The California Chamber of Commerce is urging businesses to participate in the upcoming workshops to discuss draft regulations for the new state-run retirement savings program, Secure Choice.
Workshops are scheduled for December 5 at the State Personnel Board, located at 801 Capitol Mall, Room 150 in Sacramento, and December 7 at the Ronald Reagan State Building, Auditorium, 300 South Spring Street in Los Angeles from 10 a.m.–noon. Individuals who cannot attend the hearings in person may provide comments by phone at (888) 278-0296, participant code: 6531748.
Signed by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. in 2016, SB 1234 (de León; D-Los Angeles; Chapter 804), along with the original SB 1234 (de León; D-Los Angeles; Chapter 734) and SB 923 (de León; D-Los Angeles; Chapter 737) in 2012, creates a framework for the California Secure Choice Retirement Savings Investment Program.
The program is a state-run retirement savings plan for private employees that includes automatic enrollment with an opt-out provision for an estimated 6.3 million California workers whose employers do not currently offer an eligible retirement savings program. Private employers with five or more employees will be required to automatically enroll their employees into and make payroll deductions for their Secure Choice retirement accounts, unless the employee opts out.
Employers that do not offer a retirement plan or do not auto-enroll their employees into Secure Choice would be subject to a penalty; otherwise the program is intended to impose no risk or liability to the employer or to the state. It is intended that employers’ responsibility is simply as a pass-through; to deduct and submit contributions from employee wages.
The program will be funded by an automatic 3% to 5% payroll deduction; specific default contribution will be determined by the Secure Choice Investment Board. There is no contribution made by the employer into the retirement account.
According to the State Treasurer’s Office, late 2019 is likely to be the earliest that large employers that do not offer a retirement plan to their employees will be required to provide access to Secure Choice. The requirement will be phased in over a three-year period. Any information to the contrary is wrong. Please contact the Treasurer’s Office if you are told something different so they can correct the source by emailing email@example.com.
CalChamber will continue to actively engage in rulemaking, closely monitor the activities of the Secure Choice Investment Board, and provide input as appropriate regarding program design and employer risk.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced cost of living adjustments affecting 401(k) pension plans and other retirement-related items for tax year 2018 — including an increase in the amount employees can contribute to their 401(k) plans.
Some pension plan limitations, including those governing 401(k) plans, changed this year because the increase in the cost-of-living index met the statutory thresholds that trigger their adjustment.
Other limits remain unchanged because they did not meet the thresholds.
Highlights for 2018 include:
The IRS also updated its cost of living adjustment (COLA) charts for retirement plan contribution limits.
Employers may want to consider communicating these maximum contribution rates to employees. Retirement plan participants given access to professional advice are more likely to contribute the maximum amount than those without advice (45 percent to 36 percent), according to Natixis Global Asset Management’s 2016 Survey of Defined Contribution Plan Participants.
CalChamber can read more about the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) in the HR Library. Not a member? See how CalChamber can help you.
The 2017 legislative year was a busy one for the California Chamber of Commerce and other employer advocates.
Nevertheless, CalChamber policy advocates, together with members, allied associations and local chambers of commerce, stopped many harmful proposals, won amendments to remove damaging provisions in other proposals, and helped pass bills to invest in the state’s future.
In 2017, the CalChamber tracked 214 California bills, stopping 91 (including 25 job killers), securing amendments to 31 (16 of which were signed into law) and backing 16 bills that were signed into law.
Job KillersStrong advocacy by the CalChamber, members, local chambers of commerce and allied employers prevented all but three job killer bills from passing the Legislature.
On his last day to act on legislation, the Governor vetoed AB 1209 (Gonzalez Fletcher; D-San Diego), which would have imposed a new data collection mandate on California employers and exposed them to public criticism and costly litigation.
CalChamber identified AB 1209 as a job killer because it would have: created a false impression of wage discrimination or unequal pay where none exists, therefore subjecting employers to unfair public criticism; exposed employers to significant litigation costs to defend against meritless claims; and imposed costs on the Secretary of State to collect and post the data.
AB 1209 required employers with 500 or more employees in California to collect data on the difference in mean and median salaries paid to men and women in the same job title or classification and submit the information to the Secretary of State. The state then would have posted the company’s salary information—with the company name attached—on a publicly accessible website.
