Government, Finance and Administration Bill Roundup
September 3, 2020
CSAC’s Government, Finance and Administration policy committee tracked a number of bills this legislative cycle. Here is a summary of the outcomes for a number of notable bills.
AB 107 (Budget): General Government: Assessment Appeals Deadlines
The General Government trailer bill includes, among other items, language to extend the deadline for decisions in pending assessment appeals cases to March 31, 2021, two months longer than allowed by the Governor’s recent Executive Order, and provides explicit statutory authority to conduct assessment appeals hearings remotely. These important provisions will allow counties to safely conduct assessment appeals hearings and ensure that boards are able to finalize rulings on appeals that are nearing the statutory deadline. CSAC advocated for the inclusion of this language.
AB 685 (Reyes): COVID-19 Exposure Notification
The policy at the heart of AB 685—that employers should notify workers and public health authorities if there has been exposure to COVID-19 at the worksite—is one with potential to improve public health by slowing the spread of the virus. As with many bills with laudable goals, some of the bill’s provisions would have caused significant implementation problems for those who would have to implement it. However, the final version of the bill included amendments to help mitigate many of those concerns including exempting many health facilities, allowing for notification in the way an employer usually communicates with employees including by email or text, and changing the notification period form 24 hours to one business day. The bill passed and is waiting for the Governor’s action.
AB 992 (Mullin): Social Media & the Brown Act
With the rise of social media as a means for elected officials to communicate with constituents, questions have raised about whether the Brown Act could be interpreted to disallow this type of engagement. AB 992 would clarify that local officials may participate in discussions on social media platforms, while retaining limits on officials coming to decisions outside of agendized meetings, so members of the public will still be able to observe and influence their deliberations and actions. CSAC supports this bill, and has requested that the Governor sign the bill.
AB 1867 (Budget): COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave
AB 1667 would provide paid supplemental COVID-19 sick leave to many employees who are ineligible for leave under the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The bill applies to employees who are either a) employed by a private employer with 500 or more employees or b) are health care providers or emergency responders who have been excluded from the federal leave. Eligible employees who work full time will be entitled to 80 hours of supplemental paid sick leave, and eligible employees who work less than full time will be entitled to leave equivalent to their normal working hours. The bill passed and is waiting for the Governor’s action.
This session saw a number of new workers’ compensation bills seeking to create presumptions for workers who get COVID-19. CSAC opposes presumptions in the workers’ compensation system, which is based on industrial causation.
- SB 1159 (Hill): This bill creates a presumption for specific classifications of police officers, fire fighters, health care workers, IHSS workers, and home health workers who contract COVID-19 from July 6, 2020 until January 1, 2023. All other employees would be eligible for an outbreak-based presumption, with outbreak defined as either four employees or four percent of employees, depending on the number of employees at a worksite. The bill creates complicated reporting mechanism for employers and subjects employers to a maximum $10,000 penalty for failing to report specified information. SB 1159 passed the Legislature, but CSAC is requesting that the Governor veto the bill.
- AB 196 (Gonzalez): The most extreme of the measures is AB 196, which would apply a presumption for COVID-19 to “essential critical infrastructure workers”—a term that is not identified in the bill—starting March 1, 2020 and extending indefinitely. Unlike other proposals, AB 196 fails to craft a presumption policy that focuses on workers who face higher risks. This bill did not pass the Legislature in time.
- AB 664 (Cooper): This bill creates a presumption for COVID-19 for specifically defined categories of police officers, fire fighters, and health care workers. It encourages, but does not require, coverage for housing and living expenses related to quarantine. It requires that employers provide appropriate PPE. The presumption would run through July 1, 2024. This bill did not pass the Legislature in time.