The legislature is back — top bills to watch

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, Aug. 7, 2014 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

After a July holiday away from hearings and other official action, Legislators have returned to Sacramento to take up the remaining bills of this two year session. To become law legislation must pass before the August 31 deadline and be signed by the Governor by September 30. CMTA has support and oppose positions on dozens of measures - the following are the highest priority for defeat or passage:

SB 1139 (Ben Hueso, D-San Diego) Requires investor-owned utilities to purchase 500 MW of new geothermal power – OPPOSE

This bill went from bad to worse when amendments in the Senate removed municipal utilities from the purchasing requirement. CMTA has been opposed from the outset, objecting to purchasing mandates that bypass the normal competitive procurement process that ensures the lowest-cost, best value for utility consumers. Now the burden will land only on customers of PG&E, SCE and SDG&E. Add discrimination to the list of reasons to oppose this bill. A vast coalition is opposed, while labor unions and Imperial Valley entities support. Supporters say new geothermal would be developed in the Salton Sea and provide jobs and environmental benefits to that region. Ratepayers for the investor-owned utilities would pay the bill. 

AB 69 (Henry Perea, D-Fresno) Delays putting transportation fuel emissions into the cap and trade program – SUPPORT

The next big step for AB 32 implementation is the addition of transportation and all natural gas emissions “under the cap” in 2015. Until now only the largest emitters and electricity consumers have been under the cap. Revenues raised by the cap-and-trade system so far have been relatively modest, as most permits to emit have been either granted for free or value has been credited back to electricity consumers. The difference is that transportation fuels will be 100 percent exposed to cap and trade – no free allowances – with billions of dollars going into general fund coffers for expenditure by the State. Consumers and businesses driving cars or moving goods and providing services will pay more at the pump, around 10 to 15 cents to start, going to as high as 50 cents by 2020. The good news is that we are on track to meet the AB 32 emission reduction goals without imposing this burden, and a delay to better inform the public and develop more sensible policies is warranted. This bill has not yet been set for hearing. 

SB 691 (Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley) Significantly increases the penalties for air nuisance violations – OPPOSE

This bill from 2013 has yet to be “activated” this year, but the director for the Bay Area Air Quality Management District stated two weeks ago that we would see it come back. It would increase the penalty for an air nuisance violation for Title V facilities by up to 10 times from $10,000 to $100,000. The burden of proof is extremely low for nuisance complaints and the air district serves as the prosecutor, judge and jury on nuisance claims, plus keeps the revenues generated.

SB 812 (Kevin De Leon, D-Los Angeles) Could result in hazardous waste storage or disposal facility permits being cancelled or not allowed – OPPOSE

Numerous provisions in this bill are objectionable, very costly and in some instances totally unworkable: 1) DTSC must contract with an independent third party to conduct testing to verify that a violation has been abated and the site remediated; (2) if DTSC doesn’t act on a permit application within three years, that permit shall be denied; (3) DTSC must adopt regulations requiring a financial bond or other security with respect to “any potential risk or injury to human health or the environment”; and (4) DTSC must adopt regulations establishing additional criteria that DTSC must use to determine whether to issue a permit (including CalEnviroScreen, Clean Air Act attainment status, etc.). The bill also creates a citizen oversight committee to review DTSC decisions and a Bureau of Internal Affairs within DTSC to assure that no improprieties are occurring.

SB 193 (William Monning, D-Carmel) Gives HESIS the open-ended authority to require customer lists – OPPOSE

This bill would give HESIS (the Hazard Evaluation System and Information Service) in the Department of Public Health the ability to require companies to provide confidential business information (customer lists) without upfront justification or clear information of what and how it will be used and the parameters that would trigger this request. The author appears to be moving forward without amending this bill.