The Governor stated in his veto message he is worried that the ambiguity in AB 1209 “could be exploited to encourage more litigation than pay equity.”
Session HighlightsFollowing are highlights from the entire legislative session. For a list of all bills sent to the Governor this year, see the Final Status Report on Major Business Bills.
Labor and Employment
As usual, labor matters were among the hardest fought issues on the CalChamber agenda. The 2018 new laws will include:
• Legislation mandating that small businesses with as few as 20 employees provide 12 weeks of parental baby bonding leave to employees (SB 63; Jackson; D-Santa Barbara). If an employee takes this leave, the new law prohibits an employer from refusing to maintain and pay for health care coverage. Employers can be sued for failing to provide the leave, failing to return the employee to the same or comparable position after the leave, failing to maintain benefits while the employee is out on leave or taking adverse employment action against an employee who uses the leave. More information on SB 63 appeared in the October 12 special Alert.
• A new law banning employers from asking about, or considering, a job applicant’s prior salary history in determining whether to hire the applicant or how much to pay the applicant. An employer can also be penalized for not providing a pay scale for the position upon demand (AB 168; Eggman; D-Stockton).
• Ban-the-box legislation prohibiting employers with five or more employees from asking about criminal history information on job applications and from inquiring about, or considering, conviction history information at any time before a conditional offer of employment has been made (AB 1008; McCarty; D-Sacramento).
• The Immigrant Worker Protection Act that shields workers from immigration enforcement while on the job. The legislation prohibits employers from providing federal immigration enforcement agents access to a business without a warrant and requires employers to notify employees of Form I-9 inspections performed by federal immigration enforcement officials (AB 450; Chiu; D-San Francisco).
Transportation and Infrastructure
Legislation signed earlier this year with CalChamber support will provide long-term revenues to fix roads, freeways and bridges across California and put more dollars toward transit and safety (SB 1; Beall; D-San Jose). The fuel tax hikes will go into effect on November 1.
Also signed earlier this year was CalChamber-backed legislation to reduce costs of complying with the state’s climate change program. AB 398 (E. Garcia; D-Coachella)provides regulatory certainty for California businesses, helps maintain a healthy economy and provides the least costly path to achieving California’s climate goals by extending the cap-and-trade program to 2030 by providing market mechanisms rather than government command-and-control.
A related constitutional amendment, ACA 1 (Mayes; R-Yucca Valley), will—if approved by voters—set up a legislative “check-up” of the cap-and-trade program in 2024, including a review of spending and the effectiveness of the program in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
A proposal to create a new single-payer health care system, SB 562 (Lara; D-Bell Gardens), stalled this year after facing opposition from the CalChamber and others who highlighted problems with a government-run, multibillion-dollar system financed by an unspecified and undeveloped “revenue plan.” The issue is likely to be revived in 2018.
Several CalChamber-supported bills were part of a package of legislation signed by the Governor to ease the housing crisis. The CalChamber-backed bills either hold local governments accountable for meeting the housing elements of their plans or aim to combat the “not in my backyard” (NIMBY) resistance that can stall needed housing projects. The bills are AB 678 (Bocanegra; D-Pacoima), SB 167 (Skinner; D-Berkeley) and AB 1515 (Daly; D-Anaheim).
Last week in this space we summarized the findings of the Third Annual CalChamber Poll, which found California voters generally anxious about the future. Voters are very concerned about the cost of living – especially as it might affect the ability of their children to live in California. They cite the cost of housing, taxes and crime as concerns that are not being adequately addressed by the Legislature.
So how will voter attitudes translate to politics? This is speculative, of course, since the poll measured a point-in-time about a year ahead of the general election. But gauging voter priorities is important to understand how candidates can and should present their ambitions to voters in the coming year.
The most striking finding is that a theoretical Republican gubernatorial candidate may be down, but not out.
For example, a week after Donald Trump was elected in 2016, a Democratic candidate had a 12-point advantage over a Republican, 42% to 30%.
This year, surveying the same likely 2018 general election voter, the Democrat led by only three points, 41% to 38%. Since President Trump’s approval ratings have not improved in the past year, the most likely explanation of this movement is dissatisfaction among California voters with the performance of elected Democrats.
