Attorneys Voice Their Concerns at Lobby Day in Sacramento
Even though President John Kennedy referred to lobbyists as “expert technicians” who “have assumed an important role in the legislative process,” they are not usually depicted in such glowing terms. A positive spin is put on the lobbying process every year when injured workers’ attorneys meet in Sacramento for Lobby Day. Though the date varies depending on the legal practice area, the goal is the same: attorneys speaking to legislators with one voice regarding issues that involve maintaining and obtaining justice for the injured.
Gary Stern, a Personal Injury Associate in the law firm of Gordon, Edelstein, Krepack, Grant, Felton & Goldstein, LLP, joined 220 fellow members of the Consumer Attorneys of California to urge the powers that be to support bills and issues of vital importance to consumers and their families.
“At the top of our list was civil court funding,” says Stern. “The co-equal judicial branch of government is facing a $300 million shortfall as the governor and legislative leaders consider the state budget for the next fiscal year. In the past few years, the tendency has been to tell the courts to do without, to the detriment of justice in California. It is the civil court system that feels the pain most acutely, given the constitutional priority granted to criminal cases.
“In the past year, consumer attorneys have watched helplessly as courtrooms have closed, furlough days instituted and judges have been forced to delay trials. If funding is not restored to the courts, there is the real likelihood that entire courthouses will close, resulting in unconscionable delays in hearing virtually every type of civil case.”
The need for change was equally acute when Workers’ Compensation Partner Adam Dombchik attended the California Applicants’ Attorneys Association (CAAA) Lobby Day. Dombchik is President of CAAA, and met with Senate President Pro-Tem Darrell Steinberg and Speaker of the Assembly John Perez, as well as other legislators.
“We impressed upon them how the changes in the Workers’ Compensation Law profit the insurance companies,” Dombchik explains. “When you examine exactly where the insurance premium goes, you find that less than half goes to the injured workers, and a little more than a quarter is pure profit for insurers. Between 2004 and 2008, injured workers have only received about 40 percent from the insurance premiums collected in terms of benefits received, with the remainder going to the insurance company’s costs, expenses and profits.” Dombchik and his colleagues explained to the legislators the need to improve and increase benefits provided to injured workers.
Stern and Dombchik agree that their respective Lobby Days were successful in terms of making their presence felt in the state’s Capitol. They are also of like minds in believing that fighting the good fight is an ongoing process. The law firm remains committed to this fight on behalf of those injured on and off the job.