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  • Archive for June 17th, 2016

    Jun 17

    $123 BILLION BUDGET PASSES LEGISLATURE

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    A state budget that adds money to both social programs and adds $2 billion more than required to the state’s “Rainy Day Fund” was passed by both houses of the Legislature in time to meet the constitutional deadline of June 15. The adopted budget includes more funding for child care programs, affordable housing and in-state enrollment for both the UC and CSU. The budget also provides for a $10 per year increase in vehicle registration fees and is expected to generate about $400 million annually for several different state agencies.

    The state’s budget outlook will be affected by the outcome on a number of November ballot measures, including the extension of Proposition 30 temporary tax rates on high-income Californians, a proposed increase in the tobacco tax, and a $9 billion school bond measure, so we will be watching those measures closely.

    Business leaders, including Rex Hime, President and CEO of CBPA, have generally praised the budget plan for its relative restraint in creating ongoing spending obligations for the state.

    Jun 17

    FLEXIBLE WORKWEEK BILL SET

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    CBPA joins with our friends at the California Chamber of Commerce to support a bill providing employers with the flexibility to accommodate employees’ needs that is scheduled to be considered by the Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee on June 22.
    SB 985 (Berryhill; R-Twain Harte), the 15th “job creator” bill identified this year, provides employers with the opportunity to accommodate employees’ needs as well as business demands by allowing employees to request a voluntary, flexible workweek agreement that can be repealed by the employee at any time with proper notice.

    We are supporting SB 985 because it seeks to eliminate the burdensome alternative workweek election process and allows the employee the opportunity to request a four, 10-hour day workweek schedule that will address the needs of both the employer and employee.

    According to the CalChamber, California is one of only three states that require employers to pay daily overtime after eight hours of work and weekly overtime after 40 hours of work. Even the other two states that impose daily overtime requirements allow the employer and employee to essentially waive the daily eight-hour overtime requirement through a written agreement.
    California, however, provides no such common-sense alternative. Rather, California requires employers to navigate through a multi-step process to have employees elect an alternative workweek schedule that, once adopted, must be “regularly” scheduled.

    This process is filled with potential traps for costly litigation, as one misstep may render the entire alternative workweek schedule invalid and leave the employer on the hook for claims of unpaid overtime wages.

    SB 985 would relieve employers, especially smaller employers, from the administrative cost and burden of adopting an alternative workweek schedule.
    Pursuant to SB 985, at the request of the employee, an employer would be able to implement a flexible work schedule that allows the employee to work up to 10 hours in a day or 40 hours in a week, without the payment of overtime. Employers should be able to negotiate through a written agreement, revocable by either party, the daily/weekly schedule that satisfies the needs of both the employee(s) and the employer.

    You can weigh in by contacting senators and members of Senate Labor and Industrial Relations to ask them to support SB 985 through this easy-to-edit sample letter. We thank the CalChamber for its continued leadership on the important employment issues.

    Jun 17

    COASTAL COMMISSION BILLS LIMITING ACCESS OPPOSE

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    SB 1190 (JACKSON) BAN ON EX PARTE COMMUNICATIONS WITH COASTAL COMMISSION AND PROHIBITION ON COMMISSIONER INFLUENCE ON COMMISSION STAFF
    SET FOR HEARING – JUNE 27, 2016
    OPPOSE – AS AMENDED JUNE 8, 2016

    Over the next two weeks two bills that seek to limit access by project proponents to the Coastal Commission are up for hearing and strongly opposed by CBPA. Even if your company does not own property near the coast the precedent these bills will set will act as a chilling effect for public access to other regulatory agencies.

    The California Coastal Commission is responsible for land use and permitting decisions along the 1,100-mile California coastline. Among other things, the Commission has authority to issue coastal development permits in areas without local coastal programs (LCPs) and act on appeals from areas with LCPs on matters ranging from small issues such as constructing or remodeling single family residences, to major public works projects, as well as enforcement issues, cease and desist orders, and matters in litigation. See below for more detail on these two bills.

    Jun 17

    BAN ON EX PARTE COMMUNICATIONS

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    SB 1190 (Jackson; D-Santa Barbara) seeks to ban ex parte communications with Coastal Commission and staff.  Prior to the early 1990s, the law was silent on ex parte communications at the Coastal Commission. The Coastal Act was then amended to explicitly allow commissioners to engage in ex parte communications as long as they disclose them and give written materials provided to them to commission staff.

    Commissioners are currently free to speak with anyone on any side of an issue and they often do. Additionally, applicants are required to provide written disclosures to the Commission of anyone who receives compensation to communicate with the commissioners or staff. Commissioners are also required to complete annual economic interest statements in conformance with state law. This ex parte process has been working well for a number of years. There is no reason to eliminate this well-functioning system by banning important ex parte communications and communications between commissioners and their staff.

