CSAC Bulletin Article

New Laws Impacting Counties: Government Finance & Administration

December 19, 2019

Governor Newsom signed 870 bills into law this year. To keep counties informed of new laws that impact them, CSAC has published a series of articles to spotlight those laws in each policy area. For this last and final week of the series, the Government Finance and Administration policy area provides information on new laws affecting taxes, personnel management, redistricting, employee relations, and more.

The new laws listed below become effective January 1, 2020, unless otherwise noted.

Redistricting

AB 849 (Bonta) revises and recasts the criteria and procedures counties and cities must follow when redistricting the supervisorial or city council districts. The bill requires the governing body of each county and city to adopt new district boundaries after each federal decennial census and specifies deadlines and redistricting criteria—such as being contiguous and not splitting communities whenever possible—for the adoption of new boundaries. The bill specifies hearing procedures that allow the public to provide input on the placement of boundaries and on proposed boundary maps, as well as requiring the governing body to take specified steps to encourage the residents of the local jurisdiction to participate in the redistricting process.

Public Records

AB 1819 (Committee on Judiciary) grants a public record requester who inspects a record on the premises of the agency the right to use the their own equipment to photograph or copy the record, without being charged any fees or costs, in a manner that does not require the equipment to make physical contact with the record, result in damage to the record, or unauthorized access to a computer system of the agency or secured network. The bill would authorize the agency to impose any reasonable limits on the use of the requester’s equipment that are necessary to protect the safety of the records or to prevent the copying of records from being an unreasonable burden to the orderly function of the agency and its employees. The bill would authorize the agency to impose any limit that is necessary to maintain the integrity of, or ensure the long-term preservation of, historic or high-value records.

Taxes

AB 147 (Burke), which went into effect on April 1, 2019, specifies that any retailer that has total combines sales of tangible personal property that exceeds $500,000 must collect and remit sales and use taxes, regardless of whether they have a physical presence in the state. It also provides that a marketplace facilitator is considered the seller and retailer for sales facilitate through its marketplace for these purposes.

AB 485 (Medina) requires local agencies to provide specified information to the public before approving an economic development subsidy for a warehouse distribution center and to, among things, hold hearings and report on those subsidies. The bill would require local agencies to submit a report to the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development providing specified information and would require the office to make those reports available to the public through its website. The bill would require a warehouse distribution center to provide a local agency any information necessary to comply with these provisions. The bill would also prohibit a local agency from signing a nondisclosure agreement regarding a warehouse distribution center as part of negotiations or in the contract for any economic development subsidy.

AB 498 (Weber) exempts any veteran who is honorably discharged or honorably relieved from the Armed Forces of the United States and is a resident of this state from paying any local business license fees for a business that sells or provides services if the veteran is the sole proprietor of the business. Existing law provides this exemption only for veterans who distribute circulars or sell goods other than alcohol.

AB 608 (Petrie-Norris) allows counties, with the approval of the board of supervisors, to exempt from property taxation any possessory interest valued at $50,000 or less. Current law allows for such exemptions only for possessory interests that are related to the temporary use of publicly owned fairgrounds or similar facilities.

SB 344 (McGuire) extends for one year the operation of the Local Prepaid Mobile Telephony Services Collection Act, which provides a method to collect local taxes and fees related to prepaid cell phones. It also provides that the local charges apply to the entire price unless the seller can identify the services or products that are not subject to local charges from its books and records kept in the ordinary course of business.

Local Finance

AB 1637 (Smith) amends the Unclaimed Property Law to allow property reported to and received by the Controller in the name of a state or local agency to be transferred by the Controller directly to that agency without the filing of a claim.

Personnel Management

AB 9 (Reyes) extends to 3 years the period of time a person claiming to be aggrieved by an alleged unlawful practice can file a verified complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing.

AB 51 (Gonzalez) prohibits a person from requiring any applicant for employment, or any employee, to waive any right, forum, or procedure for a violation of any provision of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) or other specific statutes governing employment as a condition of employment, continued employment, or the receipt of any employment-related benefit. This bill additionally makes violations of these prohibitions unlawful employment practices under FEHA.

AB 593 (Carrillo) adds a chief elected official of local workforce investment areas to the list of those able to use specified information obtained by the Employment Development Department in the administration of the Unemployment Insurance Code and allows access to any relevant quarterly wage data necessary for the evaluation and reporting of workforce program performance measures.

AB 749 (Stone) prohibits an agreement to settle an employment dispute from containing a provision that prohibits, prevents, or otherwise restricts a settling party that is an aggrieved person, as defined, from working for the employer against which the aggrieved person has filed a claim or any parent company, subsidiary, division, affiliate, or contractor of the employer. The bill also clarifies that an employer and an aggrieved person are free to agree to end a current employment relationship, or to prohibit or otherwise restrict the aggrieved person from obtaining future employment with the employer, if the employer has made a good faith determination that the person engaged in sexual harassment or sexual assault. The bill also clarifies that an employer is not required to continue to employ or rehire a person if there is a legitimate non-discriminatory or non-retaliatory reason for terminating or refusing to rehire the person.

AB 1554 (Gonzalez) requires an employer to notify, in a prescribed manner, an employee who participates in a flexible spending account of any deadline to withdraw funds before the end of the plan year.

SB 142 (Wiener) requires an employer to provide a lactation room or location that includes prescribed features and requires an employer, among other things, to provide access to a sink and refrigerator in close proximity to the employee’s workspace. The bill also prohibits an employer from discharging, or in any other manner discriminating or retaliating against, an employee for exercising rights the bill and establishes remedies that include filing a complaint with the Labor Commissioner. Lastly, the bill requires an employer to develop and implement a policy regarding lactation accommodation and make it available to employees.

SB 778 (Committee on Labor, Public Employment and Retirement) provides technical, but important, changes to the requirements imposed by last year’s SB 1343. That bill, by Senator Holly Mitchell, imposed new semiannual training and education requirements for nonsupervisory employees, similar to those already required for supervisors. But because of the way the deadlines were written, the bill inadvertently required some businesses and public agencies that were already training nonsupervisory employees to provide that training in consecutive years.

SB 778, which was authored by the Committee on Labor, Public Employment and Retirement, is the result of continued cooperation between CSAC and other public- and private- entity groups that engaged in SB 1343 stakeholder discussions last year.

Workers’ Compensation

SB 542 (Stern) creates, only until January 1, 2025, a rebuttable presumption for specified peace officers and firefighters that a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder is occupational, and therefore covered by the workers’ compensation system. The bill also prohibits compensation from being paid for a claim of injury unless the member has performed services for the department or unit for at least 6 months, unless the injury is caused by a sudden and extraordinary employment condition.

This bill was significantly scaled-back from its original form which would have applied to all diagnoses of mental illness—rather than solely post-traumatic stress disorder—and applied retroactively.

Pensions

AB 1320 (Nazarian) would, upon the passage of a federal law that imposes sanctions on the government of Turkey for failure to officially acknowledge its responsibility for the Armenian Genocide, prohibit the boards of administration of the Public Employees’ Retirement System and the State Teachers’ Retirement System from making additional or new investments, or renewing existing investments, of public employee retirement funds in an investment vehicle in the government of Turkey that is issued by the government of Turkey or that is owned by the government of Turkey. The bill would repeal the prohibited investment and reporting provisions on January 1, 2025, or if a determination is made by the board, the Department of State, the Congress of the United States, or another appropriate federal agency that the government of Turkey has officially acknowledged its responsibility for the Armenian Genocide, whichever occurs first.

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