August 31, 2020

Opening Today!

California Governor Gavin Newsom announced the launch of a Blueprint for a Safer Economy, which contains changes to the industries allowed to reopen. According to County of Santa Clara Public Health Officials, Hair Salons and Barbershops can reopen indoor operations today, following the guidance for the July 13 County of Santa Clara Public Health Department health order. Retail and Malls can also resume operation at 25% capacity.

Per the California COVID-19 Site:
The Blueprint for a Safer Economy replaces the County Data Monitoring List for determining what business can and cannot open.

So why change? We learned a lot over the first several months of the pandemic about COVID-19 and how it spreads. For example, we know how much safer outdoor activities are than indoor ones and that it’s critical everyone wears a mask to limit the spread of the disease. This blueprint incorporates what we’ve learned.

The Blueprint for a Safer Economy is the next evolution of our response. We’ve revised the criteria and the time between changing tiers. We’ve made it easy for counties to see how changes affect the disease’s trajectory and for businesses and customers to plan ahead. And we’ve given Californians one place to look up whether a business or activity is allowed near them.

Blueprint for a Safer Economy:
https://covid19.ca.gov/safer-economy/

County of Santa Clara July 13 Industry Guidance For Hair Salons and Barbershops:
https://www.sccgov.org/sites/covid19/Pages/mandatory-directives-personal-care.aspx

Sexual Harassment and Abusive Conduct Prevention Training Information for Employers

Don’t wait… CALIFORNIA LAW REQUIRES ACTION BY JANUARY 1, 2021

S.B. 1343 requires that all employers of 5 or more employees provide 1 hour of sexual harassment and abusive conduct prevention training to non-managerial employees and 2 hours of sexual harassment and abusive conduct prevention training to managerial employees once every two years.

There is no requirement that the 5 employees or contractors work at the same location or that all work or reside in California.

Under the DFEH’s regulations, the definition of “employee” includes full-time, part-time, and temporary employees.

Frequently Asked Questions

By what date must employees be trained?
Both managerial and non-managerial employees must receive training by January 1, 2021. After January 1, 2021, employees must be retrained once every two years.

How can I get training for my employees?
The Gilroy Chamber of Commerce in partnership with CalChamber provides online training courses in English and Spanish. Employees can take their self-paced training from desktops, tablets or cell phones. Members of the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce receive a 20% discount on their training courses.


What are the laws and regulations governing the sexual harassment and abusive conduct prevention trainings?
The law requiring sexual harassment and abusive conduct prevention training is Gov. Code 12950.1. The regulations governing such trainings are 2 CCR 11024.

Who is required to pay for the training? The employer or employee?
California law specifies that, “An employer . . . shall provide” sexual harassment and abusive conduct prevention training. Gov. Code 12950.1(a)-(b). The Department is authorized to seek a court order that “the employer” has not complied with this requirement. Gov. Code 12950.1(f). This language makes clear that it is the employer’s—not the employee’s—responsibility to provide the required training, including any costs that may be incurred. This language also makes clear that employees may not be required to take such training during their personal time; the training must be “provided” by the employer as part of an individual’s employment.

Nice Try!

Mayors’ Reasons for Supporting Prop. 15 Don’t Hold Up
By Joel Fox, Special to CalMatters

Fifteen California mayors, including mayors of some of California’s biggest cities, signed a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom urging him to endorse Proposition 15, the commercial property tax increase on the November ballot. However, the main reasons the mayors used to support their position don’t stand up to a real-world examination of the facts.

The justifications that only a handful of the “biggest and wealthiest corporations” will pay the tax, the implication that small businesses are protected and will be unscathed by the property tax increase, the argument that agriculture is not subjected to the tax, and the idea that the property tax increase will help schools and local governments deal with the immediate budget strains due to the pandemic are easily refuted.

The mayors argue that 10% of the commercial properties in the state will pay 92% of the $12 billion property tax increase. Unfortunately, it is small businesses, desperately trying to hang on in difficult times, that will be the biggest victims of this property tax expansion.

That is because more than three-fourths of California small businesses do not own their property. They lease shops and office space. In the commercial world, business leases most often contain a triple net lease which means that the lessee is responsible to cover increases in a property’s insurance, maintenance and taxes. Small businesses are therefore contractually liable for the tax increase that is passed on to them by the leaseholder and will carry the load if this property tax increase passes – those that survive as the result of the pandemic.

Many small businesses already have closed their doors because of COVID-19. Many small businesses in California are minority- and women-owned. How many more small businesses trying to rise even when the pandemic eases will succumb if an additional financial burden is placed on them via this tax increase?

Because many small businesses will definitely be subject to the tax through leases, the argument put forth by the mayors that small businesses are somehow protected under this initiative is not correct. Small businesses are concerned enough about the consequences and liabilities that this property tax proposal carries that major California small business organizations such as the California Small Business Association and the National Federation of Independent Business, along with the Black Chamber of Commerce, the Hispanic Chambers of Commerce and the Asian Pacific Chamber of Commerce among other business affiliated groups all oppose Prop. 15.

While the mayors say agriculture concerns will be spared by the tax, that is not correct. Agricultural land may not be taxed, but facilities associated with running a farm from barns to processing plants will be taxed higher, meaning the cost of food will go up.

The mayors argue that they are facing dire economic circumstances and their governments need the monies from the Prop. 15 tax increase to deal with the difficulties caused by the pandemic. The problem with this argument is even if Prop. 15 passes there will be no money produced by the tax change for a number of years.

The initiative itself says it does not go into effect until 2022. However, full effect will not happen until 2025 according to the state Legislative Analyst. If even then. The California Assessors Association is opposed to Prop. 15 because, as a member of the association testified before a legislative hearing, it is “impossible” to implement the initiative’s new tax rules under current circumstances dealing with staffing and resources.

If a small business is obligated to cover a property tax increase, difficult choices have to be made to raise prices adding to California’s high cost of living or reducing jobs increasing the state’s staggering unemployment rate. As the California economy attempts to rise from the ashes of the pandemic, anchoring down the business community with the largest property tax increase in the state’s history is a destructive formula.

New PPP Rule Impacts Owner-Employees

By Mark Mensheha, The National Observer

New guidance from the Small Business Administration changes the compensation limits for certain Paycheck Protection Program borrowers who are considered owner-employees. The federal agency this week released a new rule for the Covid-19 relief program that says its compensation guidelines for borrowers with this designation apply only to those owner-employees who have at least a 5% stake in a C- or S-Corporation. The reason for the change, the SBA said, is “to cover owner-employees who have no meaningful ability to influence decisions over how loan proceeds are allocated.” That means that for owner-employees who hold less than a 5% stake in their company, the cap on their compensation with PPP proceeds is subject to the rules for employees rather than the cap for owners.

Also: While most participants and observers agree that PPP was helpful to millions of small businesses, the forgiveness process baked into the program continues to be confusing and cumbersome. Here’s what’s preventing a blanket rule on forgiveness, along with a possible solution.

