For the legislative and political week May 2-6
Welcome to the May 2-6 edition of the NFIB California Main Street Minute from your NFIB small-business-advocacy team in Sacramento.
Four-Day Workweek Bill Dead
- Friday, April 29, has come and gone. It was the deadline for policy committees to hear and report to fiscal committees all the fiscal bills introduced in their house. Assembly Bill 2932 failed to meet the deadline and is now dead for the year.
- According to the bill, it “would require the compensation rate of pay at 32 hours to reflect the previous compensation rate of pay at 40 hours and would prohibit an employer from reducing an employee’s regular rate of pay as a result of this reduced hourly workweek requirement.”
- Although aimed at large businesses, NFIB suspected it would only be a matter of time before it would ensnare small businesses if it ever passed. NFIB quietly lobbied behind the scenes for its demise.
- No, it’s not a sign on a motel room door handle. Assembly Bill 1651 deals with worker privacy, but nothing in Sacramento is ever simple. AB 1651 would impose “overly broad requirements on both public and private employers of all sizes, contains unworkable mandates that would in fact invade worker privacy and chill new technologies, and buries employers and employees alike in vast amounts of red tape, and ignores contradictory mandates already in the law, according to a letter of opposition NFIB co-signed with other business associations.
- “The bill’s punitive enforcement section subjects even the most well-intentioned employer to egregious penalties for any minor, technical violations that will, without question, lead to businesses shutting down and the loss of jobs.”
- Mission Accomplished. Assembly Member Ash Kalra pulled AB 1651 days before it was to be heard by the Assembly Privacy Committee. It’s now dead for the year.
State Awash in Moolah, Again
- May is the month Gov. Gavin Newsom will send the Legislature his revised 2022-2023 fiscal year state budget.
- Last Thursday, April 28, Senate President Toni Atkins released her caucus’ ideas on how surplus revenues should be spent. “The Putting Wealth to Work approach would add $65 billion in combined current year and budget year revenues to the Governor’s forecast. It also would continue the Legislature’s responsible budgeting approach, allocating one-time revenues for one-time purposes, and $43.1 billion in reserves.”
- Not so fast, cautions Gabriel Petek, head of the Legislative Analyst’s Office. “Given the persistent strength in state tax collections, it may come as a surprise that California’s General Fund likely faces a budget problem in the coming years. Yet this is the key takeaway from a recent fiscal analysis of 10,000 possible revenue scenarios conducted by our office. In 95 percent of our simulations, the state encountered a budget problem by 2025-26. Notably, the likelihood of a budget problem largely is impervious to the future trajectory of state tax revenues.”
Speaking of That Budget Surplus
- A bipartisan group of legislators banded together under the name California Problem Solvers Caucus last Thursday (April 28) issued its idea for how to spend some of the enormous budget surplus the state will have.
- “The new proposal, which comes as other legislative efforts appear to have stalled, would fully suspend the 51.1 cent excise tax on each gallon of gas for 12 months, while backfilling funding for transportation projects using the state’s multibillion-dollar General Fund surplus. Previous proposals were criticized for allowing oil companies to pocket the tax savings without guaranteeing lower gas prices for consumers,” according to a news release sent by the coalition.
And Speaking of That Gas Tax
- The time has passed for the Legislature to have acted on Governor Newsom’s call to suspend the scheduled 5.6% July increase in the state’s gas tax, which will rise to around 53.6 cents a gallon.
Are You COVID Compliance Ready?
- From the employer law firm of Fisher Phillips, “California workplace safety officials just approved a third round of changes to the state’s COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard, and while many of them conform to recent guidance that have already been incorporated into current rules, there are 10 significant changes California employers must prepare for. While it may feel that the pandemic is in the rearview mirror, these new ETS provisions – set to take effect on May 6 – will be with us for quite some time, likely through the end of 2022. Join us for this complimentary and interactive webinar, led by our California COVID-19 lawyers, to review the top 10 changes and provide a game plan for what you should be doing to prepare.”
- NFIB California issued this news release on the results from NFIB’s first inflation-specific survey of the membership. “Inflation is devastating small businesses across the nation, and energy prices are an outsized culprit,” said NFIB California State Director John Kabateck in the release. “Although there are many national factors contributing to soaring inflation rates, states can either help alleviate the problem or exacerbate it, and California is exacerbating the problem in a huge way with the energy policies it has put in place.”
Highlights from NFIB Legislative Program Manager Caitlin Lanzara’s weekly report.
- On April 28, NFIB issued a statement in response to President Biden’s small business roundtable. Read it here.
- “Small businesses continue to face numerous challenges including historic inflation, high gas prices, labor shortages, supply chain disruptions, and threats of significant tax hikes,” said Kevin Kuhlman, NFIB Vice President of Federal Government Relations. “These challenges are dragging down small business optimism and outlook, as expectations of better business conditions is at a 48-year low, according to NFIB’s Research Center. The administration, along with Congress, should focus on solutions to promote and accelerate the fragile small business recovery and reject any legislation, such as the Build Back Better Act, that increases taxes and imposes unaffordable mandates and penalties on Main Street, which threaten to worsen the small business challenges.”
- Media reports from earlier this week indicated that Senate Majority Leader Schumer (D-NY) and Senator Manchin (D-WV) have revived negotiations related to a scaled back Build Back Better Act.
- Take action to oppose tax increases and new mandates on small businesses here.
- On April 28, the U.S. Supreme Court held the lower court’s decision on emotional distress damages.
- NFIB Legal Center filed an amicus brief in the case and commends the decision.
- Read more about the case here.
This Main Street Minute can also be read on the NFIB California webpage here. Next Main Street Minute May 9.