Assembly Passes Paid Sick Leave Clean-Up Bill
The Assembly on Monday overwhelmingly supported Assembly 304 by
Assembly Member Lorena Gonzalez, a bill intended to clarify
several sections of last year’s mandatory paid sick leave bill
The current version of the bill has been months of negotiations between the author, the California Chamber of Commerce and CSAC to ensure AB 304 addresses major interpretation concerns with AB 1522. CSAC was able to get an exemption for retired annuitants in the bill, which also includes the following clarifications:
- will clarify that employers are not required to provide additional paid sick days if the employer had a policy prior to January 1, 2015 that meets certain conditions
- will allow employers to comply with state law if they accrue or front-load their sick leave policies so employees receive three paid sick days by the 120th day of the year.
- will allow employers to choose between the methodology required under AB 1522 to calculate sick leave pay rates as well as the “regular rate of pay”.
An urgency clause was also placed into AB 304 to ensure that its provisions would go into effect on July 1, 2015. However, due to legislative timelines, it is unclear whether AB 304 will meet that timeline as it moves through the Senate.
Little Hoover Commission Releases Report on Open Government Laws
The Little Hoover Commission, a bipartisan and independent state
agency charged with recommending ways to improve the efficiency
and effectiveness of state programs, released a report this
week recommending changes to the state’s open meeting
acts. The Commission cited widely-held perceptions that
public decision-making is faltering statewide as adhering to
strict transparency rules increasingly trumps quality
policy-making. The bipartisan citizens’ Commission, in a new
report, Conversations for Workable Government, proposes
slight modifications to laws that currently prevent
decision-makers from talking informally with colleagues about
general policy issues.
The Commission reviewed state government’s rules for closed-door ex parte conversations with lobbyists, as well as 2008 changes to tighten the Ralph M. Brown Act for local government and similar 2009 changes incorporated into more complex state governing institutions through the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act. Among its findings regarding California’s open government laws and practices:
- The 2008 and 2009 changes to the state’s open meeting acts have hindered government decision-making processes and created less transparency instead of more. Public meetings are increasingly scripted as officials are afraid to thoroughly discuss issues in public and more decision-making is delegated to staffers who are neither appointed nor elected.
- The inability of decision-makers to talk informally about general policy issues or learn from one another has isolated them, reduced their collective understanding of issues and opened them to greater manipulation out of public view. Lobbyists who can freely talk with every decision-maker in advance of votes, frequently know more about their collective thinking than decision-makers themselves and use it to advantage for their clients and often to the detriment of the public.
- Government attorneys, aiming to ward off open meeting act lawsuits that are commonly used as wedges to unravel controversial compromises or multibillion-dollar decisions, narrowly interpret the state’s broadly-defined open meeting acts, making elected and appointed officials fearful of talking with one another or even being seen together outside public meetings.
The report includes a recommendation that “a working group
led by trade associations such as the League of California
Cities, California State Association of Counties, California
Special Districts Association and California School Boards
Association should consider a fresh legal approach to maintaining
decorum and policing public comment during open meetings – in
line with that employed by the Legislature – that will help rein
in abuses by some members of the public.”
Click here for the report.