 

 

 

August 24, 2020

County to Start Social Distance Protocol Enforcement

On Tuesday, August 11, 2020 the County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors unanimously adopted an ordinance authorizing fines for violations of Public Health Officer orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Fines can be up to $500 for an individual, and $5000 for a business.The fines will be imposed if “responsible parties” fail to abate violations within a grace period of up to 72 hours from the issuance of the notice. The first group of 32 enforcers are scheduled to hit the streets next Monday, August 24. The Enforcement Officers will be targeting South County and various areas considered COVID-19 hot spots.

BUSINESSES:

Please make sure you are following your social distance protocols and that you have the appropriate signage posted.

CUSTOMERS:

Please help our businesses succeed by following any rules they have in place to avoid fines.

 

For a link to the new County ordinance, click here.

For business resources during COVID-19, please visit COVID-19: Business Resources

Disasters Don’t Wait, Make Your Plan Today

Residents of California often hear warnings of the next big disaster.  A disaster or emergency can take on many forms from natural to man-made, whether it be fire, flood, earthquake, or even a potential terrorist attack. The 2020 National Preparedness Month (September) theme is, “Disasters Don’t Wait.” The old adage, “better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it,” certainly applies here.

Part of the planning is identifying the potential emergency that could take place. How will your family exit your home or apartment in the event of a fire? If family members are in different locations due to work, school, shopping, etc., what is the communication plan if a disaster strikes? Are there certain medical or dietary needs for a family member? How will you manage your pets? Developing a disaster plan is relatively simple with help from websites like www.ready.gov and www.calema.gov.

The Gilroy Chamber of Commerce has a Disaster Planning Tool Kit available at https://www.gilroy.org/disaster/

Avoid Unnecessary Lawsuits

Gilroy Chamber Partners with CalChamber to provide Legally Required Training

Effective January 1, 2019, a new California law requires all California employers with 5 or more employees to provide sexual harassment prevention training. The law requires supervisors to receive two hours of sexual harassment prevention and abusive conduct training while nonsupervisory employees to receive at least one hour of training. The law also requires the training to occur in the 2019 or 2020 calendar year, before January 1, 2021. The minimal count of “5” employees covers seasonal and temporary hires, including independent contractors.

Discount to Gilroy Chamber Members

The Gilroy Chamber of Commerce has partnered with CalChamber to provide online sexual harassment prevention training courses. As a member of the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce you receive a 20% discount. To learn more, click the link https://www.gilroy.org/hr%20corner/

Important Additional Information

By January 1, 2021, employers with at least five employees must provide: (1) at least two hours of sexual harassment prevention training to all supervisory employees; and (2) at least one hour of sexual harassment prevention training to all non-supervisory employees in California within six months of their assumption of either a supervisory or non-supervisory position. The training must be provided once every two years.

Employers must provide sexual harassment prevention training to temporary or seasonal employees within 30 calendar days after the hire date or within 100 hours worked if the employee will work for less than six months. In the case of a temporary employee employed by a temporary services employer (as defined by the California Labor Code) to perform services for clients, the training must be provided by the temporary services employer, not the client.

The anti-sexual harassment training may be conducted with other employees, as a group, or individually, and broken up into shorter time segments, as long as the two-hour requirement for supervisory employees and one-hour requirement for non-supervisory employees is reached.

To receive a 20% discount on the required sexual harassment prevention training, click on the link below and get started immediately.


California to Departing Residents, You Can Run, But You Can't Hide

Will Affluent Residents Leaving California Still Have To Pay The State’s Proposed Wealth Tax

By Mark Calvey, Senior Reporter, San Francisco Business Times

California’s proposed wealth tax includes an unusual twist — the tax would apply to former residents for 10 years. 

The pace of departures among California’s wealthy may have reached the point that lawmakers anticipate a rush to the exits if they adopt a first-in-the-nation wealth tax that’s projected to raise $7.5 billion annually from about 30,000 residents. The proposed wealth tax would charge a rate of 0.4% on net worth above $30 million. 

As proposed, AB 2088 would tax former Californians 90% of their in-state levy in the first year after they leave the state, 80% in the second year until phasing out completely over a decade, the bill’s author, Assemblymember Rob Bonta, D-Oakland, told Fox Business Network anchor Neil Cavuto on Aug. 14.

Cavuto captured the likely mood of many wealthy Californians when he told Bonta, “Wait, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Are you saying that after they move, they’ve left, you are still taxing them? They’re no longer California residents, you can’t legally do that.”

Bonta sees things differently.

“For 10 years, the wealth was accumulated during their time in California … and that is what we’re proposing in our bill. We believe that we can do that,” Bonta said. A summary of the wealth tax bill points out that the number of California millionaires and billionaires has climbed even after the state adopted the nation’s highest individual income tax rate of 13.3%. (California lawmakers are now considering raising that top rate to 16.8%.)

“Sounds like they’d be prisoners of California,” Cavuto said of the plan to tax former California residents. “It hasn’t been just an exodus, it’s been a jailbreak.” 

Others worry that the proposed wealth tax will spur some of California’s wealthiest to leave the state. Case in point, Tesla CEO Elon Musk is said to be considering a move to Texas.

Former Wells Fargo CEO Dick Kovacevich told me this month that he knows some wealthy residents are leaving the Golden State without waiting to see whether the income tax hike to 16.8% makes it into law.

“I know dozens of people already — and it hasn’t even been enacted — who say, ‘I’m out of here.’ They’re either gone or on their way. Even if it’s not enacted, they’re still leaving. They believe it’s a matter of time,” said Kovacevich, who worries California “could implode within a generation.”

One Bay Area accountant predicts California’s new wealth tax will generate a lot of business for accounting firms — and lawyers.

“Attempting to tax a former resident for 10 years after they terminate their residence is the same as taxing them for life. There is no link to their California activities any more,” Paul Bleeg, a partner at accounting firm EisnerAmper in San Francisco, told me. “It’s completely unhinged to think this is OK.”

Bleeg added that if the law ends up affecting people leaving the state, it will definitely be challenged in the courts.

“For those at or near the $30 million threshold of the tax, you may see them move just because of the cost to comply and file an accurate wealth tax return,” Bleeg said. “Someone at $31 million would only owe $4,000 in tax, but the cost of getting property, private company, illiquid-asset appraisals is going to easily be 10 times that in fees.”

Important to note is that the current iteration of the wealth tax probably won’t be heard in the current legislative session. But the proposal may still act as an alarm bell for state residents already eyeing their exit.

“Many are talking of moving because even though this iteration of the wealth tax may be dead on arrival, we’ve been given a preview by the Legislature of their blueprint to solve their spending problem,” Bleeg said. “It will have an impact on people leaving the state, and let’s not forget, people that come into our state. Prince Harry may have to reconsider his move to California.”

