California Supreme Court


Court Cases Related to California’s Legislative Process (transcript)

Today’s post is an overview of specified court cases related to California’s legislative process.

As you can imagine, there are a number California Appellate Court decisions that related to the legislative process. These cases deal with a number of separate and distinct issues. While I don’t cover all of them, there are some major cases that capitol observers and insiders should be aware of.

The first one is Kaufman & Broad Communities v. Performance Plastering which was a California in Appellate Court decision 2005. The 3rd District Court of Appeal clarified that a determination of the existence of any ambiguity occurs not at the time of a motion for judicial notice but by the panel of judges that hear the appeal. The case has been cited more than 80 times by other appellate courts in California for what documents may be utilized to ascertain legislative intent in interpreting statutes.

Another case you should aware of is Yamaha – Yamaha Corporation of America v. the State Board of Equalization. This case was decided by the California Supreme Court in 1998. The decision says that in general the deference afforded to an agency’s interpretation of a statute by the agency that is charged with enforcing and interpreting that statute will vary based on a legally informed and common sense assessment of the statute’s context.

The next case of interest is Association for Retarded Citizens v. Department of Developmental Services. It was decided in 1985 by the California Supreme Court. The lawsuit alleged that certain spending decisions issued by the Director of the department were void. The Court entered an order granting a preliminary injunction at the lower level and said administrative action that is not authorized by or is inconsistent with acts of the Legislature is void.

This is just a sampling of the cases I go over in today’s podcast.

McGeorge School of Law brought together a panel of judges and justices from across the United States and the world to discuss issues of constitutional law and justice to celebrate a $1 million gift to the school from the Tsakopoulos Family Foundation. The gift created the new Justice Anthony M. Kennedy Endowed Chair at McGeorge School of Law, and the panel features retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, international Judge Ann Power-Forde, former California Supreme Court Justice Joseph Grodin, and Judge Dr. Wolfgang Brandstetter of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Austria.

Before diving in to the storm of links, thank you to Cogent Legal for live streaming and recording audio at the Justices on Justice event.

As always, if you enjoyed today’s episode, please take the time to leave us a five-star rating on iTunes, Apple Podcasts, or Stitcher Radio, and subscribe to our show wherever you listen to podcasts. All of that makes The CAP⋅impact Podcast easier to find and more accessible.

You can also stay in touch with us and let us know what you thought about today’s show and think about the show generally on Facebook and Twitter. Just like CAP⋅impact on Facebook or follow @CAPimpactCA on Twitter.

The CAP⋅impact Podcast is made possible by the Capital Center for Law & Policy at McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento, California. You can learn more about the Capital Center here, and keep up with the Capital Center on Facebook and Twitter.

For a more in depth discussion of Proposition 11, and the ten other initiatives on the ballot this November you can watch the forum in its entirety on YouTube or read the full analyses here. And keep your eyes peeled on The CAP⋅impact Podcast’s feed on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher Radio, or wherever you get your podcasts from for analysis of this year’s ballot initiatives in your headphones coming next week.

Proposition 11: Emergency Ambulance Employees Safety and Preparedness Act

Current Law

  • Federal law – Under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, emergency employees may not receive compensation for interrupted breaks.
  • State law – Under the California Labor Code, employer-mandated on-call rest breaks are illegal.
  • CA Supreme Court – In Augustus v. ABM Security Services (2016), the California Supreme Court held that on-call breaks violate state labor law. Full compliance with the Augustus decision would potentially increase costs for ambulance providers by more than $100,000 annually.

Proposed Law

  • Allows emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics to remain on-call during breaks.
  • Requires employers to pay EMTs and paramedics at their regular rates during their breaks.
  • Requires 911 ambulance operators to maintain high staffing levels to provide coverage for breaks.
  • Requires training for certain emergency incidents related to active shooters, multiple casualties, natural disasters, and violence prevention.
  • Requires employers to provide employees mandatory mental health coverage, as well as yearly mental health and wellness training.
  • Retroactively prevents emergency employees from bringing claims pursuant to Augustus against ambulance service providers, including claims already pending.

Policy Considerations

Yes on Proposition 11 No on Proposition 11
  • Ensures 911 emergency will not be delayed because EMT’s always on-call.
  • Provides important additional training for emergency employees.
  • Increases efficacy of mental health services.
  • Negatively impacts labor union workers.
  • Excludes private sector emergency employees from labor law protections.
  • Allows ambulance companies to require workers to remain on-call during their breaks.

Analysis of Proposition 11 provided by Anupe Litt and David Witkin.

Even though this Monday’s Justices on Justice is sold out, do not despair. There are still ways you can be a part of the conversation. If you want to experience the event in person there will be some overflow seating for the event in the Courtroom at McGeorge School of Law, where there will be a live simulcast. If you aren’t able to make it McGeorge on Monday but still want to watch it live, you can watch the event from the comfort of your own home via our live stream. If you are not able to enjoy the event live, you will be able to watch in its entirety on McGeorge’s YouTube page or listen to Justices on Justice on The CAP⋅impact Podcast.

