September 6, 2012
Anti-restaurant proposals defeated as legislative session winds down
The 2011-2012 California legislative session came to a close in the early hours of Sept 1, with most of the bills dispensed before midnight Aug. 31. The backdrop for the latest session included continued state budget deficits, excessive unemployment rates and an election year with legislators finding themselves drawn into new districts.
A major accomplishment of the Legislature was a major overhaul of California workers compensation system that came together in the final days of session and was approved by both houses of the Legislature and awaits Gov. Brown’s action. SB 863 (DeLeon) increases permanent partial disability payments to legitimately injured workers while making a series of systematic changes to the process in hopes of streamlining the process, getting injured workers back to work sooner, and saving employer costs often associated with lawsuits and some gaming of the current system. Another positive bill that seeks to reform California’s disability law is SB 1186 (Steinberg) is awaiting the Governor’s action as well.
All in all, the vast majority of proposals unfriendly to restaurants were defeated.
A few of proposals that won't become law:
- AB 51 (Yamada) would have placed severe restrictions on the use of payroll cards and added great uncertainty to California’s payroll card market creating barriers for employers to use the cards to pay employees who prefer this method of payment in lieu of live checks.
- AB 10, AB 196, AB 1439 (Alejo) would have either raised the minimum wage to $8.50 and indexed the wage for annual increases according to the California Consumer Price Index or would have simply tied the minimum wage to annual indexing.
- AB 400 (Ma) proposed to mandate paid, protected sick leave for employees who worked in California for seven or more days in a calendar year.
- AB 1634 (Chesbro) would have charged CalRecycle with developing regulations to mandate commercial generators of organic waste (including restaurant food scraps) to contract for separate organics collection. This mandate would have come on top of the recent July 1st mandatory commercial recycling that restaurants must comply with.
- AB 2039 (Swanson) would have increased the circumstances under which an employee is entitled to protected leave under the California Family Rights Act by permitting an employee to take protected leave to care for their independent adult child, parents-in-law, and grandparents.
- SB 568 (Lowenthal) sough to create recycling criteria for foam food packaging that could not reasonably be met, creating a de-facto ban on the product and undermining current recycling efforts for foam.
- SB 1486 (Lieu) would have mandated menu labeling for seafood identifying the species, the country of origin and whether they seafood was caught or farmed.
Gov. Brown has until Sept. 30 to sign or veto bills. The 2013-14 legislative session will convene Dec. 3.