Law­mak­ers tack­led some is­sues in wan­ing hours

The Fresno Bee (Sunday) - - News - Bee staff and wire re­ports

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.

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