The end of the legislative year is just a few weeks away and the California Chamber of Commerce continues to fight numerous proposals that could hurt employers, the economy and the jobs climate in the state.
The scope and potential negative consequences of some of these proposals are immense, touching daily activities in businesses from a wide range of industries and locations.
Following is a sampling of CalChamber-opposed bills being actively considered by legislators.
• SB 100 (de León; D-Los Angeles) Increased Energy Costs. Increases the cost of energy by creating an ambiguous zero-carbon energy by 2045 planning goal and requirements for regulatory agencies in the state.
• SB 356 (Skinner; D-Berkeley) Threatens Grid Reliability and Safety. Threatens the safety and reliability of California’s transmission grid by requiring the release of security-sensitive and market-sensitive data.
• SB 520 (Mitchell; D-Los Angeles) Increased Energy Costs. Increases the cost for energy in California by allowing for intervenors to collect compensation for engaging at the California Independent System Operator.
Labor and Employment
• AB 168 (Eggman; D-Stockton) Exposure to Litigation. Exposes employers to costly litigation for inquiring into an applicant’s prior salary or failing to provide a pay scale upon demand, even though the employee has not suffered any harm or wage loss as a result of the violation.
• AB 569 (Gonzalez Fletcher; D-San Diego) Pregnancy Discrimination. Creates a new mandate in the Labor Code, prohibiting employers from taking any adverse employment action against an employee due to the employee’s use of various medical options for reproductive health, even though the Fair Employment and Housing Act currently provides these protections to employees, thereby creating inconsistencies and confusion amongst employers with regard to interpretation and enforcement of these competing provisions.
• AB 1209 (Gonzalez Fletcher; D-San Diego) Public Shaming of California Employers. Imposes new data collection mandate on California employers to collect and report data to the Secretary of State regarding the mean and median salaries of men and women in the same job title and job description, determine which employees perform “substantially similar” work, and then have that report posted on a publicly accessible website, where such employers will receive undue scrutiny and criticism for wage disparity that is not unlawful and justified by a bona fide factor. (Job killer.)
• AB 1565 (Thurmond; D-Richmond) Significant Cost Increase on Employers and Costly Litigation. Unnecessarily accelerates the minimum salary threshold for exempt employees, which will significantly increase costs, especially on small employers who currently have a delayed increase under the current minimum wage scheduled increases.
• AB 1701 (Thurmond; D-Richmond) Expansion of Liability. Unfairly imposes liability onto a direct contractor, as defined, for the wage and hour violations of a subcontractor that the direct contractor did not cause.
• SB 63 (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 12 weeks of protected employee leave for child bonding and exposes them to the threat of costly litigation. (Job killer.)
• SB 306 (Hertzberg; D-Van Nuys) Labor Commissioner Enhanced Authority. Unnecessarily allows the Labor Commissioner to seek injunctive relief before completing an investigation and determining retaliation has occurred, as well as requiring an employer to pay the costs and fees of the Labor Commissioner to pursue a civil action for retaliation, even if the claim lacks merit, as well as exposes employers to a daily $100 penalty, capped at $20,000, for a posting violation.
• SB 574 (Lara; D-Bell Gardens) Jeopardizes State Workforce Goals. Unnecessarily impedes the ability of the University of California (UC) 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 by placing unreasonable restrictions on when the UC may contract for services.
• AB 1250 (Jones-Sawyer; D-South Los Angeles) Costly County Contractor Process. Imposes a cost to contractors with county contracts, subjects contractor and subcontractor employees’ private information to Public Records Act requests, and seeks to severely limit options for these counties to determine the most appropriate solution to providing efficient and effective public service by establishing significant and costly obstacles for agencies and for vendors contracting for personal services.
• AB 245 (Quirk; D-Hayward) Increases Costs to and Creates Uncertainty for Hazardous Waste Permit Operators. Imposes unnecessary new costs on hazardous waste permit operators by requiring a public hearing be held within 90 days of the submittal of a hazardous waste permit renewal application, notwithstanding the multiple existing opportunities for public review; and creates uncertainty regarding the application of ambiguous language relating to the adequacy of financial assurances to be reviewed every five years.
• AB 246 (Santiago; D-Los Angeles) Increased Indirect Costs and Likely Processing Delays for Hazardous Waste Permit Operators. Imposes unnecessary and substantial new indirect costs on hazardous waste permit operators and will likely result in further delays in permit processing by requiring the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), in consultation with air pollution control and air quality management districts, to assess all hazardous waste permitted facilities to determine if fence-line or other monitoring is necessary or available, and to provide a report on the assessment to the Legislature by September 1, 2018, notwithstanding the fact that DTSC has existing authority to require such conditions on a case-by-case basis.
• AB 1179 (Kalra; D-San Jose) Increased Costs and Likely Processing Delays for Hazardous Waste Permit Operators. Prematurely and unnecessarily imposes new costs on hazardous waste permit operators and will likely result in further delays in permit processing by arbitrarily setting inspection frequencies for certain facilities and directing the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) to adopt regulations setting inspection frequencies for all facilities, notwithstanding the fact that DTSC is currently reforming its enforcement program at the regulatory level.
• AB 1328 (Limón; D-Goleta) Burdensome Disclosure Requirements. Increases costs by imposing burdensome chemical disclosure and monitoring requirements on oil and gas operators, and requiring that such information be provided to the State Water Resources Control Board.
• AB 1646 (Muratsuchi; D-Torrance) Burdensome Regulations. Requires additional burdensome regulations to refineries by mandating they install audible alarms systems as well as an emergency alert system for residents, schools, public facilities, hospitals and residential care homes for an unspecified distance around a petroleum refinery to be determined by the relevant local unified program agency.
