The Senate has a deadline this Friday. All bills originating in this house must be voted for in order to be forwarded to the Assembly for their approval and vice versa. Needless to say, we are enjoying long days in Session. I just finished the second six-hour Session in two days. And Wednesday and Thursday look like more of the same.
I try to speak against bills that I oppose on a sparing basis, because if every Senator commented on each bill it would keep us tied up too long. Near the end of Monday’s Session, I followed Senator Bob Hertzberg on the topic of increasing the minimum wage, where he asked what type of society we were living in. Senator Hertzberg spoke on behalf of those earning a minimum wage. I decided to speak on behalf of those paying the minimum wage (for a video clip, see http://district37.cssrc.us/).
The Sacramento Bee made the topic their front-page, top-of-the-fold, story and is provided in the first piece below. It was also picked up by the Lexington Herald-Leader. MyMotherLode.com provides the second piece. CalCoastNews.com provides the third piece. And the fourth piece is from the Latin Post.
BONUS: I want to thank all those who were able to attend the District Office’s Open House last Friday. I especially want to thank those who came by to thank me for my vote against SB 277. On this subject I have some good news. The editorial board of the OC Register weighed in on SB 277 this past Sunday in their lead editorial (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Injection — May 15, 2015 May 15, 2015). They get the crux of the issue and, as I respect this editorial board, I’m providing their piece as the final one below.
Senate passes minimum wage boost for California
SB 3 would raise wage to $11 an hour on Jan. 1
Wage tied to inflation in 2019
Sen. Connie Leyva: ‘All work has value’
By Alexei Koseff
As labor unions lead a nationwide push for a higher minimum wage, the California Senate on Monday approved raising the state’s required hourly rate to $11 in 2016 and $13 in 2017.
Under Senate Bill 3, which passed by a vote of 23-15, California’s minimum wage would also begin increasing annually in 2019 based on inflation. The measure heads next to the Assembly.
“The president of the United States has defined income inequality as the defining challenge of our time,” said Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, who authored the measure. “Wages are growing at the slowest rate relative to corporate profits in the history of the United States of America.
“We must do more to address this, and we can.”
Leno pursued a similar minimum wage increase last year that passed the Senate but failed in an Assembly committee.
Since then, several major cities have raised their wage floor, including San Francisco and Los Angeles, which will both reach $15 per hour in the next few years. After joining striking fast-food workers in protest, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson said last November he would also explore raising the city’s minimum wage above California’s $9-per-hour rate.
Introducing SB 3, Leno noted that a minimum wage of $13 per hour would equate to about $26,000 per year, just above the federal poverty line. He tried to appeal to Senate Republicans, making the argument that higher wages would lead to greater consumer spending and drive the economy.
“There are thought leaders on the conservative right who support increasing the minimum wage,” Leno said. “We taxpayers subsidize employers who pay sub-poverty wages,” because those workers get public assistance for housing, food and health care.
None were convinced, and they were joined by Sen. Richard Roth, D-Riverside, in voting no on the bill.
“It’s a capitalistic society,” said Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa. “We need to honor the work of those that are creating the jobs, that are paying the taxes … With a minimum wage increase, you are attacking businesspeople who are subsidizing this state and this nation.”
The California Chamber of Commerce placed SB 3 high on its annual list of “job killers,” bills that the powerful business lobby argues would have a negative economic impact on the state, and their argument was echoed during Monday’s debate.
“Let’s work together to find real solutions to create jobs and lift people out of poverty,” said Sen. Jeff Stone, R-Temecula, “not kill jobs, as this measure would unfortunately do.”
Two other moderate Democrats – Sens. Steve Glazer of Orinda and Cathleen Galgiani of Stockton – left the room during the vote. But the remainder of the caucus carried the bill, speaking passionately about the difficulty that many workers face in supporting their families on low wages.
“There is not honor in going out and working hard and then you got to go beg for” help, said Sen. Bob Hertzberg, D-Los Angeles. “When you get out there and get a job, you should have enough money to feed your family. You should have enough money to pay for the roof over your head and decent conditions.”
“The problem is, we want to pick and choose the work that we value,” added Sen. Connie Leyva, D-Chino, the measure’s co-author. “All work has value.”
Raising the minimum wage
The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. In California, the wage is $9 an hour, scheduled to go up to $10 an hour on Jan. 1.