We’re Outta Here

Data firm leaving California for Denver

By Mark Mensheha, The National Observer

Palantir Technologies Inc., a $20 billion data-analysis software firm that sells its products to governments to help them track everything from immigrants to terrorists to the spread of coronavirus, is relocating its headquarters from Palo Alto, California, to Denver. Company officials did not respond to the Denver Business Journal’s requests for comment, but the firm now lists Denver as its headquarters on its website and its social media pages, changes believed to have been made earlier this week. A Denver address also is listed with the Colorado Secretary of State’s office. It was not clear how many employees Palantir would relocate to Denver or hire for new jobs. The company has about 2,500 employees worldwide.

The move comes after CEO Alex Karp told Axios during a May interview on HBO that he was getting close to a decision on whether to move the company out of California, citing in particular the “increasing intolerance and monoculture of Silicon Valley.” He specifically cited Colorado as a potential destination. “We haven’t picked a place yet, but it’s going to be closer to the East Coast than the West Coast,” Karp said during the interview. “If I had to guess, I would guess something like Colorado.”

The subject of companies and executives leaving California is drawing attention in that state. Among the touchpoints is a proposed wealth tax that, according to its author, would apply to former residents for 10 years even after they leave the state

PPP Forgiveness Math Has a Price

By Mark Manesheha, The National Observer

Some small businesses that took Paycheck Protection Program loans have a choice on how much of their own salaries, and those of their employees, will be eligible for forgiveness when they apply through their lenders. The choice they make could amount to a decision worth $5,448. “There is not a clear path through any of this,” Lil Roberts, CEO and founder of Xendoo, a Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based bookkeeping and accounting platform for small businesses, told The Business Journals. “It is about taking a look at your business and saying to yourself, ‘What do I need to do to cover my overhead? What do I need to do to cover my employees?’”

The decision-making starts with this: For small businesses that were approved for PPP loans before June 5, they can choose between two covered periods in which they were tasked with spending their loan dollars: either eight weeks or 24 weeks. For those that got approved June 5 or thereafter, they must use the 24-week covered period as well as the forgiveness terms that come with it. A rundown of the considerations, and the consequences, at hand is available here.

Also: Local lenders talked to the Kansas City Business Journal about their assessment of the PPP forgiveness process — and why they’re proceeding cautiously.

Gilroy Mayoral Candidate Forum

Hear what the 2 Mayoral Candidates have to say regarding the important issues facing our City. The candidates for Mayor are: Gilroy City Councilmember, Marie Blankley and Planning Commissioner, Reid Lerner.

 

 

August 17, 2020

Small Business Virtual Roundtable

Join the Connected Commerce Council (3C), the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce and the Morgan Hill Chamber of Commerce on Zoom to share your stories in a roundtable discussion with Representative Zoe Lofgren and U.S. Small Business AdministrationDeputy Director Carlos Gutierrez. You know what it takes to start and run your business, how important the right tools and resources are critical to your success during this COVID-19 crisis, and how the right – or wrong – public policies can affect your business.

Too often policymakers at every level and all types talk about small businesses rather than speaking to small businesses. Now is our chance to help them understand the challenges small businesses face as they struggle to survive during the COVID-19 crisis, the opportunity of digital tools, and the current business models that small businesses face. This is the time and the place to share your concerns about potential policies and regulations.

Agenda:
Introductions by 3C President, Jake Ward
Opening Remarks by Gilroy Chamber of Commerce, President & CEO, Mark Turner
Remarks from U.S. Representative Zoe Lofgren
Remarks and Resource updates from SBA
Moderated discussion led by 3C
Live Q&A

The webinar will be hosted via Zoom. A link will be provided the day before the event.

Space is limited.

Big Worries For Small Business

NFIB Survey Finds California Business Owners Worry More About Regulations, Taxes
Article by Mark Anderson, Staff Writer, Sacramento Business Journal

The cost of health insurance, regulation and state and local taxes top the list of concerns for California small businesses, according to the latest survey by the National Federation of Independent Business.

The NFIB’s “Small Business Problems and Priorities” 2020 report highlighted California as a state with substantially more concerns for small business owners than other states.

The survey, sent out in February and returned in February and mid-March, reflects business owners’ top concerns before public health orders to slow the spread of Covid-19.

Nationwide and in California, the top concern for most small businesses was the cost of health insurance.

For the rest of the country, the second top concern was finding qualified employees, but for California small businesses, the second concern was “unreasonable government regulations.” The ability to find qualified workers in California was the sixth-highest concern, behind state taxes, federal taxes and state paperwork.

In California, the survey included 147 responses. Nationwide, the survey got 2,552 responses of 20,000 mailed.

While California businesses rank “unreasonable government regulations” right after health insurance as a top concern, the rest of the country ranked that as its sixth-highest concern.

And California businesses sampled ranked state and local paperwork as the fifth-highest concern, while that was ranked 11th nationwide.

The survey did find some benefits to businesses in California, primarily a robust economy. The survey found that “owners in California experience less uncertainty over economic conditions.” That ranked 22nd as a concern in California, as compared to being the 9th-highest concern nationwide. The survey said that California, as the largest state economy, represents 15% of the country’s gross domestic product, and it ranks as the fifth-largest economy in the world.

California Legislature: Please Pay Attention

Former Wells Fargo CEO worries that California ‘could implode within a generation’
Article by Mark Calvey, Senior Writer, San Francisco Business Times

Former Wells Fargo CEO Dick Kovacevich told me Tuesday that he’s concerned that legislative efforts to raise California’s income tax on wealthy individuals will hurt small business owners and the middle class — and ultimately spur more people to leave the Golden State.

“What’s the state of San Francisco? What’s the state of California? This state could implode within a generation. It has a trillion dollars of unfunded retirement and healthcare benefits. It has the worst reputation for business. It has the highest taxes. The highest regulations — and they’re adding more on,” Kovacevich said. “It’s going to implode if they don’t make changes in the business climate that affects small business even more than big business.

He said larger companies can handle regulation more easily than smaller companies because the bigger ones can spread the cost of regulatory compliance over larger operations. On the tax front, small business revenue often flows to the owner’s personal tax return where it is taxed at the personal income tax rate, while their larger brethren often have lower corporate income tax rates and the resources to navigate the tax code.

“Everyone wants to talk about the billionaires and what’s another 3%. That’s not where the money is and that’s not where the issue is,” Kovacevich said, adding that “tax the rich” public policies aren’t generating the anticipated revenue.

Kovacevich cited research by Joshua Rauh and Ryan Shyu of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University that shows just two years after California’s 2012 retroactive personal income tax hike, the state was only collecting 40 cents of every dollar that it had expected to raise from the higher levy.

Kovacevich, who joined Wells Fargo after its acquisition by Norwest and served as CEO from 1998 to 2007, said he expects passage of AB 1253, featuring the retroactive personal income tax increase, will not boost the state’s revenues at all as people leave California and take other action to avoid the proposed top income tax rate of 16.8%.

“Just tell me why any sane person would stay here? You can be anywhere. You can live anywhere. You can work anywhere,” Kovacevich said, noting that Facebook and other companies are embracing allowing their employees to work remotely on a permanent basis. That means Bay Area employees could move to lower-cost markets and take their jobs with them.

