Capitol Alert
The latest on California politics and government
June 2, 2011

The Assembly passed one of the year’s most controversial and intensively lobbied bills Thursday — imposing rate regulation on health insurers — after Republicans walked out of the chamber in protest.

GOP members wanted to call a caucus to discuss the measure, Assembly Bill 52 by Assemblyman Mike Feuer, D-Los Angeles, but Speaker John A. Perez refused to call a recess. Democrats then defeated a recess motion with leaders saying Republicans were trying to stall long enough to kill the bill because of Friday’s deadline for action.

The GOP retreated to the Rules Committee room off the chamber and closed the door.

Without Republicans on the floor, the remaining Democrats conducted a brief debate, with Feuer arguing that regulation by the insurance commissioner is needed because “health insurance rates are skyrocketing.” Several Democrats were critical of the bill but just one, Sacramento’s Richard Pan, voted against it as the measure was sent to the Senate on a 42-1 vote. Pan is a physician.

Health access groups and Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, whose presence on the floor prior to the bill debate had irked Republicans, have lobbied for the bill while health insurers, backed by business groups, oppose it.

Republicans, meanwhile, ended their off-the-floor meeting about 30 minutes later, but were clearly still peeved about what they called unprecedented and disrespectful actions by their Democratic colleagues.

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