About the bill:
Boosts minimum wage to $11 per hour on Jan. 1 and $13 an hour on July 1, 2017. Beginning in 2019, it requires the minimum wage to be increased annually based on inflation.
San Francisco will raise its minimum hourly wage to $15 by 2018. Los Angeles also will boost its base pay to $15 an hour by 2020; and Chicago and Seattle have taken similar steps. Sacramento, New York City, Washington, D.C., and others also are considering wage proposals.
Minimum Wage Hike Passes Senate
B.J. Hansen, MML News Director
Sacramento, CA — California Senators approved a bill that would increase the state’s minimum wage to $13 an hour in 2017.
The proposal comes two years after Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation to increase the minimum wage to $9 this year, and $10 in 2016. The legislation was approved yesterday in the Senate on party lines, with Democrats mostly in favor and Republicans opposed.
Republican Senator John Moorlach spoke sharply against the increase, saying, “What kind of society are we running? It’s a capitalistic society. And we need to honor work. We need to honor the work of those that are creating the jobs; that are paying the taxes that allow us to subsidize the transportation and everything else. “
The California Chamber of Commerce is calling the bill a “job killer.”
A proponent of the increase, Democratic Senator Mark Leno responded, “65 percent of Californians are living paycheck to paycheck, and eight million Californians earning the minimum wage are living below the federal poverty line. As a result, California has the highest rate of poverty in the entire nation. We must do more to address this.”
The bill now moves onto the Assembly for consideration.
California Senate endorses minimum wage hike
June 2, 2015
The California Senate voted Monday in favor of a bill that would raise the state’s minimum wage each of the next two years. [Sacramento Bee]
Senate Bill 3 would bump the minimum wage to $11 in 2016 and $13 in 2017. The bill also calls for the state’s minimum wage to start increasing annually in 2019 based on inflation.
Minimum wage is currently $9 per hour in California. Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, says that is too low.
“The president of the United States has defined income inequality as the defining challenge of our time,” said Leno, the author of the bill. “Wages are growing at the slowest rate relative to corporate profits in the history of the United States of America.”
Leno proposed a similar minimum wage increase last year. The bill passed the Senate but failed in an Assembly committee.
On Monday, the Senate voted 23-15 in support of Leno’s bill. No Republicans voted for the bill, and one Democrat opposed it.
“It’s a capitalistic society,” said Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa. “We need to honor the work of those that are creating jobs, that are paying the taxes.”
The proposed minimum wage hike also faces opposition from the California Chamber of Commerce, which placed SB 3 on its annual list of bills that are “jobs killers.”
Recently, several California cities have adopted their own minimum wage increases. In the next few years, minimum wage will reach $15 an hour in both Los Angeles and San Francisco.
California State Senate Passes Bill to Raise Minimum Wage, Tie It to Inflation
California lawmakers took another step toward raising the state’s minimum wage on Monday when the Senate approved a proposal to increase the hourly rate to $11 in 2016 and $13 in 2017.
In a 23-15 vote, the California State Senate passed Senate Bill 3, which would also tie minimum wage to the rate of inflation beginning in 2019. The measure will now head to the Assembly for a vote.
"The president of the United States has defined income inequality as the defining challenge of our time," said the bill’s author Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, according to The Sacramento Bill. "Wages are growing at the slowest rate relative to corporate profits in the history of the United States of America. We must do more to address this, and we can."
Sen. Leno’s measure comes two years after Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation to hike minimum wage to $9 an hour, giving California one of the highest minimum wage rates in the country. It is also set rise to $10 an hour next year.
However, Leno argued that earning $9 or $10 an hour is still not enough for the state’s 8 million workers to afford the cost of living in California.
"Full-time workers in this state should not be forced onto public assistance simply because they earn the minimum wage," Leno said in a statement, reports The Associated Press.
He also argues that the increase would stimulate the economy since employees who make earn more money will spend it on housing, food and consumer products.
"There are thought leaders on the conservative right who support increasing the minimum wage," Leno said. "We taxpayers subsidize employers who pay sub-poverty wages," because those workers get public assistance for housing, food and health care.
Republicans, on the other hand, opposed Leno’s bill, which the California Chamber of Commerce has labeled a "job killer."
"It’s a capitalistic society," said Republican State Sen. John Moorlach of Costa Mesa. "We need to honor the work of those that are creating the jobs, that are paying the taxes. … With a minimum wage increase, you are attacking business people who are subsidizing this state and this nation."
