Sacramento Report

DECEMBER 2015 / JANUARY 2016
Volume 60 Number 5

2015 LEGISLATIVE WRAP-UP

The deadline for Governor Brown to sign or veto bills sent to his desk by the Legislature was on October 11. The governor continued some trends that he established early on in his administration. He doesn’t sign very many bills on the California Chamber of Commerce’s so called “job killers” list, but he signs more new laws than he claimed he would when running for governor the second time around. This year, we were both victim and beneficiary of those two trends. And while we were only about 50/50 in our success rate this year, the governor signed a really big bill for us that will help grow our union. Here are the highlights.

Prevailing Wage — Signed

AB 219 by Assembly Member Tom Daly (D), Anaheim, expands the definition of “public works” to include the hauling and delivery of ready-mixed concrete, as defined, to carry out a public works contract, with respect to contracts involving any state agency or any political subdivision of the state.

Port Drivers — Signed

AB 621 by Assembly Member Roger Hernandez (D), Los Angeles, will establish the Motor Carrier Employer Amnesty Program pursuant to which, notwithstanding any law, a motor carrier performing drayage services may be relieved of liability for statutory or civil penalties associated with misclassification of commercial drivers as independent contractors if the motor carrier enters into a settlement agreement with the Labor Commissioner, with the cooperation and consent of the Employment Development Department, prior to January 1, 2017, whereby the motor carrier agrees to convert all of its commercial drivers to employees, and the settlement agreement contains prescribed components.

Health Care — Signed

SB 546 by Senator Mark Leno (D), San Francisco, will add to the existing rate information requirement to further require large group health care service plans and health insurers to file with the respective department the weighted average rate increase for all large group benefit designs during the 12-month period ending January 1 of the following calendar year. This bill contains other related provisions and other existing laws.

Rail Safety — Signed

SB 730 by Senator Lois Wolk (D), Vacaville, will prohibit, on and after February 1, 2016, a train or light engine used in connection with the movement of freight, as specified, from being operated unless it has a crew consisting of at least 2 individuals. The bill will authorize the Public Utilities Commission to assess civil penalties against any person who willfully violates this provision, as specified. This bill contains other related provisions and other existing laws.

Workers’ Compensation — Signed

SB 623 by Senator Ricardo Lara (D) Long Beach, would have provided that a person shall not be excluded from receiving benefits under the Uninsured Employers Fund or the Subsequent Injuries Benefits Trust Fund based on his or her citizenship or immigration status.

Workers’ Compensation — Vetoed

AB 305 by Assembly Member Lorena Gonzalez (D), San Diego, would have prohibited apportionment of permanent disability, in the case of a physical injury occurring on or after January 1, 2016, from being based on pregnancy, or menopause if the condition is contemporaneous with the claimed physical psychiatric injury. The bill would also have prohibited apportionment of permanent disability, in the case of a psychiatric injury occurring on or after January 1, 2016, from being based on psychiatric disability or impairment caused by sexual harassment, pregnancy or menopause if the condition is contemporaneous with the claimed psychiatric injury.

Governor’s Veto Message: I am returning Assembly Bill 305 without my signature. This bill prohibits the use of certain gender-related characteristics in the calculation of permanent disability benefits for injuries occurring on or after January 1, 2016. The workers compensation system must be free of gender-bias. No group should receive less in benefits because of an immutable characteristic. However, this bill is based on a misunderstanding of the American Medical Association’s evidence-based standard, which is the foundation of the permanent disability ratings, and replaces it with an ill-defined and unscientific standard.

Public Transit Worker Retention — Signed

SB 599 by Senator Tony Mendoza (D) Cerritos, would have expanded provisions to require a state agency to also give a 10% preference to any bidder. Governor’s Veto Message: I am returning Senate Bill 599 without my signature. This bill expands a local bid preference requirement to the state for public transit services. By simply expanding this local requirement to the state, this bill would significantly limit the state’s current contracting authority to determine who would be eligible for the bid preference and how to calculate it if applied. I do not believe such a broad change is needed at this time.

University Of California — Vetoed

SB 686 by Senator Richard Pan (D) Sacramento, would have given police sergeants employed by the University of California full collective bargaining rights. Local 2010, our UC local, is trying to assist these police officers who under state law have very limited collective bargaining rights as supervisors. We hoped that the bill would get signed and they become active members with 2010.

Governor’s Veto Message: I am returning Senate Bill 686 without my signature. This bill provides full collective bargaining rights under the Higher Education Employer- Employee Relations Act to University of California and Hastings College of the Law supervisory peace officers. I vetoed a similar bill, SB 765, in 2013, out of a concern that it blurred the line between labor and management. Nothing has changed.