With a September 30th legislative deadline bearing down on him, Gov. Jerry Brown has put his pen into hyperdrive, signing or vetoing hundreds of bills this week.
Of particular note to restaurant owners was Asm. Lorena Gonazalez’s (D-San Diego) alcohol training bill. AB 2121 was crafted in response to a tragic fatal car accident involving UC San Diego medical students and a drunken driver. The bill would have established the Responsible Beverage Service (RBS) Training Program Act of 2016 and would have required alcohol servers to complete an RBS training course from an accredited training provider.
The Governor vetoed the bill Wednesday, writing that he preferred to have the Department of Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) lead the retooling of California’s alcohol training programs. But since the Governor did not take issue with the requirement of the alcohol program itself, it is possible a similar bill will be introduced in the future with a greater role for the ABC.
Stay tuned to "The Source" next week as we provide a full recap of the Governor’s actions on deadline day.
Last month, we examined Seattle’s efforts to implement a restrictive scheduling and “opportunity to work” regulation – as well as the potential that the city’s move could signal a shift in approach for unions. The strategy of taking labor issues to big-city mayors proved successful in initiating the groundswell of wage hikes that led California to enact a statewide increase.
So far, the prediction seems prescient. After Seattle’s mayor and two city councilmembers unveiled their plan to impose restrictive scheduling on the city’s employers, New York City’s Mayor Bill de Blasio announced similar intentions. Emeryville and Minneapolis have also joined the fray over employee schedules.
Because of the success of the “Fight for 15” campaign, progressive leaders seem to be feeling bullish about restrictive scheduling’s prospects. Speaking to the left-leaning website ThinkProgress.org, the director of the Fair Workweek Initiative at the Center for Popular Democracy said, “The fight for just hours is definitely the next movement for people trying to achieve security for their families.” And Sejal Parikh of the Working Washington group in Seattle added, “It’s the natural other half of the $15 campaign.”
On Monday, Seattle’s city council unanimously passed their proposed scheduling ordinance. The new law mandates things like: good-faith estimates of work hours, two weeks’ notice for schedules and fines for schedule changes. Extra hours must be offered to part-time employees before hiring new workers, and business owners must also maintain three years’ worth of records documenting their responses to employee requests for scheduling changes.
Only making matters worse for the businesses impacted (500 or more workers and 40 or more locations), the Seattle City Council built in a carve-out for labor groups to negotiate an alternative to restrictive scheduling through the collective bargaining process.
Nevertheless, there is reason to wonder whether local politicians will have an appetite for continuing to lump costs onto business owners. City leaders in Washington D.C. killed an “opportunity to work” and restrictive scheduling push this week, stating they feared putting too great of a burden upon business owners in light of other new cost increases. The most recent attempt to pass a restrictive scheduling bill in California’s legislature also failed this year. This was the second time such a bill had been introduced in the state, and the notion that a one-size-fits-all approach will not work for restaurants has made legislators hesitant to pass the issue into law.
So even as California’s business groups should be prepared for restrictive scheduling debates at both the city and state levels, the accomplishments of the “Fight for 15” campaign over the past two years may make municipalities hesitant to continue to add to the heavy loads already being carried by their local job creators.
About three years ago, the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors was on the verge of approving a new ordinance that would have negatively impacted existing restaurants and bars in the unincorporated parts of Sacramento County. The new law would have required these businesses to obtain conditional use permits and imposed more restrictions on security and live music.
Currently, these establishments are allowed by right with no use standards that are to be met to ensure related activities are compatible with the surrounding land uses and the community. The previous effort to apply to all restaurants and bars was ditched after the CRA’s successful ongoing negotiations with the Supervisors.
The Sacramento County Planning Commission (not the Board of Supervisors) is now revisiting the issue. Primarily focused on only new bars and taverns, the Commission is looking to require conditional use permits for these establishments.
While the CRA will continue to work with the commission to encourage them to have a process that is open to stakeholders for discussion and justification of this proposal, it will be important to keep this regulatory body focused only on new bars and taverns and to mitigate any onerous requirements and costs.
