Weekly Legislative Review


Friday, July 15, 2011

Just as the State Legislature was heading out of town for their month long summer recess, Governor Brown signed AB 1265 (Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber) that contained an urgency clause, so it can take effect immediately. This Williamson Act proposal reenacts an alternative funding mechanism that allows counties to adopt 10 percent shorter contracts in order to help reduce their foregone property tax revenue. The governor’s action means that Kings, Madera, Mendocino, Madera, Shasta, Stanislaus, Tulare, and Yolo Counties can continue to implement the shorter term restrictions for the 2011 tax year. We would like to acknowledge Assemblyman Nielsen’s leadership on this issue along with Senators Wolk (D-Davis) and La Malfa (R-Richvale), who both served as principal co-authors of the bill. Senator Rubio and Assembly Members Chesbro (D-Eureka) and Portantino (D-Pasadena) all sent letters to governor urging his favorable consideration on the bill. We also want to express our sincere appreciation to Governor Brown for helping to save the valuable land use program.


AB 1155 (Luis Alejo, D-Salinas) will undermine the effectiveness of apportionment to determine degree of impairment caused by a workers compensation-compensable injury by prohibiting race or any other protected classification being considered in an apportionment decision. Since such discrimination has already been prohibited by the courts, AB 1155 will invite litigation on a settled matter of public policy and drive up employers’ costs of both workers compensation and permanent disability. Farm Bureau and many employers’ organizations oppose. AB 1155 was passed by the Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee on a party-line 5-1 vote on July 12. The bill now awaits a vote by the Senate.


SB 459 (Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro) would hold employers responsible for “willful misclassification” of an employee as an independent contractor without giving clear guidance or any objective test for an employer to make that determination. SB 459 is in the Senate Appropriations Committee. Farm Bureau opposes.


SB 829 (Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord) would substantially restrict an employer’s ability to exercise the right to appeal Cal/OSHA citations. It greatly expands rights of families, unions and others to participate as parties in the appeal and allows those “parties” to appeal a Board decision even if the employer chooses not to appeal. SB 829 allows Cal/OSHA to create procedural rules for the Appeals Board, undermining it’s independence as an adjudicatory body. It also strips employers of the right to recover their attorneys fees and costs when Cal/OSHA’s action is arbitrary and capricious and allows Cal/OSHA to amend citations as they are being appealed, giving the agency an unfair advantage in the appeal. Farm Bureau opposes SB 829, as does a large part of the California business community. The Assembly Labor and Employee Committee passed SB 829 on July 7 and referred it to Assembly Appropriations due to likely fiscal implications.


Friday Review will resume the week of August 15 when the Legislature is back in session.