For the legislative and political week February 7-11
Welcome to the February 7-11 edition of the NFIB California Main Street Minute from your NFIB small-business-advocacy team in Sacramento.
COVID-19 Bills Moving Through Legislature Fast
- Today (February 7), the Assembly Budget Committee will discuss a package of emergency legislation that includes Senate Bill 114, COVID paid leave.
- For its part, the Senate passed Assembly Bill 84 last week, a companion measure also dealing COVID supplemental paid sick leave.
- The Senate also last week passed Assembly Bill 87, a COVID economic relief measure. Another economic relief measure, Senate Bill 113, will come up for a floor vote in the Assembly shortly.
- NFIB and its coalition partners made this case against reinstating paid COVID leave. CalMatters has this comprehensive story on the paid leave proposal.
Out of the Frying Pan and into the Fire
- “The only good news for progressives Monday [January 31] was passage — albeit barely — of another priority measure,” reports veteran Capitol observer Dan Walters in CalMatters, “Assembly Bill 257 would create a European-style governmental council to set wages and working conditions for the franchised fast food industry — McDonald’s, Burger King, etc.
- “The proposed Fast-Food Sector Council, dominated by employees and appointees of union-friendly politicians, would bypass the traditional union organization and collective bargaining process.
- “If enacted, AB 257 would be a precedent for other economic sectors resistant to unionization, such as agriculture. But its fate in the state Senate is far from certain as it faces very stiff opposition from the franchise industry and the larger business community.”
- NFIB is part of a coalition opposed to AB 257.
- And you thought just getting your order right was challenging enough for these overwhelmingly young and still-living-at-home fast food workers. “Fast food workers are a lesson in courage,” SEIU California President Bob Schoonover in a statement published by The Sacramento Bee. “Despite threats, workplace hazards, retaliation, and profoundly exploitative work conditions, they have emerged as leading voices in the nation for equity and respect at work.”
- Wow. Who knew?
We Haven’t Heard the Last of Single Payer Health Care
- By now, everyone has heard that the most talked-about legislation in the past two years, instituting a single-payer health care system in California, died in the State Assembly. You can read more about it at this NFIB California web story. The following are comments in its wake.
- “Upon the quiet announcement the bill would not be heard, the author stated he was so far short of votes he wouldn’t even bring it up for a vote,” reports NFIB California’s chief legislative advocate, Kevin Pedrotti. “And that was when the finger pointing began. The Assembly Speaker said he was ‘disappointed,’ and even the sponsors of the bill, The California Nurses Association, damned their own author because he ‘chose to just give up on patients.’
- “The chance of single payer becoming operative law this year was always a glimmer of hope for supporters. Not only would legislators have needed to garner two-thirds votes to increase taxes, but they would also have had to put a constitutional amendment before voters — a campaign that would have brought immense opposition from business and health care interests.”
- Yousef Baig, an editorial writer for The Sacramento Bee, was none too pleased with the outcome, and pointed his finger at one political party. “Even with 56 Democrats in the 80-member Assembly, in a state where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-to-1 and the current governor ran on a single-payer platform, this week California’s supermajority displayed a comical level of ineptitude by failing to advance AB 1400 to the senate.
- “If California leaders can’t elevate this discussion past the lowest house in the Legislature, let’s be honest about the pitfalls of the Democratic supermajority. Its might is an illusion, its promises are performative and its ability to deliver anything meaningful for the vast majority of Californians who support the Democratic agenda is a fantasy.”
From Caitlin Lanzara, NFIB’s Congressional Legislative Program Manager
- While Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) continues to insist the House-passed Build Back Better Act is dead, negotiations on a successor package continue. The all-you-can-eat buffet is closed but the a la carte menu remains open. Learn more here.
- The Biden Administration and Democratic Congressional leaders are forging ahead with pieces of the bill they believe can satisfy Senator Manchin’s concerns.
- NFIB and NFIB members must remain vigilant in pushing back against problematic policies that threaten the fragile small business economic recovery, including higher taxes, inflexible mandates, and substantially increases penalties.
- The U.S. House Ways and Means Committee included NFIB stories. Click here.
- On January 31, NFIB supported S. 3074 / H.R. 5743, the Ensuring Workers Get PAID Act of 2021.
- This legislation would resume and codify the Department of Labor’s (DOL) Payroll Audit Independent Determination (PAID) program, which helped small businesses correct minor wage and hour violations before they incurred a penalty.
- Unlike larger businesses, many small businesses don’t have dedicated compliance experts. Half of owners handle payroll in-house, which can result in unintentional errors.
- This program will help them to correct unintended errors before incurring costly fines or litigation.
- For example, the Build Back Better Act would increase the maximum minimum wage and overtime violation fines from $1,100 to $20,740 per violation and the maximum tipped credit violation fine from $1,100 to $11,620.
- As Congress continues to debate legislation that would substantially increase penalties for minimum wage and overtime violations, this compliance assistance program would help honest small business owners before they are assessed penalties under a strict liability standard.
- For example, a small employer who makes a single error and forgets that his or her employees’ hours exceeded the overtime threshold and inadvertently forgets to pay overtime to 10 employees can now be subject to $207,400 in fines. Small businesses do not have the operating revenue of larger businesses and cannot simply absorb these substantial fines, nor do they have legal counsel on retainer to negotiate lower fines with agency officials. This one-time error can ruin a small employer and permanently put them out of business.
Next Main Street Minute February 14.