CalWatchdog Morning Read – December 15

  • Court OKs constitutional challenge to new law affecting farm industry
  • CA Democrats want higher taxes and fees to fund infrastructure
  • Assembly Republican leader: No widespread voter fraud
  • Trump complicates Brown’s regional power grid plans
  • Democratic Assemblyman fighting federal water bill

Good morning. TGIT. Sorry we went dark yesterday — scheduling conflict. However, had we not been dark, we would have told you about how a federal appeals court last week had taken the highly unusual step of finding a U.S. constitutional cause of action in a challenge to a California state law, which is the latest wrinkle in a long-running and bitter dispute between a farm workers’ union and two large Central Valley fruit growers.

The California Legislature approved a law last year that was designed to protect the state’s businesses after two court decisions left them open to unforeseen liabilities regarding the minimum wage.

The measure, Assembly Bill 1513, which passed by solid majorities, was a sign of concern about broad economic harm if companies who had acted in good faith were forced to pay various fines for some commonly accepted payment practices.

This legislative overhaul of the state’s wage-and-hour law waived all penalties if, by this Thursday, the companies paid their piece-rate workers back wages for any unpaid rest periods.

The legislation would have been largely noncontroversial, except that it included carve-outs for two Fresno-based fruit growers – Fowler Packing Co. and Gerawan Farming.

In other words, the law apparently applied to every California business, except for these particular companies, both of which had run afoul of a union.

Check CalWatchdog to find out what happens next. 

In other news: 

  • “Sharing in a new emerging consensus in favor of substantial infrastructure spending, California Democrats have teed up the policy for early action in 2017, triggering renewed debate over the wisdom of funding the effort through significant new transportation-related fees and taxes.” CalWatchdog has more. 

  • “Contradicting claims made by President-elect Donald Trump, the state Assembly’s top Republican said Wednesday that he doesn’t believe there was rampant voter fraud in California on Nov. 8.” The Los Angeles Times has more. 

  • “In the weeks since Donald Trump’s election, Gov. Jerry Brown has promised to press forward with efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and on Tuesday he said the state is “taking whatever steps we can to find allies and partners” in that cause. But in private meetings with Republican governors here Tuesday, Brown encountered some resistance to one major initiative — his effort to integrate California’s largest power grid with other states in the region.” Politico has more. 

  • “Assemblyman Jim Frazier announced Wednesday an effort to combat recently approved federal legislation that would maximize water exports from the Delta to Southern California agriculture.” The San Jose Mercury News has more. 

Legislature:

  • Gone till January. 

Gov. Brown:

  • No public events scheduled.

Tips: [email protected]

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