September 25, 2020
Bill Signing Update
Governor Gavin Newsom signed a number of bills with implications for the state’s community colleges over the past week, including the following significant measures:
- Assembly Bill (AB) 685 (Chapter 84/2020) requires employers to provide written notice and instructions to employees who may have been exposed to COVID-19 at their worksite and enhances Cal/OSHA’s ability to enforce health and safety standards to prevent workplace exposure to and spread of COVID-19
- Senate Bill (SB) 820 (Chapter 110/2020) is the annual budget cleanup bill for education, which makes a number of technical changes to the education provisions in the 2020–21 Enacted State Budget
- SB 1159 (Chapter 85/2020) establishes a disputable presumption that an employee who becomes ill from COVID-19 contracted the virus at their workplace and is thus eligible for Worker’s Compensation
- SB 1383 (Chapter 86/2020) expands the California Family Rights Act to allow employees to use unpaid job protected leave to care for a domestic partner, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, or parent-in-law who has a serious health condition and reduces the employer threshold for this leave from 50 to 5 employees
Since SB 820 is a budget trailer bill and SB 1159 is an urgency clause, they took effect immediately upon the Governor’s signature. The provisions in AB 685 and SB 1383 will not take effect until January 1, 2021.
Despite the historically low number of bills sent to Governor Newsom this year, there are still a handful of significant community college measures that are awaiting his action—including AB 2884 (Berman, D-Palo Alto), which is a bill that ACCCA supports that would expand the use of restricted California Lottery Funds provided to the California Community Colleges (CCC) to include expenditures on housing and food assistance for community college students.
The Governor has until next Wednesday, September 30, 2020, to sign, veto, or allow bills to become law without his action.
House Approves Stopgap Bill to Keep Government Funded into December
Late Tuesday evening, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a continuing resolution (CR) that would avert a government shutdown and keep the federal government funded through December 11 at fiscal year 2020 levels. Since the CR is a result of a bipartisan compromise between Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin it is expected that the Senate will approve, and President Trump will sign, the bill into law by September 30, 2020, the end of the federal fiscal year. This would make the lame duck session of Congress responsible for approving the 12 annual appropriations bills that comprise of the federal budget, or they could punt this duty to the new session of Congress, which convenes in January, by passing another CR before December 11.
The compromise agreement includes $8 billion for nutrition assistance for school children and families (which was prioritized by Democrats) and continued farmer assistance payments through the Commodity Credit Corporation (which was prioritized by the White House and Republicans). Since Speaker Pelosi and Secretary Mnuchin agreed to a “clean” stopgap spending measure, the CR does not include extensions for any of the CARES Act funds, including $54 million of the CCC COVID-19 Response Block Grant, that need to be spent by December 30, 2020.
While the biggest hurdle to reengaging on discussions for a new COVID-19 relief package seemed to be approval of a CR to keep the government funded, all that changed with the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg last Friday. Rather than sitting down with Democratic leadership and hammering out the details of a new stimulus package, the Republican-controlled Senate have shifted their priorities to filling the vacancy on the nation’s highest court before the November election. This means that we likely will not see any movement on an additional relief package until after November or even later.