California lawmakers are attempting to head off a crisis in the worker?s compensation system by authoring bipartisan legislation intended to cure the increasingly problematic system.

California's 91-year-old system has been troubled for the better part of the past decade. But with premiums doubling and tripling, the economy stagnant and businesses threatening to leave the state, fixing it has become a priority for lawmakers and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The system is costly (payments have increased from $6.4 billion in 1997 to an estimated $25 billion in 2003), confusing, and rife with fraud and mismanagement. California employers pay the highest workers? comp premiums in the nation and yet payouts fall well short of most other states. Legislators have been cajoled by the governor to come up with meaningful changes or face a ballot initiative mandating structural changes. While all sides agree the current system is unworkable, the details of the reform are hotly contested.

Some of the hottest sticking points are:
--Stricter guidelines for permanent-partial disabilities Permanent disabilities makes up to an estimated 80% of all costs. Employers desire stricter oversight in this area.
-- Physician choice Employers want more say over the doctors who make treatment recommendations.
-- Rate regulation and immediate benefits Labor would like the anticipated cost savings of reform passed on to employers rather than to insurance companies.

Schwarzenegger wants to require doctors to use "objective medical findings" to determine if an employee has a work-related injury. Injuries would have to be "reproducible, measurable or observable." He also wants to require employees to show that a cumulative injury -- one that develops over time -- was substantially caused by work.

Another troublesome factor is the disproportional payouts for different industries. For instance, the payout for workers in the construction industry or farm workers are considerably higher than many white collar professions, like the currently depressed IT industry. This discrepancy is so worrysome that some industries are examining their own, separate solutions.

While late word has lawmakers close on general terms, it appears that the major overhaul demanded by most won't occur in this proposal.
At this moment in time, like "Seinfeld" before it, "Arrested Development" is an under appreciated slice of comedic perfection, its writing so good as to be staggering and the acting both subtle and wildly physical, a meshing of words and deeds we haven't seen since, well, since "Seinfeld."-Tim Goodman, San Francisco Chronicle

Critically praised, but lightly watched, Arrested Development is struggling for its life on Fox. The laugh-track free show centers around Justin Bateman’s straight man Michael Bluth. He's a responsible widower who works to raise a son and run a business while the company’s founder (and Michael’s father) sits in prison awaiting trail for corporate malfeasance. Such notables round out the cast as Mr. Show’s David Cross (who is a never-nude), Jessica Walter as the deliciously drunken WASP Kitty Bluth, and Portia de Rossi as Michael’s twin sister Lindsay.

Fox is well known for taking critically acclaimed shows off the air before an audience can be found and replacing it with cheaper, more profitable programming. The wit and relative depth of the show isn’t making it any easier. Bateman describes the challenge well, Bateman says: "The show is unpredictable, and it takes time to get it. You miss a word in the first act, and four jokes in the third act aren't going to pay off. That's one of the reasons we are having problems building an audience."

So folks warm up the Tivos, and catch what just might be the funniest sitcom in some time before it’s gone for good.