California bill would require double pay on Thanksgiving

As reported by the Sacramento Bee:

As Californians start brining birds and mashing potatoes, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, is again hoping to dish out meatier wages for Thanksgiving workers.

She plans to amend and revive stalled legislation guaranteeing double Thanksgiving pay so it would only apply to workers at large retail businesses that have more than 500 employees in California.

Earlier this year the Assembly rejected a version that would have covered more workers. Gonzalez said she hoped the amended version would fare better by focusing on big retailers.

Plan to regulate medical marijuana heads to Jerry Brown

As reported by the Sacramento Bee:

After years of false starts and nearly two decades after California legalized cannabis for medical purposes, lawmakers Friday sent Gov. Jerry Brown a legislative package to regulate the billion-dollar industry.

Medical marijuana would be newly defined as an agricultural product with rules for water use, discharge and pesticides, and would be tracked and tested through the process.

The trio of bills would allow for testing and labeling of edible marijuana, overseen by the Department of Public Health, and prevent environmental degradation like water diversion via the Department of Food and Agriculture, which would also manage cultivation.

Click here to read the full story

California University Will Ban Soda Sales On Campus

SodaThe University of California-San Francisco is halting the sale of soda and other sugary drinks on campus due to health concerns.

Under the new policy, which was decided upon in May and will be implemented in July, campus vendors will be blocked from selling all drinks with added sugar calories to the school’s 4,600 students. That means no Coca-Cola, no Dr. Pepper, and no fruit punch. Diet sodas and 100 percent juice drinks will still be tolerated, and students will be allowed to bring sugary drinks on campus if they buy them elsewhere.

“The average American consumes nearly three times the recommended amount of added sugar every day,” UCSF professor Laura Schmidt said in the school’s initial announcement. “The most common single source is sugar-sweetened beverages.”

While UCSF characterizes the policy as a voluntary “strategy” for its vendors, the vendors themselves don’t agree. Kenneth Guzman, who operates an on-campus restaurant, told Inside Higher Ed that he “didn’t really have a choice” about dumping soda.

“I felt like it was a little too rash, they are too harsh,” Guzman said. “We could’ve just educated our customers on how to choose healthier alternatives and not punish them, taking away what they love.”

Another food vendor on campus said he thought it was silly for the school to ban sugared drinks but not diet sodas.

“Artificial sugars are worse than sugar itself,” said Peasant Pie operator Ali Keshavarz. “If my kid had a choice between a sugar soda and a diet soda, I’d want them to have the sugar soda, I know that for a fact.”

The new policy makes UCSF the first university in the country to put such a broad limit on sugar sales, and comes just two years after the campus banned all tobacco products.

The decision may be slightly more justified at UCSF than at other colleges, as the school is focused solely on graduate education in health sciences.

The move is also premised on research the school itself has conducted. A 2012 article in Nature by three UCSF researchers argued the health consequences of added sugars were so severe they deserved to be regulated in a manner similar to alcohol.

“Passive smoking and drink-driving fatalities provided strong arguments for tobacco and alcohol control,” the authors say in the article. “The long-term economic, health-care and human costs of metabolic syndrome place sugar overconsumption in the same category. The United States spends $65 billion in lost productivity and $150 billion on health-care resources annually for morbidities associated with metabolic syndrome.” Metabolic disorders related to sugar, the authors say, consume 75 percent of U.S. health spending.

Since “individually focused approaches” such as education aren’t working, the authors say, what is needed are “supply-side” restrictions such as higher taxes, age restrictions, and banning sales at schools.

Leeanne Jensen, the school’s wellness coordinator, told Inside Higher Ed the ban meant UCSF was “living our mission” by adopting its own advice on health. She also said the ban was focused on sugary drinks because their effect on health was particularly bad. High-sugar foods like cookies are more satiating than soda, she said, while the research on diet sodas is not as clear regarding whether they are unhealthy or not.

Originally published by the Daily Caller News Foundation

Follow Blake on Twitter

CA: Worst Place For Business, 11th Year In A Row

California’s economic recovery might be a little over stated, at least according to the people who actually create jobs.

Chief Executive Magazine has released its annual Best and Worst States for Business Survey and California ranked last – for the 11th year in a row. In the annual survey, completed by 511 CEOs across the United States, states are measured across three key categories to achieve their overall ranking: taxes and regulations, quality of the workforce and living environment, which includes things like, quality of education, cost of living, affordable housing, social amenities and crime rates.

