Several bills supported by the California Chamber of Commerce to encourage local governments to approve new housing projects passed the Legislature on the last day of the session and are on their way to the Governor.
The 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.
Now awaiting action by the Governor are:
AB 678 (Bocanegra; D-Pacoima): Promotes Local Agencies’ Compliance with the Housing Accountability Act. The bill seeks to ensure that local agencies comply with the provisions of the Act by requiring a local agency to make relevant findings if it denies a project, clarifying provisions of the Act, and imposing penalties on agencies that violate the Act.
AB 1515 (Daly; D-Anaheim): Stimulates Additional Housing Production. AB 1515 encourages housing project approvals by specifying that a housing development is deemed consistent with local plans and ordinances if there is substantial evidence such that a reasonable person could conclude that the project is consistent.
SB 167 (Skinner; D-Berkeley): Accountability of Local Agencies for Housing Development Project Decisions. The bill promotes accountability for decisions and approval of projects by imposing additional requirements on local agencies when disapproving or conditionally approving a project, and imposing penalties for violation of the Act.
Action NeededThe CalChamber is encouraging members to contact the Governor and ask him to sign AB 678, AB 1515 and SB 167.
As the 2017 legislative session came to a close early Saturday morning, 24 of 27 identified job killer bills had been effectively stopped through efforts of the California Chamber of Commerce, local chambers and the business community.
Many job killer bills were the focus of rigorous debate and controversy; in fact, two new job killers were identified last week as a result of amendments added when the bills were being considered on the house floors.
Below is a recap on the highest profile job killer bills that were still active in the last two weeks of the session.
To Governor; Action NeededThree job killers are on the governor’s desk. The CalChamber is urging its members to contact Governor Brown and ask him to veto AB 1209, SB 33, SB 63.
Below is a summary of each bill:
• AB 1209 (Gonzalez Fletcher; D-San Diego) Public Shaming of Employers — Imposes new data collection mandate on California employers to collect and report data to the Secretary of State regarding the mean and median salaries of men and women in the same job title and job description, determine which employees perform “substantially similar” work, and then have that report posted on a publicly accessible website, where such employers will receive undue scrutiny and criticism for wage disparity that is not unlawful and justified by a bona fide factor.
• SB 33 (Dodd; D-Napa) Discrimination Against Arbitration Agreements — Unfairly discriminates against arbitration agreements contained in consumer contracts for goods or services with a financial institution, as broadly defined, which is likely preempted by the Federal Arbitration Act and will lead to confusion and unnecessary litigation.
• SB 63 (Jackson; D-Santa Barbara) Imposes New Maternity and Paternity Leave Mandate — Unduly burdens and increases costs of small employers with as few as 20 employees by requiring 12 weeks of protected employee leave for child bonding and exposes them to the threat of costly litigation.
Job Killers Stopped
AB 127 (Committee on Budget) was identified as a job killer on September 13 when language was added to a budget bill that threatened energy reliability by mandating the closure of the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility. CalChamber had identified AB 127 as a job killer because it would have eliminated jobs and placed regional energy reliability at risk. The bill was never taken up for a vote on the Senate Floor.
SB 49 (de León; D-Los Angeles), which would have created uncertainty and increased potential litigation regarding environmental standards, was held in the Senate Rules Committee. The bill would have given broad and sweeping discretion to state agencies to adopt rules and regulations more stringent than the federal rules. SB 49 would have increased the potential for costly litigation by creating private rights of action under California law, which may be triggered when a state agency takes the foregoing discretionary action.
Finally, a job killer bill that would have increased permitting fees and delayed permitting, SB 774 (Leyva; D-Chino), was held on the Assembly Floor inactive file, just days after being amended with onerous provisions. It would established the California Toxic Substances Board within the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), requiring DTSC to adopt a new fee schedule by January 1, 2019 “at a rate sufficient to reimburse the department’s costs to implement” its statutory requirements.
