A California Chamber of Commerce-opposed job killer bill that could create substantial uncertainty for businesses and greatly increases the potential for costly litigation will be heard in the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee today.
SB 49 (de León ; D-Los Angeles) would require the state agencies to adopt the baseline federal standards in the federal Clean Air Act, the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, the federal Water Pollution Control Act, the federal Endangered Species Act, and “other federal laws” defined as unidentified laws “relating to environmental protection, natural resources, or public health.”
The bill would also prohibit a state agency from amending or revising its rules or regulations in a manner less stringent in its protection of workers’ rights or worker safety than standards established pursuant to federal law in existence as of January 1, 2016.
According to CalChamber’s bill letter, although we appreciate California’s concerns regarding the uncertainty at the federal level associated with the environmental laws identified in the bill, SB 49 is a premature, overbroad, and vague response to things that could happen in the future while in the present creating substantial uncertainty for businesses in advance of any such potential changes and correspondingly greatly increasing the potential for costly litigation.
Violates Single-Subject Rule
CalChamber’s analysis of SB 49 also finds that the overbreadth of the bill further appears to run afoul of the constitutional “single-subject rule” principle.
Private Rights of Action
The private rights of action contemplated in SB 49, if triggered, would essentially create a Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) for environmental laws similar to PAGA in the labor and employment context. PAGA in the labor and employment context has resulted in various shakedown lawsuits that only increase costs to businesses without providing any corresponding benefit to employees.