California again placed 50th on the list, joining New York, Illinois, New Jersey and Massachusetts at the bottom. Texas remained in the number one slot followed by Florida, North Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia.

One CEO was quoted as saying, “the good states ask what they can do for you; the bad states ask what they can get from you.” Another CEO was quoted, “California and Oregon are essentially anti-business, whereas Texas and Tennessee do everything possible comfortable and more successful.”

Litigation and a state’s legal climate are one of the things weighing on the minds of CEOs as they consider states in which to do business and create jobs. California continues to be a “Judicial Hellhole,” and is tepid at best in its willingness to stop lawsuit abuse. Businesses will be discouraged from expanding and creating jobs in a state in which the lawsuit system mainly serves the interests of lawyers rather than ordinary people.

A single abusive lawsuit can cost a business tremendously. California’s leaders need to make this connection and make it a priority to enact meaningful reforms to our lawsuit system.

Originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily

xecutive director, California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse

Californians cut water use 13.5 percent in April

As reported by the San Jose Mercury News:

Californians improved their conservation efforts by cutting water use 13.5 percent in April, a significant jump from the previous two months when residents all but ignored Gov. Jerry Brown’s drought mandates as the state’s historic dry spell headed toward a fourth summer.

The new numbers, released Tuesday, suggest residents started to get serious in April after Brown announced the first mandatory drought rules in state history from a grassy Sierra Nevada meadow that normally would have been under five feet of snow. The state’s urban residents more than tripled their water savings in April from earlier this year when they reduced water use by only 3.9 percent in March, and just 2.6 percent in February.

Brown administration officials on Tuesday cheered the positive trend. But they noted that as the hot, summer months loom, significantly more must be done to keep the state from running dangerously low on drinking water as the drought continues into its fourth punishing year. …

Click here to read the full story

Mandatory Vaccination Bill Quickly Advancing Through Legislature

vaccine2After a fractious debate, the California Senate passed a revised draft of the controversial bill that would largely eliminate the state’s religious and personal belief exemptions for child inoculation. With the bill on a likely track for passage in the Assembly, momentum has begun to gather for even more muscular pro-vaccine legislation.

Sweeping changes

As previously reported, state Sens. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, and Ben Allen, D-Santa Monica, had to rewrite key passages of the bill’s language in order to head off potential constitutional challenges to its treatment of kids without the specified vaccinations.

The bulk of the original bill remained intact, however, sweeping away California’s longstanding and generous rules permitting parents to keep their children vaccine-free. “Several Republican senators tried to stall the bill by introducing a series of amendments that would have reinserted the religious exemption and required labeling of vaccine ingredients,” according to the Sacramento Bee. But Democrats moved swiftly to shut them down.

For some critics, barring unvaccinated children from public school remained a bone of contention. “It’s clear that a large portion of concerned parents will likely withhold their children from public schools because of their concerns or lack of comfort from the vaccination process,” said GOP state Sen. John Moorlach, according to the Christian Science Monitor.

But some carveouts were set to remain. “The legislation only addresses families that will soon enroll their children in school,” as Newsweek observed. “Under the proposed law, children who aren’t currently immunized are not required to get vaccinated until seventh grade. The law still allows families to opt out due to medical reasons, such as a history of allergies to vaccines and inherited or acquired immune disorders or deficiencies.”

The so-called grandfather clause represented a major concession to parents’ groups, which had succeeded in stalling Pan and Allen’s legislation once before. Now, as the San Jose Mercury News reported, “more than 13,000 children who have had no vaccinations by first grade won’t have to get their shots until they enter seventh grade. And nearly 10,000 seventh-graders who today aren’t fully vaccinated may be able to avoid future shots because the state does not always require them after that grade.”

Regulatory momentum

Despite the lenience built into the advancing legislation, the pro-vaccine logic that propelled it has already increased momentum for an even more assertive approach to enforcing inoculation.

As KQED News has noted, “two other vaccine-related bills are making their way through the Legislature a bit more quietly. One would require preschool and child care workers to have certain vaccinations; another seeks to improve vaccination rates for 2-year-olds.”

“If SB792 becomes law, California will be the first state in the country to require that all preschool and child care workers be immunized against measles, pertussis and the flu.”

