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Public Policy Newsletter Article

State Legislature Enters Session’s Last Few Days

  • 2020-08-27T15:00:00.000+0000
  • California
  • Author: Jimmy Jackson

In a very different year for everyone, one of the most unique state legislative sessions in history is speeding towards its August 31st adjournment. As of this writing, uncertainty has again become paramount as a member of the State Senate has tested positive for COVID-19, causing a pause in session in that house as leadership determines how to safely move forward with a state constitutionally mandated August 31st adjournment looming over it.

A piece of legislation Biocom and many partner groups have put much work into over the past 2 years is AB 713 (Mullin), a bill addressing discrepancies between current state consumer privacy laws and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), some of which could have affected collection of patient data in California required by the FDA. A broad coalition led by AdvaMed and including the life science trade associations, consumer privacy groups, hospitals, health plans and retailers has coalesced around this bill, which has no known substantive opposition at this time. We are cautiously optimistic the bill will pass the Legislature before it adjourns next Monday and will await the Governor’s signature or veto.

A bill that was discussed in the last issue of the newsletter is AB 979 (Holden and C. Garcia). If signed into law, this bill would require, by December 31, 2021, that a corporation with its principal executive office in California have a minimum of one director from an underrepresented community; by December 31, 2022, a corporation with at least four but fewer than nine directors would have to have two members from underrepresented communities, and those with nine or more directors would have to have three from underrepresented communities. AB 979 defines someone from an underrepresented community as “an individual who self-identifies as Black, African American, Hispanic, Latino, Asian, Pacific Islander, Native American, Native Hawaiian, or Alaska Native.” The bill was passed by the Senate Appropriations Committee on August 20, and it is currently awaiting a vote on the Senate floor. Biocom does not have a position on this legislation at this time.

AB 685 (Reyes) would require notification (within 24hrs of the employer knowing or should have known) of employees at a worksite of a possible exposure to COVID-19 (defined as a positive test result, a diagnosis, a COVID-19-related order to quarantine from a licensed health provider, or a fatality that was or could have been caused by COVID-19). Biocom has joined a broad opposition coalition on this bill, and although several amendments were put into the bill before its passage out of the Senate Appropriations Committee, the opposition coalition continues to push for further changes.

Finally, another bill mentioned in the past is AB 1492 (Boerner-Horvath). This bill would require an employer to indemnify employees working from home for equipment “reasonably necessary to perform the employee’s work duties, including, but not limited to, a computer, a printer, and a scanner, unless the equipment is provided by the employer.” Under this legislation, the employer must also indemnify an employee who works from home for a reasonable percentage of the employee’s monthly internet and telephone costs. The bill failed to advance out of policy committee and would appear to be dead for the year.

Other active bills are still evolving, and Biocom continues to monitor changes closely as it is still difficult to assess what exactly will be pursued by legislators in this shortened session. You may keep current on the status of all bills Biocom is tracking here.