Thursday, 30 September 2004 17:00

Speiers wide-ranging bill attacks WC fraud, more

State Senator Jackie Speier lauded Governor Schwarzenegger for signing into law her workers compensation legislation, SB X4 2, a bill that significantly toughens California's insurance fraud statutes. 

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"The job of reforming our workers' compensation system will not be done until we take the profit out of insurance fraud," said Speier, chair of the Senate Insurance Committee, "so I'm thrilled that we've strengthened the law against insurance fraud - by companies as well as claimants. What's good for the goose is good for the gander - we should expect everyone involved in the insurance claims process to deal fairly with the other party."

Speier said that most of the issues covered in SB X4 2 were originally proposed by the insurance fraud section of the California District Attorneys Association and the resultant bill is strong on law enforcement. Supported by California's Department of Insurance, SB X4 2 also found broad, bipartisan support in the legislature.

"Employers wanted the law on workers' compensation fraud strengthened. This bill does that, but it does so much more. By allowing for the delayed discovery and prosecution of money laundering, for example," said Speier, "we can now expect more prosecution of illegal drug trafficking cases."

Details of SB X4 2:

•Increases fines for not having workers' compensation coverage to double the amount of premium that would have been paid or $50,000, whichever is greater;

•Increases fines for evading workers' compensation premiums to double the amount of premium evaded or $10,000, whichever is greater on a first offense, and to triple the amount or $50,000, whichever is greater, on a second offense;

• Increases the fines for all types of insurance fraud to double the value of the fraud or $50,000, whichever is greater (includes workers' compensation fraud, auto fraud, homeowners' fraud, and applies equally to insureds and insurers);

• Permits investigators from the Department of Insurance and the District Attorneys to request payroll records when investigating premium fraud;

• Creates a delayed statute of limitations for discovery of money laundering - the crime related to premium fraud;

• Permits issuance of a search warrant for documents related to premium fraud; and

• Replaces an existing, legalistic notice to workers' compensation claimants with a new, clearer notice, in both English and Spanish, telling them that they have to report all wages that they receive during the period covered by the check.

Speier Legislator of the Year by MTC

Senator Speier (D-San Mateo/South San Francisco) has been chosen to receive the Metropolitan Transportation Commis-sion's 2004 John F. Foran Legislator of the Year Award. The Metropolitan Trans-portation Commission (MTC) chose Speier for her "many years as a member of the Senate Transportation Committee, and especially your leadership role in securing funding for Caltran's Baby Bullet service."

The Baby Bullet is a new fleet of express trains and switching tracks designed to take commuters off Bay Area highways and deliver them to their destinations faster in many cases than driving.

In 2001 Speier was instrumental in securing $127 million of the construction project's $163 million cost from state traffic congestion relief funds. The Baby Bullet trains began service on June 7. Each five- car Baby Bullet takes 800 cars off the freeway during commute hours.

The Baby Bullet's success has caught the attention of Los Angeles commuters as well, and several Los Angeles County supervisors have asked how to replicate the Bay Area' winning formula, said Speier.

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) is the transportation planning, financing and coordinating agency for the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area.


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