Supporters of the ratcheted-up regulation sought to head off more controversy by downplaying the invasiveness and inconvenience of their approach. “We certainly aren’t out to arrest people who aren’t vaccinated,” said Kat DeBurgh, executive director of the Health Officers Association of California, a group that sponsored SB792. “We wanted to make this just like any other violation of code that an inspector would look for. If you don’t remediate, then there is a fine to the day care center.”

At the same time, pro-vaccination analysts have speculated that the Golden State will save money the more it ensures vaccination. Referring to a recent study showing that Iowa’s health care spending would double if it added a personal belief exemption, Tara Haelle suggested that California’s “health care cost savings would be far more substantial” once its exemption was eliminated, although, she conceded, “no thorough analyses are currently available.”

Originally published by

California tells for-profit chain to stop enrolling veterans

As reported by the Associated Press:

A for-profit college company with 15 campuses in California was ordered by the state Friday to stop enrolling new or returning students who plan to fund their educations with GI Bill benefits.

The order to ITT Educational Services came in a suspension notice issued by a division of the California Department of Veterans Affairs that sanctions training programs to serve veterans.

ITT operates more than 135 schools in 39 states under the names ITT Technical Institute and Daniel Webster College.

The Securities and Exchange Commission filed a fraud complaint against the Indiana-based company this week over an alleged scheme to cover up losses from private student loans that ITT had guaranteed to its investors.

California officials suspended ITT as an …

Long Beach allows taxis to lower fares as they compete with Uber, Lyft

As reported by the L.A. Times:

Long Beach officials are pursuing a new strategy to resolve the growing rift between taxi drivers and ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft, becoming the nation’s first large city to relax restrictions on cabs, rather than increase regulation of their new competitors.

Removing requirements that taxi drivers say have put them at a competitive disadvantage, the City Council voted Tuesday to allow its exclusive cab franchise to rebrand itself, update the appearance of its fleet and offer variable, discounted fares, free rides and other price promotions to lure customers.

In addition to a new name (Yellow Long Beach) and a new Uber-like app (Ride Yellow), Long Beach Yellow Cab will repaint its traditional mustard-colored taxis a more vivid lemon. …

Click here to read the full article

Water-wasting fines of $10,000 proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown

As reported by the San Jose Mercury News:

Waste California’s water, risk a $10,000 fine.

Residents and businesses could soon face that threat after Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday unveiled legislation that would increase potential penalties on the most flagrant water scofflaws and allow cities, counties and water districts to issue fines without having to go to court.

“As this drought stretches on, we’ll continue to do whatever is necessary to help communities save more water,” Brown said after meeting with California mayors, including San Jose’s Sam Liccardo and Oakland’s Libby Schaaf.

But whether the proposal — which would boost maximum fines 20-fold from the current $500 — will ever take effect was unclear Tuesday.

Click here to read the full article

2015 Job Killers — CalChamber Releases Its Preliminary Report

The California Chamber of Commerce yesterday released a preliminary list of “job killer” bills to call attention to the negative impact that 16 proposed measures would have on California’s job climate and economic recovery, should they become law.

Although we will be opposing a number of bills throughout this year, the ‘job killer’ list represents the worst of the worst. These proposals will unnecessarily increase costs on California employers that will likely lead to a loss of jobs.

The list is preliminary. We expect to add more bills to the list in the coming weeks as legislation is amended, and we will periodically release “job killer” watch updates as legislation changes. Please track the status of “job killer” bills on or by following @CAJobKillers on Twitter. 

Here is the preliminary list of 2015 “job killer” bills:

Increased Labor Costs

AB 357 (Chiu; D-San Francisco) Predictable Scheduling Mandate/Protected Leave of Absence — Imposes an unfair, one-size fits all, two-week notice scheduling mandate on certain employers that perform retail sales activity, and penalizes these employers with “additional pay” for making changes to the schedule with less than two weeks notice, and additionally imposes an unlimited, protected leave of absence from work as well as a broad new protected class of employees who are receiving public assistance or have an identified family member receiving such assistance.

SB 3 (Leno; D-San Francisco/ Leyva; D-Chino) Automatic Minimum Wage Increase— Unfairly increases’ employers costs while ignoring the economic factors or other costs of employers by increasing the minimum wage by $3.00 over the next two and a half years with automatic increases tied to inflation.