“I guarantee you that this next tax increase isn’t going to increase tax revenue,” Kovacevich said. “I know dozens of people already — and it hasn’t even been enacted — who say, ‘I’m out of here.’ They’re either gone or on their way. Even if it’s not enacted, they’re still leaving. They believe it’s a matter of time.”

The former San Francisco banker also cited U-Haul’s favorable rates for those wanting to rent a truck to drop off in California, signaling that vehicles are in strong demand for out-of-state moves. A quick check of U-Haul rates Tuesday showed someone renting a truck to move from San Francisco to Reno next week will pay $536. But those wanting to move from Reno to San Francisco with that truck will pay less than half — just $219.

Kovacevich’s comments echo what Bay Area Council CEO Jim Wunderman told me last week in terms of Californians leaving the Golden State. Wunderman said California might be surprised to learn how many wealthy taxpayers it has already lost this year. (Wunderman also anticipates that public pensions will be a flashpoint in the scramble for tax hikes.)

So why is there so little vocal opposition to the many state-and-local tax measures heading to the November ballot?

“You have an option: You can leave,” Kovacevich said, saying the irony is that life in the Golden State has been a big draw for so many years.

“We have all the reasons why people want to live here, and then we do things to make sure that they don’t,” Kovacevich said. “I can guarantee you: 100% of the people I know who have left did not want to leave.

They did it for economic reasons because it is so extreme in the (cost) difference that they just can’t afford not to.”

For the small business person, it’s the level of regulation, Kovacevich said.

“Just look at what’s happened to the gig economy. Here you have low-income people finally being able to have a job and they’re pricing them out basically,” Kovacevich said. “Do you really think that people are going to pay what it will cost to have all the benefits and have food delivered at a reasonable price? Do you think restaurants are going to cut margins? It’s not going to happen,” Kovacevich said.

So are there any voices of moderation to be heard as San Franciscans decide the fate of several business-tax measures in the next election?

“I don’t think there are any moderates in San Francisco. If there are, they’re hiding,” he said.

San Mateo County Health Officer Disapproves of Business Closures

Article by Ryan Fernandez, Associate Editor, Silicon Valley Business Journal

The head of San Mateo County’s efforts to fight the Covid-19 pandemic is pushing back against the state’s mandated restrictions on local businesses.

“I wish to apologize to all the businesses that were closed this week. I am not supportive of these actions and, for San Mateo County, I believe they are misdirected and will cause more harm than good,” said County Health Officer Scott Morrow in an Aug. 6 statement on the county’s website.

Morrow argued that businesses targeted in the current wave of closures — gyms, nail and salons, and places of worship — were not primarily responsible for the spread of the virus.

Instead, he refers to a July 20 statement in which he names as transmission factors “fundamental structural failures of the U.S. economy” and complacency regarding gatherings among family and friends.

“While it’s certainly a theoretical possibility that some transmission can occur in the businesses/operations that were just closed by the State, there is no evidence that I have, and no evidence the State has provided to me, that leads me to believe the spread is higher in these businesses than those businesses/operations that are allowed to operate,” Morrow said in his most recent statement last week.

He cites what he believes are two flaws in the state’s approach: “brand new, arbitrary and constantly changing framework” for putting counties on the watch list and determining closures, and the application of public law in which the state is overriding the authority of the local health officer in circumstances that don’t merit such action.

Morrow said Gov. Gavin Newsom has been taking “many great, broad and appropriate actions” so far, but in the case of San Mateo County’s closures, Newsom “isn’t being given good advice.”

“The State has made the wrong ‘diagnosis’ and therefore is prescribing the wrong ‘treatment’ for San Mateo County,” he said.

Other Covid-19-related news

• Students attending Santa Clara University’s fall quarter will be spending much of their class time online: “We have made the difficult decision that courses will be primarily online for our undergraduates, with limited exceptions. In addition, we will suspend plans to bring students back to on-campus housing, again with some exceptions,” wrote Father Kevin O’Brien, the president of SCU, in a letter to the campus last week. The university had previously planned to offer some in-person classes and bring back about 2,200 students. Instead, students are now being asked to stay home, and the Mercury News reports that emergency housing will be provided to “homeless students, those without a safe home environment and students who need to be on campus, including some athletes.”

• Sixty-one percent of the workers in California who are have become unemployed during the pandemic expect to have their jobs back when the emergency passes, according to a new report by the California Policy Lab at UC Berkeley and UCLA, counting workers who filed new unemployment claims during the week that ended on July 25. That number is down from about 80 percent of workers who filed for unemployment in the week ending March 15. However, researchers believe the new figure is not entirely a reflection of new benefit claimants, but is actually a reflection of the job-insecurity felt among people who earlier filed for benefits, returned to work, and reopened their claims after businesses closed again.

• Cloverleaf Family Bowl in Fremont has become yet another business casualty of the Covid-19 pandemic. The bowling alley first shuttered on March 15, and recently made the decision to close permanently as bills continued to mount: “We thought we’d be down for a couple weeks. Never in your wildest imagination did you think we’d never open again,” said co-owner Mike Hillman, per the Mercury News. Cloverleaf, which opened on 1959 and has been operated by the Hillman family since the ‘60s, was already on borrowed time with three years left on its lease. The alley sits on land owned by limited partnership group associated with Sonoma-based A&C Ventures, and is being considered for redevelopment.

• A group of salons in the Bay Area say they have a solution that might let them reopen, and are petitioning Gov. Gavin Newsom to give their idea a shot. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that personal care providers are finding it impractical to conduct their business outdoors, citing issues regarding access, liability and modesty, and the need for electricity and running water. Instead, a coalition of salons are asking to be allowed to reopen because they can provide services in isolated, suite-style rooms that are fully enclosed and can be sanitized, with no shared tools, surfaces or spaces, and no interactions beyond that between the cosmetologist and the client.

• Virginia has become the first state to launch a contact-tracing app based on technology created by Apple and Google. Phones with Virginia’s COVIDWISE app use Bluetooth signals to keep an anonymous list of people a user has come into contact with. Reuters notes that at least three more states are close to launching similar apps, though the U.S. as a whole is behind Europe in adopting this approach — in the last two months, millions of people across 11 territories have downloaded apps based on the Apple-Google technology.

• Covid-19 case counts (please note that these numbers are likely undercounts of actual cases due to technical errors in numbers reported to the state): As of Aug. 9, Santa Clara County has had 11,954 reported Covid-19 cases and 205 deaths; Monterey County says it has had 5,293 total cases and 35 deaths; Santa Cruz County says it’s had 1,238 cases and 6 deaths; and San Benito County put its number of infections at 44 still-active cases (out of 718 total confirmed) and 4 deaths. As of Aug. 7, San Mateo County had 6,110 total cases and 120 deaths; and as of Aug. 5, Alameda County has had 11,728 cases and 189 deaths (not counting Berkeley, which is a separate health jurisdiction).

Gilroy City Council Candidate Forum

Hear what the 5 City Council candidates have to say regarding the important issues facing our City. The Gilroy Chamber of Commerce is hosting a candidate forum this Thursday evening, August 20, from 6:30 – 8:30. You can watch and listen through Facebook live.

