Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Job Killer Bills Continue to Advance in Senate

Senate policy committees this week continued to approve California Chamber of Commerce-opposed job killer bills.

The Senate Judiciary Committee passed SB 63 (Jackson; D-Santa Barbara), imposing a new maternity and paternity leave mandate.

The Senate Environmental Quality Committee approved SB 49 (de León; D-Los Angeles), which creates uncertainty and increases potential litigation regarding environmental standards.

New Leave Mandate

SB 63 is a more expansive version of a job killer bill vetoed last year. It will require small employers with as few as 20 employees within a 75-mile radius to provide 12 weeks of protected parental leave for child bonding. It also exposes those employers to the threat of costly litigation.

Both the federal Family Medical Leave Act and the California Family Rights Act apply to employers with 50 employers or more in a 75-mile radius.

Under SB 63, a worksite with only 5 employees will be required to accommodate the mandatory leave if there are other worksites in a 75-mile radius with enough employees to reach the 20 employee threshold, creating a hardship for employers with a limited number of employees at a worksite.

The proposed mandate comes on top of the current requirement that employers with as few as 5 employees allow up to four months of protected pregnancy-related leave. SB 63 will add another 12 weeks of leave for the same employee, totaling seven months of potential protected leave.

Environmental Overreach

SB 49 is an overbroad bill that includes a private right of action for environmental laws similar to the Private Attorneys General Act provisions that have led to shakedown lawsuits for alleged labor and employment law violations

An attempt to deal with California concerns about the uncertainty at the federal level associated with environmental laws identified in the bill, SB 49 is a premature, overbroad, and vague response to things that could happen in the future while in the present creating substantial uncertainty for businesses in advance of any such potential changes and correspondingly greatly increasing the potential for costly litigation.

SB 49 requires the state agencies to adopt the baseline federal standards in the federal Clean Air Act, the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, the federal Water Pollution Control Act, the federal Endangered Species Act, and “other federal laws” defined as unidentified laws “relating to environmental protection, natural resources, or public health.”

If there is interest in preserving various federal environmental laws, the CalChamber believes a targeted approach where state agencies respond to federal action on a case-by-case basis is more appropriate.

Key Votes

SB 63 passed Senate Judiciary on April 4, 4-1:

Ayes: Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), Monning (D-Carmel), Stern (D-Canoga Park), Wieckowski (D-Fremont).

Noes: Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa).

No vote recorded: Anderson (R-Alpine), Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys).

The bill will be considered next by the Senate Appropriations Committee.

SB 49 passed Senate Environmental Quality on April 5, 5-2:

Ayes: Wieckowski (D-Fremont), Hill (D-San Mateo), Lara (D-Bell Gardens), Skinner (D-Berkeley), Stern (D-Canoga Park).

Noes: J. Stone (R-Temecula), Bates (R-Laguna Niguel).

SB 49 will be considered next by Senate Judiciary.

Staff Contacts: Jennifer Barrera, Louinda V. Lacey

Jennifer Barrera
Jennifer Barrera
Jennifer Barrera took over as president and CEO of the California Chamber of Commerce on October 1, 2021. She has been part of the CalChamber team since 2010 and stepped into the top position after serving as CalChamber executive vice president, overseeing the development and implementation of policy and strategy for the organization, as well as representing the CalChamber on legal reform issues. Barrera is well-known for her success rate with the CalChamber’s annual list of job killer legislation, efforts to reform the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) and leadership working with employers on critical issues, including most recently those arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, she advises the business compliance activities of the CalChamber on interpreting changes in employment law. Barrera earned a B.A. in English from California State University, Bakersfield, and a J.D. with high honors from California Western School of Law. See full bio

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