AB 52 (Mike Gatto, D-Los Angeles) Inserts religion into CEQA – OPPOSE

The California Environmental Quality Act is already a significant obstacle to both public and private projects. This bill grants the Native American Heritage Commission new unfettered authority to determine what constitutes a tribal cultural resource under CEQA. AB 52 also prohibits the lead agency from sharing tribal cultural resource information with the project proponent. This problem is better remedied outside of CEQA.

AB 2216 (Al Muratsuchi, D-Torrance) Maintains the current level of funding for K-12 CTE regional occupational centers and programs (ROCPs) for another two years – SUPPORT

Over the years, CMTA has been on the forefront to protect career technical education (CTE) in the K-12 system. The onset of the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) saw the elimination of the dedicated funding source for CTE that now threatens widespread reduction or elimination of existing high-quality courses and programs. While decision-makers grapple with how to prioritize and preserve CTE within the confines of LCFF, program providers need some assurance that resources will be available to support these necessary programs. The temporary requirement of funding that was left in place in the 13-14 State Budget will expire June 30, 2015. This bill will keep that funding intact for another two years until a permanent, long-term funding solution can be identified. The Administration and the Department of Finance are set to begin those discussions this Fall.

AB 2416 (Mark Stone, D-Scotts Valley) Allows an employee or their representative to place a lien on an employer’s real or personal property, or the property of a third party, for alleged wage and compensation violations absent a judicial or administrative judgment/a judgment from a third-party trier of fact – OPPOSE

No one should be allowed to interfere with the business or property of a manufacturer without first having to prove the merit of their claim. However, this measure grants an employee or their representative (e.g. family member, union representative, attorney or creditor) the right to do so for any alleged wage/hour, compensation or penalty claim that is available under California labor law. No judicial or administrative judgment stating a violation exists is necessary. California manufacturers have billions of dollars of property and equipment that would be at risk. Once your property is encumbered, you no longer have control over it – you cannot sell it, refinance it, transfer it or use it to secure capital – until you expend additional resources to fight and have the lien removed. While the bill has been amended to include “protections” for the employer, those provisions apply only after the lien has been filed and do nothing to prevent an employer’s property from being encumbered. The Department of Finance recently announced its opposition to the bill.

AB 1522 (Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego) Requires employers to provide at least three days of sick leave to any employee after 30 days of employment – OPPOSE

Of the remaining labor and employment bills, it has been said that this measure has the best chance of navigating the Legislature and garnering the Governor’s support. However, the Department of Finance recently came out in opposition to the bill, citing “unbudgeted state General Fund costs” (due to the significant state cost associated with In-Home Supportive Services providers) and the cost impacts to private employers, “which could diminish incentives for businesses to operate in California and therefore could be the sole or contributing factor to a business’ decision to close or downsize.” CMTA remains strongly opposed to the measure, although we offered language to the author in an attempt to mitigate the impact to employers if the bill continues to move forward. The bill was heard in Senate Appropriations this week and placed on the Suspense File. Any amendments will be taken prior to the Suspense File hearing on August 14.

AB 1897 (Roger Hernandez, D-West Covina) Makes employers with 25 or more workers legally liable for the wage/hour, workers’ comp and health/safety claims of workers performing labor or services under contract as part of the usual course of business – OPPOSE

The author contends his target is the practice of supplanting your workforce with contracted workers to avoid any legal responsibility over them. However, this bill is much broader than that and would apply to all employers who contract for labor or services as part of their usual course of business. Because California manufacturers maintain lean operations and contract out for specialty services, those business-to-business relationships (e.g. environmental compliance, equipment repair, janitorial, landscaping and food delivery services) could be captured under this bill given its breadth. This would add significant cost and risk to doing business in this state, not to mention severely impact our ability to manage our operations. While the bill was amended to exclude small businesses (less than 25 employees), motion picture payroll service companies, union hiring halls and non-profit community organizations, the heart of our objection was not addressed. CMTA believes it is unfair to hold manufacturers liable and responsible for the actions of a third-party contractor over which they had no control.

 

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