The 5 candidates running for the 3 open seats are, Councilmember Fred Tovar, Councilmember Carol Marques, Danny Mitchell, Rebecca Armendariz, and Zach Hilton.

Volunteers Needed!

Volunteer Opportunities! Second Harvest Food Bank and Catholic Charities have joined forces to set up an Emergency Drive-thru at St. Mary’s parking lot, (right behind SJFP), due the temporary two-week closure of St. Joseph’s Family Center. They are in need of 30-40 volunteers on the below dates and times.

Location: St. Mary’s Parish
Address: 11 1st Street Gilroy, CA 95020 (Parking Lot)
Dates: Aug. 19th and Aug. 21st.
Times: 9:00 am -12:30 pm

 

 

August 10, 2020

3 Tabloid Headlines – One is Fake, Can You Guess Which One?

“Vladimir Putin is a Robot”
“Woman Gives Birth to Angel”
“California Legislature Refuses to Raise Taxes”

If you guessed, “California Legislature Refuses to Raise Taxes”, you’re correct!

How to Sabotage a Recovery: Raise Taxes By Loren Kaye, CalChamber

 Even before COVID-19, many Californians were struggling with the high cost of living here. The long-time willingness of many Californians to pay the “sunshine tax” premium for living in a state with great weather, universities, entrepreneurial culture, and lifestyle has eroded in the face of high costs of daily life.

Things have gone from bad to worse during the pandemic crisis. The Sacramento response to the economic and jobs calamity has been not to cut costs, but instead propose more taxes–higher property taxes on commercial, industrial and agriculture property; a new sales tax on services; a new tax on jobs; and most recently another hike in income taxes for families and small businesses that make more than $1 million a year.

These tax proposals each present a host of policy problems, but more broadly they reveal a massive gap between the lawmakers making decisions in Sacramento and the views and needs of average Californians trying to get ahead and take care of their families.

Sacramento politicians hear “tax” and envision billions of dollars in additional revenue to fix all those basic problems they haven’t solved to date–worsening schools, deteriorating infrastructure, homelessness, economic disparities–despite having spent a trillion dollars in the last five years to address these problems.

California voters hear “tax” and think about the dollars coming out of their pockets, and wonder if they’ll ever see much benefit from government spending their money.

But beyond the politics, these measures have profound policy problems.

  • Hiking taxes on the wealthy will send a message to the very people who together provide 40% of personal income tax revenue: is it worth it to you to keep California as your home and business location? One take-away from the recent catastrophe is that skilled individuals can work at or start a business from almost anywhere. And even higher income taxes will exacerbate the state’s budget volatility.
  • Creating a new tax on services will drive up the costs of nearly every good and service in the state, hamper our efforts to build affordable housing and infrastructure, and punish small businesses.
  • Prop 15 claims to target just big commercial and industrial owners, but it also taxes farmers and ranchers, driving up food costs, hikes costs on small businesses who lease their space, and eventually winds up being paid by consumers.
  • A tax on jobs created by large employers will have the predictable effect: fewer jobs created by these employers – at least in California.

A recent poll of California voters by EMC Research for the California Tax & Budget Research Project revealed some trends long felt by California voters and long understood by those who actually listen to them:

  • 66% of likely voters at the November election said they agree that California taxes are out of control and they would oppose any tax increase.
  • 77% of these voters said they agree taxes on corporations and businesses just get passed on to consumers in the form of higher costs.

COVID-19 and the resulting impacts on the state budget don’t change this foundational reluctance toward taxes.

When asked about the $54 billion budget deficit due to the pandemic, by a two-to-one margin voters said California is too expensive and highly taxed already, and would oppose any tax increases because they would make a bad economy worse and raise costs for consumers. They soundly rejected the position that the state needs to consider increasing taxes to fund schools, health care and COVID-related services.

Put simply, voters have had enough. They’re wise to the shell game pretending taxes on someone else won’t get passed on to all residents.

Nobody in California is immune to the havoc wreaked by the COVID-19 pandemic–a health crisis compounded by an economic collapse which is eroding our social cohesion. We’ve seen how an economic recovery can be thwarted by new virus outbreaks. Our elected leaders should similarly resist public policies that would prevent a healthy restoration of jobs and the economy.

All Californians Lose If Split Roll Tax Passes

By Loren Kaye, CalChamber

The California Chamber of Commerce and a coalition of business and taxpayer groups are leading a strong effort to defeat the split roll property tax measure, Proposition 15 on the November ballot.

Proposition 15 is an $12.5 billion a year property tax increase—the largest in state history—that is riddled with flaws that will hurt all Californians. Contrary to what its supporters claim, Proposition 15 will not help local governments and schools recover from the COVID-19 induced economic crisis.

The measure will also hurt the small businesses that employ half of all California employees.

The California Assessors’ Association is opposing Proposition 15, stating that it will cost more than $1 billion to implement in the first three years and would be impossible to administer

Moreover, groups representing two direct beneficiaries of the tax funds are not supporting the measure: the League of California Cities refused to support Proposition 15, while the California School Boards Association voted to remain neutral.

Broad Opposition

In addition to the CalChamber, the Californians to Save Prop 13 and Stop Higher Property Taxes coalition leading the campaign against Proposition 15 includes the California Taxpayers Association, California Business Roundtable, Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and California Business Properties Association.

The bipartisan coalition opposing Proposition 15 consists of more than 1,500 organizations, businesses, elected officials and individuals, and a growing list of more than 200,000 advocates in support of Proposition 13.

Proposition 15 Fallout

Among the many problems with Proposition 15 that the campaign has identified are the following:

Hurts small businesses. Most small businesses rent the property on which they operate and have a “triple net lease” under which they are responsible for paying property taxes, insurance and maintenance costs. Small businesses—such as restaurants, gyms, barber shops, daycare centers, grocery stores, nail salons—will pay higher rents if Proposition 15 passes.

Harms female- and minority-owned businesses. Numerous studies show that increasing property taxes on small businesses will have a disproportionate negative impact on businesses owned by women and minorities.

Lacks accountability and transparency. Flimsy reporting requirements in Proposition 15 will enable government agencies to hike where they are spending the new tax dollars. There is no independent oversight.

Leads to higher grocery bills. By removing Proposition 13 protections for California farmers and ranchers, Proposition 15 will trigger higher property taxes for agriculture-related improvements. Among those affected will be dairies, processing plants, fruit and nut growers, wineries and vineyards. Most food items will face higher property taxes several times in the journey from farm to processing, packaging, distribution and the grocery store.

Makes housing crisis worse. The increased property tax on industrial and commercial developments will ultimately discourage new home construction, leading to higher rents and home prices.

Increases energy costs. Voter-approved property tax protections for solar energy systems will give way to higher property taxes for all active solar energy systems, including solar energy facilities selling renewable energy to California utilities, starting in 2022.

