CalChamber-Backed Bills Go to Governor

SupportA number of bills supported by the California Chamber of Commerce have passed the Legislature in recent weeks and will be considered next by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr.

The CalChamber is asking the Governor to sign the following bills:

Gender Equity Pay: SB 358 (Jackson; D-Santa Barbara) seeks to eliminate gender pay disparity by specifying that employees who are similarly situated and performing substantially similar duties should be paid the same wage rate.

The Governor’s executive secretary, Nancy McFadden, announced on Twitter last week that the Governor would sign the legislation when it reaches his desk.

CalChamber Policy Advocate Jennifer Barrera has noted that that SB 358 “provides a great balance between making sure there is no gender inequity in pay, but also leaving flexibility for an employer to reward employees for education, skill, training experience with regard to compensation as well.

“We are hopeful that SB 358 will limit litigation as it provides an objective criteria for employers at the outset to determine the pay base for employees and make sure those are not determined based on gender.”

Oversight of Transfer Degree Program: AB 1016 (Santiago; D-Los Angeles) will allow for continued oversight and improvements to the Student Transfer Achievement Reform Act through 2023.

The bill allows the Legislature to better evaluate the effectiveness of the state’s transfer degree program by asking the chancellors of the California Community College system and the California State University (CSU) to report on the extent to which transfer degree students are being admitted to the CSU campuses of their choice to programs related to their transfer degrees, the number of units with which those students enter the CSU, and their graduation rates after two and three years attending a CSU.

When the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) reviewed the implementation status of the program in February, it found most community college and CSU campuses had made considerable progress, but also identified areas where improvement is still needed and data that would be useful to allow all aspects of the program to be evaluated properly.

AB 1016 addresses the LAO’s observations and will enable the Legislature to continue monitoring the program over the next few years so it can make adjustments if necessary.

Automated External Defibrillators: SB 658 (Hill; D-San Mateo) encourages businesses and individuals to assist in an emergency with an automated external defibrillator (AED) by limiting the risk of civil liability. It also simplifies the maintenance of an AED for the owner of the premises.

Under SB 658, neither a business that acquires an AED for its premises, nor an individual who renders emergency assistance with an AED will be civilly liable for any damage as long as the person complies with routine maintenance, inspection, and an annual demonstration of the AED to make sure the devices are functioning and at least one person in the building is aware of how to use an AED.

The bill still holds a manufacturer, developer, installer, or distributor liable for potential product defects or performance, as well as a person who engages in willful or wanton misconduct.

Protects Victims of the Underground Economy: SB 623 (Lara; D-Bell Gardens) ensures that all injured workers receive benefits by clarifying that workers cannot be denied their benefits due to their immigration status.

The bill clarifies current law so that no injured worker is refused benefits based on immigration status from a fund that provides workers’ compensation benefits to workers who have been injured on the job and work for an illegally uninsured employer; and a fund that is a source of additional compensation for insured workers who already had a disability or impairment at the time of injury.

Employer Disaster Relief: SB 35 (Wolk; D-Davis) assists businesses that have suffered losses as a result of a natural disaster by permitting tax deductions for those losses. The bill will apply to 2014 and subsequent taxable years, with a January 1, 2024, sunset date. Therefore, taxpayers in Napa, Solano and Sonoma counties, who suffered losses as a result of the August 2014 Napa earthquake, would be afforded the special tax relief.

Performance Standards: AB 1312 (O’Donnell; D-Long Beach) enables ships to enter state waters while technology is developed that will meet California’s stringent standards for ballast water management. The bill delays implementation of interim and final performance standards for ballast water management. The State Lands Commission recently made the assessment that there is no current technology available to meet the state’s ballast water management standards.