation surgery.

Bonilla's bill, AB 926, was approved by the Assembly and Senate by comfortable margins. But then she ran headlong into Gov. Jerry Brown, who vetoed it last week.

"Not everything in life is for sale, nor should it be," Brown said. "The long-term risks are not adequately known. Putting thousands of dollars on the table only compounds the problem."

The governor's statement was "a very negative characterization and inaccurate," Bonilla said, and the bill probably would have applied to only 20 egg donors a year.

Immigrant workers

Immigrants, their children and grandchildren will account for most of California's workforce in about two decades, once all baby boomers retire, says new research by a think-tank economist and two USC demographers.

Between 2010 and 2030, about 59 million people will have left the U.S. labor force and 83 million will have entered the workforce — a "net gain" of 24 million. New immigrants and their children will make up 84% of that net gain, the study shows.

The impact will be closer to 100% in California, said Stephen Levy, chief economist at the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy in Palo Alto, meaning that for almost every "third-generation" worker entering the workforce, one will be leaving. The change has implications for California policymakers, who need to ensure the new workers have access to quality medical care, education, housing and other services, he said.

"You can't run an economy, whether its agriculture or high-tech or in between," he said, "without people being prepared for the 21st century."

Carlos Slim phone bill

A cellphone company owned by Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim is balking at complying with a ruling that it owes the state $24.4 million in unpaid fees and surcharges.

A judge at the California Public Utilities Commission ordered TracFone Wireless Inc., a U.S. subsidiary of Slim's America Movil company, to pay money due from prepaid cellphone minutes sold between 2004 and 2012. The surcharges fund programs such as assistance to low-income customers and energy efficiency upgrades.

TracFone contends it had no way to collect the charges from customers. The PUC counters that the company must find a way to do so. Last week, Slim's firm appealed the commission's ruling.

marc.lifsher@latimes.com

Twitter: @marclifsher

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