Thomas M. Calderon, the chair of the Assembly Committee on Insurance, announced his candidacy for California Insurance Commissioner.
Calderon’s press office said he has distinguished himself as a reformer of the worker’s compensation system and as one of the key people responsible for rooting out corruption in the Department of Insurance. He will begin his statewide candidacy with endorsements from more than 35 Legislators, Lt. Governor Cruz Bustamante, Mayor Willie Brown, key labor leaders and consumers’ attorneys.
Calderon stated that the California Department of Insurance needs someone with a strong policy background, as well as political expertise, to solve the complex problems that threaten the state’s economy. He added that the Insurance Commissioner must be a problem solver, committed to the post in order to secure an insurance system that will best serve the people of California.
Calderon has reportedly been a consensus builder in the state Legislature, acting as a negotiator on a number of policy issues including teacher pay increases, water quality, bringing new sources of energy into California and workers’ comp.
In a press release, it was noted that Calderon played a key role in forcing the resignation of former-commissioner Chuck Quackenbush after an insurance settlement scandal was uncovered during legislative hearings last year. It was further stated that Calderon was praised for working with Assembly Members on both sides of the aisle to resolve alleged corruption in the Department of Insurance and that his professionalism in addressing the issue prompted Assembly Speaker Robert Hertzberg to appoint Calderon chair of the Assembly Insurance Committee.
In Calderon’s first task as chairman, he held a comprehensive series of hearings designed to examine key insurance issues that are affecting all consumers in California. Topics covered during these hearings included workers’ compensation, the future of the California Earthquake Authority and the status of the ongoing reformation of the California Department of Insurance.
As a result of his work as chair of the Committee on Insurance, Calderon has received widespread support for his statewide candidacy from leaders throughout California. Those adding their names to his list of endorsements include Lt. Governor Cruz Bustamante; San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, William (Bill) Herreras, president California Applicant Attorneys Association; Dan C. Dunmoyer, who represents the Personal Insurance Federation of California; and Julie Butcher, general manager of SEIU Local 347.
Calderon has authored and supported a number of measures designed to improve the insurance environment for California’s consumers.
• AB 5 (Calderon): Prohibits insurers from using a person’s credit rating to determine a person’s auto insurance rate.
• AB 1178 (Calderon): Extends important consumer protections for senior citizens subjected to directly marketed insurance products.
• AB 1183 (Calderon): Mandates an additional assessment on insurance companies to prevent the failure of the insurance guarantee fund; thereby ensuring that money will always remain available to pay injured workers their workers’ comp benefits.
• SB 71 (Burton/Calderon): Provides a long overdue increase of workers’ comp benefits and reforms a dysfunctional system.
• SB 458 (Escutia): Allows patients who have been delayed or denied care from their HMO to opt out of a forced binding arbitration contract and sue the HMO in court for damages. (Calderon was a principal co-author.)
In addition to presiding as Chair of the Assembly Insurance Committee, Calderon serves on a number of key committees in the Assembly, including Education; Governmental Organization; Water, Parks and Wildlife; and Utilities and Commerce. He has also been named chairman of the Select Committee on San Gabriel Valley Groundwater Contamination and the Southern California Water Caucus.
Calderon was born in East Los Angeles and raised in Montebello. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Literature from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and attended graduate school in Ohio, where he taught Freshman English and Composition.