Lawmakers Consider Exporting California Jobs

Bill That Will Kill Thousands of High-Wage Jobs Be Heard in Senate Committee

By Adam Regele, CalChamber

A California Chamber of Commerce job killer bill that threatens thousands of high-wage jobs throughout California and could increase the state’s reliance on foreign oil imports was considered by the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee on August 5.

AB 345 (Muratsuchi; D-Torrance) threatens to eliminate thousands of high-paying California jobs and result in California importing even more foreign oil and higher gas prices by politicizing the ongoing regulatory process of the California Geologic Energy Management Division, or CalGEM, regarding additional regulatory requirements on oil and gas extraction sites. By arbitrarily predisposing the setback requirements in statute, the bill undermines CalGEM’s independent process of considering best available science before the agency has even finished its analysis.

Background

CalGem announced on November 19, 2019 a series of initiatives and formal rulemaking to safeguard public health and the environment, and advance California’s goal to become carbon-neutral by 2045, including rulemaking to prohibit oil and gas activities within close proximity of homes, schools, hospitals, and parks.

Undermines Regulatory Process

AB 345 puts the cart before the horse by requiring CalGem to adopt regulations likely requiring the exact same 2,500 feet minimum setback requirements that existed in the prior versions of the bill. By predisposing what the setback requirement should be before the agency completes or even begins its analysis, the bill potentially forces the agency to adopt arbitrary setback requirements that are not based on best available science.

CalGem already announced that it will conduct formal rulemaking to consider a range of protective measures, including prohibiting oil and gas activities within

close proximity of homes, schools, hospitals, and parks. The pre-regulatory processes began in 2020, with new and modified rules anticipated. AB 345 politicizes and undermines CalGem’s regulatory process with arbitrary requirements that may not be based on best available science or data to inform the agency about what new protective requirements near oil and gas extraction sites are needed.

Does Not Reduce Oil, Gas Demands

AB 345 does nothing to reduce California’s oil and gas energy demands—it merely drives production out of California and forces the state to rely on even more foreign oil imports.

According to the California Energy Commission, California is relying more on foreign oil than at any time since the agency started tracking it in 1982. In 2018, California imported 370 million barrels, or 57% of the state’s crude oil supply, from foreign nations like Saudi Arabia (37%), Colombia (13%), and Iraq (8%). Compare this rate to 1992, when California imported just 33 million barrels, only 5% of its supply.

Banning in-state oil and gas production only to shift suppliers to foreign oil regimes with abysmal environmental and human-rights records fails to address climate change, as all it really does is trade greenhouse gas emissions here in California for greenhouse gas emissions elsewhere.

Kills High-Wage Jobs

AB 345 threatens approximately 6,000 high-wage jobs in Los Angeles County alone. Arbitrary minimum setback requirements prescribed in the bill would likely shut down approximately 87% of all oil and gas wells in the City of Los Angeles and 66% of all oil and gas wells in Los Angeles County. In addition, the Assembly Appropriations Committee estimated that AB 345’s setback requirements could cost California up to $4 billion in lost state revenue and subjects the state to significant legal liability under the takings clause of the U.S. Constitution.

At a time when California is reeling from the economic impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic, injecting arbitrary requirements that subvert CalGEM’s regulatory authority and threaten to eliminate thousands of high paying jobs is unwise.

Receive Important PG&E Alerts

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 Did you know that you may be at risk of a power shutoff even if you do not live in a wildfire high risk area? High temperatures, extreme dryness and record-high winds have created conditions in our state where any spark at the wrong time and place can lead to a major wildfire.

 To better prepare for an PSPS event, PG&E will notify its customers and non-customers who have signed up to receive alerts two days before power is turned off. Make sure to have enough supplies that will last a whole week when you receive this alert. Learn more on the PSPS event at http://bit.ly/PSPSFAQ and start preparing today.

California Ups Early Inmate Release Estimate Amid Objections

Article by Don Thompson, CalMatters

FILE – In this Aug. 16, 2016, file photo, a row of general population inmates walk in a line at San Quentin State Prison in San Quentin, Calif. California state prison officials say in a July 27, 2020, court filing that as many as 17,600 inmates are eligible for release due to the coronavirus, 70% more than previously estimated and a total that victims and police say includes dangerous criminals who should stay locked up. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — State prison officials say as many as 17,600 California inmates may be released early due to the coronavirus, 70% more than previously estimated and a total that victims and police say includes dangerous criminals who should stay locked up.

The releases also are causing consternation as probation officers and community organizations scramble to provide housing, transportation and other services for inmates who may pose a public health risk because several hundred have been paroled while still contagious.

“It has just been a total madhouse, quite frankly, and we’re doing this in the midst of a pandemic,” said Karen McDaniel, the statewide transportation and services liaison between community groups and corrections officials.

Among those released was Terebea Williams, 44, who served 19 years of an 84 years-to-life sentence for first-degree murder, carjacking and kidnapping. She was freed last week after being deemed at high medical risk for the virus.

Williams’ victim, Kevin “John” Ruska, picked her up to drive her to work in 1998 but the pair argued and Williams forced him into the trunk of his own car at gunpoint. She shot him when he tried to escape, then brought the wounded man more than 700 miles (1,126) kilometers) from Tacoma, Washington, to a motel in Davis, California. There she gagged him and tied him to a chair. He died from the infected wound.

“Why is an inmate’s rights more important than a victim’s?” said his outraged sister, Dena Love.

Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig, whose office prosecuted Williams, and the advocacy group Crime Victims Alliance complained that victims and prosecutors are given little notice and no opportunity to object to the releases.

The virus is spread by coughs and sneezes and can quickly sweep through a prison setting. So far 51 inmates have died and there have been more than 8,400 cases among prisoners.

Nearly 2,000 state prison system employees also have been infected and eight have died. The latest, Sgt. Seeyengkee Ly, who worked at Valley State Prison in Chowchilla, died on Aug. 2 from pneumonia complications after contracting COVID-19.

Officials have been under intense pressure from advocates, some state lawmakers and two federal judges to release more inmates, particularly after a botched transfer of infected inmates into San Quentin State Prison led to the state’s worst prison outbreak. Nearly 170 inmates still are infected there and 23 died, including 11 on death row. More than 2,000 have either recovered or were released while infected.

Demonstrators who chained themselves to the fence outside Gov. Gavin Newsom’s home last week said he has “presided over dozens of preventable deaths in state prisons” by not freeing far more inmates.

The first 3,500 inmates were freed in April to create space in crowded prisons and 6,900 more were deemed eligible for release in early July. Officials said other inmates would be eligible under different release programs but couldn’t provide an estimate.

In a filing last week with a federal judge who oversees one of the major lawsuits facing the prison system, officials increased the estimated total of releases from 10,400 to 17,600. However, prison officials say Corrections Secretary Ralph Diaz is likely to block the release of about 5,500, in part because many are serving life prison sentences.