• SB 49 (de León; D-Los Angeles) Creates Uncertainty and Increases Potential Litigation Regarding Environmental Standards. Creates uncertainty by giving broad and sweeping discretion to state agencies to adopt rules and regulations more stringent than the federal rules and regulations in effect on January 19, 2017 through an expedited administrative procedure without public participation or input, when the state agencies determine that federal action leads to less stringent laws and regulations than those in effect on January 19, 2017; and increases the potential for costly litigation by creating private rights of action under California law, which may be triggered when a state agency takes the foregoing discretionary action. (Job killer.)
• SB 465 (Jackson; D-Santa Barbara) Repeals Technical Advisory Group on Oil and Gas Development. Inappropriately repeals a long-standing effective advisory group providing technical advice to the Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources on production efficiency and reservoir protection and replaces it with an advisory council of at least 16 members envisioned to include individuals with no technical expertise in such pertinent functions.
• SB 774 (Leyva; D-Chino) Upends Organizational Structure at Department of Toxic Substances Control. Creates substantial uncertainty for hazardous waste permit operators by establishing the California Toxic Substances Board within the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), with hiring/firing powers over the Director and various powers and duties relating to hazardous waste facilities permits and sites, including the ability to, following a review of documents submitted, information presented, and testimony taken at a hearing, direct the Director to require that certain conditions be placed on a permit to address perceived hazards to public health or the environment, notwithstanding the extensive record compiled and developed by staff during the preceding years.
• SB 349 (Lara; D-Bell Gardens) Increases Health Care Costs. Increases health care costs by setting dialysis clinic staffing ratios to the most stringent in the country and mandating transition times between patients leading to patient access issues with no clear evidence of clinical benefit to dialysis patients. (See story.)
• ACA 4 (Aguiar-Curry; D-Winters) Lowers Vote Requirement for New Tax Increases. Adds complexity and uncertainty to the current tax structure and pressure to increase taxes on real property by giving local governments new authority to enact special taxes, including parcel taxes, to fund the construction, reconstruction, rehabilitation, or replacement of public infrastructure or affordable housing, or the acquisition or lease of real property for public infrastructure or affordable housing, and lowering the vote threshold to impose such new taxes from two-thirds to 55%. (Job killer.)
• ACA 11 (Caballero; D-Salinas) Targeted Retail Industry Tax Increase. Exposes the retail industry to increased taxes by imposing a quarter-cent sales tax increase in addition to a quarter-cent excise tax to fund affordable housing and homeless shelters, without creating greatly needed market rate housing. (Job killer.)
• AB 450 (Chiu; D-San Francisco) Employer Liability. Places employers in a no-win situation between federal immigration enforcement and state enforcement by punishing employers—rather than providing tools and resources for employees when federal immigration enforcement appears at their workplace regardless of whether a violation of law has been committed by the employer.
Industrial Safety and Health
• AB 978 (Limón; D-Goleta) Access to Employer Records. Inappropriately allows organizations unaffiliated with the employer to access an undefined and potentially unlimited scope of employer internal documents and circumvents the rulemaking process now underway to provide for access by employees to their employer’s Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP).
• SB 772 (Leyva; D-Chino) Increased Cal/OSHA Costs on Employers. Blatant attempt to impose excessive costs on employers without transparency and without consideration of alternative methods for Cal/OSHA regulations to meet policy objectives, by exemption from major regulation statutory requirements for economic analysis of the most costly regulations.
Legal Reform and Protection
• SB 33 (Dodd; D-Napa) Discrimination Against Arbitration Agreements. Unfairly discriminates against arbitration agreements contained in consumer contracts for goods or services with a financial institution, as broadly defined, which is likely preempted by the Federal Arbitration Act and will lead to confusion and unnecessary litigation. (Job killer.)
• SB 188 (Jackson; D-Santa Barbara) Lost Oil Production. Threatens oil production in the state by prohibiting any new production and eventually forcing closure of existing oil-related infrastructure.
• AB 1513 (Kalra; D-San Jose) Licensee Private Information. Inappropriately makes the contact information for all home health care licensees available to labor organizations for the stated purpose of unionizing.
• AB 958 (Ting; D-San Francisco) Sidesteps the Safer Consumer Products Program Process. Politically rather than scientifically identifies certain chemicals used in food packaging as priority products under the Safer Consumer Products program, and directs the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) to adopt regulations for those chemicals, unless it determines there is insufficient data to conduct and complete the priority product evaluation and regulatory process. If DTSC makes the foregoing determination, it must pursue the data necessary to conduct and complete and evaluation and regulatory process.
Public Employees Retirement
• AB 20 (Kalra; D-San Jose) Investment Report. Broadly targets businesses and inappropriately discourages certain investments by requiring the boards of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) to develop a report on companies associated with the Dakota Access Pipeline (the underground oil pipeline from North Dakota to Illinois).
• AB 1000 (Friedman; D-Glendale) Water Conveyance. Prohibits new water projects in a specific part of the state by adding more unnecessary and unreasonable permit requirements for water conveyance.
• AB 1668 (Friedman; D-Glendale) and SB 606 (Skinner; D-Berkeley/Hertzberg; D-Van Nuys) Water Conservation. Potentially damages the viability of commercial, industrial and institutional businesses by imposing a one-size-fits-all water management plan without regard to local conditions.
• AB 570 (Gonzalez Fletcher; D-San Diego) Apportionment to Pre-existing Disability. Violates the fundamental agreement between worker and employers by requiring employers to compensate injured workers for disability that has not, with medical certainty, resulted from a workplace injury.
The CalChamber encourages members to contact their legislators to ask them to oppose the bills listed here.