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Public Policy Newsletter Article

Bills related to COVID-19 will be prioritized for the five-week sprint to August 31 adjournment.

State Legislature Returns For Completion of Abbreviated Session

  • 2020-08-06T19:00:00.000+0000
  • California
  • Author: Jimmy Jackson

After an unplanned two week delay due to legislative employees and members of the State Legislature testing positive for COVID-19, the State Legislature returned July 27 for what will likely be a frantic 5-week sprint to its August 31 adjournment.

Legislative leadership in both houses had already strongly encouraged members to minimize legislation that is not pressing this year or does not deal in some way with COVID-19 or things necessary to state operations, and has reportedly gotten more aggressive in this limitation as a massive amount of legislation remained to be vetted in a relatively short period.

A bill that was recently significantly amended that may be of interest to Biocom members 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 is scheduled to be heard in committee on August 13. Biocom does not have a position on this legislation at this time.

AB 685 (Reyes) would require notification (within 24 hours of the employer knowing or should have known) of all 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, which is scheduled to be heard in policy committee on August 5.

A third bill of possible interest is AB 1492 (Boerner-Horvath). This bill requires 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.

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.