 

This Aug. 5, 2019 prison identification photo provided by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation shows inmate Terebea Williams. California’s prison population has dropped below 100,000 for the first time in three decades, as corrections officials hurry to release about 17,600 inmates due to the coronavirus. Among those released last week was Williams, who served 19 years of an 84 years-to-life sentence for first-degree murder, carjacking and kidnapping. She was deemed at high medical risk for the virus, though officials couldn’t say what put her in that category. (California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation via AP)

 

Nationwide, more than 100,000 people were released from state and federal prisons between March and June, a decrease of 8%, according to an analysis by The Marshall Project and The Associated Press.

California Police Chiefs Association president Eric Nuñez said he understands the urgency of reducing the prison population but is alarmed by the release of some violent criminals “without a consideration for the larger impact on public safety.” He said the chiefs want to work with prison officials on improving the decision-making process.

All told, corrections officials plan to release 11,500 inmates by the end of August, an estimate that brought McDaniel to near tears as she recounted some of the struggles to find them temporary housing. She is the founder and executive director of Place4Grace, which runs literacy and visitation programs in 16 of the state’s 35 prisons.

The burden is often on inmate relatives, who often rush to remote prisons with little notice, then line up in their vehicles for hours as they await their loved ones’ release.

It’s her job to arrange transportation for those who don’t have other arrangements, particularly inmates who are supposed to quarantine because they are released while they are still infected with COVID-19. They may be sent to hotel rooms through a program run by the corrections department and two other state agencies called Project Hope.

But that leaves loopholes, McDaniel said.

One infected inmate was told not to leave his Sacramento motel room during a two-week quarantine. ”We had to send somebody there to get him clothes, to get him food,” she said.

In another example, she said state officials asked her community organizations to launder clothing for multiple inmates sequestered at a hotel.

“It’s just been a heartbreaking task from beginning to end,” she said. “It didn’t have to happen like this.”

The good news, McDaniel said, is that through a lot of effort officials have been able to avoid what Newsom said was his greatest fear from mass releases — leaving infected ex-convicts homeless.

“There is no one coming out that does not have a bed to go to,” McDaniel said. “No one is being dumped on a street corner anywhere as a transient. That is not happening.”

The bad news is there is no way to prevent infected inmates from leaving their rooms. The state has to date released nearly 300 inmates with active infections.

Inmates are tested within seven days of their scheduled release, and those who test positive are barred from leaving early, said corrections department spokeswoman Dana Simas. But inmates who reach their regular parole date must be freed, even if they are infected.

“We can’t force people to quarantine, we can only offer them voluntary services like Project Hope,” Simas said.

Probation officials now have just days instead of the normal months to prepare re-entry plans to provide a soon-to-be-released inmate with housing, transportation, drug or behavioral treatment, health care and training or a job.

“Our folks are working overtime to make all of the connections,” said Chief Probation

Officers of California executive director Karen Pank. ”But I’m not going to lie, it’s a tough, tough challenge.”

COVID 19 - Best Practices and Implementation Strategies

Webinar: COVID 19 – Best Practices and Implementation Strategies of the California COVID 19 Employer Playbook

Description: California has issued a COVID 19 Employers Re-Opening Playbook to assist companies in safely reopening in the time of COVID 19.

In this webinar they will:

 – Discuss what SARS-CoV-2 is and the bases for setting workplace policies

 – Outline practical Compliance Strategies for Re-opening Protocols

 – Review Cal OSHA expectations on OSHA recordkeeping

–  Examine proposed changes to Workers Compensation Insurance and the effects of employee telecommuting in the time of COVID 19

Please register for COVID 19 – Best Practices and Implementation Strategies of the California COVID 19 Employer Playbook on Aug 27, 2020 9:00 AM PDT at:

https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/2322344888490887440

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. 

 

August 3, 2020

If You Can’t Beat ‘Em… Fool ‘Em at The Ballot Box

AG Becerra Slants Two Ballot Measure Titles
Written by Dan Walters, CalMatters

California’s attorneys general, the state’s top legal officers, have developed a bad habit in recent years — skewing the official titles of ballot measures.

Since all have been Democrats for the past two decades, that’s meant writing favorable titles for measures their party leaders favor and unfavorable ones for those Democrats oppose.

The current attorney general, Xavier Becerra, has continued the unsavory practice that violates the spirit, if not the letter, of Election Code Section 9051. It states that “in providing the ballot title and summary, the Attorney General shall give a true and impartial statement of the purpose of the measure in such language that the ballot title and summary shall neither be an argument, nor be likely to create prejudice, for or against the proposed measure.”

Becerra first displayed his penchant for creative writing two years ago on Proposition 6, a measure that, if passed, would have repealed a $5 billion a year package of taxes and fees on motorists.

Rather than simply stating that fact, Becerra’s title read, “Eliminates certain road repair and transportation funding. Requires certain fuel taxes and vehicle fees to be approved by the electorate.”

When Becerra released the title, proponents sued, and Superior Court Judge Timothy Frawley ordered the opening passage rewritten to declare that the measure “repeals recently enacted gas and diesel taxes and vehicle registration fees.”

However, the state court of appeal overturned Frawley, saying that state law gives the attorney general “considerable latitude” in drafting the official title.

There are 12 statewide measures on next November’s ballot and the official titles of 10 of them are straightforward and accurate. But those of the two most controversial, Propositions 15 and 22 are clearly slanted.

Proposition 15 would eliminate some of the property tax limits of Proposition 13, California’s iconic 1978 property tax law, for commercial properties such as warehouses and office buildings. Thus, it would sharply increase their tax bills by as much as $12 billion a year, with proceeds going to schools and local governments.

The measure is sponsored by labor unions and endorsed by many Democratic Party figures, including its presumptive presidential nominee, Joe Biden. Rather than simply describe Proposition 15 for what it does, Becerra’s official title summarizes it this way: “ Increases funding for public schools, community colleges, and local government services by changing tax assessment of commercial and industrial property.”

The business groups opposing Proposition 15 are, of course, complaining that the title doesn’t describe it as a Proposition 13 modification or a tax increase and say they may challenge it in court.

Proposition 22’s wording may also be headed to court. The measure would exempt Uber, Lyft and other similar transportation services using non-employee workers from a new state law, Assembly Bill 5, that requires them to make their drivers payroll workers. It does, however, provide their contract workers with some employee-like benefits.

The original title that Becerra’s office placed on the measure in January, before signature-gathering began, was “Changes employment classification rules for app-based transportation and delivery workers”

The final title, posted last week, says Proposition 22 “Exempts app-based transportation and delivery companies from providing employee benefits to certain drivers and delivery workers.”

The first title was an accurate summary of the measure. The second title mimics Proposition 22’s labor union opponents and is clearly biased against it.

Notwithstanding the merits or shortcomings of these measures, Becerra’s actions once again demonstrate that partisan attorneys general cannot play it straight. Therefore, title-writing should be shifted to a more independent, non-partisan authority.

But Is All Change Good?

California Workplace Safety Rules are Likely to Change Due to Coronavirus Fears
Article by Melody Gutierrez, Staff Writer, Los Angeles Times

With many of California’s workplaces facing significant changes fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic, state lawmakers are considering whether labor laws need to evolve too.

