For the legislative and political week April 4-8
Welcome to the April 4-8 edition of the NFIB California Main Street Minute from your NFIB small-business-advocacy team in Sacramento.
Vaccine Mandate Bill Shelved
- The big news of last week was Assembly Member Buffy Wicks’ March 29 announcement that she has withdrawn her Assembly Bill 1993, which would have required all California businesses to demand their employees and independent contractors receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
- “We are now in a new and welcome chapter in this pandemic, with the virus receding for the moment,” she said in her announcement. “This provides for us the opportunity to work more collaboratively with labor and employers to address concerns raised by the bill. That is why we have decided to put AB 1993 on pause, and allow space for these conversations to continue and progress.”
- NFIB had sent Wicks this letter of opposition asking her “Why now? Overall, 71% of California’s population have been fully vaccinated. And California, along with the rest of the country, is opening back up after a long, business crushing period of shutdowns and business restrictions. California’s COVID numbers are approaching record lows and by all indications, cases are still dropping.”
NFIB on Board with Retail Theft Bill
- “The undersigned coalition members are proud to SUPPORT your AB 2390, which allows individuals to be charged with a felony for repeated incidences of theft or shoplifting where the total amount of goods, money, or property stolen exceeds the grand theft threshold of $950.The bill also establishes a diversion program for individuals charged with felony theft and directs them to appropriate mental health, addiction, or other treatment, or job training and education opportunities.” So said the coalition’s letter of support to Assembly Member Al Muratsuchi for his Assembly Bill 2390. NFIB is part of the coalition.
Keeping the Heat on UI Loan Debt
- Last Monday (March 28) NFIB sent this letter of support to Assembly Member Steven Choi for his Assembly Bill 1596.|
- “In general, the contribution rate is 0.6% of wages, up to $7,000 of wages per employee/per year which is $42. Since California’s UI Fund will be insolvent for over two years, California employers will face a per-employee tax increase of $21 in 2023 and further increases every year thereafter. If the fund remains insolvent for 18 years, the maximum rate will be $420 per employee per year.
- “Not only will employers benefit from eliminating the debt, but the state will as well. The state is responsible for paying the interest on any outstanding debt to the federal government. In the State’s January Budget, $470 million was the interest owed by the state.”
- NFIB teamed up with 19 other business groups to send this joint letter of opposition to members of the State Senate’s Judiciary Committee expressing their worries over Senate Bill 1149.
- “First and foremost, this legislation will disincentivize efficient settlement of cases – regardless of their merits – and thereby increase litigation time and cost for both plaintiffs and defendants,” according to the letter.
Call Center Operations
- NFIB joined with other business associations in sending this March 29 letter of opposition to members of the Assembly Appropriations Committee over Assembly Bill 1601.
- “AB 1601 will deter companies from creating jobs in California because it improperly penalizes any companies who move California call center operations to a different country. Governor Newsom vetoed this same bill in 2019 for this exact reason. AB 1601 also appears to exceed the boundaries of California’s jurisdiction by regulating activities in other countries and, therefore, is likely unlawful,” said the letter.
U.S. Supreme Court Hears California PAGA Case
- California’s 18-year-old Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) law was heard March 30 in the nation’s highest court. In Viking River Cruises v. Moriana, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments over whether private attorneys could sue on behalf of workers who agreed to arbitrate their claims individually.
- According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, “A group of California employers told the court that the law, even if well intentioned, has become a means to enrich plaintiffs’ law firms. They file claims at a rate of 17 per day, said Washington attorney Paul Clement, and they are demanding penalties for “tens of thousands of employees at a time and extracting millions of dollars from employers.”
- On February 7, NFIB filed an amicus brief in support of Viking River Cruises. “Arbitration is a fast and inexpensive way for small business owners to resolve issues and avoid costly litigation in court,” said Karen Harned, executive director of NFIB’s Small Business Legal Center. “Small businesses suffer when federal and state laws contradict, as highlighted in this case. It is important that the Supreme Court rejects the Ninth Circuit’s decision and allows a consistent and dependable pro-arbitration mandate.”
- A decision will be handed down in late June, according to the Times.
Highlights from NFIB Legislative Program Manager Caitlin Lanzara’s weekly report
- On March 28th, the Biden Administration released the FY 2023 budget request. The Administration’s budget request assumes the Build Back Better Act (BBB) will be enacted into law this year. It also proposes substantial tax increases above and beyond those included in the BBB, such as increasing the corporate tax rate to 28% and creating a double death tax by increasing capital gains taxes and repealing stepped-up basis. NFIB released the following statement from VP of Federal Government Relations Kevin Kuhlman:
- “The small business economy is still recovering as owners face multiple headwinds with rising inflation, staffing shortages, and supply chain disruptions. In February, over a quarter of small business owners reported that inflation is their single most important business problem with no sign of it easing. President Biden’s budget request proposes problematic tax increases and mandates beyond those that were included in the Build Back Better Act. Increasing taxes and adding additional mandates on small businesses threaten the fragile small business recovery at a precarious time.”
- On March 31st, NFIB released a statement on President Biden’s decision to release oil from the strategic petroleum reserve to try to mitigate gas prices. VP of Federal Government Relations Kevin Kuhlman stated:
- “The recent increase in gas prices has added another burden for small businesses as they continue to face rising inflation, an ongoing worker shortage, and continued supply chain disruptions. Small businesses throughout the country rely on gas as a crucial component of operating and the recent hikes in fuel costs have created massive uncertainty. The small business recovery is fragile and relief in gas prices will be welcomed by Main Street.”
This Main Street Minute can also be read on the NFIB California webpage here. Next Main Street Minute April 11.