Oct. 27, 2017 –As the Governor finalized his work on the 977 bills sent to him this year, the legislature and staff are already looking ahead to next year.  Below is a brief summary of some of the key legislation that was held over this year and will be considered in the second year of the two year session.

Water

Clean Water Fund/Tax on Drinking Water – SB 623 (Monning) and AB 747 (Caballero)

* SB 623 (Monning) would establish the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund and ensure that monies in the fund to provide emergency, interim and long-term assistance to community water systems where wells exceed the maximum contaminant levels for arsenic, hexavalent chromium, lead, manganese, MTBE, nitrate and perchlorate. This bill has identified a fertilizer assessment, milk assessment and a retail water fee to provide $150 million a year for clean water remediation and provides farmers liability from State Water Board prosecution.  AB 747 (Caballero) was amended late last week, authorizing Monterey County, by ordinance, to impose a tax or assessment on the commercial application of fertilizers containing nitrogen within the county. The tax or assessment would fund a short-term program providing replacement drinking water where the maximum containment level exceeds the drinking water standard for nitrate.

Long-Term Conservation –  AB 1668 (Friedman) and SB 606 (Hertzberg/Skinner/Friedman) 

* The long-term water conservation legislation was a topic of debate and discussion all year long.  In August, the authors revealed a final “structure” that became the foundation for the bills.  They continued to be amended well into September.  AB 1668 (Friedman) and SB 606 (Hertzberg/Skinner/Friedman) both became two-year bills when they were held in the Legislature on Sept. 15.  Water agencies split with Met and East Bay MUD supporting, ACWA and many individual entities opposing.  Agriculture and food processing was able to negotiate to neutrality by getting favorable treatment for their specific industries.

Labor

* AB 5 (Gonzalez Fletcher) – This bill would create the Opportunity to Work Act and would require an employer with 10 or more employees to offer additional hours of work to an existing nonexempt employee before hiring an additional employee or subcontractor, would require an employer to post a notice of employee rights, and would require the employer to maintain certain documentation. It is pending in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

* AB 1576 (Levine) – This bill would amend the Gender Tax Repeal Act of 1995 to additionally prohibit a business from differentiating between the price charged for the same, or substantially similar, goods because of the gender of the targeted user of the good. It is pending on the Assembly Floor.

* SB 772 (Leyva) – This bill would exempt any occupational safety and health standard and order from the standardized regulatory impact analysis requirement. It is pending on the Assembly Floor.

* SB 562 (Lara) – This bill, the Healthy California Act, provides comprehensive universal single-payer health care coverage.  The bill would provide that the program covers a wide range of medical benefits and other services and would incorporate the health care benefits and standards of other existing federal and state provisions. The bill would state the intent of the Legislature to enact legislation that would develop a revenue plan, taking into consideration anticipated federal revenue available for the Healthy California program. It is pending in the Assembly Rules Committee.

Tax Reform

With federal tax reform pending in Congress, tax conformity with the state of California is sure to follow.  This will provide both opportunities and threats to California employers and individuals.

* SB 567 (Lara) – This bill would, for charitable remainder annuity trusts formed on or after January 1, 2018, require that the charitable remainder interest must be at least 40% of the initial fair market value of all the property placed in trust. This bill would revise this provision about decedents who died on or after January 1, 2018, to provide that no adjustment shall be allowed where the person who acquires the property has an adjusted gross income or net income over specified amounts. This bill, for taxable years beginning January 1, 2018, would eliminate those deductions for compensation payable to the chief executive officer for based on commission or on meeting certain performance goals under the Corporation Tax Law, thereby no longer conforming to federal income tax law. It is pending on the Senate Floor.

* SB 726 (Wiener) – Reinstates the Estate Tax – this bill would propose to the voters a repeal of the initiative measure prohibiting the imposition of a tax on or because of any transfer occurring because of death and would impose estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer taxes, in modified conformity with federal law, on and after January 1, 2019, upon estates valued at over $5,490,000, as may be adjusted. It is pending in the Senate Governance & Finance Committee.

Environmental Protection

* SB 49 (de Leon) – This bill would authorize a person acting in the public interest to bring an action to enforce certain standards and requirements implementing specified air, water, endangered species, and labor laws if specified conditions are satisfied. This bill would expressly authorize a person to petition a court for a writ of mandate to compel a state or local agency to perform an act required by, or to review a state or local agency’s action for compliance with, this measure.