Job Killer Bills Suppressing Infrastructure, Increasing Workers’ Comp Cases Stopped

Strong opposition from the California Chamber of Commerce and allied groups this week prevented three job killer bills from advancing for the year.

Two bills would have suppressed infrastructure, one by limiting where warehouses may be constructed and another by banning housing construction in certain locations. The third job killer bill would have raised costs for employers in the health care industry and set a concerning precedent for workers’ compensation cases.

Bills Stopped

The following bills missed the deadline to move from the Assembly policy committee to the fiscal committee. While these bills are “dead” for the year, they may be considered by legislators next year.

  • AB 68 (Ward; D-San Diego) Quashes Housing. This bill would have worsened California’s existing housing crisis by preventing local governments from permitting new housing units in most of their jurisdictions. Specifically, the bill would have permanently prohibited all new housing construction in counties deemed as not “climate smart parcels,” despite the California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) recognition to the contrary.

In a letter to legislators, the CalChamber pointed out that AB 68 was a gift to NIMBYs everywhere, in effect mandating exclusionary land use policies, and worsening California’s existing housing crisis and furthering inequality.

  • AB 1000 (Reyes; D-San Bernardino) De Facto Ban of Warehouses. This bill would have mandated a statewide setback of 1,000 feet from sensitive receptors for all new or expanded logistics use facilities, regardless of environmental impacts, establishing a de facto ban. It also would have created a new private right of action in California.

In a letter submitted to legislators last week, the CalChamber warned that AB 1000’s de facto ban on logistics use facilities will undermine California’s ability to remain competitive, especially as the state already struggles to find adequate off-docking facilities to move goods from the port. Ramped up competition from Canadian and Mexican ports, as well as other seaports in the U.S. and abroad, are challenging California’s position as the international trade leader of the nation and taking jobs out of California, the CalChamber said.

Also concerning was that AB 1000 created a brand-new private right of action in the state under section 5098.9. The CalChamber emphasized that with an ignoble track record of unintended consequences and increased frivolous litigation, California should avoid creating another law providing plaintiff’s attorneys with an additional avenue to “act” as the Attorney General and sue project applicants in order to enrich themselves, slow projects and drive-up development costs.

  • AB 1156 (Bonta; D-Alameda) Expands Costly Presumption of Injury. Would have significantly increased workers’ compensation costs for public and private hospitals by presuming certain diseases and injuries are caused by the workplace and establishes an extremely concerning precedent for expanding presumptions into the private sector.

The bill would have imposed an astronomical financial burden on employers in the healthcare industry, which continues to grapple with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. It also would have created a troubling precedent for the workers’ compensation system in general by creating a legal presumption that bloodborne infectious disease, tuberculosis, meningitis, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), COVID19, cancer, musculoskeletal injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, or respiratory disease are presumptively workplace injuries for up to 10 years for all hospital employees that provide direct care.

Injuries occurring within the course and scope of employment are automatically covered by workers’ compensation insurance, regardless of fault. AB 1156 would have required that hospital employees do not need to demonstrate work causation for specified injuries or illnesses in any circumstance. Instead, these injuries and illnesses would be presumed under the law to be work related.

Staff Contacts: Ashley Hoffman, Adam Regele

Ashley Hoffman joined the California Chamber of Commerce in August 2020 as a policy advocate specializing in labor and employment and workers’ compensation issues. She was named a senior policy advocate starting January 1, 2024 in recognition of her efforts on behalf of members. Hoffman holds a B.A. with high honors in political science from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and earned her J.D. from the UCLA School of Law where she was a Michael T. Masin scholar, an editor at the UCLA Law Review, and staff member for the Women’s Law Journal. See full bio.