New bills signed into law

Cameron Smyth Commentary

Well, it’s over, finally. After nearly eight months, the California Legislative Session came to an end earlier this month (October) and the deadline passed for Governor Brown to act on the over 1,000 bills that ended up on his desk. Like every year, a few of those bills made the headlines as they were signed into law.

SB 277 – Mandatory Vaccine
The bill mandates that parents enrolling their children in California schools will be allowed to opt them out of immunizations only for medical reasons and may no longer cite religious or personal belief exemptions as reasons not to vaccinate. The bill was signed into law earlier this year amid major controversy. In fact, every longtime Capitol-watcher I spoke to said they had never seen a bill generate larger crowds.

ABx2 15 – Right to Die
Equally as controversial and generating national attention was California’s version of a “right to die” bill. Passing after countless hearings and moving testimony by legislators on both sides of the issue, the governor signed the bill into law. This bill also had a local connection with Santa Clarita Valley resident Christy O’Donnell, who herself is facing terminal cancer diagnosis and had filed a lawsuit against the state and took an active role in support of the bill.

As important as these bills are, many more were signed by the governor, several of which will further impact California’s businesses, which are already overburdened with regulations. Below are some additional bills that should have been vetoed but, unfortunately, will take effect on January 1.

AB 1288 – Expanding the California Air Resources Board
AB 1288 allows the Senate and Assembly to add one member each to the all-powerful, unaccountable California Air Resources Board (CARB), which many businesses cite as the agency most responsible for their leaving California. Adding more unelected, unaccountable members does nothing to improve the economy of our state.

SB 350 – Renewable Energy
This bill mandates that within 15 years, 50 percent of our energy will come from “renewable” sources. Never mind that under this mandate energy costs are estimated to significantly increase for families and businesses. It also mandates that all commercial buildings become 50 percent more energy efficient within 15 years. While laudable, the reality is this bill will do nothing but send more companies into the waiting arms of other states.

SB 331 – Local Government Negotiations
Local governments have been adopting Civic Openness in Negotiations (COIN), which allows public employee union contract negotiations to be held in public. In response, unions pushed SB 331, which enacts an onerous and virtually unattainable set of requirements and costly time delays on all local government contracts — and applies only for those governments who have implemented COIN. The goal is to de-incentivize the spread of COIN, and eliminate where it has been adopted.

SB 99 – Caltrans
This bill gives a seven percent pay hike to Caltrans engineers and allows them to quadruple the cash-out of unused vacation time from 20 hours to 80 hours, despite the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst recently citing careless accounting and poor/non-existent cost and budget tracking in the agency. Not to be outdone, the State Auditor reported that one Caltrans engineer golfed 55 days while “on the clock” and supervisors still signed his time cards without being able to verify his time.

AB 775 – Family Planning
This law requires crisis pregnancy centers, and other services that assist with adoption and pro-life choices, to now post in their clinics a bold statement advising women of the availability of free abortions at Planned Parenthood. Basically, organizations that counsel women on the options for keeping their baby, such as the SCV Pregnancy Center, no longer have the right to advocate their position without also advocating for abortion services. Of course, the reverse does not apply to Planned Parenthood.

AB 622 – Employee Interviews
This bill stops employers from using E-verify during the application process to determine an applicant’s eligibility for employment. In other words, employers are not allowed to know if an applicant is an illegal immigrant. Enough said. R