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October 22, 2019

2019 End of Session Legislative Wrap-Up

The 2019 California legislative year has concluded. The Legislature adjourned in the early morning hours of September 14th and Governor Newsom has completed taking action on those bills that made it to his desk. Listed below are some of the notable bills that Western Growers advocated on through the year.

AB 5 (Gonzalez) Signed: This bill, which was signed by the governor, codifies the Dynamex decision regarding who is an employee and who is an independent contractor. Western Growers was part of a coalition with an oppose unless amended position on the bill. We requested an amendment that would have clarified that trucking owner-operators would be able to remain independent contractors and not employees. Unfortunately, the author decided to only provide this clarification for truckers who provide services for the construction industry.  

AB 51 (Gonzalez) Signed: Western Growers opposed this bill, which places a ban on mandatory employment arbitration agreements. The bill was signed by the governor. However, it is very likely that this statute will be litigated since it is almost assuredly preempted by the Federal Arbitration Act.

AB 555 (Gonzalez) Held In Assembly:  Western Growers took an oppose unless amended position on AB 555, which proposes to expand California’s paid sick leave program from 3 days to 5 days (40 hours). Western Growers helped to lead a large and diverse coalition against this bill. It was held in the Assembly.  

AB 589 (Gonzalez) Vetoed: Western Growers opposed this bill because it would create additional onerous requirements on employers. One of the requirements would have been a “Worker’s Bill of Rights” document, which would have needed to be provided to each employee. Of particular concern was a provision within this document regarding employer-provided housing that would have likely impacted H-2A housing options and choices for employees. The governor vetoed the bill.

AB 658 (Arambula) Signed: Western Growers supported this bill. The bill authorizes a groundwater sustainability agency or local agency to apply for, and the State Water Resources Control Board to issue, an expedited conditional temporary permit for diversion of surface water to underground storage for beneficial use that advances the sustainability goal of a groundwater basin. The bill was signed by the governor.

AB 916 (Muratsuchi) Held in Senate: Western Growers opposed this bill, which would place a ban on the use of glyphosate by a local agency. The bill was successfully held in the Senate Agriculture Committee.

AB 1783 (Robert Rivas) Signed: Western Growers opposed this bill sponsored by the UFW. Disappointingly, it was signed by the governor. The bill allows the issuance of a ministerial permit for farmworker housing if the employer agrees to turn the operation of that housing over to a third-party operator for a 25-year contract. We also were heavily opposed to a mandate in the bill that prohibits state funding from programs like the Joe Serna Farmworker Housing Grant Program for the purposes of predevelopment, development, or operation of employee housing if it will be used to provide housing for H-2A employees.

SB 1 (Atkins) Vetoed: Western Growers strongly opposed this bill, which would have blanketed federal laws that were in effect under the Obama Administration onto California state agencies without a case-by-case analysis on the merits. The governor vetoed the bill.

SB 200 (Monning) Signed: Western Growers supported this bill, which establishes the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund to help water systems provide an adequate and affordable supply of safe drinking water in both the near and long term.

SB 559 (Hurtado) Held in Assembly: Western Growers supports this bill, which would require the California Water Commission to make a grant of $400,000,000 to a joint powers authority to restore the capacity of the Friant-Kern Canal. The bill passed the Senate but was held in the Assembly.