SB 774 was tagged as a job killer because it bypassed public participation and input and would have allowed DTSC to adopt future fee schedules as “emergency” regulations when such regulations would have had significant impacts on permittees’ ability to continue to provide vital services to California communities.
Cumulative Job Killer Vetoes
2017: 27 job killers identified, 3 sent to Governor Brown;
2016: 24 job killers identified, 5 sent to Governor Brown, 4 signed, and 1 vetoed;
2015: 19 job killer bills identified, 3 sent to Governor Brown, 1 signed, and 2 vetoed;
2014: 27 job killer bills identified, 2 sent to Governor, signs 2;
2013: 38 job killer bills identified, 1 sent to Governor, signs 1;
2012: 32 job killer bills identified, 6 sent to Governor, 2 vetoed;
2011: 30 job killer bills identified, 5 sent to Governor, 4 vetoed;
2010: 43 job killer bills identified, 12 sent to Governor, 10 vetoed;
2009: 33 job killer bills identified, 6 sent to Governor, 6 vetoed;
2008: 39 job killer bills identified, 10 sent to Governor, 9 vetoed;
2007: 30 job killer bills identified, 12 sent to Governor, 12 vetoed;
2006: 40 job killer bills identified, 11 sent to Governor, 9 vetoed;
2005: 45 job killer bills identified, 8 sent to Governor, 7 vetoed;
2004: 23 job killer bills identified, 10 sent to Governor, 10 vetoed;
2003: 53 job killer bills identified, 13 sent to Governor, 2 vetoed;
2002: 35 job killer bills identified, 17 sent to Governor, 5 vetoed;
2001: 12 job killer bills identified, 5 sent to Governor, 2 vetoed;
2000: No job killers identified. Of 4 bad bills identified at end of session, Governor Davis signs 2 and vetoes 2;
1999: 30 job killer bills identified, 9 sent to Governor, 3 vetoed;
1998: 64 job killer bills identified, 11 sent to Governor, 11 vetoed.;
1997: 57 job killer bills identified, 9 sent to Governor, 9 vetoed.
Administration Announces Intention to Rescind DACA Program
California Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Allan Zaremberg issued a statement September 5, renewing the call for comprehensive immigration reform in light of the announcement that the federal government will rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
The DACA program was created in June 2012 and allows certain undocumented immigrants who entered the county as minors to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and eligibility for a work permit.
“CalChamber has been a steadfast proponent of comprehensive immigration reform because it is crucial to California’s economic future,” said Zaremberg. “The announcement by Attorney General Sessions highlights the need for comprehensive immigration reform once again and emphasizes the need for an immediate bipartisan solution to provide certain legal status for Dreamers. DACA has shown us that certainty in legal status fosters success in education, employment and job creation. It is a roadmap to achievement if we provide legal certainty for California’s more than 2.5 million undocumented residents.”
California has more at risk than other states. There are nearly 800,000 workers and students enrolled in DACA in the United States. About 200,000 of those individuals are Californians. The end result of uprooting 200,000 Californians, 95% of whom are gainfully employed or enrolled in college, would create change for which the state is unprepared. “Congress must act swiftly to address this issue so we aren’t left with a problem of losing productive tax-paying jobs,” Zaremberg said.
Zaremberg continued, “An important aspect of California’s economy is our booming technology industry, which relies on highly skilled talent to innovate, design, manufacture, create jobs and enable success in the global marketplace. As things stand today, California cannot find enough ‘home grown’ engineers and scientists. We need to reform our inadequate H-1B visa program. Without reform, our jobs leave for offshore locations which would not be a good outcome for the state.”
Many sectors of California’s economy will benefit from immigration reform. “In addition to the technology sector, the agricultural industry would benefit from the certainty created through comprehensive immigration reform,” Zaremberg said.
