I was initially planning to post about how successful our Day at the Capitol events with the Civil Justice Association of California (CJAC) went on April 24th, but things did not exactly turn out like we thought they would.
Our annual Day at the Capitol was April 24th. Sunny weather and a great group of folks from all over the state showed up to discuss legal reform and the California economy. As many of you know, our main theme this year has been “Create Jobs, Not Lawsuits.” At every turn, California has chosen to create more litigation rather than improve its legal climate, which is ranked nearly dead last by numerous sources.
The day began with a meet and greet, then a luncheon featuring a brief screening of a new movie called Wheels of Fortune, which focuses on the abusive ADA lawsuits that have been ravaging small businesses in our state. Our panel of lawsuit abuse victims discussed how lawsuits alleging wage-and-hour violations and ADA violations have hurt California and cost our state jobs.
Then it was off to the State Capitol for meetings with legislators, which are always important and interesting. We weren’t the only ones busy at the Capitol that day. The Assembly Judiciary Committee met in the morning (they defeated Assemblyman Don Wagner’s badly-needed class action reform legislation) and then the Senate Judiciary Committee met in the afternoon. After our legislative meetings, we were scheduled to have a public forum discussing the link between legal reform and California’s economy hosted by State Senator Tom Harman. CJAC had coordinated with Sen. Harman to reserve a room and we have invited panelists to discuss how lawsuits are hurting our state’s economy.
Well, I guess the folks in the Capitol who control such things decided that this was not the most productive use of a room in the Capitol and cancelled our reservation. We were told all rooms in the State Capitol where you can hold this public forum were booked, and if we wanted to hold the hearing, we would have to do it outside of the building.
I have seen a lot of games played in the Capitol, but this is certainly one that will top my list. I have my own thoughts as to who and why, but I will not go into them here. Nonetheless, to simply shut out a State Senator and his guests because you disagree about something is pathetic. CJAC and CALA and all of our supporters had a room scheduled to discuss legal reform, but the message from leadership was that our message was not welcome.
Despite the minor setback, we did have a great public forum at the South Steps of the State Capitol with lively panel discussions and heartbreaking stories from lawsuit abuse victims. At the reception in the evening, many legislators showed up, but most importantly Governor Jerry Brown showed up and worked the crowd. He even had a staffer come over and listen to CALA supporters discuss the issues they are dealing with. Impressive!
The Governor’s ability to listen to folks whose opinions may differ from his own is admirable. Maybe some others should take note on how the Governor handles himself and stop being so petty. The State Capitol is a public arena and it should not be tainted by partisan bickering.