PRI’s Wayne Winegarden comments on California paid leave expansion law
Title: Budget trailer bill expands paid leave in California; lawmakers pass on health care consolidations requiring approval from attorney general
By: Sarah Downey, Northern California Record
A bill that would have mandated the attorney general approve health care provider consolidations failed to pass the Legislature late last month, but a budget trailer bill on supplemental sick paid leave, to be enforced by the state Labor Commissioner, was passed at the tail end of the abbreviated session.
As noted in the Aug. 31 Senate Floor Analysis, AB 1867, “Specifies that the Labor Commissioner, when enforcing paid sick days laws, may issue citations, file a civil action, and use administrative proceedings set forth in existing law, as specified.”
The law, which was signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom Sept. 9, takes effect immediately and runs until January. It expands the governor’s executive order on leave for food sector workers to most businesses with more than 500 employees.
“AB 1867 could just as easily be titled the Increased Unemployment Act of 2020,” Wayne Winegarden, Ph.D., senior fellow in business and economics at the Pacific Research Institute, told the Northern California Record by email. “Increasing costs on businesses is exactly the wrong policy response. California’s government should be finding ways to reduce the regulatory burdens on firms to encourage greater economic activity and faster job growth.”
It adds to the growing number of leave programs with which California businesses must comply, even as many are struggling to keep their doors open amid the health and economic crisis.
Meanwhile, the need for better flexibility in health care delivery, particularly amid the COVID-19 pandemic, was addressed when SB 977 failed to pass, Winegarden said.
“SB 977 would have made terrible policy, and it is a good thing that it failed,” Winegarden said. “Beneficial health care reforms need to, in part, empower healthcare providers to improve the quality and cost of healthcare. SB 977 goes in the opposite direction. This legislation would have a similar effect of the state certificate of need (CON) laws, which California does not implement, but 35 other states do. CON laws require regulatory approval before a healthcare facility can invest in new capacity and are associated with reduced access and higher costs.”
Lawmakers may be willing to look at alternatives.
“In its stead, consider legislation that would improve the ability of doctors to develop new and innovative ways to practice medicine,” Winegarden said.