Sacramento, CA - California lawmakers on Monday wrapped up a legislative session largely defined by the pandemic. The bills will next head to Gov. Newsom, who will have until Sept. 30 to sign or veto the measures.
Late Monday night, the Legislature passed SB 1159 which would make it easier for police, firefighters and other essential employees who contract COVID-19 on the job to be covered under the state's workers' compensation program by establishing a disputable presumption of compensability.
It was declared an "urgency" measure, which means if signed by the Governor, the law will take effect immediately, instead of on January 1. Additionally, the statute "applies to all pending matters except as otherwise specified, including, but not limited to, pending claims relying on Executive Order N-62-20."
Also going to the Governor is Assembly Bill 3216, a proposal pushed by unions that would create significant labor protections for hotel, janitorial, airport, event center and building maintenance workers. The bill requires employers in those industries to first rehire workers they laid off during a state of emergency, including in cases in which a new owner takes over a business.
The Legislature also passed a budget trailer bill, first made public Friday, that would require food-sector companies, healthcare providers and emergency responders with more than 500 employees to provide two weeks of supplemental paid sick leave for full-time workers who are unable to work after being exposed to the coronavirus or contracting COVID-19. AB 1867, which expires Dec. 31, is similar to an executive order Newsom signed earlier this year.
The Legislature also approved AB 276, which would raise the amount Californians can borrow penalty-free from their employer-sponsored retirement accounts to $100,000 from $50,000 if they have been financially impacted by the pandemic.
Another proposal approved by the Legislature, AB 2537, would require general acute care hospitals to stockpile three months of protective equipment supplies by April 1 or face a fine of up to $25,000.
AB 2043 would require the state's Division of Occupational Safety and Health to compile and publicly report investigations into agricultural workplace conditions related to COVID-19, as well as illnesses from the virus.
Lawmakers approved SB 275 which calls for the state to build a supply of medical equipment. Hospitals and other healthcare employers would be required to assemble a 45-day supply by June 1, 2023. .