Valley Ag leaders oppose assembly bill

May 28, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Local business and agricultural leaders gathered on Tuesday to speak out against a proposal to fine large businesses which hire workers who are on Medi-Cal. But supporters of Assembly Bill 880 say it would close a loophole which raises taxpayers' healthcare costs.

AB 880 urges companies to extend medical coverage to its employees or risk being fined. A group of Valley agricultural and business leaders called the proposal a job killer for companies which hire seasonal workers.

Manuel Cunha of the Nisei Farmers League said, "We're going to get hit so hard there's no way that our farmers can afford this or our farm labor contractors or packing houses, processors. No way, it's all seasonal."

Mendota mayor Robert Silva added, "Labor force reduction because of added cost. We don't need this in the state of California."

Jim Araby of the United Food and Commercial Workers countered "AB 880 is the first legislation in the country to tackle the growing problem of large employers attempting to push workers onto taxpayer-funded programs in an effort to avoid paying for ACA-mandated health care."

Former Fresno mayor Alan Autry said, "What the bill seeks to do is impose Obama care mandates on business when the Obama care mandates haven't even been figured out yet."

Democratic assembly member Jimmy Gomez of Los Angeles introduced the bill. He said as Medi-Cal costs continue to grow they'll squeeze out funds meant for education and public safety.

Gomez said the bill will be voted on before the end of June.