California’s legislature recently adjourned after passing a number of laws that affect housing, employment and health care.
The state passed Assembly Bill (AB) 1482, which places a cap on rent increases of 5% plus inflation. The statewide rent control measure was created to attempt to combat the housing crisis.
The bill also allows for certain circumstances of eviction to trigger a one-month’s rent payout from the landlord to the evicted tenant. There is no limit to the payment and no income qualification to receive it.
Proponents of the legislation say it will help keep tenants in units that are already struggling to afford rent. The payout is also intended as a form of relocation assistance to try and find a comparable place.
Opponents of the law, and rent control measures in general, say it does nothing to address the problem of a housing shortage. Further, the payment portion of the law would keep developers from investing in communities.
Some have said the law does not go far enough in providing assistance. The city of Healdsburg, for example, is moving ahead with an ordinance that would offer an additional month’s rent to qualified evicted tenants, though the conditions for eligibility are more strict, being tied to income and the sale of the unit.
Gov. Gavin Newsom also signed into law AB 5, which changes the dynamic of contract work in the state. The original targets of the bill when it was pushed by legislators were the “gig economy” and their contractors, such as Lyft and its drivers. Now, many contract workers will be treated as full time employees, with the benefits that entails.
Many businesses and industries sought exemption from the law, claiming it could shutter them or at least reduce their available workforce. The newspaper industry had in large part decried the bill as it would alter how newspaper delivery people were employed as well as columnists and other freelance writers who contributed on a weekly basis. The newspaper industry was given a one-year exemption.
Proponents of the law have said it will give a living wage to workers. Another benefit, some say, is that employers will now pay their fair share into government programs such as disability and workers compensation.
Opposition to the law came in a variety of forms. The law is expected to see several legal challenges.
Uber, for example, will be challenging how its contracted workers are viewed, as it claims they are not part of its core business, which is instead connecting markets with services. Under the new law, contract workers are still permitted if they are free from the company’s control, are not central to the company’s business and the contractor has an independent business.
The trucking industry was also disrupted by the new law. Many owner operators have come forward to say they had enjoyed being contract workers, especially the freedoms it gave to set their prices and schedules. Similarly, those who contract their shipments say they will have fewer scheduling options for their routes. Some companies have claimed the law will put them out of business in short fashion.
Government public health officials will now have more control over exemptions for vaccinating students after the passage of Senate Bill 276. Doctors may still write the exemptions, but may be investigated if certain criteria are met, including issuing a large amount of them.
School districts with lower than 95% of their populations vaccinated will be focused on.
The law came on the heels of reports of increased measles cases as well as accusations that a small number of doctors were handing out a large amount of waivers preventing students from being inoculated as required.
Proponents of the law say that it will increase the number of children who are vaccinated, decreasing the risk of spreading disease.
Opponents claimed the law will make doctors afraid to grant waivers and will put children with vaccine health concerns at larger risk. The relationship between doctor and patient was also seen by critics as being infringed upon, as were parental rights. The risks of vaccinating, critics say, was also not addressed in full.
The state medical board will hear all reports of doctors who waive a large number of students and waivers can be canceled by the state.
Those students with waivers prior to Jan. 1, 2020 will not be challenged for the grade span the child is in, which are from up to preschool, kindergarten to sixth grade and seventh to 12th grade.