Pay Hike: Gov. Jerry Brown signs a bill April 4 to raise the state’s minimum wage.

Pay Hike: Gov. Jerry Brown signs a bill April 4 to raise the state’s minimum wage. Photo by David McNew/Getty Images

Business interests did not fare as well this year in Sacramento as in recent years, with the state Legislature passing several potentially costly bills.

From a hike in the minimum wage to $15 an hour and expanded parental leave to increased farmworker overtime and stricter greenhouse gas emission limits, lawmakers pushed through a progressive agenda – over the strenuous objections of California’s major business groups.

Gov. Jerry Brown last week signed the greenhouse gas emissions bill, has signed the minimum-wage hike, and has promised to sign the farmworker overtime bill.

“For an election year, this was one of the most regressive legislative years against business in a long time,” said Tom Scott, executive director of the California chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business, which represents small businesses.

‘Job killers’ stopped

It could have been much worse. Out of two dozen bills that the California Chamber of Commerce dubbed “job killers” throughout the legislative session, business lobbying of moderate Democrats stopped 19 by session’s end, including a bill to add members to the South Coast Air Quality Management District and a bill that would have required employers to pay double rates for employees who work on Thanksgiving.

Historically, that’s about average for stopping job killers. But the ones that got through were more sweeping in their potential impact than in previous years, led by the statewide minimum-wage increase to $15 an hour by 2022 and the greenhouse gas emission reduction bill, SB 32.

The greenhouse gas bill sets new targets for greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030; legislation enacted a decade ago already required state emissions to reach 1990 levels by 2020. That target was being reached largely through a market-based emissions credit trading program overseen by the California Air Resources Board, and the new law puts meeting the stricter requirements in that agency’s hands again.

“This bill gives the Air Resources Board unchecked authority to increase costs on manufacturers and our economy, threatening manufacturing jobs, expansions, and other investments,” Dorothy Rothrock, president of the California Manufacturers & Technology Association, said in a statement. “We urge the Governor to veto this bill so we can start over and get it right.”

Another bill that made it through was AB 1066, which makes farmworkers eligible for overtime pay after eight hours worked in a day or 40 hours worked in a week, like most other hourly workers in the state, instead of 10 hours worked in a day or 60 hours worked in a week.

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