    This bill would prohibit ex parte communications between commissioners and interested parties on all Commission proceedings. However, the Commission is a public body and should encourage citizen participation and communication. In turn, the Legislature should encourage maximum communication with the Commission, and commissioners who desire more information should be allowed to hear it as long as they publicly disclose and describe those communications as required by law. Although this bill would allow interested parties to speak with staff, it is the commissioners and not the staff who are the ultimate policy makers and who should be free to discuss permitting decisions with all parties who may be affected by an action.

    There is no reason to change the current practice. To limit the free exchange of information serves no public purpose, can limit mutually acceptable outcomes, and would prohibit the Commission from effectively carrying out its duties to the public.  We are strongly opposed.

    Jun 17

    “LOBBYIST” REGISTRATION BILL

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    AB 2002 (STONE; D-Santa Cruz) essentially requires anyone representing more than one client per year who earns $2,000.00 in a calendar month to communicate with Coastal Commissioners to conform to lobbyist registration requirements of the Political Reform Act. This bill is unnecessary and duplicative of strict lobbying disclosure and communication requirements in the Coastal Act that already impose severe penalties for noncompliance. The bill would create a unique rule for the Coastal Commission and conflict with Political Reform Act requirements for all other state agencies.

    The bill would discourage applicants for coastal development permits from hiring representation, require even single family homeowners who hire Coastal consultants to register as “lobbyist employers,” and create burdensome paperwork for applicants and their technical consultants.

    We believe the public should be encouraged to communicate directly with public agency representatives, provided this communication is properly disclosed. There is no reason to change the current practice. To limit the free exchange of information by imposing burdensome and costly requirements of SB 802 would serve only to make this regulatory agency even more inaccessible to the average Californian and we strongly oppose the bill.

    Jun 17

    CASP/ADA REFORM BILL MOVING

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    A bill strongly supported by the commercial real estate industry, AB 2093 (Steinorth; R-Rancho Cucamonga) unanimously passed the Senate Judiciary Committee this week on a 7-0 bipartisan vote.  This measure clears-up issues related to required lease language and disclosures when your building has been inspected by a California Certified Access Specialist (CASp).  Such inspections and disclosures provide a layer of legal protection that helps prevent unnecessary and/or frivolous lawsuits while increasing access to public spaces.

    “Many businesses are simply unaware of ADA violations on their property, and are unexpectedly served with lawsuits which could put them out of business,” said Assemblymember Steinorth when discussing AB 2093. “This doesn’t help customers, businesses, or our community. AB 2093 will give businesses more educational tools and resources, so they can proactively avoid this situation and make their property accessible for all.”

    Click here to read the bill, AB 2093. The bill will next be heard on the Floors of each legislative chamber, then, if all goes well, will go to the Governor for signature.

    Jun 17

    SUSTAINABLE FREIGHT ACTION PLAN

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    On Monday, June 20, a joint meeting of the Assembly Transportation Committee and the Select Committee on Ports will receive an update on the draft California Sustainable Freight Action Plan.  The plan is in response to Executive Order B-32-15 issued by Governor Brown in July 2015, which directs a myriad of state agencies to develop a plan to improve freight efficiency, transition to zero-emission technologies, and increase competitiveness of California’s freight system.

    Although a wide swatch of diverse industry groups have participated in stakeholder groups working on the plan, there is concern that not many of the suggestions provided have been incorporated into the plan.

    CBPA worries that a freight plan that increases goods-movement costs while doing little to improve efficiency or competitiveness will only hasten the diversion of cargo from California to neighboring states that is already underway.  The economic harm this creates is not just around our ports—warehouses and distribution centers that are major job centers across California will follow this cargo as it moves to competing states.  We are continuing to work with the state agencies tasked with devising the plan and legislators tasked with reviewing the plan, and hope we can come to agreement on a sustainable plan that also strengthens California’s economy.

    For more information about the Sustainable Freight Plan, click here.

    Jun 17

    2030 GHG TARGET SCOPING PLAN CONCEPT PAPER

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    The 2030 Target Scoping Plan Concept Paper provides an additional opportunity for public and stakeholder engagement and input prior to release of the Draft AB 32/GHG Scoping Plan later this year.  The intent of the paper is to inform an ongoing stakeholder process for how to most effectively achieve a 40 percent reduction in GHG emissions by 2030 as compared to 1990 statewide GHG emissions.

    The content of this paper has been informed by several public workshops and meetings held to date, beginning with the Governor’s Climate Change Strategy Pillar Workshops held in summer 2015.  Since then, ARB staff, in collaboration with other State agencies, has held numerous public workshops to develop the Draft Scoping Plan, including several Environmental Justice Advisory Committee meetings, a public meeting to discuss the greenhouse gas (GHG) modeling and economic analysis that will be included in the Draft Scoping Plan, and other sector-specific public workshops.

    These multi-agency meetings provided State agencies the opportunity to share their near- and long-term visions for climate policy and actively solicited the public’s comments, concerns and questions.  The 2030 Scoping Plan Concept Paper will be made available here.