California workers will get more paid sick days

Your guide to California policy and politics
Lynn La BY Lynn La October 5, 2023
Presented by New California Coalition and California Water Service

California workers will get more paid sick days

From CalMatters Capitol reporter Sameea Kamal: 

Starting next year, workers in California will be entitled to at least five days of paid sick leave — up from the current three days. 

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s signature is a win for labor groups, for whom the bill authored by Sen. Lena Gonzalez was a top priority. But it falls short of the seven days in the original bill.

Still, unions and workers applauded the move

  • Ingrid Vilorio, a Jack in the Box worker and advocate, in a statement: “Now, workers will no longer have to worry about how to make the month’s rent or how to keep food on the table while recovering from illness or caring for a loved one.”

But the California Chamber of Commerce, which had the bill on its “job killer” list, warned of the impact on small businesses.

  • The Chamber, in a statement: “Our concern is that far too many small employers simply cannot absorb this new cost, especially when viewed in context of all of California’s other leaves and paid benefits, and they will have to reduce jobs, cut wages, or raise consumer prices to deal with this mandate.”  

That victory also might not make up for some other labor-backed bills that Newsom has vetoed thus far, though. The big one: a measure to allow striking workers to apply for unemployment benefits

Also, Newsom signed a bill that limits hand counts in elections to narrow circumstances — a measure put forward by Assemblymember Gail Pellerin, a former county elections official, in response to Shasta County supervisors getting rid of Dominion voting machines that became a central villain in voting fraud conspiracies. And he signed a bill by Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins to prevent jail deaths by increasing oversight.  

They were among 16 bills he announced signing Wednesday, his first since Saturday. He still has more than 700 bills to sign or veto in the next nine days, out of 1,100 the Legislature passed this session. 

But he also has a third option — do nothing.

In other words, he can allow bills to become law without his signature (or, if time runs out, that would happen by default — or by accident, as in Gov. Pete Wilson’s case). 

Newsom hasn’t done so in his nearly five years in office. His office told CalMatters that the governor “has never felt the need to utilize that option.”

But as longtime lobbyist Chris Micheli has noted, prior governors have taken advantage, for various reasons:  

Still, to put that in context, Brown’s six compare to the nearly 6,400 bills he signed into law.  

So what’s the benefit? “Potentially it could prevent alienating a particular interest group on either side of a measure,” Micheli said, “although, as we both know, governors both Republican or Democrat obviously often take controversial positions by their actions of signing or vetoing.” 

Case in point: Newsom didn’t shy away from vetoing a bill that would require judges to consider a parent’s affirmation of their child’s gender in custody disputes, or another to regulate driverless trucks and require a human back-up driver

A reminder: California’s governor operates differently than the president — any bill the president doesn’t act on is considered vetoed (the “pocket veto”). 

CalMatters is tracking Newsom’s calls on other key bills before his Oct. 14 deadline. Bookmark this page for updates.


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CalMatters at Politifest: We’re teaming up with Voice of San Diego for the annual event. It’s on Friday and Saturday, and this year, the focus is on California’s housing and water crises. Register here (the deadline is today).


1 How strict on saving water?

Sprinklers water a lawn in Sacramento on June 29, 2022. Photo by Miguel Gutierrez Jr., CalMatters
Sprinklers water a lawn in Sacramento on June 29, 2022. Photo by Miguel Gutierrez Jr., CalMatters

This has been a banner year for rain in California: From last Oct. 1 to Sept. 30, the state received 33.56 inches of rain — nearly twice the prior 12 months and nearly three times the amount in the 12 months before that. Three years of severe drought ended this year.

With the “miracle water year” now behind us, however, pressure to conserve water remains a priority for the State Water Resources Control Board, explains CalMatters’ Rachel Becker. But at a board workshop Wednesday, water providers raised concerns about a proposal that would save as much as 413,000 acre-feet a year by 2030 (enough to serve about 1.2 million households per year).