Should a good thing become mandatory?
One of the most contentious public policy issues to arise in years is the debate on whether to tighten vaccine requirements for children in California’s schools. Senate Bill 277, authored by state Sen. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, also a pediatrician, would change law for the 10 vaccines mandated by the state in public and private schools. Current law allows for parents to opt out of vaccinations for medical reasons and for personal beliefs (including religion). SB277 would change that – essentially mandating that all public and private school students be vaccinated.
The version of the bill passed May 15 by a 25-11 vote in the state Senate says it “would eliminate the exemption from existing specified immunization requirements based upon personal beliefs,” including religion. The only remaining exemptions would be for medical reasons; or for any student in a home school.
Currently, only two states do not have a personal-belief or religious exemption for vaccines: Mississippi and West Virginia. The bill currently is being considered in the Assembly.
In a meeting with the Register’s Editorial Board, Dr. Pan told us his bill has been written in part in response to the measles outbreak at Disneyland last December, which then spread beyond Orange County. It infected 132 people in California and 16 outside the state. The Riverside Press-Enterprise reported in January, “Two young adults from San Bernardino County have been diagnosed with measles after visiting the Disneyland Resort in mid-December.”
About a different outbreak in February, the P-E reported, “A student at Amelia Earhart Middle School in Riverside has been diagnosed with measles, and six other Earhart students believed to be unvaccinated have been restricted to their homes until Wednesday.”
And Dr. Pan pointed to a 1992 measles outbreak in Philadelphia in which 900 people were infected, half of them in a church that shunned vaccines. Nine people died, three of them who did not attend the church. “We’re just waiting for something like that to happen,” he warned. And the best way to prevent it is to increase the vaccine rate among children, who then carry their immunity to measles, chicken pox, etc. into adulthood.
He said what’s called the “herd immunity” – those getting vaccines – needs to surpass a threshold to prevent outbreaks. The proportion varies by disease, but for measles it’s 92 percent to 94 percent; meaning, at most, about 8 percent exemptions. The best way to do that is to increase childhood immunizations. In 2014, the personal-exemption rate for measles was 3.15 percent in California as a whole, but up to 21 percent in some communities.
According to the California Department of Public Health, for the 2014-15 school year, personal-exemption waivers were 2.54 percent of kindergarteners statewide, but 2.99 percent in Orange County, 2.48 percent in Riverside County and 2.18 percent in San Bernardino County. According to Dr. Pan, the numbers are higher than a decade ago and are surging, especially in some specific schools. According to the Register, Journey School in Aliso Viejo, a public charter school, had a 60 percent opt-out rate.
Vaccines are a good idea, Dr. Bob Sears told us, and he gives them to his patients. But the Capistrano Beach pediatrician told our Editorial Board he believes vaccines should be voluntary. “Who has the right to make these decisions?” he asked. “Parents should have that right. Government shouldn’t have that right.”
He believes the measles vaccine works well, but said in the Disneyland outbreak only 18 percent of those who caught the disease were of school age. And he said the whooping cough vaccine works for two to three years, meaning it has to be given five times to youngsters. And he believes SB277’s tighter mandate “will make parents take their kids out of school for homeschooling.”
Dr. Sears also argued that, if the state can force school kids to get vaccines, why not medications for attention-deficit disorder? And why not also mandate vaccinations for those in businesses and soccer leagues?
SB277 is a coercive approach to public health that expands government jurisdiction over individual health decisions, a particularly disconcerting move for a state which highly values choice and dominion over one’s own body.
A better idea would be for medical authorities, such as the California Medical Association, to help inform parents of the benefits of vaccines and let local school districts and private schools decide how to handle vaccinations. Also, while we believe that vaccines are beneficial to public health, the current mandate of 10 vaccines should be examined closely to see if all are absolutely necessary.
This issue is likely the most difficult legislators in Sacramento will grapple with this year since it pits public health against the right to govern what we do with our own bodies or, specifically in this case, the bodies of our children.
While considering the bill, legislators should ask themselves if there is a major flaw in the current law that warrants taking such an aggressive step or if there is evidence of some mounting public health crisis that warrants such action. From our vantage point, the answers seems to be no.
This e-mail has been sent by California State Senator John M. W. Moorlach, 37th District.
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