916.447.4113 info@thecpsa.org

With the California State Legislature back in session, there are several bills regarding various issues of interest to the swimming pool and spa industry that are moving through the legislative process. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, legislators have been asked to substantially limit their bill package, only pursue bills that relate to COVID-19, wildfire issues, and others where there is an urgency to address the subject matter. As such, the Assembly and Senate have narrowed the bill count to around 800 proposals as opposed to the normal 2,500 bills each legislative session. 

Some key bills of interest that have passed policy and fiscal committees and are now being voted upon on the floor of each house are as follows:

AB 1947 (Kalra)

This bill extends the filing period with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) to one year for complaints based on a person’s belief that he or she has been discharged or discriminated against by an employer in violation of any law under the jurisdiction of the Labor Commissioner (LC) and authorizes a court to award reasonable attorney’s fees to an employee plaintiff who brings a successful action for a violation of their rights to disclose information that the plaintiff has reasonable cause to believe concerns a violation by the employer of, among other things, a state or federal statute. 

Labor Code Section 98.7 protects an employee from workplace retaliation for filing a complaint under certain provisions of the Labor Code. Protected complaints include those alleging health and safety, equal pay, or sick leave violations. Also, under Labor Code Section 1102.5, retaliation is prohibited when an employee “whistleblows” on an employer because he or she believes the employer has violated the law. According to the Workers’ Rights Clinic at the Santa Clara University School of Law, workers frequently come in seven to eight months after an incident, shortly after the six-month statute has expired. Many of these workers are immigrants who were threatened with violence or deportation, and due to an arbitrarily short statute of limitations can no longer file an administrative claim. Additionally, these workers, often low wage, have difficulty seeking legal counsel because state law does not allow for attorney’s fees for prevailing parties in a claim under Labor Code 1102.5.

Status: Passed from the Suspense File in Assembly Appropriations Committee; currently on Assembly Third Reading for a vote of the chamber. 

AB 2232 (Greyson)

This bill, sponsored by Associated General Contractors of California and Associated General Contractors of San Diego, streamlines the process for allowing contractors to receive a retroactive license renewal by requiring the California Contractors State License Board (CSLB) to grant a retroactive renewal if an acceptable application is received within 90 days of the license expiration date, without requiring CSLB staff to conduct a case-by-case analysis to determine whether the renewal was late due to circumstances beyond the applicant’s control. 

Under current law, the CSLB can only issue a retroactive license renewal if failure to renew on time was due to circumstances beyond the control of the licensee. This requirement for cause is problematic as it most often results in a gap in the license period for the contractor. Contractors may be denied work and permits, have to forfeit all profit from a contract and be sued for unlicensed work. In such court cases, the CSLB is often required to produce and defend detailed license histories and timelines, an intensive process that drains the Board’s staff time and funding. Ultimately, this bill will save CSLB staff time and funding by allowing the Board to grant more renewal requests and process them more quickly. It will provide a workable grace period for contractors who get their license renewals within 90 days while preserving current consumer protections. CPSA supports this legislation. 

Status: Passed the Assembly Floor on Consent; ordered to the Senate Desk.

AB 3087 (Brough)

This bill provides that the registrar for the California Contractors State License Board may contract with a public or private organization to conduct or administer license examinations and, in addition, may also contract with a public or private organization for materials or services related to the examination. 

This bill is sponsored by the California Contractors State License Board (CSLB). According to the CSLB, the bill will aide in greater customer service; as applicants will receive more translator assistance and enhanced examination oversight and security. Applicants will have more test centers to choose from, reducing travel for many, and applicants will be able to schedule examinations on more days and times (Saturdays and in the evening). The CSLB currently administers examinations “in-house” as is with annual costs of approximately $3.2 million, or $73 per exam. Contracting with a third-party vendor will result in annual costs of approximately $2.6 million, or $59 per exam. While the cost to individual applicants, which is set by statute, would not change; this legislative change will ease scheduling and traveling burdens that currently exist for applicants, which is economic in nature as license examination will be given in most California cities as opposed to regionally. CPSA supports this legislation. 

Status: Passed the Assembly Floor on Consent; ordered to the Senate Desk.

AB 3053 (Daly)

This bill requires the Labor Commissioner make its annual report to the State Legislature on investigations relating to unpaid wages conducted by its field enforcement unit publicly available on its internet website and directs the Labor Commissioner to set up an online filing portal on its website where claimants for unpaid wages can do the following: submit their claim, track their claim, and submit relevant documents. 

In February 2020, the Legislative Analyst’s Office issued a report on the state’s wage claim process. The process was evaluated according to various measurements such as the number of claimants who successfully collected unpaid wages and the average wait time to resolve a claim. They found that each year, about 30,000 workers file wage claims. In 2017, workers filed claims for a total of $320 million in unpaid wages—about $10,000 per claim on average—and recovered about $40 million in total. Of the total amount recovered, workers who settled their claims received $25 million. Workers who did not settle and instead proceeded to a formal hearing collected the remaining $15 million. However, less than half the workers who received an award for unpaid wages were able to collect any wages from their employer. On average, workers waited 396 days for the state to adjudicate their wage claim. According to the author, this bill is necessary to “help address a serious backlog in the processing of wage claims filed by California workers…Lengthy delays have multiple consequences. The longer the process takes, the more likely a worker will move or drop the claim. Workers may end up settling claims for less than what they are owed. And the existence of long delays can discourage workers from even filing a claim.” 

Status: Passed from the Suspense File in Assembly Appropriations Committee; currently on Assembly Third Reading for a vote of the chamber. 

AB 3163 (Salas)

This bill seeks to add methane that is produced from the non-combustion thermal conversion of eligible biomass feedstock to the definition of “biomethane” for purposes of gas utility biomethane procurement targets. Includes non-combustion thermal conversion of the following materials, when separated from other waste:

1) Agricultural crop residues

2) Bark, lawn, yard, and garden clippings

3) Leaves, silvicultural residue, and tree and brush pruning

4) Wood, wood chips, and wood waste

5) Nonrecyclable pulp or nonrecyclable paper materials

6) Livestock waste

7) Municipal sewage sludge or biosolids

Increasing biogas production and use is critical to meet California’s climate and clean energy policies. Biogas provides the lowest carbon fuel of any kind, often carbon negative. Converting organic waste to biogas cuts emissions and saves this material from being open burned. Correcting the definition of biogas to be consistent with the Renewable Portfolio Standards definition will also help California to meet its renewable energy and low carbon fuel goals and help offset calls for decarbonization in California. CPSA supports this legislation.

Status: Passed the Assembly Floor on Third Reading, 52-11; ordered to the Senate Desk.

AB 3256 (Garcia)

This bill places a $6.98 billion general obligation bond on the November 3, 2020 statewide ballot for voter approval to finance projects for economic recovery, wildfire prevention, safe drinking water, climate resilience, drought preparation, and flood protection. Specifically, this bill specifies that proceeds of the $6.98 billion in bonds issued by this bill be allocated according to the following schedule: 

  1. $1.625 billion for wildfire prevention and climate risk reduction. 
  2. $1.1 billion for the protection of coastal lands, bays, and oceans from climate risks. 
  3. $1.355 billion for the protection of California’s water supplies from multiyear droughts, reducing flood risk from extreme events, and providing safe drinking water. 
  4. $1.3 billion for the protection of California’s wildlife, biodiversity, fisheries, and working and agricultural lands from climate risks. 
  5. $1.6 billion for climate resilience projects tailored to the state’s unique regions. 

Status: Passed from the Suspense File in Assembly Appropriations Committee; re-referred to Senate Rules Committee.