The reason? Water suppliers, not individual customers, would be required to meet the targets — and that could cost them about $13.5 billion from 2025 to 2040. A large chunk of that money (more than 40%) would go to funding rebate programs, such as ones that encourage customers to swap out lawns for more drought-proof landscapes. And if water suppliers don’t stick to their prescribed water allocation, they could be fined $1,000 a day starting in 2027 or $10,000 a day during droughts.

These conservation efforts would affect more than 400 cities and water agencies that serve about 95% of Californians. But each supplier would also need to figure out its own strategy, and it’s unclear to providers how eager customers are to use even less water.

  • Joe Berg, director of water use efficiency at the Municipal Water District of Orange County: “They want us to save water at such an accelerated rate, that even if we had all the money, we would not be able to convince our customer base to participate at the rates we need them to. We can build it, but they don’t necessarily come.”

The water board is expected to vote by next summer on the new rules, which could go into effect next fall. Until then, the declining snowpack, the overdrafted Colorado River and projections that the state will lose 10% of its water supply by 2040 due to climate change means that California’s future will likely remain parched. For more, read Rachel’s story.

California’s water crisis, explained: CalMatters has a detailed look at how California might increase its water supply, and a dashboard tracking the state’s water situation.

2 How will Kaiser strike affect you?

Kaiser Permanente employees on strike on Oct. 4, 2023.
Striking Kaiser Permanente employees picket in front of a Kaiser South Sacramento location on Oct. 4, 2023. Photo by Miguel Gutierrez Jr., CalMatters

If you’re a Kaiser Permanente member, you may find yourself waiting in longer-than-usual lines this week for flu shots, COVID-19 boosters or other services. As CalMatters’ health reporter Kristen Hwang explains, Kaiser employees kicked off their three-day strike Wednesday, potentially affecting the 9.4 million members, dozens of hospitals and more than 500 medical offices in California alone. (Workers are also striking in Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Virginia and Washington, D.C.)

In preparation for the strike, Kaiser has already hired 10,000 temporary workers, putting some up in hotels. But even with those reinforcements, while Kaiser hospitals and emergency departments will remain open, non-urgent appointments and procedures may be delayed.

If you need to fill a prescription, some Kaiser pharmacies might close temporarily or reduce hours, so the company recommends checking with their local facilities to see if their location is affected by the walkouts. 

The striking workers are seeking better pay and are represented by a coalition of eight unions that include 75,000 members nationwide. These employees include nursing assistants, house keepers, X-ray technicians, phlebotomists, pharmacists, optometrists and other support staff (doctors and most nurses are not part of the strike). For more about the strike, read Kristen’s story.


CalMatters Commentary

CalMatters columnist Dan Walters: The squabble between Gov. Gavin Newsom and union leaders over jobless benefits for striking workers renewed attention on California’s insolvent unemployment insurance system.

CalMatters columnist Jim Newton: Los Angeles has passed restrictions that reduced gun deaths, but its ability to innovate could be blocked by the U.S. Supreme Court.


Other things worth your time

Some stories may require a subscription to read

Body of Sen. Dianne Feinstein lies in state at SF City Hall // San Francisco Chronicle

CA homelessness crisis will be decided by judges, not politicians // Politico

California Forever’s first foray in Solano County politics on water // San Francisco Chronicle

CA Democrat makes cash splash in late entrance to competitive House race // Politico

Study: Violence dropped, but was high for transgender Californians // San Francisco Chronicle

Learning at Temecula Valley Unified suffers as censorship fears rise // EdSource

LA County wants to buy — and forgive — your medical debt // Los Angeles Times

Riling PG&E, San Jose approves its own electric utility, will study feasibility // The Mercury News

SF just approved the ‘most expensive homeless response’ ever // San Francisco Chronicle

SF techie housing pods that went viral violate building code // The San Francisco Standard

See you tomorrow


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