Published in the Orange County Register on November 22, 2019.
Link to article here: https://www.ocregister.com/
California is one of the least business-friendly and most unaffordable states in the nation.
Starting January 1, 2020, living and working in California is going to get harder because of a new Democrat-authored law. This law will strip hundreds of thousands of independent contractors of their workplace flexibility by classifying them as employees with strict schedules and less workplace freedoms. California Democrats pride themselves as leading the most progressive state in the nation, but fail to mention the revolting games they play with their constituents, such as they did with Assembly Bill 5.
This new law codifies a 2018 court decision, which created one of the strictest employment tests in the nation and ignores the diversity of industries in the Golden State. The decision affects about two million Californians who currently call themselves independent contractors. California Democrats understood the ramifications of the court’s decision and offered exemptions to several industries they considered friends while leaving many Californians to suffer because their industry did not get a ticket to ride the carve-out train.
Californians left at the station include hardworking truck drivers who own and operate their trucks, single moms who drive for Uber or Lyft while their children are in school, business consultants who work from home, and cowboys who contract with ranches during the busiest times of the year. Individuals also hurt by this Democrat-led law will be the struggling college students who deliver food for DoorDash between classes just to make ends meet, the interpreters and translators who provide critical assistance, and countless others.
My Republican colleagues and I fought relentlessly to help these Californians and stop this bad bill from becoming law. Earlier in the year, we introduced legislation to create a standard that would have given every industry in the state a fair chance to survive. Senate Democrats rejected this bill in its first committee hearing, even though the committee chair pointed out that there are indeed challenges with the carve-outs in AB5.
Instead of creating a bill that embraces the diversity of California workplaces and helps independent contractors thrive, a union leader turned Democrat legislator introduced AB5. AB5 plays favorites with unions and leaves many industries to face the severe consequences of the court decision. AB5 completely takes away the ability for many Californians to have workplace flexibility and choose when they work, where they work, and how long they work. Government should not be in the business of picking winners and losers, yet that is exactly what California Democrats did with AB5.
When AB5 was being heard in the Senate, my Republican colleagues and I offered twelve sets of amendments that were intended to help Californians who contract in industries left out of the bill. Our amendments would have offered a reprieve to healthcare facilities, the design industry, franchisors and franchisees, physical therapists, interpreters and translators, newspaper carriers and distributors, single-truck owner-operators, and the forest industry. Once again, California Democrats did not care about the real implications of AB5 and shot down all of these improvements.
Republicans’ efforts to make AB5 better were not completely disregarded though; we helped bring reprieves for two industries. Newspaper carriers and distributors received a one-year delay for the implementation of the bill (AB170), and motor clubs were exempted from the law. While these successes are important, AB5 is on the wrong side of history. Protecting the rights of independent contractors must prevail.
California Democrats’ AB5 carve-out train is not the right answer to this court decision, and a real legislative solution needs to be enacted. If California is truly the land of opportunity and a leader on the national stage, then the Legislature needs to do more to protect all workers’ rights and freedoms, not just a privileged few.