Connecting state and local government leaders
STATE AND LOCAL NEWS ROUNDUP | Big kindergarten enrollment drop in Los Angeles … Mayor slammed for dining indoors in another state when not allowed in his city … New Jersey bill could allow police officers to take gunshot victims to hospital.
Writers, musicians, translators and other freelance professionals will be allowed to return to gig work in California if a bill that passed both chambers of the statehouse becomes law. Last year’s AB5—the landmark new law that requires many companies to start treating certain contract workers as employees—resulted in scores of people in certain freelance sectors complaining they were now losing work. For example, the law prohibited freelance writers from submitting more than 35 works to a publisher in a year, saying any more than that and they should be hired as an employee. The clean-up bill that now goes to Gov. Gavin Newsom would add a slew of professions to the exemption list, essentially saying those people can continue working in contract relationships with businesses. But the core of AB5, which targets gig-work companies like Uber and Lyft, remains in place, at least for now. Proponents say the law is necessary, saying companies have been exploiting drivers who should be classified as employees and given the associated benefits and protections. "We cannot change and will not change [the] law to accommodate work relationships that have and will always be employer-employee," tweeted Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, who sponsored both the original law and bill with the new exemptions. But the companies counter that many drivers like the flexibility of working independently. Lyft last month argued that 80% of the drivers “would lose work and the rest would have scheduled shifts, and capped hourly earnings.” A judge last month upheld the law, prompting the companies to threaten to leave California if they don’t get relief. Voters could end up deciding the question, as Uber and Lyft and other tech companies have backed Proposition 22 on the ballot this fall, which if approved would allow them to continue treating drivers as gig workers. [LAist; San Francisco Chronicle; The Verge]
KINDERGARTEN ENROLLMENT | In Los Angeles, enrollment in school kindergarten programs is down by 6,000 students this year. Officials believe this drop, which is three times the enrollment decreases in previous years, is because many low-income families can’t invest the time to help young kids with online learning. [Los Angeles Times]
INDOOR DINING | Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney apologized after a photo circulated of him dining indoors at a restaurant in Maryland while indoor dining in his city remains banned. "I felt the risk was low because the county I visited has had fewer than 800 COVID-19 cases, compared to over 33,000 cases in Philadelphia. Regardless, I understand the frustration. I'm sorry if my decision hurt those who've worked to keep their businesses going under difficult circumstances," he continued. [6 ABC]
GUNSHOT VICTIMS | The New Jersey General Assembly passed a bill that would allow police to transport gunshot victims or other people with serious injuries in their patrol cars, should an ambulance not be able to arrive quickly. "Police officers are often the first to arrive at the scene. Getting gunshot or stabbing victims to medical care quickly can mean the difference between life and death," the bill sponsors said. [EMS 1]
RACE WAR | Following another night of protests, clashes with police and arrests, Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said that she is “worried about this country descending into a race war.” She said that the “continued incitement of violence from leadership” is detracting from the focus on “bringing our communities together.” [WAMU]
Laura Maggi is the managing editor of Route Fifty and Emma Coleman is the assistant editor.