Perhaps no measure generated more interest at the Capitol this past legislative session than Senate Bill 562, as activists led by the California Nurses Association mounted a massive campaign in support of the proposal for a statewide, government-run health care system.
They scored a significant victory when the bill passed the Senate in June, but their efforts were ultimately quashed a few weeks later when Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon shelved the “woefully incomplete” plan “until further notice” to work through its shortcomings, including the lack of a funding mechanism for the estimated $400 billion annual price tag.
That process begins this week with two days of hearings, 1 p.m. today and 2 p.m. tomorrow in Room 4202 of the Capitol. Announced by Rendon in August to determine how the Legislature can move forward on improving health care access in California, the discussions led by Assemblymen Jim Wood, D-Healdsburg, and Joaquin Arambula, D-Fresno, will focus on current gaps in coverage and universal health systems in other countries.
Supporters of SB 562 have been highly critical of Rendon’s approach, suggesting that he killed the single-payer proposal to protect health insurance and pharmaceutical companies that contributed to his campaigns. They’ve held numerous protests at the Capitol and even launched a recall campaign against him, though it has yet to gain traction. Rendon said he also received death threats for his decision.
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The nurses union will be back at the Capitol for both days of hearings, holding rallies on the north steps at 11 a.m. to urge the Assembly to move the bill forward.
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ON THE ROAD AGAIN: With two repeal initiatives in the works, proponents of California’s recent gas tax and vehicle registration fee increases may have their work cut out next year convincing voters not to eliminate the new revenue stream for road repairs. The campaign is already in full effect as backers of the fees make their case to the public that the money is being put to good use. Sacramento-area officials, including Mayor Darrell Steinberg and county Supervisor Phil Serna, will highlight some of the local projects made possible or accelerated by the funding, such as a $267 million pavement replacement on Interstate 5, during a 10 a.m. press conference at the freeway underpass at W and Eighth streets.
WORTH REPEATING: “We’re in a world of tweets ... If you talk more than 140 characters, you’ve probably gone on too long.” – Gov. Jerry Brown, ending his 16-minute speech to chief probation officers
CHARTER CHECK: Is California doing enough to ensure that new charter schools, which are publicly funded but independently run, will adequately serve students? The Senate Education Committee holds an informational hearing on the authorization process, 11 a.m. at the Ronald Reagan State Building in Los Angeles.
MUST READ: The campaign against sexual harassment at the Capitol is growing as the number of women who signed the open letter has more than doubled.
SHUT IT DOWN: Two years ago, a massive natural gas leak at the Aliso Canyon underground storage facility in Los Angeles County spewed methane for nearly four months, displacing and sickening thousands of residents in the nearby community of Porter Ranch. As Southern California Gas Co. moved to repair the damage and reopen the facility, efforts to permanently shut down Aliso Canyon have failed in the Legislature. Now on the second anniversary of the blowout, residents will protest outside the front gates at 8 a.m., asking Brown to shut down the facility before he leaves office.