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State legislators are frantically trying to get through hundreds of bills in Sacramento as Friday's end-of-session looms.
Q: What do a movie shoot and the final week of a state legislative session have in common?
A: Nothing happens 'til the director yells “Action!”—and, during downtime, the actors/lawmakers wait around and rehearse their lines.
Ok, so that's not entirely fair. There's actually a lot going on in Sacramento this week. Lawmakers are casting their votes on hundreds of bills before a Friday midnight deadline. But the big finale—the Democrats' promised pension reform—is still being written.
Senate Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) said Monday bills on those changes will be heard in committee Tuesday, and brought to a vote Friday. Steinberg also promised the changes will be “robust.”
“I think there are going to be some people—a lot of people in organized labor, frankly—that are not going to be thrilled with it.” Steinberg said. “It deals with every piece of the puzzle.”
Those pieces include a cap on pensions, changes to formulas for determining pensions, increasing contributions for current employees, crackdowns on all well-publicized abuses such as pension spiking—when an employee works overtime in the final year of compensation to increase their pension payout.
But Steinberg said there won’t be a hybrid pension plan, where new employees would have had both a defined benefit plan and a 401K or cash account where the payout would depend on how well investments perform.
The fate of a bill to change teacher evaluations is also up in the air. Last week, the Chair of the Senate Education Committee, Sen. Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach), pulled AB5 from a final floor vote for a hearing that has yet to be scheduled.
LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy opposes the bill because it would scrap a state law that requires school boards to include student test scores in teacher evaluations. The bill’s author, Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes (D-Sylmar), amended the bill late last week, but not enough to satisfy LAUSD.
Meanwhile, the clock is running...