NU Online News Service, Dec. 3, 2003, 5:02 p.m. EST – The California Chamber of Commerce, Sacramento, Calif., has organized a coalition that hopes to persuade voters to kill the state’s new “universal health insurance” law.[@@]

The law, created by Senate Bill 2, will require employers with 200 workers or more to provide employee health coverage or pay the state to provide coverage. Eventually, the bill also could require employers with 20 to 199 workers to provide health coverage.

The California chamber and its allies have started Californians Against Government Run Healthcare, a group that will try to put a referendum against S.B. 2 on the March 2004 ballot.

The coalition is describing the bill as a referendum on a “new $7 billion health care tax” that will hurt the California job market and reduce the percentage of Californians who have employer-sponsored health coverage.

Complying with S.B. 2 “would force employers to cut their payroll or close their doors,” says Chamber President Allan Zaremberg.

Zaremberg is serving as co-chair of the anti-S.B. 2 coalition along with John Dunlap, president of the California Restaurant Association, Sacramento.

The coalition needs 373,816 valid voter signatures to get the anti-S.B. 2 referendum on the ballot. The coalition already has submitted 620,000 signatures to county elections officials, the chamber says.