The California Legislature adjourned for the year on September 16th and will not return for the second half of the 2017-2018 Legislative Session until January 3rd, 2018.
For perspective regarding the legislative activity from this year, the following occurred: bills signed into law by the Governor: 859; bills vetoed by the Governor: 118; total bills acted upon: 977; signing percentage: 88%; veto percentage: 12%
Of the 859 bills that the Governor signed this year, 567 were Assembly bills and 292 were Senate bills. Of the 567 Assembly bills signed into law, 85% were authored by Democrats and 15% were authored by Republicans. Of the 292 Senate bills signed into law, 86% were authored by Democrats and 14% were authored by Republicans.
It is likely that 2017 was the most anti-business Legislature in recent times. This session saw numerous bad labor and employment bills introduced as well as bills that sought to impose additional liabilities on companies doing business in the state. Such bills are bad enough for all employers in the state, but are even more challenging for small businesses.
Two bills are of primary importance to the swimming pool and spa industry. The first of these bills, AB 1701 was one of the last to be signed into law by the Governor. This bill imposes liability on a general contractor for the wages and any benefits that were to be paid to the employees of a sub-contractor. Sponsored by the Carpenters Union and supported by organized labor, AB 1701 imposes the same responsibility for wages of employees of sub-contractors as is current law for public works projects. However, making such a law applicable to private business will be a huge problem for small builders. AB 1701 contains a one-year statute of limitations and the employee does not have to exhaust his or her remedies against the sub-contractor before going after the general contractor for wages and benefits owed. This might possibly be the worst bill enacted by the California Legislature in recent times. AB 1701 was opposed by the California Pool and Spa Association (CPSA).
The second bill of major importance to the industry is SB 442, which addresses the issue of child accidents and pool safety. The bill amends the California pool barrier law to require newly contracted swimming pools to have two of the seven allowable barriers in place, instead of one. The bill was sponsored by the California Coalition for Children’s Safety and Health, Drowning Prevention Foundation, California Park and Recreation Society, Health Officers Association of California, and Consumer Attorneys of California. The California Pool and Spa Association agreed to support the bill in part due to language CPSA added creating one statewide standard. Under current law, the one barrier requirement could be increased by local Ordinance. The Governor signed this bill into law.
Lastly, two bills, AB 1668 and SB 606, which would have provided statutory authority to implement the Governor’s Water Plan – Making Water Conservation a Way of Life, were not acted on this session, but will be two-year bills eligible for consideration in 2018. Both of these bills have potential adverse effects on the swimming pool and spa industry. Both bills allow for the establishment of residential outdoor water quotas that could have an adverse effect on swimming pool and spa construction in California in the next few years.