Employee Relations 09/04/2012
ADA Bill Would Place Fee on Business License Applications
SB 1186, by Senators Darrell Steinberg and Bob Dutton, addresses
disability access issues and will significantly change state
rules on Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) lawsuits. Among
other things, SB 1186 will reduce minimum damages for ADA
violations if the defendant hired a Certified Access Specialist
(CASp) and prevent the stacking of multiple claims of ADA
violation to increase statutory damages.
While SB 1186 mainly addresses compliance and litigation issues with respect to ADA, of importance to counties is a small aspect of the bill that would place a one-dollar fee on all business license applications and renewals for the purpose of funding an increase in the number of CASp in local building departments and funding educational and training resources at the state and local level to promote ADA compliance.
The monies collected from the fees would be split – 70 percent to the local agency and 30 percent to the Division of the State Architect (DSA). Local public entities would be able to use five percent for administration costs and the remainder will be used to pay for hiring and training more CASp for local building departments. Local agencies would be required to work with the California Commission on Disability Access to gather, develop and disseminate educational materials and information to facilitate disability access compliance (those materials would be provided by the state). Additionally, local agencies would be required to make an annual report to the Legislature and Chairs of the Senate and Assembly Judiciary Committees as well as the Chair of the Senate Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review regarding the total fees that had been collected in the previous calendar years and their distribution.
SB 1186 is awaiting action by the Governor.
AB 808 (Skinner) - Oppose
AB 808, by Assembly Member Nancy Skinner, would have established a presumption for workers’ compensation purposes when a hospital employee contracts a methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) skin infection and extend this presumption 60 days after the employee’s service has been terminated. AB 808 was similar to AB 375, which was held on the Senate Floor last year.
CSAC opposed AB 808 because employers need to retain the discretion to accept or challenge workers’ compensation claims. Further, AB 808 could result in increased costs in workers’ compensation for county hospitals at a time when counties are facing budget deficits and reduced funding for program services. The system of workers’ compensation should provide appropriate benefits to all injured workers who sustain a work-related injury or illness. Under current workers’ compensation law, the employee must show that there is a nexus between work and the injury or illness – AB 808 would prohibit employers from attributing an employee’s contraction of MRSA to any skin infection or disease that existed prior to the contraction or development of the disease, creating a further insurmountable burden for the employer to rebut a MRSA claim.
AB 808 died on the Senate Floor as it was not brought up for a vote before the midnight deadline on August 31.
AB 2451 - Oppose
As Enrolled on August 28, 2012
AB 2451, by Assembly Speaker John A. Perez, would double the statute of limitations for when a claim can be filed for death benefits from 240 weeks to 480 for dependents of a firefighter or peace officer who dies of certain occupational ailments. Those ailments are: hernias, pneumonia, cancer, tuberculosis, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and blood borne infectious diseases
CSAC opposes AB 2451 as we believe that not only do liberal standards for public safety officers already allow employees to get fairly compensated on the basis of a disease presumption when that injury is presumed to have job causation, but because the provisions of AB 2451 continue to expand the statute of limitations in which a beneficiary of a firefighter or peace officer can file a claim for death benefits. Such an extension depletes counties’ certainty as to ultimate expected benefit costs, which, as a result of AB 2451, will inevitably rise at a time when we are struggling to provide residents with basic services on limited budgets. Additionally, the injuries covered in AB 2451 do not have the same close connection to work exposures as do asbestosis and HIV (already presumptive illnesses in current law), making it nearly impossible for employers to refute the claim.
AB 2451 is awaiting action by the Governor.
AB 2298 (Solorio) - Oppose
As Enrolled on August 30, 2012
AB 2298, by Assembly Member Jose Solorio, was amended late last week with the language previously included in AB 1551 (now a bill concerning the CalHome Program), and would therefore exempt certain public safety officers from a requirement to report accidents that occur in a personal vehicle to a personal insurance provider unless it is determined that the employer did not request or direct the employee to use his or her personal vehicle.
If enacted, employers of public safety personnel will face increased liability for employees who drive their personal vehicles for work purposes which will increase employers’ insurance costs. CSAC opposes AB 2298 as we believe that shifting the costs and liability for accidents involving personal vehicles to public employers is inappropriate; the Internal Revenue Service mileage reimbursement rate includes insurance costs among the items for which it is intended to reimburse those who drive their personal vehicles for work purposes. Additionally, as local jurisdictions have negotiated policies to address liability for accidents involving personal vehicles that best reflect local priorities and circumstances, it is unnecessary to impose a statewide, one-size-fits-all solution to a perceived problem.
AB 2298 is awaiting action by the Governor.