Lawmakers tackled some issues in waning hours
California lawmakers on the last day of the legislative session decided on a host of bills related to consumer loans, employment law and housing. Many of the bills are being closely watched across the nation and could prompt other states to follow suit. Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed many proposals but has until mid-October to act on the rest. Here’s a rundown of what happened in the final hours:
PAYDAY LOANS: The Senate and Assembly advanced legislation to cap interest rates for consumer loans. The bill caps interest rates for payday and other loans at roughly 38 percent. The cap will fluctuate slightly depending on a key interest rate set by the Federal Reserve. It affects loans between $2,500 and $9,999.
Consumer advocacy groups say some loan companies charge interest rates as high as 225 percent. They say the proposal is aimed at stopping predatory lending practices. But opponents of the bill, including chambers of commerce representing black and Hispanic Californians, say the rate cap could cut some people’s access to loans.
NEWSPAPERS: Newsom will decide whether to give newspapers a oneyear reprieve from new labor rules that would otherwise require them to treat delivery workers as employees after lawmakers voted to send him the bill early Saturday morning. Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, who authored the bill, took the unusual step of voting against the measure.
Gonzalez begrudgingly agreed to put the exemption in her Assembly Bill 170 as part of a deal to pass another one of her measures, Assembly Bill 5.
The California News Publishers Association and the state’s largest newspapers pressed lawmakers for an exemption. Gonzalez’s legislation would also affect freelance journalists. They can remain contractors if they submit fewer than 35 pieces to a publication within a year.
PARTY NAMES: The American Independent Party would be forced to change its name under a bill the Legislature sent to Newsom. The bill bans political parties from using the words “independent,” “no party preference” or “decline to state” in its official name.
The American Independent Party is the only party in California that would be impacted. It is a staunchly conservative party and critics argue its name confuses voters. The party has been an option in California since 1968. It counts 2.59% of registered voters as members.
PUBLIC BANKS: A bill passed by the Assembly on Friday by a single vote would let California cities create their own public banks. Assemblyman David Chiu, D-San Francisco, the bill’s author, says public banks are better able to focus on local needs rather than shareholder interests. The California Bankers Association says the proposal will harm commercial, community banks.