Election Transparency, State Law Compliance, Pension Liability, and Flood Protection among Senator Niello’s Bills in Committees This Week

Senator Roger Niello (R-Fair Oaks) presents legislative bills in committees this week:

Senate Bill 858 reforms the process by which ballot measure title and summaries are written. It transfers the duty of preparing the ballot title and summary for a proposed initiative or referendum measure from the Attorney General to the Legislative Analyst.

There are numerous examples that show that biased ballot titles and summary misinformed the voters on what the ballot measure would actually achieve if passed. For example, in 2022, Proposition 22’s ballot title changed from “Changes employment classification rules for app-based transportation and delivery workers,” an accurate description, to “Exempts app-based transportation and delivery companies from providing employee benefits to certain drivers and delivery workers.”

Senate Bill 858 bill will be heard in the Senate Elections and Constitutional Amendments Committee on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 330 makes modest reforms to the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) that will help California’s businesses comply with laws and regulations through education of an existing right to cure process. It also requires that a notice provides relevant facts, legal contentions, and alleged harm when an employee or their representative seek to bring a civil action by an aggrieved employee.

PAGA took effect in 2004, but litigation under the act picked up in 2009 when the California Supreme Court held that the stringent certification requirements for bringing a class action do not apply to PAGA actions. Litigation picked up more steam in 2014 when the state high court held that employees could not waive their right to an arbitration agreement to bring PAGA claims.

Senate Bill 330 bill will be heard in the Senate Labor, Public Employment and Retirement Committee on Wednesday.

Senate Bill 548 creates a process for a county and the trial court to separate their joint contract with the California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS) into separate contracts.

Over 20 years ago, Superior courts were separated from counties and became an appendage of the state. Although court employees are not paid by the county but the Superior Court, they are still accounted for in the total pension liability figures for counties. This bill, sponsored by the State Association of County Auditors, provides a mechanism for those counties and courts, who are interested, to move forward with completing the work that began in the late 1990's.

Senate Bill 548 will be heard in the Senate Labor, Public Employment and Retirement Committee on Wednesday.

Senate Bill 638, joint authored with Senator Susan Eggman, places a $6 billion flood protection and climate resiliency bond on the statewide ballot in 2024. This legislation is a bipartisan effort to fund infrastructure projects that will protect communities in danger of flooding.

Senate Bill 638 will be heard in the Senate Governance and Finance Committee on Wednesday. The bill will be presented by Senator Eggman.