Sen. Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge) and Assemblyman Chris Holden (D-Pasadena) are among numerous state legislators from both parties calling for changes to the controversial gig-economy law Assembly Bill 5.
The two Democratic lawmakers voiced their concerns regarding the problems that have arisen since being signed into law.
“The intention of AB 5 is to protect and reclassify victimized and misclassified workers, and the legislation will prove to be impactful on that end,” Holden told Pasadena Now. “However, aspects of the new law have created unintended consequences for a number of professions that need to be addressed.”
Introduced by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), AB 5 was intended to regulate the gig-economy, mainly focusing on app-based laborers such as those working for Uber, Lyft and Doordash. It would require companies to treat freelancers as employees, making them eligible for benefits and placing them on mandatory payroll forms.
However, they have affected other industries as well, prompting state lawmakers to introduce 34 separate pieces of legislation, most of which focus on expanding the occupations on the exempt list.
The law has affected other industries such as newspapers and those in the arts as freelance writers and photographers have seen a reduction in work. The law limits freelance journalists to 35 contributions per year to any individual employer.
“Clearly, the many folks in the arts are just one industry where we expect significant changes to AB 5 and I will also be providing input as these two actual bills work through the committee process,” Portantino said to the online news site.
One of the 34 bills introduced proposes to add still photographers, photojournalists, freelance writers, editors and newspaper cartoonists to the exempt list. Assembly Bill 1850, introduced by Gonzalez last Thursday, would eliminate the 35-submission limit, requires that contractors be allowed to work for multiple companies and bans them from working on-site for any business.
The law has come under fire from politicians such as Assembly members Kevin Kiley (R-Rocklin) and Melissa Melendez (R-Murrieta), whose AB 1928 would suspend AB 5 until further notice. Kiley and Melendez’s bill failed to get enough votes and was tabled.
“The Assembly consciously chose to keep enforcing a law that everyone, including the author, acknowledges has major problems and is destroying people’s lives,” Kiley told Pasadena Now after the Assembly denied the urgency motion.
Some lawmakers agree with Kiley, claiming the law failed to account for the intricacies of the California economy. Gonzalez responded to the criticism saying that the bill was not intended to eliminate the use of independent contractors.
“It’s the most significant labor reform law we’ve had in decades,” she said to the Los Angeles Times. “It is big. And there are a lot of different situations.”