The California Legislature is now taking its last extended breather of the 2013-2014 legislative session.  It began its summer break on July 3, and returns on Monday, August 4 for the sprint through the final days of the session.  

Remaining Legislative Deadlines

August 15 is the last day for fiscal committees to approve bills and pass them out of committee.  August 22 will be the last day for state lawmakers to amend bills on the floor.  August 31 is the final day to pass bills this year, and the Legislature will be in final recess as of that day.  Governor Brown then has until September 30 to sign or veto bills passed by the Legislature before September 1 and in the Governor’s possession on or after September 1, 2014. The Legislature will reconvene on December 1, 2014 for its organizational session for the 2015-2016 Regular Session, which officially begins on January 5, 2015. 

Signed Legislation

Signed since our last update are:

  • AB 2751 (whistleblowing):  This bill (1) states that civil penalties recovered in an action under Labor Code section 98.6 shall be paid to the successful employee(s); (2) expands the grounds for a private right of action for engaging in “unfair immigration-related practices,” and strengthens possible business license suspensions for violations; and (3) clarifies the prohibition on employers in Labor Code section 1024.6 concerning employee updating of personal information, to require that information produced by employees for this purpose be predicated upon “lawful” changes to three items of information.   Amends Labor Code sections 98.6, 1019, and 1024.6
  • AB 2288 (“Child Labor Protection Act of 2014”): Authorizes treble damages to an individual discriminated against in the terms or conditions of his or her employment because he or she filed a claim or civil action alleging a violation of employment laws that arose while the individual was a minor; subjects a specified class of employment law violations relating to the employment of minors to a civil penalty; requires the tolling of the statute of limitations for claims arising from violations of employment laws until the person allegedly aggrieved attains majority, and would declare the latter provision declaratory of existing law.  New Labor Code section 1311.5
  • SB 1306 (terminology replacement): Replaces terms “husband” and “wife” in Family Code with “spouse,” and makes related family law (not employment law) changes. Amends over 30 sections of the Family Code
  • SB 1360 (recovery periods): Declares, as existing law, the right of employees taking recovery periods during hot weather to be paid for them.  Amends Labor Code section 226.7.
  • SB 1446 (health care coverage: small employer market): Allows a small employer health care service plan contract or a small employer health insurance policy in effect on December 31, 2013, that is still in effect as of the effective date of this act, and that does not qualify as a grandfathered health plan under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), to be renewed until January 1, 2015, and to continue to be in force until December 31, 2015. The new law exempts those health care service plan contracts and health insurance policies from various provisions of state law that implement the PPACA reforms described above and would require that the contracts and policies be amended to comply with those provisions by January 1, 2016, to remain in force on and after that date. The bill would require these provisions be implemented only to the extent permitted by PPACA.  The new law took effect immediately as an urgency statute on July 7. Adds as urgency measures new Health and Safety Code section 1367.012 and new Insurance Code section 10112.300.1

Here are some of the “live” bills to watch.2

  •  AB 1522 (paid sick leave):  This may be the most significant labor and employment bill to most California private sector employers in this year’s legislative session. 
  • AB 2416 (priority liens against employer property for filed, but not proven, wage claims) 
  • AB 1897 (labor contracting; client liability) 
  • AB 2617 (restricting arbitration of claims, including those under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA)) 
  • AB 1660 (FEHA violation for acting on undocumented worker’s driver’s license) 
  • AB 2053 (adding “abusive treatment” to required sexual harassment (AB 1825) training) 
  • AB 1792 (cost of employees’ public benefits to state; sometimes called the “public shaming” bill)3  

Regulations: New and Pending

Local Ordinances4  

  • Berkeley: Passed minimum wage ordinance June 24, 2014; add Chapter 13.99 to the Berkeley Municipal Code; effective October 1, 2014: $10/hour; October 1, 2015: $11/hour; October 1, 2016, $12.53/hour.  Exceptions: for non-profits on effective date of increase.
  • City of San Diego: on July 14, passed ordinances (a) increasing minimum wage for employees to $11.50 an hour implemented over three years every January 1, increasing to $9.75 in January 2015, $10.50 in January 2016 and $11.50 in January 2017, and indexed to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) starting January 1, 2019, and (b)  providing up to five days of earned sick leave per year, based on the number of hours worked by employees.
  • San Francisco’s “Fair Chance Ordinance” (“ban-the-box”; restricted consideration of applicants’ criminal convictions in hiring) takes effect August 13, 2014. 

In the works: 

  • November 2014 ballot propositions:  Would increase minimum wages in the cities of San Francisco and Oakland.
  • Ordinances: Would increase minimum wages in Santa Clara County (living wage); City of Los Angeles; other SF East Bay cities. 

Other Events Affecting the California Legislative Process or New Laws

  • In June, Senator Kevin de León of Los Angeles was elected to replace Senator Darryl Steinberg of Sacramento as Senate President pro Tempore.
  • The Legislature passed the annual state budget ($108 billion) by the June 15 deadline.  In several past years, the Legislature did not pass a budget until well into the summer.
  • The first stage of the minimum wage increase (2013-14 AB 10) went into effect July 1, 2014, with an increase to $9.00 per hour.
  • The candidates for the Legislature and statewide offices were selected in the June primary. Of the 20 Senate seats up for election in November, five seats have the same party members contesting the general election, and three seats have only one candidate on the November ballot.  Among the 80 Assembly races in November, 11 seats have members of the same party contesting the general election, and 15 seats have only one candidate on the ballot.
  • Among the November 4 general election ballot propositions is a rare, non-binding vote on the question:  

“Shall the Congress of the United States propose, and the California Legislature ratify, an amendment or amendments to the United States Constitution to overturn Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission, 558 U.S. 310, and other applicable judicial precedents, to allow the full regulation or limitation of campaign contributions and spending, to ensure that all citizens, regardless of wealth, may express their views to one another, and to make clear that the rights protected by the United States Constitution are the rights of natural persons only?”