Costly Heat Illness Bill on Suspense in Appropriations Committee

A California Chamber of Commerce opposed “job killer” bill that burdens food growers with unnecessary new rules and increased costs was placed on the Senate Appropriations Committee suspense file this week pending a review of its fiscal impact.

AB 2346 (Butler; D-Los Angeles) could increase the price of food and force growers to move their crop production to other states and countries, thereby hurting California exports, by creating excessive, unnecessary new rules regarding heat illness prevention with unreasonable consequences for violations.

Since 2005, when California adopted heat illness regulations, employers have stepped up compliance efforts and successfully reduced the incidence of heat-related illness in outdoor workplaces.

Agricultural employers made enormous strides in compliance and created unprecedented public-private partnerships.

There is no reason for AB 2346. The enforcement provisions combined with fines and penalties are extraordinarily high and unwarranted. The opportunities for litigation are almost limitless: private rights of action and enormous awards of damages, bounty hunter provisions, joint liabilities and high penalties. The bill is filled with procedural traps nearly impossible to avoid. As such, the overly punitive fines for violations could be a disincentive for employers to remain in California.

Action Needed: AB 2346 will be considered by Senate Appropriations when it meets next and could be voted off the suspense file and sent to the full Senate for consideration.