Final Legislative Tally for Small Business: Challenges Ahead in 2017

Tom Scott
CA Executive Director, National Federation of Independent Business

As the leading voice of small business in California, NFIB has been front and center this legislative session advocating for and against bills which would have significant impacts on our struggling small businesses across the state. In my three decades working in politics, I don’t think I’ve seen a legislative session pass such a high number of bad bills which will result in higher costs, additional mandates, and burdensome regulations on our job creators.

This is why NFIB regularly updated and shared our The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly list of bills which have the greatest impact, either positive or negative, to small businesses in California. Although many legislators leave Sacramento and go back to their districts claiming to be friends of small business—the reality comes from how they voted on The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly bills.

Unfortunately, we saw a lot more bad and ugly this year than good, but there are certainly some little victories to take note of. Looking ahead, we view the 2017-2018 legislative session as a critical crossroads for small business as the next legislative class takes up major public policy issues affecting small business including predictive scheduling mandates, tax reform, and additional environmental regulations. Because of this we are reminding our members and all voters who support small business to review our NFIB Voting Record to see if you legislator stood up for small business, and be sure to vote on November 8th for legislators who will protect small business in the State Capitol.

Below are some highlights from our final tally of Good, Bad, and Ugly bills from 2016. We encourage you to view our full list online at http://www.nfib.com/ca/gbu

The Good Bills

AB 2465 (Grove): Private Attorneys General Act Reform – Support: Will reduce frivolous employee lawsuits by requiring the Labor and Workforce Development Agency to review potential claims for merit before any legal action can proceed. Died in Assembly Labor and Employment Committee.

AB 2807 (Mayes): Minimum Franchise Tax – Support: Reduces the minimum franchise tax to $700. Died in Assembly Revenue and Taxation Committee.

AB 2476 (Daly): Notification of Proposed Parcel Taxes – Support: Requires a notification by a local government to property owners who would be affected by a proposed local parcel tax before it is voted on. Signed by the Governor.

The Bad Bills

AB 1550 (Gonzalez): Greenhouse Gas Revenues – Oppose: Requires 25% of greenhouse gas revenues to be spent on “disadvantaged communities” and 25% to be spent on low-income households. This is another example of money being spent on things outside of what was intended. Signed by the Governor.

SB 1167 (Leyva): Indoor Heat Injuries – Oppose: Creates new rules regarding heat injury for indoor workers, with new liabilities for employers. It is unnecessary as current law already covers it. Signed by the Governor.

AB 1643 (Gonzalez): Workers’ Compensation – Oppose: This bill sets a huge precedent by barring specific factors from being considered as pre-existing conditions when a workers’ comp settlement is being negotiated. Specifically, pregnancy, osteoporosis, menopause, carpal tunnel syndrome, and psychiatric injury cannot be considered as contributing to a workplace injury. This is a “Pandora’s Box” and will result in more expensive claims against employers. Vetoed by the Governor.

The Ugly Bills

AB 1066 (Gonzalez, et al): Agricultural Employees – Oppose: Eliminates the long-standing exemption for agricultural employees from regular overtime, rest break, and working condition laws. Subjects farmers to new legal liabilities and labor lawsuits. It will force farmers to cut employee hours to avoid paying new overtime. This bill was gutted and amended to include the language from AB 2757, which died on the Assembly floor. Signed by the Governor.

SB 3 (Leno): Minimum Wage Increase – Oppose: Raises the minimum wage to $15/hour by 2022; the bill allows an extra year to reach $15 for small businesses with fewer than 25 employees; followed by automatic annual increases. That’s $125,000 for a small business with 10 minimum wage employees! Additionally, CA law requires exempt employees to make twice what a full-time MW employee makes – that’s a $10/hour increase. The base salary for an exempt employee will increase from $41,600 annually to $62,400. Signed by the Governor.

SB 654 (Jackson): Parental Leave – Oppose: Under current law, businesses with 50 or more employees must provide protected family leave for multiple reasons. This bill requires a business owner with 20 or more employees in a 75 mile radius to allow their employees to take up to 6 weeks of protected leave (they must preserve their job position) for the birth or adoption of a child. This is in addition to mandated maternity leave. This will create a hardship for small businesses struggling with a small staff. It will impact small business owners with multiple business locations nearby. This bill is a gut-and-amend reintroduction of SB 1166, which died in the Assembly. Vetoed by the Governor.

Tom Scott is the State Executive Director for NFIB California, which represents 22,000 dues-paying small business members across the state.

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