Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez insists the full Assembly will vote on the compromise health care reform compromise he hammered out with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Never mind that members and others will have had little time to review the complicated legislation. The deal is the deal and Democratic members are expected to fall into line.
This doesn’t sit well with the California Labor Federation, the trade group representing the state’s unions. According to the Los Angeles Times, the Federation’s leader, Art Pulaski, is urging Assembly members to postpone the Monday vote. Apparently, the unions would like a chance to actually read the legislation and understand it before taking a position on it.
In a letter obtained by the Times Mr. Pulaski sent to Assembly members he writes, “We feel cheated of the opportunity to take a position on a bill that will impact the lives of every working family in California.” Steve Maviglio, a spokesman for Speaker Nunez, says the Labor Federation has been involved in drafting the bill “from Day One until the last meeting.”
What Mr. Maviglio doesn’t say is that that there’s a lot that goes on between the handshake at the table and the drafting of the specific language. And the language was released only on Friday. So is the Speaker’s office chiding Labor’s leadership for being slow readers?
Meanwhile, the new leadership at the Service employees International Union, which represents healthcare workers, among others, has endorsed the bill (presumably they’re speed readers). You may recall that on December 4th the SEIU leadership council replaced its president. The former president was skeptical of the compromise being negotiated by the Governor and the Speaker. The new president is more supportive.
The Health Access web site has a couple of posts that attempt to summarize the bill. I’m sure there are others out there, too. There’s so many interlocking pieces it can be tough to catch everything. Further complicating things is that the funding initiative isn’t available for review yet.
So, on Monday afternoon the California Assembly will vote on is a framework for health care reform which was released on Friday. They will not vote on how to finance the package. Assuming it passes the next test will be in the Senate. As noted in my last point, this puts health care reform in the hands of Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata. He’s on record as claiming the legislature should deal with the state’s budget deficit before enacting the bill. But that was Thursday. A that was then. And Speaker Nunez and Governor Schwarzenegger are in a hurry.