by CalWatchdog Staff | August 20, 2010 11:04 am
AUG. 20, 2010
By KATY GRIMES
Should permanent employees of school districts and community colleges who are elected to the Legislature be entitled to a leave of absence while serving their term of office and get to return to their old job after leaving politics? Assemblyman Warren Furutani, D-Long Beach, says yes.
Furitani authored AB 1712, which provides leaves of absence for non-teaching “classified” school employees when they are elected to the legislature, providing the same rights as teachers and community college faculty have to take a leave from their position “in order to engage in public service as a member of the Legislature.” What’s more, the bill allows the legislator to return to his or her old faculty job at the pay level they’d enjoy had they not gotten elected to public office.
The bill language is also very specific about who this new law would affect. “A permanent classified school district employee who holds the office of Member of the Assembly or State Senator on or after December 6, 2010 and prior to January 1, 2011, shall be entitled to a leave of absence from his or her duties as an employee of the district retroactive to December 6, 2010.”
Put simply, the bill only affects someone who serves in the Legislature in that narrow three-week window between Dec. 6, 2010 and Jan. 1, 2011.
Assemblyman Chris Norby, R-Fullerton, spoke loudly in opposition to Furutani’s bill. “If they can’t run for the legislature without a guarantee of a job upon being termed out, maybe they shouldn’t be running for office,” he said.
The Senate Education committee analysis expressed concern about the specificity of the dates and recommended clarifying the two amendments that identified the dates. The bill also specifies that during the leave of absence, the employee may work part-time for their old school or community college.
Furutani’s press secretary insisted that neither Furutani nor “any current legislator” will benefit directly from the bill. But given the very specific dates and language in the bill, Capitol staffers insist that it must be written for someone’s benefit, perhaps a candidate for office.
Furutani’s press secretary said this bill is to bring parity to non-teaching school and community college employees since existing law already requires teachers and educators be granted a leaves of absence when elected to the Legislature.
Furutani’s official Assembly biography says that “Warren has over 40 years of experience and involvement in education and public service, both as an elected official and a community organizer. He is the only person to have been elected and re-elected to the boards of the Los Angeles Unified School District and the Los Angeles Community College District.”
Voting on the bill has been been divided along party lines. In May, the Assembly voted 40 for it, 24 against, with six abstentions. Monday’s Assembly vote ended up 48-23, almost identical to the May vote, again divided along party lines.
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