in the KNOW

September 12, 2014

Hundreds of Bills Await Action by Gov. Brown

With the recent adjournment of the 2014 legislative session, attention is now focused on Governor Jerry Brown as he continues to review the bills approved by the California State Legislature at the end of August. Measures regarding groundwater and labor issues are among the hundreds of bills on the governor’s desk.

Governor Brown must sign or veto bills approved at the end of the legislative session by September 30, as required by the California Constitution.

Ag Council is urging Governor Brown to veto several bills on his desk this month. Read on to learn more.

Ag Council Urges Gov. Brown to Veto Groundwater Package

Ag Council and many of our members sent a letter calling upon Governor Brown to veto the three groundwater measures passed by the Legislature, SB 1168 and SB 1319 authored by Senator Pavley (D-Agoura Hills) and AB 1739 by Assemblyman Dickinson (D-Sacramento).

Among the concerns with the groundwater legislation is that it fails to recognize groundwater as a beneficial use, threatens existing water rights, requires millions of dollars in fees to implement, does not streamline adjudications, and the legislation was pushed through at the end of the legislative session without one policy hearing on the amended legislation.

We want to work with both the governor and the Legislature to more carefully develop groundwater legislation in a collaborative manner, similar to the process undertaken on the water bond, to create the best package possible that is not connected to chaos at the end of the legislative session.

Click HERE to read the veto letter from Ag Council and many of our members to Governor Brown.

Labor Measures on Gov. Brown’s Desk

Several labor bills opposed by Ag Council are among the measures sent to Governor Brown at the end of the legislative session. Ag Council, and a coalition of others, formally requested a veto of the following bills described below.

AB 1897 – Expanded Liability for Labor Contracting
The Legislature approved AB 1897 by Assemblyman Hernandez (D-West Covina), which invokes liability for wage and hour violations for those who contract labor. Specifically, any entity that obtains or is provided labor from a labor contractor is liable for: 1) payment of wages to the contractor’s employees, 2) all contributions, including tax contributions, and 3) worker’s compensation coverage and OSHA requirements.

AB 1897 is an unprecedented expansion of liability against innocent parties and increases litigation against those entities using contractors as part of their usual course of business. Current law already protects against unlawful contracting practices and abuse of contracted labor.

Ag Council has opposed AB 1897 throughout the legislative session. Given the many concerns with the bill, Ag Council and others have asked Governor Brown to veto AB 1897. He has until September 30 to sign or veto the bill.

SB 25 – Denies Due Process 
SB 25 by Senator Steinberg (D-Sacramento) was amended during August and subsequently passed by the Legislature. The new bill raises the standard of proof for a stay of an administrative order by the Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB) to “clear and convincing evidence” of “irreparable harm” and “likelihood of success.” This denies due process to ag employers given that ALRB could enforce an administrative order before a court has undergone a review of that order.

The Legislature approved SB 25, and it is awaiting consideration by the governor. Ag Council and many other ag groups have asked Governor Brown to veto SB 25.

AB 1792 — Publicly Shames Employers
The Legislature passed AB 1792, by Assemblyman Gomez (D-Los Angeles), at the end of the session.  AB 1792 publicly shames employers by requiring California employers, with over 100 employees enrolled in Medi-Cal, to be listed online.  The listed employers could be subject to liability, protests, and media attacks.  At the same time, the public would not have a full understanding of all costs borne by employers.

Given the absurdity of AB 1792, Ag Council opposed this measure. Unfortunately, it was approved by the Legislature, and Ag Council has joined with others to ask Governor Brown to veto the bill.

Wage Lien Bills Fails in Senate

The wage lien measure, AB 2416 by Assemblyman Stone (D-Scotts Valley), failed passage by a vote of 13-15 in the Senate at the end of August. Ag Council and many other organizations opposed this measure, and we are pleased the Senate rejected this dangerous and unfair bill.

As background, under AB 2416, employees and employees’ representatives, including creditors, could file unproven wage liens–for any wage violation–against the real and personal property of an employer. AB 2416 would violate due process by not providing a realistic opportunity for an employer to prevent the taking of their property through an unproven, pre-judgment wage lien.