When I mentioned to our editorial committee that I was going to work on a blog on good bills out of California’s recent legislative session, Kerry Jackson joked that I needed fewer than 100 words to cover that topic. After a few hours of hunting and a little help from friends, I did manage to turn up a few good ones:
CA Small Businesses Get Relief from COVID-19
Gov. Newsom last week signed into law several bills to help small businesses get back on their feet. In AB 1577, California business owners who received Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds will not have to pay state taxes on these forgivable loans. After being forced to shutter their businesses, paying taxes on these funds would have added insult to injury. Tax credits will also be offered to California companies with fewer than 100 employees that saw at least a 50 percent drop in gross receipts due to COVID-19. These businesses will receive a $1,000 tax credit for each employee hired between July and November, up to $100,000 per business. Before COVID-19, California was already among the toughest states to do business, and the pandemic made it worse. Some modest tax breaks to small business owners will help provide much needed relief.
More Freelancers Exempt from AB 5
AB 2257 exempts musicians, freelance writers, photographers, and translators from AB 5, the now infamous state law that outlawed many independent contractor jobs in the state. All total, the bill would exempt about two dozen professions — mostly in the creative fields. AB 5 would have “single handedly crashed the California music economy,” said Ari Herstand, an L.A. musician. It also resulted in companies firing California-based freelancers and hiring out-of-staters to fill the jobs. “This is one of the most disastrous pieces of legislation we could have ever put forward and that the governor could have ever signed,” said GOP Sen. Melissa Melendez. While this “fix it” bill provides relief for some professions, to save their jobs, ride-sharing drivers’ have to wait for the results of Prop. 22 on the November ballot.
More Autonomy for Nurse Practitioners
Many Californians choose to see a nurse practitioner for many routine medical conditions, rather than a physician. The advantage: they get in the door faster and it’s often less expensive. Under the current law, a nurse practitioner must be supervised by a doctor, but AB 890 lifts that requirement. Always cautious when it comes to deregulation, even the Los Angeles Times editorial board agrees with AB 890, “Unleashing the more than 20,000 nurse practitioners licensed in California can not only help plug that gap [primary medical care] but also increase diversity and provide a career path for more Californians eager to make their way into the healthcare industry.” The COVID-19 pandemic exposed many weaknesses in our health care system, one being the shortage of primary care doctors. AB 890 frees nurse practitioners to serve even more Californians.
Eliminating Filing Fees for Non-Profits
SB 934, sponsored by Sen. Patricia Bates (R-Laguna Hills), will eliminate the $25 filing fee paid by non-profits applying for a state tax exemption. It will also remove the $10 filing fee for annual informational returns paid by tax-exempt organizations as well as a $25 late fee. While this might not sound like much, don’t forget there’s all the paperwork that goes with it. PRI has paid thousands of dollars over the years to states nationwide for various fees, including state registration fees. Believe it or not, the regulations and paperwork are so onerous that there’s a growing cottage industry that helps non-profits sort it all out (which cost money, too). This is going to be a tough fundraising year for non-profits, and every little bit helps.
Microchips for Coco and Fifi
SB 573 sponsored by Sen. Ling Ling Chang, (R-Diamond Bar), requires dogs and cats to have microchips before leaving animal shelters. As readers know, Right by the Bay doesn’t take regulation lightly, especially if the added cost might be a burden for struggling families. But unlike past bills, this one contains an economic hardship exemption giving new owners access to rescue groups that can help with the bills and other low-cost services.
So, take that Kerry – I got 700 words.
Rowena Itchon is senior vice president of the Pacific Research Institute.