This report for the second year of the 2015–2016 legislative session focuses on California legislators’ floor votes on California Chamber of Commerce priority bills.
This is the 42nd 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 seven areas: education, environmental regulation, health care costs, labor and employment, legal reform and protection, water supply and quality, and workers’ compensation.
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.
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 17 votes in the Senate and 16 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.
• AB 2548 (Weber; D-San Diego) Improved School Accountability. Will help employers, parents, educators, lawmakers, and other stakeholders hold schools accountable for student performance and improvement, and ensure students are being adequately prepared to enter the workforce or college, by requiring that the state’s new accountability system tracks sufficient information to allow for meaningful comparisons of schools and districts. Passed Senate, August 24, 39-0. Assembly concurred in Senate amendments, August 30, 78-0. Vetoed. CalChamber Supported.
• AB 2664 (Irwin; D-Thousand Oaks) Increased Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Provides resources for California innovators, entrepreneurs, startups, investors, and industry and community partners, by providing the University of California (UC) with funds to expand its capacity and increase access to its innovation and entrepreneurship centers, which provide incubator space, legal services, entrepreneur training and more for researchers and other individuals looking to develop innovative solutions. Passed Senate, August 18, 38-0. Assembly concurred in Senate amendments, August 24, 80-0. Signed—Chapter 862. CalChamber Supported/Job Creator.
• SB 959 (Lara; D-Bell Gardens) Jeopardizes State Workforce Goals. Unnecessarily restricts the University of California’s (UC) ability to use its restricted state funding in the most efficient manner possible to continue expanding enrollment without compromising on the quality of the education it provides or substantially increasing the state’s General Fund contribution. Passed Assembly, August 18, 52-25. Senate concurred in Assembly amendments, August 30, 25-14. Vetoed. CalChamber Opposed.
• AB 197 (E. Garcia; D-Coachella) Expensive Regulatory Burdens. Increases costs for businesses to comply with climate change regulations by prioritizing command-and-control regulations over a market-based mechanism while at the same time ranking co-benefits ahead of cost-effectiveness. Passed Senate, August 22, 23-13. Assembly concurred in Senate amendments, August 24, 45-30. Signed—Chapter 250. CalChamber Opposed.
• AB 1142 (Gray; D-Merced) Modernizes Operation of Surface Mines. Strengthens the Surface Mining and Reclamation Act to promote better communication between government agencies and operators, ensure that mines are inspected by qualified professionals, and clarify due dates for various compliance requirements. Passed Senate, March 31, 35-0. Assembly concurred in Senate amendments, April 14, 75-0. Signed—Chapter 7. CalChamber Supported.
• 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 Assembly, August 23, 48-31. Senate concurred in Assembly amendments, August 24, 25-13. Signed—Chapter 249. CalChamber Opposed/Job Killer.
• SB 1383 (Lara; D-Bell Gardens) Increased Regulatory Burdens. Increases regulatory burdens and costs for businesses by requiring the California Air Resources Board to adopt and implement a new program to reduce short-lived climate pollutants. Passed Assembly, August 31, 44-24. Senate concurred in Assembly amendments, August 31, 25-12. Signed—Chapter 395. CalChamber Opposed.
Health Care Costs
• AB 1763 (Gipson; D-Carson) Drives Up Health Insurance Premiums. Increases health care costs by prohibiting cost-sharing, co-payments or coinsurance for non-preventative screening and treatment for colorectal cancer. Passed Senate, August 18, 24-12. Assembly concurred in Senate amendments, August 23, 64-12. Vetoed. CalChamber Opposed.
• AB 2004 (Bloom; D-Santa Monica) Health Care Mandate. Drives up costs by mandating health care issuers to cover hearing aids for enrollees under 18 years of age. Passed Assembly, June 2, 69-6. Held in Senate Appropriations Suspense File. CalChamber Opposed.
Labor and Employment
• AB 1066 (Gonzalez; D-San Diego) Increased Costs on Agricultural Employers. Drives up costs of commodities to consumers by incrementally removing the existing overtime exemption allowed for agricultural employers. Passed Senate, August 22, 21-14. Assembly concurred in Senate amendments, August 29, 44-32. Signed—Chapter 313. CalChamber Opposed.
