Stops All 29 Job Killer Bills
The 2018 legislative session was especially busy for the California Chamber of Commerce policy advocates.
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 make future investments in our state’s economy
In 2018, the Legislature introduced more than 2,600 bills; CalChamber tracked 213 California bills, stopping 115 opposed bills (including 29 job killers), and backing 27 bills that were signed into law.
Job KillersStrong advocacy by the CalChamber, members, local chambers of commerce and allied employers prevented all but one job killer bill from passing the Legislature.
On his final day to act on legislation, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. vetoed the last surviving CalChamber-opposed job killer bill. AB 3080(Gonzalez Fletcher; D-San Diego) would have banned arbitration agreements beneficial to employees, employers and the courts.
Besides interfering with and essentially eliminating settlement agreements for labor and employment claims, AB 3080 exposed employers to criminal liability regarding arbitration agreements and essentially prohibited arbitration of labor and employment claims as a condition of employment. CalChamber’s analysis of the bill also found that it was likely preempted under the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) and would only have delayed the resolution of claims.
Finally, given where AB 3080 provisions were placed in the Labor Code, any violation would have been a misdemeanor. Accordingly, an employer would have faced not only civil liability for any violation of the various provisions of AB 3080, but could have faced criminal charges as well.
In his September 30 veto message, the Governor stated: “Since this bill plainly violates federal law, I cannot sign this measure.”
Following are highlights from the entire legislative session. For a list of all CalChamber priority bills send to the Governor this year, see the Final Status Report on Major Business Bills, embedded below.
Labor and Employment
As usual, labor matters were among the hardest fought issues on the CalChamber agenda. The 2019 new laws will include:
Lactation Accommodation (AB 1976; Limón; D-Goleta): Under current state law an employer must provide a location other than a toilet stall for an employee to express breast milk. The location must also be private and in close proximity to the employee’s work area. This CalChamber supported law requires that the employer provide a location other than a “bathroom,” rather than a “toilet stall.” AB 1976 contains a hardship exemption and clarifying language about what temporary spaces are appropriate as lactation accommodations.
Defamation Protection (AB 2770; Irwin; D-Thousand Oaks): Under this CalChamber-sponsored job creator bill, employers and victims of sexual harassment will be protected from liability for defamation lawsuits for injury to an alleged harasser’s reputation after a complaint of sexual harassment has been made. An employee who makes credible reports of harassment will be shielded from liability, as will an employer who communicates with interested parties such as victims and witnesses. When contacted for a job reference about a current or former employee, an employer will now be permitted to reveal whether the individual is not eligible for rehire because the employer determined that he/she engaged in sexual harassment.
Confidentiality Clauses in Settlement Agreements (SB 820; Leyva; D-Chino): This CalChamber opposed new law expands the types of cases in which so-called “secret settlements” are restricted. It prohibits any settlement agreement in a case where sexual harassment, assault or discrimination has been alleged from including a confidentiality provision that prohibits disclosure of factual information regarding the claim, except with regard to the claimant’s identity.
Sexual Harassment (SB 1300; Jackson; D-Santa Barbara): In this sweeping new law, the Legislature declared its intent to create a much lower bar for employees to bring harassment lawsuits, and limited the ability of employers to obtain summary judgment in such cases and also prohibits the use of non disclosure agreements. CalChamber secured amendments to remove the more onerous job killer provisions, but remained opposed to the bill.
For expanded information on employment-related laws, an HRCalifornia
Extra newsletter and White Paper will be published soon.
CEQA Reform/Land UseThe Governor signed two CalChamber-supported bills that will help expedite home building:
California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) reform (AB 1804; Berman; D-Palo Alto): Expedites infill development of affordable housing by expanding the existing CEQA exemption for infill projects to unincorporated areas already surrounded by urbanized land uses and populations.
Land Use Improvements (AB 2913; Wood; D-Healdsburg) The bill promotes fairness in housing construction by providing that a permit would remain valid if the work on the site authorized by that permit is begun within 3 years after its issuance, or if the work authorized on the site by the permit is suspended or abandoned for a period of up to 3 years after the time the work has begun.
Health Care Costs
The Governor vetoed two CalChamber-opposed bills that would have increased health care premiums if signed into law:
Governor Brown signed a CalChamber-supported bill related to food and consumer product packaging:
CalChamber supports AB 2632 (Santiago; D-Los Angeles) because it protects consumer product and food manufacturers from lawsuits by clarifying package labeling requirements regarding the amount of product and packaging.
Final Status Report on Major Bills
The following list summarizes the final status of priority bills for the CalChamber that were sent to the Governor this year.
Within each subject area, the CalChamber list presents bills in order of priority, with the highest priorities at the top.
The CalChamber will publish a record of legislators’ votes on key bills affecting the California business climate on October 19. Generally, the bills selected for the vote record have appeared in one of the status reports.
Bills signed by the Governor will become law on January 1, 2019 unless otherwise stated. Urgency, budget-related and tax levy measures go into effect immediately upon being signed, so the date the bill was signed is noted.
Download PDF Version of Report