For Selwyn Yosslowitz, co-owner of Marmalade Caf & #233; in Los Angeles, the new year rings in a major hit to his bottom line: a 75-cent hike in the state's minimum wage to $7.50 an hour.
With this increase, Yosslowitz is considering cutting back hours for some of his employees.
"We're going to make cost-cutting moves like this before we ever consider passing on the increased costs to our customers," Yosslowitz said.
Marmalade Caf & #233; is on the front lines of the annual onslaught of new laws that affect employers at the start of each year. This year, by far the biggest one is the minimum wage hike, the first of two agreed to last year by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the state Legislature. The second increase, to $8 an hour, kicks in Jan. 1, 2008.
In keeping with the trend since Schwarzenegger took office, however, there aren't many other laws broadly impacting employers that take effect this week.
"With the governor pledging to veto job-killing bills, we've been able to stop almost all these bills from becoming law," said Vince Sollitto, spokesman for the California Chamber of Commerce.
Two other major laws did get through, though: Assembly Bill 32, a greenhouse gas emissions reduction mandate, and Senate Bill 1613, a ban on cell phone use in most vehicles, including commercial trucks and fleet vehicles. But they won't kick in until mid-2008 at the earliest.
Instead, employers in specific industries are facing targeted new laws this week. Among these is AB 881, a requirement that all roofers even sole proprietors carry workers' compensation insurance. "This is really aimed at the underground economy, but it will hit husband-and-wife teams hard, and some of those are our members," said Michael Shaw, assistant state director of the California chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business.
Another law, SB 1759, requires more stringent background checks for certain health care workers, while yet another, AB 409, allows authorities greater latitude to suspend licenses for cosmetologist, barbers and manicurists to protect public health and safety.
Even the ubiquitous car wash industry is in the state's crosshairs with the passage of SB 1468, a one-year extension of a previous law that regulated the hiring and payment of car wash workers. That previous law was set to expire last week.
And probably the most far-reaching of these industry-specific laws for consumers is AB 2987, which opens local cable markets to competition. This law was pushed by AT & T; Corp. and Verizon Communications Inc., which have been trying to break local cable monopolies. The law also takes much of the decision-making on cable franchises out of the hands of local governments by allowing any cable operator to seek a single statewide permit.
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