Late August in Sacramento sees a rush of hundreds of bills decided by the California Legislature. Some pass and are sent to the governor’s desk for his decision to sign or not sign. Some are sent to oblivion. Unfortunately, most bills increase the tax or regulatory burdens on California citizens and businesses.
Here are five of the worst that ought to be deep-sixed. Or if they pass, vetoed by Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Assembly Bill 257 is by Assemblyman Chris Holden, D-Pasadena. Misleadingly titled the Fast Food Accountability and Standards Recovery Act, it would hyper-regulate the fast food industry, increase costs to consumers and kill jobs. Many fast-food restaurants, already damaged by the COVID lockdowns, would go out of business.
It would establish a new bureaucracy, the Fast Food Sector Council, within the Department of Industrial Relations. That would set wage and other standards for the industry, on top of existing state minimum wage and other regulations. And it would allow violation lawsuits not only against the local operations, but the parent companies in other states — discouraging them from locating or expanding here.
As Pretzel Power CEO Alex Johnson pointed out, already “California has the strongest labor laws and highest wage laws in the country to ensure healthy and sustainable workplace environments.”
Senate Bill 457 is by state Sen. Anthony Portantino, D-La Canada Flintridge. It would pay California families $2,500 per member, up to $7,500, not to own a car, through a state tax rebate. Just making sure someone is not using a neighbor’s car would be a regulatory nightmare. It would be no help to poor families forced to drive long distances to work because of the high cost of housing.
Assembly Bill 1717 is by Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, D-Davis. It would expand the list of jobs under “prevailing wages” for public-works projects done by private companies. Such wages usually are much higher than the market rate, often tripling or quadrupling the cost to taxpayers. State Sen. Pat Bates, R-Laguna Niguel, told us the bill would “impede and significantly increase the costs of fuel-reduction projects, particularly in disadvantaged communities.”
Assembly Bill 2183 is by Assemblymember Mark Stone, D-Santa Cruz.
It would force unionization on farm workers by ending secret ballots, which are the hallmark of democracy. Employees would be asked to sign representation “cards” instead, with more than 50% of the public signatures bringing unionization. Those who refuse to sign up for unionization could be intimidated. It also would make employers post an unreasonable bond to challenge a card “vote.”
Unionization votes should play by the same rules as other organizations in California. As election processes themselves are controversial across the country, now is not the time to introduce an anti-democratic scheme.
Senate Bill 1162 is by state Sen. Monique Limon, D-Santa Barbara. Although improved from earlier versions, it still would “require a private employer that has 100 or more employees to submit a pay data report” to the Department of Fair Employment and Housing “to include the median and mean hourly rate for each combination of race, ethnicity, and sex within each job category.”
This is an onerous new bureaucratic requirement on private businesses. Federal, state and local laws already ban discrimination in all those areas. The bill also would require a company “to include the pay scale for a position in any job posting.”
What if an employer is still trying to figure out the pay scale for a position that might take months to fill, with inflation pushing up the rate later on? Too bad, says Limon.
Here’s to hoping these bills get the axe.