CalChamber Vote Record: Major Bills 2015

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This report for the first year of the 2015–2016 legislative session focuses on California legislators’ floor votes on California Chamber of Commerce priority bills.

This is the 41st vote record the CalChamber has compiled. The CalChamber publishes this report in response to numerous requests by member firms and local chambers of commerce that would like a gauge by which to measure the performance of their legislators.

To help readers assess legislators’ vote records, the charts group bills into six areas: education, environmental regulation, health care costs, labor costs, legal costs, and workers’ compensation.

Partial Picture

No vote record can tell the entire story of a legislator’s attitude and actions on issues of importance to business. To fully evaluate your legislative representative, consult the legislative journals and examine your legislator’s votes in committee and on floor issues.

You can view these via links at www.calchambervotes.com.

Many anti-business bills were rejected by legislators in policy or fiscal committees, thus stopping proposals before they reached the floor for a vote. The vote record does not capture these votes.

Most bills in this report cover major business issues that are of concern to both small and large companies.

The CalChamber recognizes that there are many bills supported or opposed by business that are not included in this vote record and analysis.

Factors Considered

The CalChamber considers the following factors in selecting vote record bills:

• The bills and votes reflect legislators’ attitudes toward private enterprise, fiscal responsibility and the business climate.

• Each bill was a CalChamber priority in a particular field. Priority bills have appeared in the “Status Report” sections of Alert.

• The bills were voted upon by either the full Senate or Assembly. This year, the vote record covers 13 votes in the Senate and 13 votes in the Assembly.

• Unless otherwise noted, final floor votes are shown. Concurrence votes and conference report votes are considered final votes.

When ‘Not Voting’ Helps

Sometimes a legislator is unwilling to vote against a colleague, but is willing to support the CalChamber’s opposition to a bill. In such cases, a legislator may abstain from voting, which will hinder passage of a bill, just as a “no” vote does.

To recognize that not voting can aid the CalChamber’s opposition to a bill, the vote record includes the number of times legislators did not vote “aye” on a CalChamber-opposed bill in the total for the column listing actions “in accord with” the CalChamber’s position, if the legislator was not absent for the day.

Priority Bills

Education

AB 575 (O’Donnell; D-Long Beach) Undermines Teacher Quality. Makes it harder for school districts to prioritize student achievement and provide support to developing teachers by replacing the state’s existing teacher evaluation framework with one that, among other things, would be entirely subject to collective bargaining and take away management’s existing authority to unilaterally establish criteria for measuring student progress and teacher effectiveness. Passed Assembly, June 4, 41-31. In Senate Education Committee. CalChamber Opposed.

SB 499 (Liu; D-La Cañada Flint-ridge) Undermines Teacher Quality. Makes it harder for school districts to prioritize student achievement and provide support to developing teachers by replacing the state’s existing teacher evaluation framework with one that, among other things, would be entirely subject to collective bargaining and take away management’s existing authority to unilaterally establish criteria for measuring student progress and teacher effectiveness. Passed Senate, June 3, 23-16. In Assembly Education Committee. CalChamber Opposed.

Environmental Regulation

SB 32 (Pavley; D-Agoura Hills) Slows Economic Growth. Increases costs for California businesses, makes them less competitive and discourages economic growth by adopting further greenhouse gas emission reductions for 2030 without regard to the impact on individuals, jobs and the economy. Passed Senate, June 3, 24-15. Failed passage in Assembly, September 8, 30-35. CalChamber Opposed/Job Killer.

SB 654 (de León; D- Los Angeles) Creates Unworkable Hazardous Waste Permitting Process. Discourages investment in upgrading and improving hazardous waste facilities by shutting down hazardous waste facilities if the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) fails to take final action on the permit renewal application within a specified timeframe, even if the permit applicant acted diligently and in good faith throughout the permit application process. Passed Senate, June 4, 21-16. Assembly Inactive File. CalChamber Opposed/Job Killer.

Health Care Costs

AB 339 (Gordon; D-Menlo Park) Increases Health Care Premiums. Drives up health care premiums by severely restricting the ability of health care issuers and pharmacy benefit managers to control health care costs on behalf of purchasers through their prescription drug benefit designs, and places strict caps on prescription drug copayments. Passed Senate, September 10, 25-13. Assembly concurred in Senate amendments, September 11, 50-27. Signed—Chapter 619. CalChamber Opposed.