The proposed amendment is intended to enable Sacramento County and community members to review project elements and to implement conditions of approval to reduce the likelihood of the business becoming a nuisance property.
Existing bars and taverns that have obtained a special license from the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC), if lawfully established, shall be considered a permitted use, and shall not be required to obtain a Certificate of Nonconforming Use.
However, if the special ABC license is changed to a different type, or transferred to a different address, or if the use itself is expanded in any way, the use shall be subject to the proposed permit requirements and use standards pursuant.
In advance of this proposed amendment, county staff have sent out notices to existing establishment
owners with information related to the proposed requirements. The next public hearing is on Monday, September 26th at 5:30 p.m., and the CRA will be there to share comments and concerns.
A link to some of the information is here:
Proposed ordinance language (note page 5):
If you have any comments on this proposal, please share them with us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
You don’t have to look far within the current culinary landscape to find anxiety about the restaurant industry’s shortage of restaurant professionals. From the scarcity of kitchen talent in major cities to worries about a generational shift in the workplace, these concerns are bigger than the usual tropes about it being “hard to find good help these days.”
The CRA Foundation works throughout the year to build events designed to nurture tomorrow’s restaurant entrepreneurs and employees. In 2014, the organization launched its Force-in-Training™ (FIT) Day to give restaurant owners and professionals an opportunity to head into ProStart classrooms to promote working in the restaurant business and to share how to be successful. This includes teaching “soft skills” like how to land your first job in a restaurant, how to communicate in the workplace and the necessities of punctuality and a sound work ethic.
FIT™ Day is your chance to help California’s restaurant community address workforce issues in a proactive way. Yet, we can’t make this day a success without your help! The CRA Foundation is looking for volunteers at about 50 different schools from across the state.
The event takes place October 25, and the Foundation offers a short webinar and an easy-to-follow curriculum to guide you during FIT™ Day. Volunteer today!
While last week marked the end of the most recent two-year legislative cycle, there are still nearly 800 pieces of legislation patiently waiting to receive a stroke from Governor Brown’s pen.
Among this voluminous contingent of would-be laws, there are five undecided bills that the CRA either opposes or supports – with parental leave legislation being a priority of most business groups.
SB 654 would mandate six weeks of parental leave for a new parent at a business with 20 or more employees. That includes an employee with a new child, adopting a child or receiving a foster care placement.
The bill has been labeled a “job-killer” by the California Chamber of Commerce, and the governor vetoed a family leave bill just last year. Nevertheless, Brown remains tough to pin down on the issue and largely unpredictable.
Continuing the theme of regulating the relationship between employers and employees, SB 1063 seeks to prohibit an employer from paying different rates to workers of different races for substantially similar work. Although the bill is well-intentioned, the CRA is in opposition to Sen. Isadore Hall’s (D-Compton) legislation because it would open the door for a lot of litigation traps.
Another bill tackling employment is Asm. Mark Stone’s (D-Monterey Bay) AB 1843, or the so-called, “ban the box” legislation. The CRA is opposed to the Assemblymember’s measure as it could inhibit the ability of employers to make safe hiring decisions. AB 1843 would prohibit employers from inquiring into any adjudication made in a juvenile court – including criminal records of murder, rape and other dangerous crimes.
There is also SB 1167, introduced by Sen. Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia), which is an attempt to regulate indoor heat. The bill would require CAL-OSHA to establish heat illness and injury prevention standards for restaurants and a number of other workplaces. Since CAL-OSHA already has the authority to adopt such regulations, the CRA is opposed to a new law. In this case, adding additional mandates would only make it more challenging for employers to comply with existing state law.
Now onto a bill the CRA supports. Our government affairs team has worked with Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) to craft a bill that would allow for five new original special on-sale general alcohol licenses for eating establishments located within a specific area of San Francisco. If signed into law, the bill would serve as a trial project in San Francisco that could expand to other cities.
The Governor has until September 30 to give the thumbs up or thumbs down to all remaining legislation, and you can follow the CRA on Twitter to stay current on the latest updates.