CAPHCC Legislative Update by Richard Markuson, Lobbyist

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2015 Legislation

The State Legislature is back to work and follows are bills introduced to date:

AB 67 by Assembly Member Lorena Gonzalez would enact the Double Pay on the Holiday Act of 2015 that would require an employer to pay at least 2 times the regular rate of pay to an employee for work on a “family holiday” defined as either: December 25 (known by some as Christmas) or the fourth Thursday of November (known by some as the day of the subjugation of native American people) of each year.

AB 151 would establish a procedure for taxpayers to receive a $2,000 tax credit for each enrolled apprentice. The apprentice must meets one of the following requirements: (A) Has not obtained a high school diploma and is enrolled in high school or a General Education Development test preparation program. (B) Has obtained a high school diploma or General Education Development credential while participating in the apprenticeship. The apprenticeship program must meet certain requirements.

SB 3 by Senator Mark Leno would increase the minimum wage, on and after January 1, 2016, to not less than $11 per hour, on and after July 1, 2017, to not less than $13 per hour. The bill would require the annual automatic adjustment of the minimum wage, commencing January 1, 2019.

Taxes on services are back on the table with SB 8, by brand new Senator Bob Hertzberg that would state legislative findings regarding the Upward Mobility Act, key provisions of which would expand the application of the Sales and Use Tax law by imposing a tax on specified services, would enhance the state’s business climate and would incentivize entrepreneurship and business creation by evaluating the Corporate Tax Law, and would examine the impacts of a lower and simpler Personal Income Tax Law. The seven page bill is just “legislative findings” and doesn’t specify which services will be taxed but already business is on high alert – especially service providers. As Joel Fox, President of the Small Business Action Committee asks, “One goal Senator Robert Hertzberg hopes to accomplish with his major tax reform legislation, SB 8, is to improve business conditions in the state. The obvious question: Does that objective have to come with a $10 billion price tag?”

Senator Jim Beall introduced SB 29 – a spot bill to make changes to the state’s new sick leave bill.

One of the potentially most significant bills – certainly the most important one introduced so far – is SB 119 by Senator Jerry Hill that would require the Contractors’ State License Board to adopt a program to enforce violations of provisions relating to excavation. The bill would authorize the board to require a contractor to undergo training, levy a fine, and suspend a contractor’s license for a violation. Hill’s staff has held two preliminary meetings to engage stakeholders in the process. One unresolved question is does California really need a new requirement? California has one of the lowest compliance rates with “Call before you dig” and one has to wonder if the new law will just add more complexity to those who comply with current requirements – which will still be ignored by the vast majority of “contractors.”

Union Membership

The Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics issued its annual report setting forth union membership data for 2014.  In the private sector, union density in 2014 was 6.6%, down 0.1% from the prior year.  Unionization continued to vary widely by state, with 30 states having union membership rates below the US average (primarily the southern states), and nine states with union density below 5.0%.  The report further indicated that more than half of all union members live in only seven states – with more than half of those in California and New York.

Labor Law

Employers with multi-state operations must remain abreast of developments in state and local wage and hour legislation, such as increases in state minimum wages. Many state laws provide for annual increases based on the U.S. Consumer Price Index and inflation. The states and localities that have increased minimum wages effective January 1, 2015, are here. Of course, these changes to minimum wage rates also affect overtime pay calculations and can affect uniform and tool provisions.

 

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