AB 533 (Bonta; D-Oakland) Lower Health Care Costs for Employees. Preserves the value of employer-sponsored coverage and protects employee-patients from unreasonable health care costs by prohibiting out-of-network providers from balance billing patients treated in an in-network facility unless they receive patients’ informed, written consent before providing any health care services, and by allowing patients to count out-of-pocket payments to out-of-network providers towards their annual out-of-pocket cap. Passed Senate, September 10, 25-10. Assembly refused to concur in Senate amendments, September 12, 38-10. CalChamber Supported.

SB 546 (Leno; D-San Francisco) Large Group Rate Review. Threatens employers with higher premiums by imposing unnecessary and burdensome new reporting requirements on health plans and insurers in the large group market. Job killer tag removed due to April 30 amendments eliminating authorization for state regulators to veto or unilaterally alter large-group rate changes, but CalChamber remains opposed. Passed Assembly, September 10, 51-27. Senate concurred in Assembly amendments, September 11, 26-14. Signed—Chapter 801. CalChamber Opposed/Former Job Killer.

Labor Costs

AB 67 (Gonzalez; D-San Diego) Increases California Employers’ Cost of Doing Business on “Family Holidays.” Increases California employers’ cost of doing business and places brick-and-mortar stores at a competitive disadvantage to online retailers by mandating almost all employers to pay double compensation on Thanksgiving, designated as a “Family Holiday,” as opposed to any other significant holiday. Failed passage in Assembly, June 4, 29-34. CalChamber Opposed.

AB 1017 (Campos; D-San Jose) Frivolous Litigation. Threatens only private employers with civil litigation and criminal prosecution for seeking an applicant’s prior salary and benefit information even though the applicant suffered no harm in compensation from the inquiry. Passed Senate, September 1, 23-14. Assembly concurred in Senate amendments, September 3, 42-33. Vetoed. CalChamber Opposed.

AB 1506 (R. Hernández; D-West Covina) Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act of 2004. Seeks to limit frivolous and costly litigation against employers for technical violations on an itemized wage statement that does not create any injury to an employee, by allowing the employer a limited time period to fix the violation before any civil litigation is pursued, so that an employer can devote its financial resources to expanding its workforce. Passed Senate, September 2, 40-0. Assembly concurred in Senate amendments, September 9, 80-0. Signed on October 2 (Urgency)—Chapter 445. CalChamber Supported/Job Creator.

SB 406 (Jackson; D-Santa Barbara) Significant Expansion of California Family Rights Act. Increases costs, risk of litigation and creates less conformity with federal law by expanding the family members for whom leave may be taken, which will provide a potential 24-week protected leave of absence for employers to administer. Passed Assembly, September 11, 41-30. Senate concurred in Assembly amendments, September 11, 23-16. Vetoed. CalChamber Opposed/Job Killer.

Legal Costs

AB 465 (R. Hernández; D-West Covina) Increased Litigation. Significantly drives up litigation costs for all California employers as well as increases pressure on the already-overburdened judicial system by precluding mandatory employment arbitration agreements, which is likely pre-empted by the Federal Arbitration Act. Passed Senate, August 24, 22-15. Senate concurred in Assembly amendments, August 27, 46-31. Vetoed. CalChamber Opposed/Job Killer.

SB 251 (Roth; D-Riverside) Incentivizing Disability Access and Education. Seeks to limit frivolous litigation and claims regarding construction-related accessibility violations by providing businesses that have proactively sought to become Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-compliant with an opportunity to resolve any identified violations as well as provide a tax credit for such improvements. Passed Assembly, September 10, 70-6. Senate concurred in Assembly amendments, September 11, 40-0. Vetoed. CalChamber Sponsored/Co-Sponsored/Job Creator.

Workers’ Compensation

AB 305 (Gonzalez; D-San Diego) Increases Workers’ Compensation Costs. Increases litigation and frictional costs by expanding workers’ compensation coverage beyond industrial injuries by barring apportionment for some pre-existing injuries or conditions. Passed Senate, September 8, 24-15. Assembly concurred in Senate amendments, September 9, 60-20. Vetoed. CalChamber Opposed.

AB 1124 (Perea; D-Fresno) Workers’ Compensation Pharmaceutical Formularies. Ensures that clinically appropriate medications are provided to injured workers and begins to combat the overutilization of dangerous and habit-forming prescription drugs by requiring the Administrative Director of the Division of Workers’ Compensation to establish a formulary for prescription medications in the workers’ compensation system. Passed Senate, September 11, 28-4. Assembly concurred in Senate amendments, September 12, 79-0. Signed—Chapter 525. CalChamber Supported.

View the full Vote Record here.

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