Issue 113 - July 2021
This edition of the legislative update tracks a wide-ranging group of bills which may have significant liability or workers’ compensation implications for members. It is always important to note that bills may go through significant revisions, and members are encouraged to use the below information as a snapshot of each bill’s trajectory at the time of publication.
AB 1455 (Wicks). Sexual assault by law enforcement officers: actions against public entities: statute of limitations.
Summary: The Government Claims Act sets forth the general procedure for the presentation of claims as a prerequisite to commencement of actions for money or damages against local public entities, as defined. This bill would exempt a claim arising out of an alleged sexual assault by a law enforcement officer if the alleged assault occurred while the officer was employed by a law enforcement agency from all state and local government claim presentation requirements. This bill would exempt a claim arising out of an alleged sexual assault, as defined, by a law enforcement officer if the alleged assault occurred on or after the plaintiff’s 18th birthday and while the officer was employed by a law enforcement agency from all state and local government claim presentation requirements.
SB 16 (Skinner). Peace officers: release of records.
Summary: This bill would make every incident involving force that is unreasonable or excessive, and any sustained finding that an officer failed to intervene against another officer using unreasonable or excessive force, subject to disclosure. The bill would require records relating to sustained findings of unlawful arrests and unlawful searches to be subject to disclosure. The bill would also require the disclosure of records relating to an incident in which a sustained finding was made by any law enforcement agency or oversight agency that a peace officer or custodial officer engaged in conduct involving prejudice or discrimination on the basis of specified protected classes. The bill would make the limitations on delay of disclosure inapplicable until January 1, 2023, for the described records relating to incidents that occurred before January 1, 2022. This bill significantly expands existing requirements to retain and disclose personnel records under the California Public Records Act and imposes overly punitive civil fines and other monetary damages against local agencies. Local governments and agencies across the state have already been working to comply with the increased records retention and disclosure requirements imposed under SB 1421 (Chapter 988, Statues of 2018). This bill goes even further and unnecessarily expands upon those provisions, creating an excessive administrative burden and new costs for local agencies already struggling under budgets severely limited by COVID-19.
SB 270 (Durazo). Public employment: labor relations: employee information.
Summary: This bill, commencing July 1, 2022, would authorize an exclusive representative to file a charge of an unfair labor practice with the board, as specified, alleging a violation of the above-described requirements only if specified conditions are met, including that the exclusive representative gives written notice of the alleged violation and that the public employer fails to cure the violation, as specified. The bill would limit a public employer’s opportunity to cure certain violations. Creating new financial damages to be paid to labor unions by public agencies that fail to comply would only increase compliance and litigation costs in public agency budgets and divert those funds away from public benefit. Furthermore, the bill contains a limited right to cure the violation that does not uniformly apply. Public employers would be limited in the number of times they could exercise their right to cure in a 12-month period. After correcting three data errors in a 12-month period, a public employer would be subject to an unfair labor practice claim and subject to unspecified civil penalties. The limitation is arbitrary and may result in large public agencies being vulnerable to sizeable civil penalties for data errors without an opportunity to cure more than three errors.
SB 284 (Stern). Workers’ compensation: firefighters and peace officers: post-traumatic stress.
Summary: Current law, under the workers’ compensation system, provides, only until January 1, 2025, that, for certain state and local firefighting personnel and peace officers, the term “injury” includes post-traumatic stress that develops or manifests during a period in which the injured person is in the service of the department or unit, but applies only to injuries occurring on or after January 1, 2020. Existing law requires the compensation awarded pursuant to this provision to include full hospital, surgical, medical treatment, disability indemnity, and death benefits. This bill would make that provision applicable to active firefighting members of the State Department of State Hospitals, the State Department of Developmental Services, the Military Department, and the Department of Veterans Affairs, and to additional peace officers, including security officers of the Department of Justice when performing assigned duties as security officers and the officers of a state hospital under the jurisdiction of the State Department of State Hospitals or the State Department of Developmental Services, among other officers.
SB 299 (Leyva). Victim compensation: use of force by a law enforcement officer.
Summary: Current law provides for the compensation of victims and derivative victims of specified types of crimes by the California Victim Compensation Board from the Restitution Fund, a continuously appropriated fund, for specified losses suffered as a result of those crimes. Current law defines various terms for purposes of these provisions, including “crime,” which includes any public offense wherever it may take place that would constitute a misdemeanor or felony. This bill would revise the definition of “crime” to include any public offense described above regardless of whether any person is arrested for, charged with, or convicted of the commission of the crime.
SB 335 (Cortese). Workers’ compensation: liability.
Summary: This bill reduces the period of time that employers are allowed to investigate a claim for benefits prior to making a coverage decision. For most claims, the investigation period is reduced from 90 to 45 days. For claims covered by legal presumptions, the investigation period is reduced even further to 30 days. The bill also proposes to increase the amount of mandated employer-funded medical care that must be provided to injured workers – from $10,000 to $17,000 – during the period of time a claim is being investigated. This bill would also mandate an unprecedented and unwarranted expansion of penalties on employers that would result in massive and repeated benefit expansions for workers covered by certain legal presumptions. This provision would be applied retroactively.
SB 606 (Gonzalez). Workplace safety: violations of statues: enterprise-wide violations: employer retaliation.
Summary: Current law requires the Division of Occupational Safety and Health to issue a citation for a violation of provisions relating to the spraying of asbestos, or any standard, rule, order, or regulation established pursuant to specified provisions of the California Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1973 if, upon inspection or investigation, the division believes that an employer has committed a violation. Existing law imposes penalties of certain maximum amounts depending on whether the violation is serious, uncorrected, or willful or repeated. Current law authorizes the division to seek an injunction restraining certain uses or operations of employment that constitute a serious menace to the lives or safety of persons, as specified. This bill, instead, would require the division to issue a citation for a violation of provisions relating to the spraying of asbestos, certain employment safety related provisions of the Labor Code, or any standard, rule, order or regulation established pursuant to specified provisions of the California Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1973 or other safety related provisions of the Labor Code if, upon inspection or investigation, the division believes that an employer has committed a violation.
The Authority will continue to monitor these bills, as well as others, in an effort to keep members informed about the state’s legislative landscape.< Back to Full Issue Print Article