Daily Breeze

Senate Bill 990 a sensible bill to halt the damage of AB5

We encourage the Legislature to approve Senate Bill 990 and suspend Assembly Bill 5.

“Assembly Bill 5 is landmark legislation for workers and our economy,” wrote Gov. Gavin Newsom in his Sept. 18, 2019 signing statement for AB5. Indeed it is. AB5 embodies the willingness of California politicians to deprive workers of their livelihoods, disregard the free choice of adults to enter into voluntary working arrangements and do so in the name of helping out working Californians.

By narrowing opportunities for contract work, AB5 threatened entire fields of work, from journalism to trucking, even before the current pandemic.

Select sectors were able to lobby exemptions for themselves into the law before it was approved; many others have had to continue pushing for exemptions this year, including media outlets.

Instead of continuing to limit an already constrained job market by way of a clearly flawed and counterproductive law, California could easily do the right thing for workers who are eager to make a living.

Recently, Sen. John M. W. Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, introduced one temporary but important legislative response to AB5. Senate Bill 990 would immediately halt AB5 until Jan. 1, 2022.

“Carving out certain industries shows a favoritism that should not be mandated in the state’s income tax code,” said Moorlach. “Therefore, AB5 is technically flawed and must be subject to a serious pause button.”

He’s right. AB5’s exemptions alone prove that, far from being landmark legislation that anyone should be proud of, is a landmark of just how out of touch state lawmakers are.

As part of the growing chorus calling for changes to the law, 151 economists and political scientists from across California recently signed an open letter calling for the suspension of Assembly Bill 5.

“A mountain of work needs to be done, deliveries made, and people stranded at home helped to receive groceries and medications,” notes the letter, circulated by the Oakland-based Independent Institute. “Blocking work that is needed and impoverishing workers laid off from other jobs are not the intentions of AB5, but the law is having these unintended consequences and needs to be suspended.”

While our editorial board has called for the repeal of the law, suspending it for the time being is a practical middle ground for the present. At the very least, suspending the law would allow workers to get to work and allow lawmakers to further adjust the law so that it is less harmful to California’s workers.

We encourage the Legislature to approve Senate Bill 990 and suspend Assembly Bill 5.