The legislature's Labor and Public Employees Committee this week approved a rash of costly new workplace mandates, many of which disproportionately impact small businesses.

Among the measures passed by the committee was SB 318, the mirror of a Judiciary Committee bill that drastically restricts what employers can and cannot say in the workplace.

The 13-member committee approved SB 318 on a straight party line vote, with all four Republican members opposed.

The committee passed the bill—essentially an employer gag order—despite evidence that it preempts federal law.

Backed by labor unions, state lawmakers have pushed these so-called captive audience bills for more than a decade.

All have foundered, often gaining support in certain committees before failing to gain traction on either the House or Senate floor—primarily based on concerns that the bills cannot withstand legal challenges.

Striking Workers, Paid Sick Leave

Other measures approved by the committee this week included:

SB 317: Permits striking employees to collect unemployment benefits after two weeks despite the fact that they have not lost their job, nor are they available for work or looking for work as is required of all other workers to collect benefits.

HB 5353: Requires employers in the retail, restaurant or hospitality industries that have 500 or more employees, or where all franchisees collectively have 500 or more employees, to provide 14 days notice to employees of their work schedules. Any deviation from that schedule results in financial penalties to the employer.

SB 321: Extends workers' compensation coverage for post-traumatic stress injuries to all employees.

HB 5444: Adds new unfair labor practices such as permanently replacing a striking employee and establishes a timeline for representatives to commence first negotiations after being elected or designated.

SB 320: Increases the threshold dollar amount used to determine whether unemployment compensation fraud is a misdemeanor or a felony from $500 to $2,000.

HB 5355: Requires state agencies to provide a training session on sexual and domestic violence and require all employers to post information about resources for victims.

SB 314: Requires employers at warehouses employing 100 or more employees to provide information about quotas or work speed requirements to employees and imposes various penalties on employers for violations of OSHA requirements or the failure to provide employees with various requested documents. 

SB 312: Expands the paid sick leave law to require that every employer provide all employees up to five sick days per year. 

HB 5445: Implements policies that promote hiring in state agencies, such as automatically refilling job vacancies and continuous recruitment. 

SB 422: Expands coverage under the fund to essential workers falling in the 1c phase for the COVID-19 vaccination program, and provides up to 80 hours of paid sick leave to all workers who were unable to work because they had to quarantine because of COVID-19 exposure. 

HB 5439: Makes a contractor liable for the unpaid wages of its subcontractor.


For more information, contact CBIA's Eric Gjede (860.480.1784) | @egjede