With the Governor’s deadline for action on those bills having come and gone, the 2013-14 legislative session has closed with some key victories for the state’s restaurant community.
Among those were:
AB 2130 (Pan) was signed into law, which repealed the state’s recent change of law to ban “bare hand contact” with ready-to-eat food.
SB 935 (Leno) was killed in the Assembly and proposed to go above and beyond the recent minimum wage increases approved by the Legislature and Governor by taking the wage up to $13 and putting future increases on auto-pilot.
SB 1000 (Monning) was killed in the Assembly and would have required all restaurants to post a sign at the “point of sale” that read: “STATE OF CALIFORNIA SAFETY WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes and tooth decay.” This would have been a logistical nightmare, as “point of sale” is not defined in law and restaurant operators would have been set up for non-compliance.
SB 1351 (Hill) also was stopped on the Senate Floor and would have required restaurants to accept payment cards with embedded microchip technology, which would have forced a very widespread need for operators throughout the state to purchase new point-of-sale systems at significant cost for many, and tremendous costs for multi-unit operators.
AB 2130 (Campos) would have required an additional 40 hours of paid leave for employees to participate in their children’s school activities. Current law allows for some leave time for this purpose, but unpaid. AB 2130 died in the Assembly.
AB 2644 (Nazarian) would have required every restroom stall in a restaurant to have its own individual trash can. The bill not only would have added another mandate, but also would have severely conflicted with existing access mandates required under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), thereby exposing operators to additional ADA lawsuits.
AB 2416 (Stone) was possibly one of the worst bills of the session that would have allowed any employee to record liens against their employers’ real and personal property for “alleged” unpaid wages and other compensation owed to the employee. AB 2416 was handily defeated on the Senate Floor.
Other legislation that did not become law included a requirement for on-menu labeling of seafood (species, origin, and method of capture), government interjection with private contracts between franchisees and franchisors, new mandates for baby changing tables in every bathroom, labeling requirements for foods that have been genetically modified, and measures that sought to impose parcel taxes or lower the voter threshold needed to approve local tax increases.
The bitter end of the session also brought some major disappointments. The Governor’s late personal interest in moving the paid, sick leave bill through the legislature and to his desk for signature was disappointing. After several years of defeating these bills, this election year brought much more legislative interest and momentum behind the issue. Once it was clear in the final days of the session that this proposal was moving swiftly to the Governor for his signature, the CRA was able to help get a 6-month extension on the effective start date, remove some of the traps for legal exposure, and eliminate overtime pay from the wage calculation.
Additional disappointments are two bills that were signed into law that will hold an employer responsible for their labor contractor’s mistreatment of the labor contractor’s employees AB 1897) and an additional measure that creates a public “shame” list for certain employers that have employees on public assistance programs (AB 1792).