New Laws Impacting Counties: Government Finance and Administration
With Governor Brown signing over 1,000 bills into law this year, there is much to implement, especially for the State and local governments. CSAC is publishing a series of articles spotlighting new laws that impact counties from each policy area. This week, the report from the Government Finance and Administration (GFA) policy area provides information on new laws affecting workplace harassment, employee accommodations, collective bargaining, workers’ compensation, pension systems, business regulations, elections, and more. Note that the following list does not include every new law related to GFA, but only those that require immediate attention. For the full list of GFA measure signed into law, click here.
Other policy reports on new laws can be found at these links:
Stay tuned for more updates from the rest of the CSAC policy areas over the next two weeks.
Key GFA Highlights – New Laws Taking Effect January 1, 2019 (unless noted)
SB 1343 (Mitchell) Sexual Harassment Training
By January 1, 2020, requires employers with at least five employees to provide at least one hour of sexual harassment prevention training to all non-supervisory employees within six months of assuming the position, every two years. Separate rules apply to temporary or seasonal employees based on total number of hours worked. Employers may develop their own training platforms or use the online training courses provided by the Department of Fair Employment and Housing.
SB 1300 (Jackson) Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) Claims
Eliminates the “severe or pervasive” legal standard, so that a single incident of harassment is sufficient to create a triable issue of fact. Also reduces the burden of proof, which will make it easier for plaintiffs to file and litigate harassment claims against California employers.
AB 1976 (Limon) Lactation Accommodation
Requires employers to provide a location other than a bathroom (under current law it’s a “toilet stall”) for their employees to express breastmilk. Also provides for a “hardship exemption” for employers in certain circumstances.
SB 1085 (Skinner) Employee Lost Time
Requires public agency employers to provide union employees with “reasonable” leaves of absence to serve as union stewards or officers. Procedures for requesting/granting leave are to be collectively bargaining. While on the leave of absence, employees are entitled to their regular compensation, the same benefits (including retirement accrual), and job reinstatement without loss of seniority, rank, or classification. The bill specifies that the union must reimburse the public employer for all compensation paid to the employee within 30 days. Additionally, employers are shielded from liability for any act or omission of, or an injury suffered by, an employee while on leave.
SB 1413 (Nielsen) Pension Prefunding
Provides CalPERS with the authority to establish a Pension Prefunding Trust Program so that local agencies can prefund their future annual pension contributions and/or pay down their unfunded liability.
SB 1022 (Pan) Notice of Termination
Requires CalPERS employer agencies that are considering termination to notify their current employee, former employees, and retirees within 30 days of adopting a resolution of intent. The language in the bill ensures that employer agencies have access to the information necessary to contact those individuals and holds them harmless if the information provided by CalPERS is incorrect or incomplete.
AB 1912 (Rodriguez) Pension Liability for JPAs
Establishes rules for joint powers authority (JPA) to meet pension obligations for employees and retirees when terminating or dissolving. Specifically, requires JPA member agencies to determine proportional liability and establishes arbitration proceedings with retirement systems when agreement cannot be reached.
AB 1749 (Daly) Coverage for Off-Duty Peace
Allows employers, at their discretion, to provide workers’ compensation benefits to its employee peace officers while they are off-duty if they are injured defending life or property, or in the course of arresting a suspect, out of state. Previous protections were only provided to off-duty officers while in the state of California.
AB 3068 (Daly) Auditor Authority
Requires county boards of supervisors to obtain independent legal counsel to assist a county auditor-controller if a county counsel or district attorney would have a conflict of interest in representing the auditor-controller.
SB 946 (Lara) Sidewalk Vending
Establishes statewide requirements for the local regulation of sidewalk vending. It prohibits local agencies from restricting sidewalk vendors to designated areas or limiting the overall number of available permits, among other prohibitions. However, local agencies may impose certain restrictions if they are directly related to objective health, safety, or welfare concerns (including parks protection and restrictions parallel to other commercial activity).
SB 866 (Budget Committee) Employee Orientations and Records
Requires that new employee orientations be confidential. In addition to existing law that provides exclusive representatives with mandatory access to new employee orientations following the passage of AB 119 last year, the “date, time, and place of the orientation shall not be disclosed to anyone other than the employees, the exclusive representative, or a vendor that is contracted to provide services for the purposes of the orientation.” The bill also contains language regarding how public agencies and unions manage membership dues and membership-related fees and how public agencies can communicate with employees about their rights to join unions. This bill is currently in effect.
AB 748 (Ting) Body Camera Access
Requires public agencies, effective July 1, 2019, to disclose video and audio recordings of “critical incidents” (defined as an incident involving the discharge of a firearm at a person by a peace officer or custodial officer, or an incident in which the use of force by a peace officer or custodial officer against a person resulted in death or great bodily injury) in response to California Public Records Act requests. Contains different circumstances under which disclosure can be delayed or records can be withheld.
AB 216 (Gonzalez Fletcher) Ballot Postage
Requires vote by mail ballots to include a return envelope with prepaid postage.
SB 1153 (Stern) Local Initiative
Allows the proponent of a county, municipal, or special district initiative to withdraw an initiative at any time prior to the 88th day before the election, aligning the local process with the state process under SB 1253 (Chapter 679, Statues of 2014).