By Ted Waits, Legislative Director, John Norwood & Associates
The California State Legislature has commenced its second week of a 10-month legislative session. Historically, the most controversial bills are introduced at the Assembly and Senate established introduction deadline of February 22. Therefore, only 369 measures have formally crossed the two Chambers’ Clerk Desks, leaving potentially 2,250-2,500 to go. But it is worth mention that some labor and employment legislation with great impact have been formally brought forward for legislative consideration. These are outlined at the end of this article.
More broadly, a preview of legislative priorities, per direction by legislative leadership, is anticipated to include issues around the environment, online personal privacy, universal healthcare, and tax issues such as split-roll and service tax. These are likely to be highly influenced by left-leaning interest groups such as organized labor, environmental and consumer groups, and those interests that demand more state dollars for education, healthcare, low-income housing, homelessness and more. Groups that were unsuccessful in last year’s General Election initiative process with issues such as rent control and dialysis reform will now raise those issues back in the legislative process.
By March, policy committees begin hearing bills. After policy committees hear and vote on bills, many measures are considered by the Assembly and Senate Appropriations Committees. Once bills pass these fiscal committees, they head to their respective floor for final consideration in their house of origin. The Assembly Chief Clerk and the Senate Secretary prepared the following calendar for the 2019 Session.
January 7: Legislature Reconvenes
January 10: State Budget Submitted by Governor
February 22: Last Day for Bills to be Introduced
April 26: Last Day for Policy Committees to Hear and Report to the Fiscal
Committees All Fiscal Bills Introduced in Their House
May 3: Last Day for Policy Committees to Hear and Report to the Floor Nonfiscal Bills Introduced in Their House
May 10: Last Day for Policy Committees to Meet Prior to June 3
May 17: Last Day for Fiscal Committees to Hear and Report to the Floor Bills Introduced in Their House. Last Day for Fiscal Committees to Meet Prior to June 3
May 28 – 31: Floor Session Only. No Committees, Other Than Conference or Rules Committees, May Meet for Any Purpose
May 31: Last Day for Bills to be Passed Out of the House of Origin
Governor Gavin Newsom’s Priorities
Gavin Newsom, inaugurated as the 40th Governor of the State of California last week, announced his Administration’s policy priorities. Governor Newsom reinforced his well-known support for organized labor, as well as expressed the view that wages are stagnant. Newsom committed to connecting higher education and skills training to the next generation of middle-class jobs. Fortunately, the Governor pledged to be a prudent steward of taxpayer dollars, pay down debt, and meet future state obligations, and committed to safeguarding the largest fiscal reserve of any state in American history. In addition, he said his Administration will not be divided between rural and urban or north and south or coastal and inland. The Governor committed to launching a Marshall Plan for affordable housing and lift the fight against homelessness from a local matter to a statewide mission. On an even more far reaching policy endeavor, the Governor called for every person to have access to quality, affordable healthcare, saying his Administration will never waver in its pursuit of guaranteed healthcare for all Californians.
Assembly-Senate Introduced Labor Legislation
AB 5 (Gonzalez-Fletcher, Dem-San Diego) Independent Contractor Worker Status
Summary: Current law, as established in the case of Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles (2018) 4 Cal.5th 903 (Dynamex), creates a presumption that a worker who performs services for a hirer is an employee. Current law requires a 3-part test, commonly known as the “ABC” test, to establish that a worker is independent contractor. This bill states the intent of the Legislature to include provisions within this bill codify the decision in the Dynamex case and clarify its application.
AB 9 (Reyes, Dem-Fontana) Employment Discrimination Limitation of Actions
Summary: The California Fair Employment and Housing Act makes specified employment and housing practices unlawful, including discrimination against or harassment of employees and tenants. Current law authorizes a person claiming to be aggrieved by an alleged unlawful practice to file a complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing within one year from the date upon which the unlawful practice occurred. This bill extends the above described period to 3 years for complaints alleging employment discrimination.
AB 23 (Burke, Dem-Inglewood) Workforce Training Programs
Summary: This bill states the intent of the Legislature to enact legislation to incentivize systems that better facilitate communication and partnerships between businesses, labor advocates, and educational institutions for the purpose of creating tailored workforce training programs that both increase worker participation and further the attainment of increased skills.
AB 51 (Gonzalez-Fletcher, Dem-San Diego) Employment Discrimination Enforcement
Summary: This measure prohibits a person from, as a condition of employment, continued employment, the receipt of any employment-related benefit, or as a condition of entering into a contractual agreement, prohibiting an applicant for employment, employee, or independent contractor from disclosing to any person an instance of sexual harassment that the employee or independent contractor suffers, witnesses, or discovers in the workplace or in the performance of the contract, or otherwise opposing any lawful practice, or from exercising any right or obligation or participating in any investigation or proceeding with respect to unlawful harassment or discrimination.
AB 170 (Gonzalez-Fletcher, Dem-San Diego) Employer Sexual Harassment Liability
Summary: This legislation requires a client employer to share with a labor contractor all civil legal responsibility and civil liability for harassment for all workers supplied by that labor contractor.
AB 171 (Gonzalez-Fletcher, Dem-San Diego) Employee Sexual Harassment Claim Discharge Retaliation
Summary: This bill prohibits an employer from discharging or in any manner discriminating or retaliating against an employee because of the employee’s status as a victim of sexual harassment, as defined by the California Fair Employment and Housing Act. The bill establishes a rebuttable presumption of unlawful retaliation based on the employee’s status as a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, sexual harassment, or stalking if an employer takes specific actions within 90 days following the date that the victim provides notice to the employer or the employer has actual knowledge of the status.
AB 196 (Gonzalez-Fletcher, Dem-San Diego) Paid Family Leave Expansion
Summary: Current law establishes, within the state disability insurance program, a family temporary disability insurance program, also known as the paid family leave program, for the provision of wage replacement benefits to workers who take time off work to care for a seriously ill family member or to bond with a minor child within one year of birth or placement. This bill states the Legislature’s intent to enact legislation that expands the paid family leave program in order to provide a 100% wage replacement benefit for workers earning $100,000 or less annually.