California Assembly Seal

By Jim Sanders
Published: Tuesday, Jun. 25, 2013 – 12:00 am | Page 1A
Last Modified: Tuesday, Jun. 25, 2013 – 8:49 am

With Democrats set to lose their Assembly supermajority this week, moderates are in the hot seat as the house decides the fate of one of organized labor’s top priorities.

A measure by Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez, which seeks to bar Wal-Mart and other large employers from providing wages and hours low enough to qualify for Medi-Cal rolls, requires a two-thirds supermajority to pass.

The bill, expected to be acted upon Thursday by the Assembly, will test liberal Democrats’ ability to control the Legislature before their opportunity evaporates. They’ll learn whether moderates of their own party will stand with them or move to kill a bill labeled a “job killer” by the California Chamber of Commerce.

“This is one of the first real, hard acid tests of the two-thirds supermajority casting an extraordinary vote for an obvious labor agenda,” said Rob Stutzman, a GOP political consultant. “It will be interesting to see if two-thirds is enough.”

Time is running out on Gomez because Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield will resign his seat Sunday to join the Los Angeles City Council, leaving the Assembly with 53 Democrats, one shy of a supermajority.

Key business and labor groups, lobbying hard on AB 880, say they will watch carefully when moderate Democrats cast their vote.

“This is truly the first test of ‘mods’ in the Assembly – who are you, and are you real?” said Bill Dombrowski, president of the California Retailers Association and leader of the opposition to AB 880.

Jim Araby, director of the Western States Council of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, a co-sponsor of the bill, said his union will remember who voted against AB 880 when California’s 2014 election rolls around.

“This will definitely be a key issue in determining if we challenge certain Democrats,” he said. “It’s definitely going to be one of the issues that we judge that on.”

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