Written by The Business Journal Staff
With the California Legislature just wrapping up its two-year session recently, all eyes have been on Gov. Jerry Brown to see which legislation he will sign and which he will cast aside.
There’s much at stake for the business community, with a number of bills on Brown’s desk with the potential to impact the state’s economic climate.
Last week, the wait was over on perhaps the bill with the biggest impact on the Central Valley. Brown signed AB 1066 into law. Authored by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), AB 1066 mandates new overtime rules for agricultural employees that will be phased-in over four years.
The United Farm Workers of America, which argued that the nearly 80-year-old practice of applying separate labor rules to farmhands was both unfair and racist, sponsored the measure, which generated heated debate among lawmakers.
The bill was aggressively opposed by a host of agricultural groups that warned the change will severely harm one of California’s largest industries.
“Sometimes, the best intentions can have the worst consequences,” said Assemblyman Devon Mathis (R-Visalia) after the bill was signed into law.
“AB 1066 intends to help our farm workers by paying them for overtime, but what it will actually do is cause their hours to be cut and as a result their income,” Mathis said. “As a slap in the face to our farm workers, this bill was pushed by the United Farm Workers union, which represents only around two percent of farm workers and was able to exempt their members from the law.”
Beginning in 2019, the new legislation will lower the 10-hour-day threshold for overtime by half an hour each year until it reaches the standard eight-hour workday by 2022.
Job killers still in play
Three so-called “job killer” bills still await action by Gov. Brown, who was actually in Fresno this week signing four bills related to the state’s cap-and-trade funding.
The following bills have been identified as “job killers” by the California Chamber of Commerce:
According to the California Chamber of Commerce, SB 654 threatens significant harm to small businesses that employ as few as 20 people. The protected leave of absence mandate would require employers to offer workers six weeks of protected leave for bonding with a newborn. The measure comes on top of current requirements that employers with only five employees allow 16 weeks of protected pregnancy-related leave.
This measure would increase the cost of permitting aerospace, recycling, oil and gas and other critical waste facilities by eliminating the applicant’s option to be charged a predictable flat permitting fee. The measure would instead give the Department of Toxic Substances Control the authority to charge whatever fee it determines.
This bill would increase the liability risk and cost of residential home loans by providing foreclosure protections for widowed spouses and other survivors of deceased people who own their homes but aren’t listed on the mortgage. The CalChamber says the measure would make lenders assume more risk for loans, possibly driving them out of the market.