5 Things To Watch Down The Homestretch As California Lawmakers Return From Summer Recess
KPBS Midday Edition Segments / August 12, 2019
Lawmakers return to California’s Capitol Monday for a final five weeks of hashing out legislation with more than 1,000 bills awaiting action.
Speaker 1: 00:00 State lawmakers returned to Sacramento today for the final weeks of the year's legislative session. It's already been a busy session with landmark police use of force reform and a change in wildfire liability law, but there are hundreds of bills left to consider before the legislature adjourns next month. Joining me is Scott Rod state government reporter with Capitol Public Radio to tell us about the legislation to watch in the coming weeks and Scott, welcome to the program. How has the governor signed those two major pieces of legislation, the use of force and wildfire liability,
Speaker 2: 00:36 the wildfire liability bill, he did sign so that was something that they wanted to move along pretty quickly. Obviously we're heading into wildfire season and you know we haven't had any major fires yet but they wanted to make sure that the issue of liability was worked out, especially with PG and e and bankruptcy and also the bond ratings of some of the other utilities sort of hanging in the balance on the use of force. Bill has not been signed yet, but it is on the governor's desk and from what our sources have said, they're figuring out where they would like to sign this and how they would like to present the signing. Obviously it's a major bill changing use of force standards for the police, so they want to make sure that the public is aware of it and the public fully understands just how significant it is.
Speaker 1: 01:23 Now, one of the bills lawmakers will vote on in this session is from San Diego Assembly woman Lorena Gonzalez, and it would shake up the gig economy. Tell us about that.
Speaker 2: 01:33 Yeah, it's a bill that's commonly referred to as the dynamex bill. It's called that because that's a court case out of the State Supreme Court that involved a company called dynamex and what the bill does, it codified that decision in state law and that decision would change who is considered an employee versus who is considered an independent contractor. So that's significant because employees receive benefits, they're guaranteed a minimum wage, whereas independent contractors are typically just paid on contract. And it turns out that there are a lot, a lot of companies across California that rely on independent contractors. The gig economy is the big one. Our, that's one that commonly people think of. So Uber and Lyft drivers, delivery drivers for companies like Postmates, they're all paid on contract. And these companies say that that's key to their business model, that flexibility. But Lorena Gonzalez and other Progressive Democrats in the legislature say that these workers need to be paid a guaranteed minimum wage and they need to have the protections of being an employee. Um, and it's not just the GIG economy. Um, it's any, it services like trucking, um, even lawyers and accountants, professional services like that, a lot of times they work on a contract, but this law could very well impact, um, them in many other types of workers.
Speaker 1: 02:58 So that's one of big bills to keep an eye on in this short session. Another hotly contested bill is about rent caps and that bill has changed in what it calls for, hasn't it?
Speaker 2: 03:09 Yeah, it's shifted a bit. Um, you know, as they're negotiating this. So as it stands right now, the bill would limit rent increases to 7% over the next three years and it would also include certain tenant protections like uh, requiring a landlord to provide a reason for evicting a tenant. And this bill has gotten some renewed attention and um, I guess you could say energy behind it because governor Newsome announced that he is interested in signing a rent cap bill. He didn't say that he's necessarily interested in signing this bill as it stands right now, there is sure to be more negotiation on it, but Newsome is signaled that he's interested in signing a bill like that. What's the charter schools bill all about? So there are actually several charter school bills. The bills that are still alive would create more oversight and more authority with local school districts to approve charter schools and to oversee how they operate. There were several bills that have died that would have limited or capped charter schools in California. Those didn't make it out of their original houses in the, in the legislature. But these other bills that would create more oversight, they're still moving forward.
Speaker 1: 04:22 Then one of the bills that caught my eye, a lawmakers are considering an environmental law that would stop businesses from giving everyone a long trailing receipt when they leave this story and those stores knew, know who they are, cvs. So what, what indeed would this law do?
Speaker 2: 04:40 Well, I'm sure everyone has had that experience. You go in, you buy one item and then you get this, what seems like a five foot long receipt, which seems a bit excessive. This bill would give the customer more control over deciding whether or not they would like a receipt. So if a customer says, no, no thank you, I don't need a receipt, I don't need that five foot long piece of paper, then the business is actually required to not print out that receipt. So the goal is to try to cut down on some of that paper waste, especially if the customer doesn't want it. And at the end of the day it'll probably end up saving businesses money too. And when does the session wrap up for legislators? So we have about five weeks left. So this is going to be a sprint to the finish line. You know, five weeks seems like a long time, but, um, as you said in the opening, there are actually more than a thousand bills that are awaiting action. So this year has been absolutely jam packed with legislation. So five weeks may seem like a long time, but for the amount of business that still needs to get done, it's going to be a pretty tight window.
Speaker 1: 05:42 I've been speaking with Scott, rod, state government reporter with Capitol public radio. Scott, thank you very much.
Speaker 2: 05:48 Thank you.
Speaker 3: 05:49 Okay.