As the California legislative session is in full swing, the California Chamber of Commerce has identified a number of bills that it considers “job killers.”

While the list is extensive – some 27 measures in all – a handful affect large swaths of businesses. The bills run the gamut from one that would require employers to provide paid sick leave to increasing penalties for delayed workers’ comp indemnity payments.

With Democrats controlling both houses of the legislature and a Democrat in the governor’s office, the likelihood of any of these measures being signed into law are always greater. History has shown this to be true.

Since the chamber first started putting out its annual list of job killers in 1997, 44 such measures have been signed into law. Democrat Gov. Gray Davis signed 32 of those bills, but Republican governors Pete Wilson and Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed every one of the bills that landed on their desks.
Since Democrat Jerry Brown took over the governor’s office, he has vetoed 50 job killer bills and signed 12 of them.

The following list is truncated to focus on the measures that have the broadest effects.

  • AB 1522 Paid Sick Leave – Increases employer mandates by requiring all employers, large and small, to provide all employees in California with paid sick leave, and threatens employers with statutory penalties as well as litigation for alleged violations.
  • SB 935 Minimum Wage  – The chamber asserts that this unfairly increases employer costs by raising the minimum wage to $13 by 2017, and then increasing it thereafter in line with the Consumer Price Index.
  • AB 1897 Contractor Liability  – This measure would require an employer to share all legal responsibility and liability – including employer contributions, worker contributions, personal income tax and workers’ compensation – with an individual or company that supplies workers.
    If, for example, a temp agency failed to pay its workers, the responsibility would fall on the temporary employer. The same goes if the labor contractor failed to pay for workers’ comp coverage, and/or failure to remit employee contributions.
  • AB 2416 Unproven Wage Liens   – The bill would allow employees to file liens on an employer’s real or personal property, or property where work was performed, based upon alleged wage claims.

The chamber asserts that the employee would only have to believe they were owed back wages in order to enforce the lien. This would subject employers to “constant extortion in order to avoid dealing with a lien on their property,” wrote CalChamber representatives in an opposition letter.

SB 404 Expansion of Discrimination Laws – Expands the Fair Employment and Housing Act to include a protected classification for any person who is perceived to be, or is associated with an individual who provides medical or supervisory care to a listed family member.

There was one other bill that had been on the list, but it never made it out of committee after employers complained it would severely increase their costs.
That bill, AB 2604, would have dramatically increased penalties and costs for delayed workers’ comp benefit payments. The penalties would have been more than the actual amount of the delayed payment.