For the legislative and political week March 8-12
Welcome to the March 8 edition of the NFIB California Main Street Minute from the NFIB small-business advocacy team in Sacramento.
- NFIB was one of 75 business groups co-signing a March 1 letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom and the Legislature listing the 25 Assembly and Senate bills that would promote economic activity.
- One of the bills not in the letter, which NFIB is backing, is Assembly Bill 2. You can read a one-page fact sheet here from the measure’s author, Assembly Member Vince Fong. Take-away: “Current law does not require individual agencies to review and update superfluous regulations. Inconsistent, duplicative, and outdated rules only worsen the effects of repeated shutdowns … AB 2 proposes a greater role for state agencies in identifying, reviewing, and correcting the regulations they promulgate.”
- A bill giving small businesses some liability protection against unfair COVID lawsuits is quietly in the works. More details in next week’s Main Street Minute.
- Please Remember: Cal/OSHA’s emergency regulations for COVID in the workplace instituted late last year are in effect. NFIB and the National Retail Association’s court challenge of the regulations was rejected by a judge this month. As pointed out in the letter sent to Governor Newsom and the Legislature, particularly onerous are the provisions “to (1) provide unlimited paid time off to any employee who was in close proximity to either another employee or a customer who has COVID-19, even if the employee never actually contracts COVID-19 or has been vaccinated, and (2) conduct weekly or biweekly testing of all employees at a worksite when there is an ‘outbreak.’ Paying for unlimited paid time off is a financial impossibility for many employers and the testing mandate not only glosses over the lack of available existing testing resources, but also remains in place even after the outbreak has been resolved.”
- In the Meantime: Two bills aimed at alleviating some of Cal/OSHA’s regulations have been introduced but have not had a first hearing yet. One is Assembly Bill 62 by Adam Gray (D-Merced) that would allow a tax credit for the cost to comply with Cal/OSHA’s COVID regulation. The other measure is Assembly Bill 248 by Steven Choi, which provide a tax credit for “costs paid or incurred … for the purchase of cleaning and sanitizing supplies used at business locations in the state to prevent the transmission of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).”
- Kevin Pedrotti, NFIB California’s chief legislative advocate, reports on the bills currently “consuming the most political oxygen”:
- AB 80 (Burke) – PPP partial federal conformity. It is anticipated this measure will be taken up soon as amendments are completed to make changes to the Governor’s original proposal.
- AB 84/SB 95 – COVID paid leave. Final details being worked. Appears businesses under 25 employees will be exempt from provisions. Many other issues to be determined. They will not be acted upon until next week.
- AB 1084 (Low) – This is a redo of a previous bill. This measure would prohibit large retailers to have gender-specific isles.
- AB 1256 (Quirk) – Intended to prevent employers from using past evidence of marijuana use, such as a hair or urine test, as justification for discrimination against an employee, such as denying or terminating employment.
- AB 1287 (Bauer-Kahan) – Another attempt to prohibit a “pink tax” on goods that are marketed to a certain gender that are more expensive than other similar products.
- AB 1400 (Kalra) – Imposes a single-payer health care system in the state.
- Also, from Pedrotti, “Late Wednesday, the Newsom administration set a new benchmark for business re-openings. Under the plan to be announced this morning, California will earmark 40% of its COVID vaccine shots for low-income communities spread out across 400 of the state’s ZIP codes, largely in Los Angeles County, the Inland Empire, and the Central Valley. Once 2 million of the possible 8 million eligible residents in those communities are vaccinated, the state will adjust the COVID case rate needed for counties to move from the most restrictive purple tier to the red tier. This system should ease the way for restaurants, gyms, museums, movie theaters and other businesses to reopen indoors at limited capacity within the next two to three weeks.”
- NFIB California Leadership Council Chairman Sunder Ramani has written a letter to members asking for their help in getting our sales representatives the names of two to three non-NFIB-member businesses for our Sales team to reach out to. “The more members we have, the louder we speak, and the better our message is remembered by policymakers in Sacramento,” wrote Ramani.
- Speaking of members, NFIB California thanks Beth Booth of Spaces Renewed in Oceanside for making a video testimonial for Senate Republican Leader Scott Wilk in favor of Senate Bill 265, which would conform California’s tax laws to the federal government’s regarding Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. “If we were to be hit a tax bill now retroactively for those loans, it would be catastrophic. The reason we requested those loans in the first place is because cash flow is nearly impossible right now.” Would you be interested in making a video on this issue? Send Grassroots Manager Taylor Criddle an email.
- Save the Date. Wednesday, April 21 is NFIB California’s Small Business Day at the Capitol. Invited guests include Dee Dee Myers, a senior adviser to Governor Newsom and director of the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz); Assembly Member James Ramos (D-Rancho Cucamonga); and Sen. Scott Wilk (R-Santa Clarita). For more information, send an email to NFIB Grassroots Manager Taylor Criddle.
NFIB California in the Media
- State Director John Kabateck tells The Sacramento Bee that a bill boosting penalties for wage theft is as onerous as it is needless, “At face value, it appears to be a legislation that will do nothing more than create unnecessary fear and uncertainty in small business owners. California’s small business owners, especially during the pandemic, have faced a tsunami of onerous and complex labor laws, rules and requirements that they are trying to make sense of.” The story also ran in sister papers, The Fresno Bee, The Modesto Bee, Merced Sun-Star, and the San Luis Obispo Tribune.
- Having the small business tax deduction put into the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, the original version of which had left small business out in the cold, was one of NFIB’s greatest lobbying victories. This link provides a nice, brief refresher on all that TCJA has done for Main Street enterprises. No surprise, then, why passage of the bipartisan Main Street Tax Certainty Act, which would permanently expand the 20% Small Business Deduction (Section 199A), is one of NFIB’s highest Congressional priorities. Read more here. Take Action here.
- An equally time-consuming effort will be spent working for the defeat of the PRO Act (H.R. 842, the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act of 2021), which will be considered on the House floor this week. How many bad-for-business provisions can you stuff in one bill? The PRO Act has the answer: abolishing right-to-work laws, restricting an employee’s ability to reject union representation, adopting California’s ABC test for independent contractors, and more. Read more here. Take action here.
Next Main Street Minute, March 15.