This is supported by a finding that majority of voters are concerned that the Legislature (82%) and Governor (63%) “are out of touch with the issues that are most important to people like me.”
To be sure, you can’t beat somebody with nobody. Democratic candidates with long résumés are motivating their voters by hammering on President Trump, and Republican candidates are widely unknown. Nonetheless, voters want the next Governor to try to work with the President to solve California’s problems.
An overwhelming (and bipartisan) majority of voters (71%) agree that “the state Legislature is spending too much time and attention resisting President Trump instead of trying to solve the real-life problems Californians face.” And by a 57% to 16% margin, voters would vote for a gubernatorial candidate “who does not support President Trump, but who would work with the President to get California’s fair share of federal funding.”
In fact, even California voters value an anti-establishment bent.
A majority (54%) of voters agree that, “regardless of your feelings toward Donald Trump, his opposition towards the traditional political establishment is necessary.” While Democrats and Republicans are split on the question, voters who do not affiliate with a party agree with this sentiment by a 58% – 37% margin.
Looking at a hypothetical candidate for the Legislature, statewide voters tagged tougher anti-crime positions, fixing water infrastructure and changing teacher seniority rules as the most important issues. Voters were least impressed with candidates who supported the recent gas tax hike or who support changing the private health care system to create either a “Medicare for All” or single-payer system.
Finally, voters still firmly support (73%) the all-party primary system, where the top two candidates in a primary election, regardless of party, advance to the general election. Regardless of political affiliation, Democrat (82%), Republican (59%) and no affiliation (73%) voters supported the current election system.
The CalChamber poll was conducted online by Penn Schoen Berland (PSB) from October 4 to October 6, 2017 among n=1,000 definite California voters. The margin of error is +/- 3.1% at the 95% confidence level.
The California Chamber of Commerce has released a report of California legislators’ floor votes for the first year of the 2017-18 legislative session, focusing on priority bills to the state’s business community.
View the 2017 Vote Record
This is the 43rd vote record the CalChamber has compiled in response to numerous requests by member firms and local chambers of commerce that would like a gauge by which to measure the performance of their legislators.
To help readers assess legislators’ vote records, the charts group bills into nine areas: contracting out, environmental regulation, health care costs, housing and land use, industrial safety and health, labor and employment, legal reform and protection, privacy and telecommunications, and workers’ compensation.
No vote record can tell the entire story of a legislator’s attitude and actions on issues of importance to business. To fully evaluate your legislative representative, consult the legislative journals and examine your legislator’s votes in committee and on floor issues.
You can view these via links at www.calchambervotes.com.
Many anti-business bills were rejected by legislators in policy or fiscal committees, thus stopping proposals before they reached the floor for a vote. The vote record does not capture these votes.
Most bills in this report cover major business issues that are of concern to both small and large companies.
The CalChamber recognizes that there are many bills supported or opposed by business that are not included in this vote record and analysis.
The CalChamber considers the following factors in selecting vote record bills:
Best Business Votes
A “Best Business Votes” section lists legislators according to the percentage of times they voted with the CalChamber position on the bills selected for the vote record. Votes when a legislator was absent are not included in calculating percentages.
For more details on how the vote record is compiled and descriptions of the bills included, Click here.
