Capitol Alert

California paid sick leave, fracking, phone kill-switch laws take effect

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, talks with Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, who sponsored her bill to provide workers with three paid sick days on the Senate floor last summer.
Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, talks with Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, who sponsored her bill to provide workers with three paid sick days on the Senate floor last summer. Sacramento Bee file

Millions of California workers will start earning paid sick days beginning Wednesday, the fruit of a landmark bill that passed the Legislature last year.

Some of the more complex or contentious laws forged in Sacramento carry an implementation delay so the affected parties have more time to prepare. A flurry of previously passed bills become operational Wednesday.

One of the signature legislative fights of 2014, Assembly Bill 1522 requires employers to offer ailing workers who have accrued enough hours at least three paid days off a year. The bill surmounted the opposition of business lobbies and survived bruising negotiations that splintered labor groups, benefiting from Gov. Jerry Brown’s late push to pass the bill.

To be eligible, employees need to have been working in California for at least 30 days. After 90 days they would start earning sick leave. The bill’s author estimates 6.5 million workers could be covered.

While AB 1522 will draw abundant attention, other hard-fought measures also take effect Wednesday. Among them:

▪  Fracking: In the end Senate Bill 4 regulating hydraulic fracturing pleased neither environmentalists nor the oil and gas industry, but supporters argue it imposes needed oversight by requiring well permits, disclosure of what chemicals are used, water testing and studies of fracking’s impact. Draft regulations become permanent Wednesday, and the state water board will need to establish criteria for monitoring groundwater.

▪  Kill switches: All smartphones sold in California will need to have “kill switches” capable of disabling them remotely. Despite law enforcement support, the anti-theft Senate Bill 962 initially foundered, with companies like Verizon, AT&T and Google opposed, but it revived with the help of amendments pushing back the implementation date.

▪  Ridesharing: Companies like Uber and Lyft that use amateur drivers to transport people for a fee will need to purchase more comprehensive insurance. Assembly Bill 2293 represented the Legislature’s first serious attempt to regulate the so-called sharing economy and galvanized opposition from technology companies.

▪  Death certificates: Transgender Californians will have their chosen genders reflected on their death certificates under Assembly Bill 1577, which was championed by openly lesbian Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego.

Editor’s Note: This post was updated at 4:30 p.m. on June 30 to correct the number of AB 2293.

Jeremy B. White: 916-326-5543, @CapitolAlert

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