• SB 3 (Leno; D-San Francisco) Automatic Minimum Wage Increase. Unfairly imposes a potential 50% increase in the minimum wage by 2022 (actually an 87% increase over an 8-year period when combined with the last increase just implemented in January 2016), and automatically adjusts minimum wage beyond 2018 according to national inflation, with no “offramps” to suspend the indexing if employers are struggling with other economic factors or costs. Passed Assembly, March 31, 48-26. Senate concurred in Assembly amendments, March 31, 26-12. Signed—Chapter 4. CalChamber Opposed/2015 Job Killer.
• SB 654 (Jackson; D-Santa Barbara) Imposes New Maternity and Paternity Leave Mandate. Unduly burdens and increases costs of small employers with as few as 20 employees by requiring 6 weeks of protected employee leave for child bonding and exposes them to the threat of costly litigation. Passed Assembly, August 30, 54-17. Senate concurred in Assembly amendments, August 31, 24-12. Vetoed. CalChamber Opposed/Job Killer.
Legal Reform and Protection
• AB 2667 (Thurmond; D-Richmond) Consumer Arbitration Agreement Discrimination. Unfairly discriminates against arbitration agreements and therefore is likely preempted by the Federal Arbitration Act, which will lead to confusion and litigation, by prohibiting arbitration of Unruh Civil Rights violations made as a condition of a consumer contract for goods or services. Failed passage in Assembly, May 31, 38-36. CalChamber Opposed/Job Killer.
• AB 2748 (Gatto; D-Glendale) Increases Environmental Litigation. Eliminates incentives to settle lawsuits and instead exposes businesses to multiple rounds of litigation at great expense to the parties and the courts by creating statutory prohibitions on “release” clauses in settlements pertaining to “environmental disasters.” Job killer tag removed due to June 2, 2016 amendments, but CalChamber remains opposed. Passed Senate, August 23, 23-13. Assembly concurred in Senate amendments, August 30, 54-23. Vetoed. CalChamber Opposed/Former Job Killer.
• SB 899 (Hueso; D-San Diego) Increased Frivolous Litigation. Drives up consumer costs and increases frivolous litigation similar to the disability access lawsuits in California, by prohibiting a retailer or grocery store from discriminating against a person on the basis of gender with the price of “substantially similar” goods and subjecting them to a minimum $4,000 of damages for each violation. Passed Senate, May 26, 22-12. Held in Assembly Judiciary Committee. CalChamber Opposed/Job Killer.
Water Supply and Quality
• AB 1520 (M. Stone; D-Scotts Valley) Disclosure. Removes protections that safeguard production capacity and other sensitive production data from disclosure to competitors by requiring commercial, industrial and institutional water users to publicly disclose usage supposedly to enforce compliance with water conservation goals. Failed passage in Senate, August 19, 15-20. CalChamber Opposed.
• SB 1318 (Wolk; D-Davis) Erodes Housing Affordability. Inappropriately leverages necessary affordable housing in order to solve infrastructure issues with the consequence that the housing won’t be built by imposing requirements on water or wastewater districts to serve certain communities first. Passed Senate, June 2, 23-13. Held in Assembly Local Government Committee. CalChamber Opposed/Job Killer.
• AB 1244 (Gray; D-Merced) Discourages Workers’ Compensation Fraud. Decreases medical provider fraud in the workers’ compensation system by barring physicians who have been convicted of fraud or abuse in the Medicare, Medicaid or Medi-Cal programs from treating injured workers. Passed Senate, August 23, 39-0. Assembly concurred in Senate amendments, August 30, 79-0. Signed—Chapter 852. CalChamber Supported.
• AB 1643 (Gonzalez; D-San Diego) Increased Workers’ Compensation Costs. Significantly expands scope of workers’ compensation system and increases costs by forcing employers to provide disability benefits for nonindustrial injuries. Passed Assembly, June 1, 60-20. Passed Senate, August 22, 24-14. Vetoed. CalChamber Opposed.