80% or more with CalChamber
Anderson, Joel (R) 16-0
Bates, Patricia (R) 16-0
Berryhill, Tom (R) 16-0
Fuller, Jean (R) 16-0
Gaines, Ted (R) 16-0
Morrell, Mike (R) 16-0
Nguyen, Janet (R) 16-0
Nielsen, Jim (R) 16-0
Stone, Jeff (R) 16-0
Vidak, Andy (R) 16-0
Moorlach, John (R) 15-0
Cannella, Anthony (R) 15-1
Wilk, Scott (R) 15-1
40%-59% with CalChamber
Glazer, Steve (D) 9-7
Roth, Richard (D) 8-7
Less than 40% with CalChamber
Dodd, Bill (D) 4-12
Newman, Josh (D) 3-12
Hueso, Ben (D) 3-13
Pan, Richard (D) 3-13
Portantino, Anthony (D) 3-13
Allen, Ben (D) 2-14
Hernandez, Ed (D) 2-14
Hertzberg, Bob (D) 2-14
Bradford, Steven (D) 1-14
Galgiani, Cathleen (D) 1-14
Atkins, Toni (D) 1-15
de León, Kevin (D) 1-15
Hill, Jerry (D) 1-15
Lara, Ricardo (D) 1-15
McGuire, Mike (D) 1-15
Skinner, Nancy (D) 1-15
Wiener, Scott (D) 1-15
Mendoza, Tony (D) 0-15
Mitchell, Holly (D) 0-15
Stern, Henry (D) 0-15
Beall, Jim (D) 0-16
Jackson, Hannah-Beth (D) 0-16
Leyva, Connie (D) 0-16
Monning, Bill (D) 0-16
Wieckowski, Bob (D) 0-16
80% or more with CalChamber
Allen, Travis (R) 15-0
Bigelow, Frank (R) 15-0
Brough, Bill (R) 15-0
Chen, Phillip (R) 15-0
Flora, Heath (R) 15-0
Harper, Matthew (R) 15-0
Kiley, Kevin (R) 15-0
Mayes, Chad (R) 15-0
Obernolte, Jay (R) 15-0
Patterson, Jim (R) 15-0
Voepel, Randy (R) 15-0
Gallagher, James (R) 14-0
Acosta, Dante (R) 14-1
Fong, Vince (R) 14-1
Mathis, Devon (R) 14-1
Melendez, Melissa (R) 13-0
Chávez, Rocky (R) 13-2
Lackey, Tom (R) 13-2
Steinorth, Marc (R) 13-2
Waldron, Marie (R) 13-2
Cunningham, Jordan (R) 12-2
Dahle, Brian (R) 12-2
Grayson, Tim (D) 12-3
Choi, Steven (R) 10-1
60%-79% with CalChamber
Gray, Adam (D) 11-4
Frazier, Jim (D) 10-5
Maienschein, Brian (R) 10-5
40%-59% with CalChamber
Baker, Catharine (R) 8-7
Cooper, Jim (D) 8-7
Salas, Rudy (D) 8-7
Daly, Tom (D) 7-8
Less than 40% with CalChamber
Arambula, Joaquin (D) 5-10
Irwin, Jacqui (D) 5-10
O’Donnell, Patrick (D) 5-10
Rubio, Blanca (D) 5-10
Cervantes, Sabrina (D) 4-11
Cooley, Ken (D) 4-11
Ridley-Thomas, Sebastian (D) 3-11
Aguiar-Curry, Cecilia (D) 3-12
Caballero, Anna (D) 3-12
Dababneh, Matt (D) 3-12
Gipson, Mike (D) 3-12
Levine, Marc (D) 3-12
Quirk-Silva, Sharon (D) 3-12
Bocanegra, Raul (D) 2-13
Burke, Autumn (D) 2-13
Medina, Jose (D) 2-13
Muratsuchi, Al (D) 2-13
Quirk, Bill (D) 2-13
Rodriguez, Freddie (D) 2-13
Eggman, Susan Talamantes (D) 1-11
Chu, Kansen (D) 1-13
Gloria, Todd (D) 1-14
Gonzalez Fletcher, Lorena (D) 1-14
Jones-Sawyer, Reginald (D) 1-14
Low, Evan (D) 1-14
McCarty, Kevin (D) 1-14
Nazarian, Adrin (D) 1-14
Santiago, Miguel (D) 1-14
Weber, Shirley (D) 1-14
Chau, Ed (D) 0-13
Garcia, Eduardo (D) 0-13
Berman, Marc (D) 0-14
Bloom, Richard (D) 0-14
Bonta, Rob (D) 0-14
Calderon, Ian (D) 0-14
Friedman, Laura (D) 0-14
Holden, Chris (D) 0-14
Limón, Monique (D) 0-14
Mullin, Kevin (D) 0-14
Rendon, Anthony (D) 0-14
Reyes, Eloise (D) 0-14
Wood, Jim (D) 0-14
Chiu, David (D) 0-15
Garcia, Cristina (D) 0-15
Kalra, Ash (D) 0-15
Stone, Mark (D) 0-15
Thurmond, Tony (D) 0-15
Ting, Phil (D) 0-15
Gomez, Jimmy (D)* 0-5
*Jimmy Gomez elected to U.S. House of Representatives; took office July 11, 2017.