Among the pile of bills that the legislature passed at the end of their session and delivered to Governor Jerry Brown’s desk were some significant ones for workers, health, education and the environment. The deadline for Brown to sign the bills was midnight Tuesday.
California became the first state to ban single use plastic bags, the formerly ubiquitous grocery bags that have a special talent for working themselves into waterways, beaches, and sensitive environmental areas.
The statewide ban follows – and replaces – dozens of local bans, including Los Angeles and San Francisco. Senate Bill 270, which the Sacramento Bee called “one of the most contentious bills of 2014,” was authored by state Senators Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima), Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) and Ricardo Lara (D-Long Beach). The latter two joined as authors and helped solidify a majority in the legislature after ensuring that economic incentives would be available to help companies and workers impacted by the change.
Assembly Bill 1522, created to give all California workers at least three days of paid sick leave, passed the legislature Friday, but with a key change: In-home health-care workers who assist disabled and elderly Californians will now be excluded from coverage. The compromise resulted in two important union backers of the bill, authored by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), to withdraw their support.
According to the Sacramento Bee, “The Service Employees International Union and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees abandoned the bill after it was rewritten to exempt home health-care workers.”
Another closely watched measure, Senate Bill 270, also passed its final hurdle Friday, the Los Angeles Times reports. The bill, authored by senators Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima), Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) and Ricardo Lara (D-Huntington Park/Long Beach), will ban single-use plastic bags in grocery stores and other retail outlets.
In a victory for public safety over private profitability, Senate Bill 1019 passed the state Assembly and Senate with strong bipartisan consent on August 27 and 28. Known as the Consumers’ Right to Know: Flame Retardants in Furniture bill, the measure – introduced by Senator Mark Leno, (D-San Francisco) — requires upholstered furniture manufacturers to disclose to consumers the use or absence of flame retardant chemicals on furniture labels.
“SB 1019 gives consumers what they have demanded for decades—the right to know what is in their furniture and the power to make an informed decision about whether to purchase it,” Leno said in a press statement.
Given SB 1019’s diverse support—from business associations to consumer groups, environmental organizations and labor unions—it appears likely Governor Brown will sign the bill by the September 30 legislative deadline, after which it would take effect January 1, 2015.
Getting business on board with SB 1019 proved to be a critical turning point for the bill.
Things are heating up inside the state Capitol in Sacramento. As an August 31 deadline for the end of the 2013-14 legislative year looms, union labor is facing off with business forces over the fate of pending laws governing pay, employee benefits and the environment.
A level playing field is not part of the lobbying landscape when it comes to swaying undecided legislators on these bills, said David Huerta, president of Service Employees International Union-United Health Workers West. Huerta told Capital & Main by phone that business lobbyists enjoy a two-to-one numerical advantage over labor representatives under the Capitol dome.
Huerta witnessed that dynamic first hand this pivotal week as business and labor interests met separately with state lawmakers over Assembly Bill 2416, the California Wage Theft Recovery Act.
Introduced by Assemblyman Mark Stone (D-Scotts Valley), AB 2416 would mandate local programs to allow employees to file liens against employers for unpaid wages.
Last night the California plastic bag measure, state Senate Bill 270, fell four votes short of the required 41 to pass the Assembly. The bill’s support crossed partisan lines – however, several Democratic legislators from the Central Valley and Southern California voted no or did not vote at all. The San Jose Mercury News reported that out-of-state lobbyists representing Hilex Poly, an East Coast plastic bag company, spent nearly half a million dollars to sway legislators to oppose SB 270.
How did your state representative vote? See the voting screen, above.
SB 270, sponsored by senators Alex Padilla, Kevin De Leon and Ricardo Lara, would restrict single-use plastic bags in California, a proven policy measure to limit ocean litter. A similar ban has been implemented in more than 100 communities across California – and in such large cities as Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Jose. The effect has been reduced litter – with no jobs reported lost.