ARIZONA TO VOTE ON RAISE TO MINIMUM WAGE AND SICK PAY

Arizona, following the trend in neighboring States like California, has initiative 206 on the November 8 ballot.  It seems probable at this point that the initiative may pass.  If it does, beginning January 1, the minimum wage will rise to $10 per hour and eventually get to $12 per hour by 2020.  Voters in Flagstaff are voting to raise the limit to $15 per hour.

Included in the proposition is also the addition of Paid Sick Leave.  Similar to the law established in California, it provides that the employee earns one hour of sick pay for every 30 hours worked.  Employers with less than 15 employees will have to provide 24 hours of sick pay and those over 15 employees will provide up to 40 hours per year.  The unused hours can roll over to the next year.  Alternatively, the employer can “front-load” all hours anticipated at the beginning of the regulation, which is July 1, 2017.  There is no payout of unused hours at the time of termination.  However, if an employee comes back to work for  you within 9 months they are started right where they left off and they can use any hours that were left on the books.

There are more rules to this, but let me warn everyone that retaliation or arguing with an employee about using their earned sick hours will not go well for the employer.  Experience in California has shown that trying to bully employees or retaliate for the use of this sick pay does not go well in court for the employer and the fines can be very expensive.

Below is from the review of the Proposition with links to read the rest of the bill.  It is pretty easy to read and there is a lot of information that bookkeepers and employers will have to know about this law.  As always, HR Mobile Services, Inc. has experience in these laws and will help guide the transition including the changes to your employee hire packets.

The Minimum Wage and Paid Time Off Initiative, also known as Proposition 206, is on the November 8, 2016, ballot in Arizona as an initiated state statute.

A “yes” vote supports raising the minimum wage to $10 in 2017, and then incrementally to $12 by 2020, and creating a right to paid sick time off from employment.
A “no” vote opposes this measure, keeping the minimum wage at $8.05, adjusted for cost of living, and retaining employers’ ability to decide whether or not to offer paid sick time off.

In November 2016, voters in Colorado and Maine are also voting on measures to increase their state minimum wages to $12. In Washington, citizens are voting on an initiative to increase the minimum wage to $13.50.

Overview

Minimum wage in Arizona

Arizona’s minimum wage is $8.05 per hour in 2016. The federal minimum wage is $7.25. Due to Proposition 202 of 2006, the state’s minimum wage increases with the cost-of-living. Without Proposition 206, Arizona’s minimum wage is expected to increase to $8.15 in 2017.[1] In November 2016, voters in Flagstaff, Arizona, are voting on whether to increase their city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour.[2]

Initiative design

Proposition 206 would increase the minimum wage to $10 in 2017, $10.50 in 2018, $11.00 in 2019, and $12 in 2020. Starting in 2021, the measure would increase the minimum wage with the cost of living. The measure retains Arizona’s law regarding tipping, which permits employers to pay employees who receive tips up to $3.00 less than the minimum wage.[3][4]

The initiative would also guarantee 40 hours of annual paid sick time to employees of businesses with 15 or more employees and 24 hours to those of businesses with less than 15 employees. Employees would be entitled to accrue one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked. The measure would permit earned paid sick time to be utilized for an employee’s medical care, an employee’s need to care for a family member, a public health emergency, or addressing domestic violence.

State of ballot measure campaigns

Supporters had raised $1.5 million as of October 10, 2016. Living United for Change in Arizona had donated almost $1 million to the campaign. The Arizona Chamber of Commerce launched an opposition campaign, Protect Arizona Jobs, on September 19, 2016, and is expecting to spend over $1 million. Polls indicate that around 56 percent of Arizonans support Proposition 206.

Text of measure

Ballot title

The ballot title is as follows:[5]

INCREASES THE MINIMUM WAGE FROM $8.05 PER HOUR IN 2016 TO $12.00 PER HOUR BY 2020 AND ESTABLISHES THE RIGHT TO EARN PAID SICK TIME AWAY FROM EMPLOYMENT.A “yes” vote shall have the effect of increasing the minimum wage from $8.05 per hour in 2016 to $10.00 per hour in 2017, and then incrementally increasing the minimum wage to $12.00 per hour by the year 2020; entitles employees to earn 1 hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked with limits based upon the size of the employer; broadly defining the conditions under which paid sick time may be taken, including mental or physical illness, care of a family member, a public health emergency, or absence due to domestic violence, sexual violence, abuse or stalking; prohibiting various forms of retaliation against employees for exercising any rights under the law; and requiring employers to provide various notices to employees about the law.

A “no” vote shall have the effect of retaining the existing minimum wage (along with the existing method for annually increasing the minimum wage for inflation) and retaining employers’ existing ability to determine their own earned paid sick leave policy.[6]

Ballot summary

The ballot summary is as follows:[7]

The Fair Wages and Healthy Families Initiative increases minimum wage to $10 in 2017 then gradually to $12 by 2020; provides 40 hours annual “earned paid sick time” for employees of large employers (24 hours for those of small employers); time accrues at one hour earned for every 30 hours worked; time may be used to address circumstances caused by illness of employee or employee’s family, public health emergencies, or domestic violence; prohibits retaliating against employees using the benefit; allows for more generous paid time-off policies; and exempts employees who expressly waive the benefit under collective bargaining agreements.[6]

Full text

The full text of the measure can be found here.

Fiscal analysis

See also: Fiscal analysis statement

An extended summary of the fiscal analysis statement can be found here.

CALIFORNIA AND ARIZONA EMPLOYERS SHARE RISKS OF NEW MARIJUANA INITIATIVES

The article below is from the Arizona Chamber of Commerce in its entirety followed by an article from the Orange County Register in California.  The exact same arguments can be made for California.  There is almost no doubt that this will pass in California but the supporters refuse to allow questions on their websites and will not address the legalities that will face employers.

Factor into all of this is the new drug testing (or non-testing) standard set by OSHA on a Federal level and employers are in a real bind if they try to keep drugs out of the workplace.  Under Federal OSHA you cannot drug test post-injury unless the use of drugs or alcohol would be considered the proximate cause of the accident AND the test must be able to establish that the employee was under the influence at the time of the accident.  Since there is no legal test for THC levels, you will not be able to test for or fire someone just because THC from marijuana is in their body.  This is a major problem that no one wants to address until attorney’s get ahold of it in a big trial and sue the owner because they were aware the employee had marijuana in their system and did not remove them from operating equipment.  Just wait!

Here is the story.  In California, it is Proposition 64.  Below the Arizona comments is a article from the Orange County Register in California regarding their proposition:

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry and No on 205 this Thursday, October 27 at 2 PM are hosting a tele-town hall for employers who are concerned about the effect of legalized marijuana in their workplace. Call 1-877-229-8493, PIN 115868.  

The proposed Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act, otherwise known as Proposition 205, would massively affect existing Arizona law. Put simply, Proposition 205 would negatively impact Arizona law and policy in a variety of significant ways, including how job creators manage their workforce and workplace.

The Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry is proud to spearhead efforts to defeat this job-killing initiative. In Proposition 205’s 20 pages of conflicting and contradictory legalese, there are two key provisions that are particularly problematic for employers: proposed A.R.S. §§ 36-2860(A) and 36-2860(B). These two provisions, and Proposition 205 in general, are poised to wreak havoc on Arizona in a manner not disclosed in the initiative or acknowledged by its out-of-state marijuana industry backers.

The aforementioned provisions would upend Arizona’s employment laws in the following ways:

  • It would rob employers of the ability to take disciplinary action against employees who test positivefor marijuana, despite having a statutorily approved drug-testing policy. Want a drug-free workplace? Proposition 205 makes that more difficult.
  • It would create an environment for an avalanche of wrongful termination lawsuitsfor employers that fire employees for using marijuana on the theory that the termination was in violation of Proposition 205.
  • It would tangle Arizona businesses in a web of regulations that conflict with federal lawregarding safe workplaces, safe roads and transport, and safe foods. Does your business have federal contracts? Under Proposition 205, you’ll be forced to navigate two conflicting sets of laws.

Proposition 205 would be a trial lawyer’s dream. Compounded with the clashes above, these provisions would create conflict within laws related to various Arizona benefit programs, too. For example:

  • Proposition 205 would create a situation where, under Arizona’s welfare laws, marijuana would be considered both legal and illegal, resulting in costly litigation.
  • Proposition 205 would also create a situation where Arizona’s unemployment insurance laws would require a person to be denied benefits, yet it would also prohibit such denial, again resulting in costly litigation.
  • Lastly, it would be virtually impossible for Arizona employers to receive a statutory discount on workers’ compensation premiums for having a zero-tolerance drug-free workplace.

Propostion 205 is a mess. Its passage would harm employers’ ability to keep marijuana out of their workplace, whille exposing them to expensive lawsuits. Arizona job creators who are concerned about our state’s ability to continue to attract and grow jobs should vote no on Proposition 205.

WHAT:           Tele-town hall on Proposition 205’s effect on employers

WHEN:           Thursday, October 27 at 2 PM

HOW:              Call 1-877-229-8493; enter 115868 when prompted for a PIN

Glenn Hamer is the president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Why Prop 64 is about more than just smoking marijuana

By BROOKE EDWARDS STAGGS

2016-10-24 14:33:08

Proposition 64, on its surface, poses a simple question: Should people be free to smoke pot in California?

But the 62-page initiative on the Nov. 8 ballot asks voters to determine much more than that.

It asks them to decide how much cannabis Californians should be allowed to carry, whether they should be able to grow it in their homes and what, if any, penalties consumers should face going forward.

RELATED: Prop 64 to legalize marijuana: Who’s backing it, who’s fighting it and why?

It also asks them to weigh the future of a multibillion-dollar industry, including everything from how marijuana businesses should be taxed to what warning labels should appear on edible products.

Depending on who you ask, either the devil or the redemption is in those details.

Supporters call Prop. 64 the “gold standard” of marijuana legalization, touting strict safeguards that build on lessons learned by the four states that already allow recreational pot.

Some opponents say the measure doesn’t go far enough to keep kids and roadways safe, while detractors on the other end of the spectrum say the measure includes too many regulations to be true “legalization.”

With the vote about two weeks away, here’s a closer look at what Prop. 64 means for California.

PERSONAL RIGHTS

Prop. 64 would allow California residents and visitors 21 and older to buy, carry and give away up to an ounce of marijuana. That’s enough to roll perhaps 40 average-sized joints.

They also could possess up to 8 grams of concentrated cannabis, such as waxes or oils that can be vaporized or mixed into foods.

Under the measure, residents could grow as many as six pot plants at home and keep what they harvest. But the plants couldn’t be visible to the public. And local governments could regulate how they’re grown, including requiring that it be done indoors.

No one could consume recreational pot in public. Consumption would be allowed only on private property or in “cannabis cafes” licensed strictly for marijuana use.

The initiative would uphold laws against driving while impaired or having an open container of marijuana in a car. But it wouldn’t establish a threshold, as Colorado and Washington did, for how much THC (the compound in pot that makes users high) drivers could legally have in their blood.

Prop. 64 backers say that’s because blood alcohol content isn’t a good measure for marijuana impairment, since pot stays in the system long after its mind-altering effects have worn off. So the initiative would direct tax revenue to law enforcement and researchers to develop better tests for drugged driving.

The measure would protect employer rather than employee rights, allowing companies to hire and fire based on drug tests.

But the penalties for most marijuana-related crimes, which studies show disproportionately affect minorities, would be lower if the measure passes. Adults convicted of possession with intent to sell would get six months in jail rather than two years in prison, for example, while teens caught with the drug would get counseling and community service instead of criminal records. And those changes would be retroactive, meaning marijuana offenders could be released from jail or have their records expunged if the measure passes.

Prop. 64 also would uphold existing rights for medical marijuana patients, allowing them to still grow more pot than recreational consumers and access medical marijuana at 18 years old. They would face some additional taxes, though they’d also gain privacy and child custody protections.

If the measure is approved, all of these personal rights would take effect the day after the election, on Nov. 9.

BUSINESS PLAN

It would take a bit longer for the taxed and regulated recreational marijuana industry promised by Prop. 64 to take shape.

Shops would start to open on or before Jan. 1, 2018.

That’s the date California officials expect to start issuing licenses to all medical marijuana growers, manufacturers and sellers under industry regulations signed into law in 2015.

Prop. 64 would largely extend the same regulatory framework to recreational marijuana production, with requirements for licensing, testing, child-resistant packaging, limited advertising and tracking pot from seed to sale.

The initiative would establish a 15 percent sales tax, plus a tax by weight for growers. That would be on top of taxes local governments tack on and regular state sales tax, though medical marijuana users would be exempt from the latter.

Small- and medium-sized businesses would get an edge coming out of the gate, since Prop. 64 bans large-scale cultivation for the first five years. But after Jan. 1, 2023, there would be no state cap on the size of marijuana farms.

Cities and counties would still have authority to regulate, tax or ban marijuana-related businesses in their borders. Many have already started passing laws in anticipation of Prop. 64, with 62 local measures related to marijuana on the ballot Nov. 8.

THE OUTLOOK

Nearly every poll on Prop. 64 suggests it will pass – though perhaps narrowly. Recent polls have ranged from 51 percent to 71 percent support, with many averaging around 60 percent.

But advertising to defeat Prop. 64 is being aired. And in California the popularity of measures often shifts in the final days before an election.

If the measure becomes law, industry experts predict that California’s legal weed market will reach $6.5 billion by 2020 and potentially spur legalization throughout the country.

The Legislative Analyst’s Office anticipates that tax revenue from the measure could top $1 billion annually, with the justice system potentially saving tens of millions more on enforcement costs.

The revenue won’t go to state or local general funds. Instead, it will be set aside to fund youth prevention programs, marijuana research, better drugged driving tests, environmental remediation and grants to impacted communities.

The impact legal marijuana has on highway safety, teen use and crime isn’t yet clear. There are conflicting reports coming out of states such as Colorado and Washington, which approved legal pot in 2012. And experts say they need more years of reliable data before they have definitive answers.

More research is also needed on how recreational marijuana use ultimately affects health and achievement, with particular concern over today’s increasingly potent pot. But studies increasingly suggest that, while marijuana consumption may pose some risks for young people and the mentally ill, responsible use appears to have little impact on healthy adults.

With valid concerns on both sides of the issue, Dr. Igor Grant, who heads up the Center for Medical Cannabis Research at UC San Diego, said it’ll be up to voters to weigh the impacts of prohibition against potential impacts of legalization.

“There’s a cost-benefit analysis that voters have to make,” he said.

Contact the writer: 714-796-7963 or bstaggs@ocregister.comTwitter: @JournoBrooke

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PETA IS OUT SPYING AGAIN

We had a report yesterday from a dairy in the Buttonwillow area that there was a person spying on the dairy from the road.  We have previously reported on this issue.  The herdsman saw a van with dark tinted windows parked on the road next to the dairy fence.  There was one man apparently with a camera focused on one of the corrals and as soon as the herdsman approached the van, they jumped in and drove off very fast.

Again, we advise that  you do not become overly confrontational or threatening.  You can have someone hold a blanket on a stick in front of the camera so they get discouraged and leave, but remember, if they are on the road, it is public property and you do not have a right to confiscate equipment.  If you feel they are bothering your employees or animals, you can contact the Sherriff’s office and ask that they not agitate the animals.

We are not sure of the actual affiliation of this group at this time, but we wanted everyone to be aware that the same events that were going on in Northern California, are now hitting the south valley area.  If you see someone, call your neighbors, or call us.

GOV. BROWN SIGNS INDOOR HEAT ILLNESS MANDATE

Yes, you read that correctly.  The State of California feels that people working in-doors deserve the same protections from Heat Illness training as outdoor workers.  Now, on some levels this makes sense.  For instance, a worker in a factory could be exposed to severe heat conditions. Other similar places could be electrical generation areas, greenhouses, building construction, attic insulation installers, electricians, plumbers, etc.  So, this could have some practical applications in the workplace.

That being said, it is a very poorly written bill, SB 1167 (Mendoza; D-Artesia) , which gives almost no direction as to the definition of an “indoor occupation” that would be covered under this act.  In fact, the entire project is left almost completely to Cal\OSHA to write and implement this program.  They have to begin the rule making process in 2017 to submit a proposed rule to the Cal/OSHA Standards Board by January 1, 2019.

This is a stakeholder driven process, so it is very important that your industry is part of the conversation.  If you have an advocacy group, get them involved early to state your position before the rules are written.  It is almost impossible to fight or have them re-written later.