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How new laws will affect Sonoma businesses

How to learn more

The business community is invited to a virtual Lunch & Learn on “New Laws That Could Affect Your Business” by lawyer Mary Piasta from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, January 26. To register, visit business.sonomachamber.org.

As the door to 2020 closed, 2021 opened with a laundry list of new laws applicable to businesses. Many may be of little interest to the majority of businesses fueling Sonoma Valley, but others will have an immediate impact.

Minimum wage increase

The most pertinent of the new laws to impact our local businesses literally on an hourly basis is the new minimum wage. In California, as of midnight on Jan. 1, the minimum wage increased to $14 per hour for large employers (26 or more employees) and $13 per hour for small employers (25 or fewer). In Sonoma, the minimum was placed even higher with hourly rates of $15 for large and $14 for small employers.

COVID reporting

For the employers able to remain open as well as those who will be reopening, in January additional protocols were added for COVID reporting. AB-685 expands the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health's authority to issue orders “prohibiting use,” aka stop-work orders, for workplaces posing a risk of an "imminent hazard" relating to COVID-19. These orders also impose certain reporting requirements on employers. The requirements include providing written notice to all employees who were present within the infectious period, as well as the employee’s representatives (i.e. unions), and the government.

The relaxing of the gig law

Last year, AB-5 meant big changes for independent contractors and the new law was frustrating for many businesses and contractors alike. The strings of the law have been loosened and the law now allows for additional independent contractor relationships to exist in certain identified scenarios. Musicians for one — an added plus to the local music scene.

Prop. 19 is important to understand

For many business owners and individuals who own real property, there’s still some confusion over the wide-sweeping application of Proposition 19, which takes effect in February 2021.The deal is that those who were looking to transition legacy property to their kids stand to lose the tax benefit of a parent-to-child transfer in most situations post-February. Prop. 19 changes the face of the property tax transfers as we’ve known them. For more information visit hvplawoffices.com.

Making life easier for small business owners

There is a final bureaucratic development worthy of mention. The California Secretary of State launched a business portal through which businesses can now submit routine paperwork online. A huge time saver for all businesses needing to file statements of information and dissolution documents. As with all things there of course is a caveat — businesses need to understand the boxes being checked. Of course, submissions are still being accepted the old-fashioned way, which provides benefits, but that’s a horse of a different color.

Mary K. Piasta is an attorney with Haeuser Valluzzo & Piasta LLP on First Street East.

How to learn more

The business community is invited to a virtual Lunch & Learn on “New Laws That Could Affect Your Business” by lawyer Mary Piasta from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, January 26. To register, visit business.sonomachamber.org.

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