This events celebrates the newly created Justice Anthony M. Kennedy Endowed Chair, which is made possible by a $1 million gift from the Tsakopoulos Family Foundation, which was doubled by the university’s Powell Fund match to create a $2 million endowment. Angelo K. and Sofia Tsakopoulos are longtime friends of Anthony and Mary Kennedy and the McGeorge School of Law. Kyriakos Tsakopoulos is a 1997 McGeorge alumnus. The Endowed Chair will provide the resources to bring prominent faculty to McGeorge to teach and advance legal thinking through scholarship and leadership in the legal community.

The event is a panel discussion moderated by McGeorge School of Law Professor, Constitutional Law expert, and Capital Center Director Leslie Gielow Jacobs. The panelists are Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court Anthony Kennedy (retired), Presiding Judge of the Constitutional Court Chamber at the Kosovo Specialist Chambers in The Hague Ann Power-Forde, Justice of the California Supreme Court Joseph Grodin, and Judge in the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Austria Dr. Wolfgang Brandstetter.

We look forward to having you join us either in person or online for this event.

On today’s episode of The CAP·impact Podcast, I sit down with McGeorge adjunct professor, and very good friend of the podcast, Chris Micheli, to talk about recent California Supreme Court decision in Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v Superior Court.

For those unfamiliar with the case, it, in essence, drastically changed how independent contractors are classified in California. Chris and I talk about what the old rules were, how the Dynamex decision will effect employers in the traditional economy space – as well as the new gig economy – and what we can reasonably expect to see the Legislature do in the upcoming year to address some of the issues raised by the business community by Dynamex.

As always, if you enjoyed today’s episode, please take the time to leave us a five-star rating on iTunes or Apple Podcasts and subscribe to our show wherever you listen to podcasts. All of that helps other people find the show.

You can stay in touch with us and let us know what you think about the show on Facebook and Twitter. Just like CAP impact on Facebook or follow @CAPimpactCA on Twitter.

And last but not least, you can learn more about the Capital Center for Law and Policy at McGeorge School of Law here.

Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court, a California Supreme Court Case, dramatically shifts the standard for employees and independent contractors in California. Before Dynamex, courts determined worker classification on the multi-factor test from the S. G. Borello & Sons, Inc. v Dept. of Industrial Relations decision, a balancing test of multiple factors such as the method of payment, length of service, required skills, etc. This new standard, called the “ABC” Test, is a stricter standard that drastically narrows the options for when a worker can be called an independent contractor.

This “ABC Test” requires that a worker can be called an independent contractor if:

“(A) [] the worker is free from the control and direction of the hiring entity in connection with the performance of the work, both under the contract for the performance of the work and in fact; and

(B) that the worker performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business; and

(C) that the worker is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as the work performed.”

McGeorge alum Chris Micheli suggests that what makes this new paradigm so problematic is that it was “created by the Court with a limited set of facts before it and not by the Legislature and Governor who would utilize a public process of enacting legislation.”

With the amount of uncertainty surrounding the implications of the Dynamex decision, Micheli suggests a solution:

“The Legislature should adopt a bill in August …in order to “suspend” the Court’s decision for at least a year to allow the Legislature, our elected branch of government, to consider the implications of this case. This will allow the Legislature and Governor, after hearings and due consideration of the implications of such a drastic change in the law, to determine what is the best approach for all Californians.”

Business groups are intensely lobbying the Governor and Legislature to suspend the decision like Micheli suggests. However, labor unions and organizations are also lobbying the Legislature and Governor to leave the ruling be, stating that the decision will benefit employees by preventing companies from taking advantage of the independent contractor loophole.

Whether the decision is suspended or not, everyone is on unsteady ground. The full impacts of the decision are yet to be seen.




California Cannabis Coalition v City of Upland

I recently sat down with Matt Read, the Policy Director for Sacramento City Council Member Steve Hansen, to discuss a very interesting California Supreme Court case – California Cannabis Coalition v. City of Upland. As Matt points out in the interview, the case itself was kind of boring. The implications of the decision however, are much more interesting.

Very quickly, the California Supreme Court’s decision in the case essentially ruled that parts of California’s Proposition 218 – specifically, parts related to procedures – did not apply to some initiatives that were ran in the City of Upland by marijuana dispensaries seeking clarification on rules ahead of impending state regulations. This led to other, potentially bigger questions.

Backtracking just a little bit, the most notable impact of Proposition 218 is that it instituted vote thresholds for different types of taxes levied by local governments. General taxes, those used to fund government functions generally, are subject to a 50% + 1 threshold. That’s the same threshold any political candidate needs to win office. Special taxes – taxes directed to a specific project like building new schools or road repairs – which are more commonly used by local governments, are subject to a 2/3 majority vote.

While those thresholds remain the same if a local government were to put a tax measure on the ballot, the decision in Upland potentially allows for citizen-led tax initiatives to be subject to the 50% + 1 threshold, regardless of whether the tax is a general tax or a special tax. What exactly is a citizen-led initiative? That much is unclear, or as Matt put it, “The Court punts on that … question.” You’ll have to listen to our conversation to get a better sense of why that is, and to get a better sense of the numerous other questions that this particular California Supreme Court ruling invites.

2018 was already shaping up to be a very interesting election year, and it appears that the decision in California Cannabis Coalition v. City of Upland will only make this upcoming cycle more interesting.