Vaccines, rent, contractor status and more on governor’s desk
The California State Legislature’s session ended Friday, Sept. 13. Hundreds of bills were passed before its adjournment. Gov. Gavin Newsom has already signed many into law, but many have not been signed and some will likely be vetoed.
Below is a brief highlight of the major pieces of legislation.
Senate Bills 276 and 714 were enacted to reduce the number of exemptions for child vaccinations, which physicians can approve. The governor requested some changes to Senate Bill 276 after it passed and the legislature quickly approved both.
Both bills were signed into law last week.
However, those opposed to mandatory vaccines have not given up hope of overturning the new laws. Last week, the anti-vaccine advocates began efforts to place each bill on a statewide referendum with the hope that a 2020 ballot initiative will repeal the legislative action.
To qualify for the November 2020 ballot, the referendums will need 623,212 signatures each. If they qualify, the legislation would be placed on hold. If voters support the referendums, then the legislation would not take effect.
Regarding the referendum effort, Sen. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, author of both bills said, “Even more Californians support these vaccine policies today than in 2015 as demonstrated in PPIC polling, which shows 67% in support in 2015 and 73% in support earlier this year.
“California voters don’t want a privileged few to take away the freedom and right of all Californians to be safe from contagious, preventable disease,” he said at the conclusion of his statement.
Assembly Bill 1482 establishes more restrictive rent controls in California. According to the media, millions of California renters are about to receive some of the nation’s strongest protections against rent hikes and evictions.
Here is what Assembly Bill 1482 does for some, but not all, renters:
• For the next decade, landlords will only be able to raise rent for an existing tenant by 5% after inflation — no more.
• It will give tenants more protection against eviction. Landlords will actually have to have a legitimate reason (i.e. the tenant isn’t paying rent).
• Initially, the rent cap will only apply to California apartments built before 2004. It will also exempt single-family homes (unless owned by a corporation) and duplexes where the owner lives in one of the units.
After its passage, Newsom issued the following statement. “In this year’s State of the State address, I asked the legislature to send me a strong renter protection package. Today, they sent me the strongest package in America.”
However, the legislature was unable to pass a companion bill to expand the renters’ tax credit. The credit for low-income renters has been fixed at $60 since 1979.
A 2018 California Supreme Court decision resulted in the idea that Uber and Lyft drivers are employees rather than independent contractors. This allowed drivers the advantage of negotiating many benefits, such as health care and wage rates.
This year, the legislature intended to codify the decision and expand it to other “independent contractors.” Assembly Bill 5 will curb the use of independent contractors throughout the state’s business communities.
The bill drew much opposition. Many professionals, especially in health care, were opposed to losing their independence. The bill had many exemptions, including newspaper carriers.
Higher-paying professions — physicians, dentists, veterinarians, lawyers, architects (but not landscape architects), engineers, accountants, brokers, real estate agents and commercial builders — generally succeeded in getting carve-outs from the bill.
“As with any complex legislation, it is the norm that future clean-up legislation is necessary to sand down the rough edges and diminish the unseemly gap between the written word of legislation and the hazy hieroglyphics of everyday California. Assembly Bill 5 is no exception,” stated the senate staff analysis of Assembly Bill 5.
Following the passage of Proposition 7 last November, which authorized the legislature to move forward with legislation to abolish Daylight Saving Time in California, Assemblyman Kansen Chu, D-San Jose, the author, introduced Assembly Bill 7 to take the next step.
However, the rest of the legislature was less enthusiastic about the bill, which is stalled in a senate committee.
In a tweet, Chu wrote: “I want to clarify that AB 7 is not dead and will be moving forward in January. My main goal will always be to stop the practice of switching back and forth, and I am dedicated to make this a reality.”
Although cannabis is legal in California and counties are in various states of permit issuance. Cannabis legislation was not very popular during the recent legislative session.
Several significant cannabis bills stalled this year. For example, Senate Bill 51, which would have authorized state chartered banks to accept deposits from cannabis businesses, passed the senate, but didn’t get out of the assembly committees.
Senate Bill 475 would have allowed cannabis companies to provide samples. Assembly Bill 228 would have allowed cannabidiol, or CBD, to be added to cosmetics, food, dietary supplements and other products. It failed to move forward.
Senate Bill 305 was passed and awaits Newsom’s signature. The bill allows terminally ill patients to use medical cannabis within certain health care facilities and is subject to certain restrictions.
Beginning of school day
Senate Bill 328 passed and it restricts the start of the schoolday for middle schools to 8 a.m. High schools, including charter schools, may not begin before 8:30 a.m.
The assembly vote was 44 to 20 and 15 members did not cast a vote. The hill’s assembly representative, Randy Voepel, voted for the bill.
The senate passed the bill in May with a 24-9 vote, with five senators not voting. State Sen. Jeff Stone opposed the bill.