Climate Change Job Killer Bills: 1 Stopped; 1 Goes to Governor

On the final day of the session, Assembly members heeded the concerns raised by the California Chamber of Commerce and a coalition of more than 110 organizations and stopped a last-minute greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction proposal.

AB 2133 (Quirk; D-Hayward), a job killer, would have arbitrarily changed the State’s greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goal from 40% of 1990 levels by 2030 to 55%. By the State’s own estimate, this proposal would have forced 17 million gas-powered cars off the road in the next 10 years. AB 2133 died in the final hour of the session when the Assembly failed to concur in Senate amendments, 37-22.

The CalChamber-led coalition opposing AB 2133 included business, agriculture, industry groups and local chambers of commerce.

“We are relieved AB 2133 failed passage and grateful to the legislators who voted no on the measure,” said CalChamber President and CEO Jennifer Barrera in a September 1 statement. “It is clear this measure would have been detrimental to our economy. The bill threatened the state with excessive costs that would have hurt both California residents and businesses.”

Earlier in the evening, the Legislature sent to the Governor the climate change job killer SB 1137 (Lena Gonzalez; D-Long Beach).

“CalChamber supports climate change laws and regulations that are cost-effective, technology-neutral and promote the use of market-based strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” Barrera emphasized again in her statement released the morning after legislators approved SB 1137.

“It is extremely disheartening that in the final days of the legislative session, lawmakers introduced two job killing climate change proposals with very little opportunity for public debate or scrutiny.”

She pointed out that lawmakers passed SB 1137 “over the objections of a large and diverse coalition of Californians. This policy will not only kill an estimated 8,000 jobs in the state; it will drive oil production out of California and force the state to rely on even more foreign oil imports that are produced in locations with less environmental and human rights protections than California. We are tremendously concerned about the fact that SB 1137 threatens the state with up to $4 billion in lost revenue and poses a significant risk of legal liability under the takings clause of the U.S. Constitution.”

SB 1137 threatens to eliminate thousands of high-paying California jobs and force California to import even more foreign oil by politicizing and undermining the California Geologic Energy Management (CalGEM) Division’s ongoing regulatory process regarding new requirements near oil and gas extraction sites by predisposing what setback requirements should be before the agency even begins its analysis.

A third job killer, AB 2183 (Stone; D-Scotts Valley), a forced unionization process for agricultural employees, was sent to the Governor on August 29.

AB 2183 limits an employee’s ability to independently and privately vote for unionization in the workplace, by essentially eliminating a secret ballot election and replacing it with the submission of representation cards signed by over 50% of the employees, which leaves employees susceptible to coercion and manipulation by labor organizations. It also unfairly limits an employer’s ability to challenge the cards submitted by forcing employers to post an unreasonable bond, and then limits an employee’s ability to decertify a union, by forcing them to go through the ballot election process instead of submission of representation cards. The bill also includes an unnecessary presumption of retaliation that is effectively unlimited in scope because it would apply for the duration of an election campaign, which could last for a year or more.

Governor Gavin Newsom has until September 30 to sign or veto bills sent to him in the closing days of the legislative session.

Opposed Bills

Following is a brief recap of how other CalChamber-opposed bills fared in the last two weeks.

Opposed Bills Stopped

SB 260 (Wiener; D-San Francisco) Increased Regulatory Burden. Imposes a mandatory climate tracking, auditing, and cap on climate emissions that will fall heavily on all California businesses, impacting competitiveness and increasing costs. The unworkable, dangerous and costly mandate will do nothing to stop the climate crisis while hurting California businesses and leading to increased costs of goods and services for Californians. Fell short of the votes needed in the Assembly on August 31, 37-25.

SB 1149 (Leyva; D-Chino) Disclosure of Trade Secrets, Increased Litigation, and Outlawing Settlement Practices. Re-writes longstanding use of protective orders in lawsuits, as well as outlawing non-disclosure agreements as part of settlements based on vague terminology. Will force companies to settle early so as to avoid public release of broad documents south in discovery, as well as overwhelm California courts with unprecedented discovery fights as companies seek to protect their trade secrets. Fell short of votes needed to pass the Assembly on August 29, 31-18.

AB 2201 (Bennett; D-Ventura) Groundwater. Adds new regulatory layer to groundwater well permitting processes, even in sustainable basins. Increases costs and liability risks associated with well permitting. Inconsistent with the Governor’s March 2022 executive order and the goals outlined in the Governor’s August 11, 2022 Water Supply Strategy, which emphasizes the need for local agencies to have flexibility in managing groundwater resources. The strategy also emphasizes the need for more groundwater storage, and the bill’s definition of “well interference” threatens the viability of water banking projects. Assembly concurrence in Senate amendments still pending when the Assembly adjourned on September 1.

AB 437 (Kalra; D-San Jose) Exclusivity Options. Prohibits use of exclusivity clauses in acting contracts, which undermines collective bargaining in the film industry and will result in lower value contracts and job loss. Placed on Senate Inactive File, August 22.

Opposed Bills Moving

AB 2188 (Quirk; D-Hayward) Workplace Marijuana Testing. Before amendments, risked workplace safety by promoting marijuana use to a protected class under California’s discrimination law, on par with national origin or religion. Also effectively prohibited pre-employment drug testing, harming employers’ ability to keep their workplace safe and drug fee. Now requires saliva (or other non-metabolite) testing when conducting marijuana testing in pre-employment or workplace settings, along with prohibiting discrimination based on marijuana usage. Job killer status removed due to June 30, 2022 amendments which, among other provisions, protected pre-employment testing and handled federal/state conformity issues surrounding marijuana’s legality. CalChamber still opposes. Passed Legislature on August 30. To Governor.

AB 257 (Holden; D-Pasadena) Fast Food Industry. Creates unelected Fast Food Council with power to set sweeping standards for fast food industry’s wages, hours, and working conditions that prevail over existing laws. The council also will have the power to repeal or amend laws and regulations created by the Legislature or a regulatory agency. Earlier versions of the bill also would have established statutory, mandatory joint liability within the franchise industry. AB 257 specifically allows any minimum wage increase to go up to $23 per hour in 2023, $6.50 above the minimum wage in other industries. Passed Legislature on August 29. To Governor.

AB 2273 (Wicks; D-Oakland) Age-Appropriate Design Code. Creates overinclusive and difficult to interpret/implement standard for designing online services, products or features for young people by importing requirements used in United Kingdom without the guidance UK regulators make available to companies. Provides fewer opportunities to fix mistakes and a more aggressive approach to fines and penalties than the UK model. Uses subjective standard for the children to be protected rather than a well-established federal standard under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). Oppose Unless Amended. Passed Legislature on August 30. To Governor.

AB 2106 (R. Rivas; D-Hollister) New Water Quality Permit Requirement. Imposes new permitting requirements on stormwater discharges from commercial and institutional facilities that may expose permittees to citizen lawsuits. Constrains State Water Board discretion in addressing stormwater that may have unintended consequences on regulated entities. Passed Legislature on August 30. To Governor.