2015 Legislative wrap up

By Michael Shaw

Capitol Update, Sept. 18, 2015 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

The 2015 legislative year wrapped up last week on September 11th and it proved to be a busy one for CMTA’s lobbyists across the board from climate change and environmental issues to labor and tax issues. Below is a brief summary of some the major developments of the year from your CMTA lobbying team.

Climate Change

The legislative year started out with a bang as major legislation calling for a new greenhouse gas reduction (GHG) goal and mandates to reduce petroleum-based fuels, increase energy from renewable sources and improve energy efficiency were all on the table. Showing little interest in negotiating with the business community, the major climate change debate reached a fever pitch as the 2015 legislative year approached its end.

With just a couple days to go, SB 32 by Senator Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills) failed to pass the Assembly Floor and was made into a two-year, so it will be back in 2016. Following the failure of SB 32, Governor Jerry Brown, Senate Pro Tem Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) and Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) announced that the petroleum reduction mandate would be removed from SB 350 removing the final barrier to passage as moderate Democrats who strongly opposed to that provision due to its impact on low-income and rural communities.

While SB 350 lost a major provision that was the subject of intense opposition from CMTA and the business community, the remaining provisions will have significant effects on California as the bill calls for increasing the percentage of energy from specified types of renewable resources and a doubling of energy efficiency in existing buildings. Governor Brown has been clear that he is not giving up on the petroleum reduction mandate noting that he will use executive and administrative authority to enact further regulatory changes to ratchet down climate change impacts he believes are tied to petroleum use in California.

The bill now awaits the Governor’s action, which is largely expected to result in a signature on the bill.

Environment

In 2015 in the environmental arena, the majority of the bills were focused on oil drilling operations and the workings of CalEPA’s Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC). The prospect of increased fracking for oil brought environmentalists out of the woodwork and environmental justice organizations were on a mission to tear down DTSC. The oil drilling bills eventually all went down to defeat and the DTSC bills were either amended into something that had no major impacts or became two-year bills.

Other environmental bills of significance include: AB 708–Product Ingredient Disclosure, SB 612–CUPA Reform, SB 122–CEQA Reform, AB 1159–EPR, AB 1063–Waste Fees, SB 763–Labeling of Flame Retardants, SB 203–Sugar-Sweetened Beverages-and AB 888–a Microbead  Ban. Of those bills only AB 888 went to the Governor despite CMTA opposition.

Labor

The most significant accomplishment in the labor policy area was a recommitment to and restoration of a dedicated funding for career technical education (CTE) that was slated to expire earlier this year in July. While CMTA sought more funding than was allotted in the 2015-16 budget, the $400 million funding stream comes with a stronger delivery system and quality indicators and accountability metrics based on performance outcomes.

CMTA succeeded in stopping, delaying, or significantly scaling back a number of labor bills that would have significantly impacted manufacturers in the state. However, two bills successfully made it to the Governor’s desk. AB 465 would undermine existing arbitration provisions in employment contracts and expose employers to more litigation and increased costs. SB 406 expends the circumstances for taking job-protected family leave and creates additional barriers to maintaining staffing for business operations.

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