“We need a bipartisan solution that will provide a permanent legislative solution for Dreamers,” Zaremberg concluded. “We need to preserve California’s workforce and our ability to compete in the global economy. Comprehensive immigration reform will bring certainty to employers, employees and families.”
A careful and historic compromise forged by the Legislature and the California Chamber of Commerce is under attack by legislation seeking to expand workplace litigation.
AB 1209 by Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (D-San Diego) is being considered this week by the Senate Appropriations Committee. CalChamber has tagged AB 1209 a job killer.
CalChamber and numerous employer organizations oppose AB 1209 because it will expose employers to significant litigation costs and create a false impression of wage discrimination or unequal pay where none exists.
The bill also threatens employee privacy by inappropriately forcing the disclosure of their wages.
“This takes direct aim at the 2015 compromise,” said Jennifer Barrera, CalChamber senior policy advocate. “AB 1209 thumbs the scale for plaintiffs’ litigators to ease their ability to make a pay equity case.”
The current law makes plain that the standard for equal wages is “substantially similar work,” not merely the job title or description. It also carefully allocates the litigation burdens between the employee and employer.
The new measure disregards this careful balance, and instead requires employers to collect statistical data on salaries of all well-paid white collar employees in selected private and nonprofit corporations.
By using the smokescreen of transparency, the measure would unravel a carefully structured compromise that advanced both employee and employer interests.
A California Chamber of Commerce-opposed bill that imposes a cost to contractors with county contracts and subjects contractor and subcontractor employees’ private information to Public Records Act requests has been held in a Senate fiscal committee pending review of the bill’s financial impact on the state budget.
The CalChamber-led coalition is opposed to AB 1250 (Jones-Sawyer; D-South Los Angeles) because the bill seeks to severely limit options for county agencies to determine the most appropriate solution to providing efficient and effective public service by establishing significant and costly obstacles for agencies and for vendors contracting for personal services.
Must Justify Contracts
AB 1250 imposes not only onerous requirements on counties in order to justify the need for contracting out personal services, but also imposes costs on contractors. The bill requires the agency to conduct an audit of the contract to determine if anticipated cost savings of the contract have been realized. The contractors would be required to reimburse the agency for the cost of the analysis, and would be prohibited from factoring the cost of the audit into the contract costs, thereby imposing a fee on the contractor. If the onerous process for these agencies to follow when seeking to contract for personal services does not discourage the agency from attempting the process, the cost to the contractors will discourage many from engaging.
AB 1250 requires the contractor, on a monthly basis, to furnish the names and hourly rates of all contractor and subcontractor employees, as well as any independent contractor’s names and compensation. This private information would be provided to anyone who makes a request, per the Public Records Act. The public release of private information could be damaging to the individuals whose contact information is exposed. It is unclear why providing this personal information benefits the public.
Counties have a long history of addressing service delivery challenges with creativity, self-reliance and innovation in partnership with the private sector. Limited budgets create further challenges to local governments that can sometimes be addressed through using outside vendors to provide services. By establishing near-insurmountable barriers to contracting, AB 1250 seeks to eliminate even the consideration of contracting as a tool to meet the needs of these agencies. By limiting their choices, AB 1250 limits the options that counties rely upon to provide public services, and stay within their means.
If in fact a county makes it to this point and determines that contracting out these services has merit, there may not be any contractors to bid on these contracts because of the costs associated with reimbursing the contracting agencies for the required audit. AB 1250 will in effect leave agencies with limited choice, or lacking the ability to maintain and provide needed services altogether.
Department of Finance Opposed
During the Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on August 21, the state Department of Finance (DOF) announced that it opposes the bill because AB 1250 “would create unknown, but likely significant General Fund costs to the state.”
The DOF opposition rationale also aligns with the CalChamber-led coalition’s concerns about increased costs from AB 1250.
September 1 is the deadline for all bills to be sent to the Senate and Assembly floors. CalChamber urges members to contact their senator and member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and recommend they oppose AB 1250 and hold the bill in the appropriations committee.