Legislators have proposed expanding workers’ compensation eligibility so that more employees will be covered if they are diagnosed with COVID-19, increasing the number of sick days for food service workers and requiring employers to pay a portion of utility and internet bills for teleworkers.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said Friday that he plans to work “hand in glove” with the Legislature to expand workplace protections, including guaranteeing COVID-19-related sick leave, easing workers’ compensation claim requirements, enforcing labor laws and ensuring employers are reporting outbreaks.

“The reality is that we will come back to a different society, a different economy and a different definition of workplaces when this is over,” said Victor Narro, project director and professor of labor studies at the UCLA Labor Center.

Determining whether fixes will be needed temporarily or long-term will be a key question for the Legislature when it reconvenes on Monday, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) said.

Gonzalez and state Sen. Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) both have bills to ease restrictions on workers’ compensation so more employees have access to the benefit. Talks are underway to combine Gonzalez’s bill with Hill’s legislation, Senate Bill 1159, the lawmakers said.

SB 1159 would add coronavirus-related illness or death to the list of on-the-job injuries covered under the state’s workers’ compensation program while removing a requirement that workers prove they contracted the virus on the job. Instead, employers would have to prove that COVID-19 wasn’t contracted in the workplace.

Newsom included a similar measure for essential workers in a May 6 executive order — a big win for labor unions. However, that executive order only eased the burden of proof for workers with COVID-19 before July 5.

Hill said many of the specifics in his bill are still being worked out in discussions with labor and business groups, including which industries would be covered and whether the provisions would be retroactive.

“In the end, not everyone will be happy with it,” Hill said. “But the working men and women of California expect us to do something. … We want to make sure employers are doing the right thing to protect workers.”

As currently written, Gonzalez’s bill, AB 196, would go a step further than Hill’s legislation by creating a presumption that essential workers who contract COVID-19 were infected while on the job, with no ability for the employer to contest that finding.

“We need to eliminate these prolonged battles for the worker,” Gonzalez said. “Essential workers were still working so that we can all shelter in place. That created the need for extra protections for them, including with workers’ compensation and increased sick days.”

The California Chamber of Commerce opposes Gonzalez’s bill, calling it a “drastic” measure that would “create an astronomical financial burden on California employers and the workers’ compensation system, at a time when they are already struggling for their livelihoods and can least afford it.”

The group placed Gonzalez’s bill on its annual “job killer” list, which highlights laws that corporate interests say will hurt employment and the economy.

Among the other workplace bills the Legislature will consider in the coming weeks is AB 3216 by Assemblyman Ash Kalra (D-San Jose), which would make it an unlawful employment practice to refuse a request for up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave from a worker who needs to care for a child whose school or daycare has closed due to a state, local or federal public health emergency.

Assembly Bill 1492 by Assemblywoman Tasha Boerner Horvath (D-Encinitas) would ease workplace restrictions dictating when employees must take meal and rest breaks during the day — a proposal intended to provide more flexibility in working from home — while requiring employers to pay for an additional hour of work if the employer requires workers to skip those breaks. The bill also would require an employer to pay for equipment needed to work from home and a portion of the worker’s home internet and utility bills.

Senate Bill 729 by state Sen. Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge) would require employers to provide an additional 80 hours of paid COVID-19 sick leave to full-time food sector workers during a declared local or state emergency.

Many of the workplace bills will undergo changes during the coming weeks and are likely to encounter opposition from business interests.

“Now is not the time to add additional costs and uncertainty for California employers who are in a fight for economic survival,” said Denise Davis, vice president of the California Chamber of Commerce.

Lawmakers will face two obstacles when they return to the Capitol on Monday to consider the hundreds of bills yet to be acted on: a massive budget deficit and a shortened legislative calendar. The Legislature has closed twice this year due to COVID-19 concerns, with the first shutdown in March.

This month, the Senate and Assembly opted to delay returning from summer recess by two weeks after several Capitol staffers and lawmakers tested positive for the virus. On Thursday, both houses of the Legislature announced that some lawmakers at high risk for contracting the disease will be able to cast votes from home.

Lawmakers have until Aug. 31 to send bills to Gov. Newsom before adjourning for the year.

“This pandemic will have long-term impacts on the workplace,” Gonzalez said. “We need to ensure we are prepared for those, now and in the future.”

Taking Care of Workers; What About Businesses?

Editorial by Joel Fox, Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

Governor Gavin Newsom announced additional worker protection proposals on Friday to confront the spread of the coronavirus. While these additional protections along with pending legislation the returning legislature will consider are aimed at offering benefits for workers, not enough has been offered for employers who struggle to keep their businesses open.

Among Newsom’s new initiatives are offering help to essential workers who are considered vulnerable because of the nature of their work or the circumstances in which they work. The governor highlighted California farmworkers who toil in the fields and often return to substandard living conditions. Newsom offered to improve housing for farmworkers and said the state would provide hotel rooms for those farmworkers recovering from Covid-19.

In addition, the governor’s worker protections plan cast a wider net including other essential workers including truck drivers and grocery employees, offering quicker investigations and enforcement of companies that ignore state health guidelines. He also issued a new handbook to employers on how to set up their places of work properly to protect workers against the spread of the virus.

The governor is planning to work with the legislature on a number of bills that are proposed to shield workers in this extraordinary time. Most notable is an extension into law of the governor’s executive order on workers’ compensation.

Under the order, any worker who contracts the Covid-19 virus is assumed to get it while on the job. Along with easing the path to workers compensation rewards for more workers dealing with Covid-19, the proposals would pile another financial strain on employers.

Other bills to benefit workers include additional sick days for food workers during the coronavirus crisis, labor law changes to benefit at home workers, and job protection for parents that need to take up to 12 weeks leave if their child’s school or daycare has been closed during the pandemic.

Businesses have to cover costs and loss of production due to some of the proposed requirements while at the same time each business tries to keep its head above water in a red economic sea. Can the legislature offer a hand to businesses to equalize all government wants to do for workers?

California Business Roundtable president Rob Lapsley, in responding to the governor’s announcement, said in a statement, “there should be liability relief for employers who adhere and exceed the guidelines in the new Employer Safety Handbook. Moreover, strategic enforcement of labor laws must include clear provisions so that corrective actions can be made before punitive actions are imposed.”

It would be extremely important for businesses if the legislature creates a “right to cure” law so businesses can take care of minor errors before being overwhelmed by legal action. If such an action is taken, employers will know that legislators’ concern is not just for workers.

An indication of legislative concern over business might be measured on the webpages of the California Chamber of Commerce. Famous for its Job Killers page, which list the bills the Chamber believes will stifle business and reduce jobs, less well known is the CalChambers’ Job Creators page. This page supports bills in the legislature that the Chamber feels will stimulate the economy and improve the job climate.

In 2019, 31 Job Killers were cited, compared to just 9 on the Job Creator List. In 2020, there are 15 Job Killer bills listed but there is no 2020 page for Job Creators. An oversight from website maintenance or no bills to report on?

Regardless, it’s time the legislature considered the business side of the business-labor equation to promote a successful economic recovery.