New Year, New Laws

New Year’s resolutions are about goals and aspirations.  Unfortunately, California’s new 2020 laws serve mostly the aspirations of state politicians and interest groups, not hard-working Californians.

Take AB5, a law that forces thousands of independent contractors to become company employees. Gig economy workers from Uber drivers to truckers and journalists who’ve been enjoying the freedom of being their own boss are already finding themselves losing work because their employers can’t operate under the traditional business model.  Popping the champagne corks are the progressive politicians who want to help unions become even more powerful than they already are.

If you thought that Obamacare’s health insurance mandate was an old acquaintance long forgotten – not so.  It’s back for Californians.  Residents who don’t have health insurance for themselves or their dependents will be subject to a penalty unless they fall into one of the exemptions. The benchmark individual market plan in California has premiums of more than $5,000 a year and annual deductibles can run several thousand dollars more. According to PRI President Sally Pipes, “These folks may have to decide between buying an insurance plan that costs upwards of $7,000 before coverage kicks in — or a couple thousand dollars in new taxes.” For over-taxed Californians, it’s another reason to make leaving the state their New Year’s resolution. They’ll join the estimated net 197,600 residents who left California for other states in fiscal year 2018-19.

If your child’s 2020 goal is to get better grades, don’t look for the education bureaucracy for help.  Starting in the next school year, it will be illegal to suspend disruptive students from grades K-8. Rebecca Friedrichs, a former classroom teacher and founder of For Kids and Country, said in an interview with the Washington Examiner, “Every teacher I know personally is against [these policies] because they are dangerous and have completely undermined our authority and ability to conduct learning in a safe environment.” PRI’s Lance Izumi in his American Education Agenda cited studies showing that allowing even one disruptive student in the classroom diminishes the performance of the rest of the class.

If your New Year’s goal is to buy a house, the legislature and Newsom just made it harder with AB 1482.  If your community has so far avoided rent control, its disastrous effect may be coming your way.  It is now statewide law that rent increases will be limited to 5 percent per year plus inflation and never more than 10 percent total if the house or building is more than 15 years old.  Rent control only deters developers from building more homes and apartments.  As we’ve argued many times in Right by the Bay – more supply is the fastest way to bring housing costs down.  Perhaps that’s one reason why Zillow recently projected the Bay Area will be the nation’s coolest housing market in 2020.

Politicians did enact one law in the interest of Californians.  In 2020, the most stringent data and digital privacy laws in the country will take effect in the state.  Californians now have the ability to stop businesses from sharing or selling their information and to find out how their information is being collected and where it’s going.  However, as always, the devil is in the details. We aren’t breaking out the bubbly yet — how and if the law will be successfully implemented is something we will be watching closely.

And finally, one new law that has me personally vexed and that has thwarted a life-long aspiration – owning a fur coat.  The ban starts in 2023, which means I only have three more years to save for it.  Of course, I can always take my dollars to some other state.

Rowena Itchon is senior vice president at the Pacific Research Institution.

Nothing contained in this blog is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of the Pacific Research Institute or as an attempt to thwart or aid the passage of any legislation.

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