SB 406 (Jackson; D-Santa Barbara) Significant Expansion of California Family Rights Act — Creates less conformity with federal law by dramatically reducing the employee threshold from 50 to less than 5 employees and expanding the family members for whom leave may be taken, which will provide a California-only, separate 12 week protected leave of absence on both small and large employers to administer, thereby increasing costs and risk of litigation.

Increased Fuel Costs

SB 350 (de León; D-Los Angeles) Costly and Burdensome Regulations — Potentially increases costs and burdens on all Californians by mandating an arbitrary and unrealistic reduction of petroleum use by 50%, increasing the current Renewable Portfolio Standard to 50% and increasing energy efficiency in buildings by 50% all by 2030 without regard to the impact on individuals, jobs and the economy.

Tax Increases

ACA 4 (Frazier; D-Oakley) Lowers Vote Requirement for Tax Increases — Adds complexity and uncertainty to the current tax structure and pressure to increase taxes on commercial, industrial and residential property owners by giving local governments new authority to enact special taxes, including parcel taxes, by lowering the vote threshold from two-thirds to 55%.

SB 684 (Hancock; D-Berkeley) Increased Tax Rate — Threatens to significantly increase the corporate tax rate on publicly held corporations and financial institutions up to 15% according to the wages paid to employees in the United States, and threatens to increase that rate by 50% thereafter, if the corporation or institution reduces its workforce in the United States and simultaneously increases its contractors.

SCA 5 (Hancock; D-Berkeley) Lowers Vote Requirement for Tax Increases — Adds complexity and uncertainty to the current tax structure and pressure to increase taxes on commercial, industrial and residential property owners by giving local governments new authority to enact special taxes, including parcel taxes, by lowering the vote threshold from two-thirds to 55%.

Increased Burdensome Environmental Regulation

AB 356 (Williams; D-Santa Barbara) Limits In-State Energy Development — Jeopardizes high paying middle class jobs in resource extraction fields by severely restricting wastewater injections sites and requiring unnecessary monitoring of those sites.

AB 1490 (Rendon; D-Lakewood) Limits In-State Energy Development — Drives up fuel prices and energy prices by imposing a de facto moratorium on well stimulation activities by halting the activity after an  earthquake of a magnitude 2.0 or higher.

SB 32 (Pavley; D-Agoura Hills) Halts Economic Growth — Increases costs for California businesses, makes them less competitive and discourages economic growth by adopting further greenhouse gas emission reductions for 2030 and 2050 without regard to the impact on individuals, jobs and the economy.

Increased Health Care Costs

SB 546 (Leno; D-San Francisco) Health Care Rate Regulation — Threatens employers with higher premiums and interferes with their ability to negotiate with health plans by imposing unnecessary and burdensome new reporting requirements on health plans and insurers in the large group market, and giving the Department of Managed Health Care and the Department of Insurance authority to modify or deny all rate changes in the large group market.

Economic Development Barriers

AB 359 (Gonzalez; D-San Diego) Costly Employee Retention Mandate — Inappropriately alters the employment relationship and increases frivolous litigation by allowing a private right of action and by requiring any successor grocery employer to retain employees of the former grocery employer for 90 days and continue to offer continued employment unless the employees’ performance during the 90-day period was unsatisfactory.

SB 576 (Leno; D-San Francisco) Stifles Mobile Application Technology Development — Stifles innovation and growth in the mobile application economy and creates unnecessary and costly litigation by mandating unnecessary, redundant and impractical requirements that will leave many current and future mobile applications unusable, with no benefit to the consumer.

Increased Unnecessary Litigation Costs

AB 244 (Eggman; D-Stockton) Private Right of Action Exposure — Jeopardizes access to credit for home mortgages, increasing the challenge to attract business to California because of high housing prices, by extending the homeowner’s bill of rights to others, thereby opening the door to more private rights of action.

AB 465 (Hernández; D-West Covina) Increased Litigation — Significantly drives up litigation costs for all California employers as well as increases pressure on the already-overburdened judicial system by precluding mandatory employment arbitration agreements, which is likely pre-empted by the Federal Arbitration Act.

SB 203 (Monning; D-Carmel) Lawsuit Exposure — Exposes beverage manufacturers and food retailers to lawsuits, fines and penalties based on state-only labeling requirements for sugar-sweetened drinks.

 president and CEO of the California Chamber of Commerce

Originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily