Entering the seventh month of COVID-19, the Visalia Chamber of Commerce continued to assist members and local businesses by providing the most up-to-date resources and information, including webinars on business safety practices, parklets and more. The chamber partnered with Tulare County Supervisor Amy Shuklian on the 2020 State of Tulare County luncheon. This year’s event was virtual, free and open to all.

As proposed bills came down the pipeline from Sacramento, the chamber Board of Directors and Government Affairs Committee opposed bills that would have devastating consequences for local businesses.

AB 398 COVID-19 Local Government and School Recovery and Relief Act: Would create a tax on jobs by imposing a new “head-count” tax on employers that have more than 500 employees. The rate would be $275 per employee.

AB 685 Occupational Safety, COVID-19 Exposure Notification: Would require employers to provide five kinds of notice, within 24 hours, to workers if an employee has tested positive for COVID-19. The notice would be required regardless of cause, location or place of exposure. Failure to follow the rules would result in a report to Cal-OSHA and listing on Cal-OSHA’s website as having a violation.

AB 1066 Unemployment Compensation, Benefits Payable: Would shorten the time that employers have to respond to an EDD claim to 10 days. This would also allow an independent contractor to submit an unemployment claim, establishing them as an employee, potentially opening the employer to be responsible for back payroll taxes and potential fines.

SB 1383 Unlawful Employment Practice, Family Leave: Would require an employer only five employees to provide 12 weeks of protected leave each year, with litigation for any unintentional mistake.

AB 1552 Commercial Insurance, Coverage for COVID-19: Seeks to include pandemics retroactively in coverage under business interruption insurance. Insurance payments to local businesses affected by COVID-19 could be helpful, however, setting the precedent of rewriting agreed-upon contracts.

As we enter a new season, with challenges still ahead, we thank our members for their continued support and partnership. Our organization is strong because of you, and together we will tackle all challenges to ensure that local businesses and all of Visalia remain strong and thriving.