Last week, the California legislature finished up its annual session. By all accounts, the left-wing progressives that dominate the State Capitol were extremely aggressive this year.
Here's just a sampling of some very bad California bills that were passed (there were a lot more). Unfortunately, every one of these bills drew some GOP support. In some cases that support made the difference in passing.
It is worth noting that every one of these bills was amended at the last minute - a practice that would be banned if voters pass Proposition 54 in November, which would require final language be in print for 72 hours before a vote.
AB 1066 - Overtime for Farmworkers/UFW Expansion
This was one of the highest-profile bills sent to the Governor last week. If it is signed into law, it would change overtime pay rules in the agriculture industry substantially. Right now an ag worker is paid overtime if he or she works more than ten hours in a day, or more than 60 hours in a week. This bill would take that down to eight hours a day, or 40 hours in a week.
Needless to say, this change would represent a massive new costly regulation on farming, and would result in many workers who want the season-long work to make extra money instead finding their hours cut. Many farms, already hit hard in so many places, wouldn't be able to stay open.
The most insidious part of this bill is that if a worker is represented by a union (the mega-union in this space is the United Farm Workers), and there is a collectively bargained contract in place, workers in such a contract are exempt from these new regulations. UFW represents a relatively small percentage of farm workers now: you can guess that will change.
This was a party-line bill - almost. Assemblyman Eric Linder was the sole GOP yes vote.
SB 1234 - State-Run Retirement Plans For Everyone
This bill represents a massive expansion of state government. Specifically, it sets up state-run retirement accounts for literally every worker in California who doesn't have a formal program through his or her employer.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out where this program will lead, with state legislators feeling "guilty" if funds in these retirement accounts don't meet expected returns. Or how long will it be before the state provides employee "matching funds" because - well, it isn't fair that some people have this benefit but not everyone, right?
In the Senate, every Democrat voted for this bill along with a solitary GOP vote - Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres). In the Assembly all Democrats save two voted yes. And only two Republicans voted yes: Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale) and Eric Linder (R-Corona).
SB 32 - Extending and Expanding Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006
Back in 2006, then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed his landmark climate-change legislation, AB 32, in a ceremony where even British Prime Minister Tony Blair beamed in via video to participate. The legislation called for a reduction in greenhouse gasses to 1990 levels by 2020. This new bill calls for even further reductions, 40% below 1990 levels, by 2030.
It is almost difficult to put a price tag on the regulations promulgated by these targets, which runs in the billions and billions of dollars. They are massive de facto taxes on Californians.
SB 32 drew only one Republican vote - Assemblywoman Catharine Baker (R-San Ramon). This is another bill that was amended the day it was passed. It is worth noting that virtually the same bill had been killed last session, because of a group of so-called moderate Democrats opposing it. This year they mostly jumped on board: not so "moderate" anymore.
Two related bills, AB 1550 and AB 2722, set out the wealth redistribution piece of the regulatory scheme, taking moneys collected in fines and through extorting businesses and forcing those funds to be spent in districts represented by many legislators voting for SB 32.
SB 1107 - Public Financing of Political Campaigns
In 1988 California voters outlawed taxpayer financing of political campaigns with the passage of Proposition. 73. And for good reason. At its core this forces one person to pay for the political speech of another person. Imagine a white supremacist campaigning using your tax dollars? Pretty outrageous. This bill would allow the state and local governments to vote to enact public financing schemes.
This bill, as originally submitted, would have required a vote of the people, but that public vote was amended out of the bill, making it constitutionally dubious. If the governor signs this bill, look for a lot of expensive litigation to occur.
This bill seeks to amend the Political Reform Act of 1974, and as such required a 2/3 vote from each chamber, which Republicans could have blocked. Instead GOP legislators provided the bare number of votes needed for passage - in the Senate Bob Huff (R-San Dimas) and Cannella voted for it (one Democrat did not); and in the Assembly Republicans Baker, Ling Ling Chang (R-Diamond Bar), and David Hadley (R-Torrance) provided the needed votes.
AB 2153 - Tax Increase On Car Batteries
Tax increases aren't supposed to pass, because Republicans have enough votes to block them. Except when Republicans vote for them. Which is what happened well after midnight on the final night of the session.
Despite their own internal bill analyses, six GOP legislators voted to hike taxes on car batteries by $2 a piece. This is expected to move as much as $50 million per year from the private sector into the public sector. And these new taxes are permanent. It is well known that in Sacramento while it takes a 2/3 vote to raise taxes, it only takes a majority vote to spend those dollars on anything the majority party wants. So while this bill purports to raise funds for a toxic clean up, it's not like the tax goes away when the mess is cleaned. If they even use the funds for that.
In addition to the Democrats, Republicans Cannella and Huff voted for it in the Senate, as did Assembly Republicans Baker, Linder, and Kristin Olsen (R-Riverbank).
The GOP promise to voters this November needs an asterisk: "Re-elect us and we will stop *most new taxes!"
SB 654 - Mandates Small Businesses to Provide Maternity/Paternity Leave
The legislature loves to throw more and more mandates on businesses large and small - including a host of mandates for protected leaves of absences. The California Chamber of Commerce tallies them thusly: the Family Medical Leave Act; the California Family Rights Act; paid family leave; pregnancy disability; military spouse leave; organ donation leave; bone marrow leave; school activities leave; volunteer firefighting leave; reserve peace officer and emergency rescue personnel leave; and civil air patrol and paid sick leave.
This bill would add one more: a parent employed by a business with 20 or more employees can take up to six weeks off of work without fear of losing their job, within a year of the birth of a child.
Many employers that would be affected by this bill already have such policies; others, perhaps, cannot afford to do so. But the Nanny State, in full force, is going to force this as a requirement.
Almost all Democrats voted for this bill in both chambers. While it drew no GOP votes in the Senate, nine Assembly Republicans voted to impose this mandate: Katcho Achadjian (R-San Luis Obispo), Baker, Rocky Chavez (R-Oceanside), David Hadley (R-Torrance), Melissa Melendez (R-Lake Elsinore), Brian Maienschein (R-San Diego), Linder, Olsen, and Marie Waldren (R-Escondido).
- Jon Fleischman is executive director of the California Republican Party.