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Newsom signs legislation providing some gig workers exemption from AB5

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California Governor Gavin Newsom (File Photo)

SACRAMENTO – California Governor Gavin Newsom signed legislation last Friday which provides exemptions for two dozen more professions from the controversial labor law AB5, which took effect this past January.

AB5 tightened the definition of “independent contractor” and requires employers doing business in the Golden State to minimize the amount of work that can be conducted by freelancers and contractors without being considered full-time employees and eligible for benefits.

Newsom signed AB 2257 which was authored by Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) who had sponsored the bill and was lead sponsor of AB5.

The new measure, which took effect immediately, provides relief for workers in the state’s gig economy providing services such as freelance writers and still photographers, photojournalists and freelance editors and newspaper cartoonists, AB 2257 also exempts exempts various artists and musicians, along with some involved in the insurance and real estate industries.

A spokesperson for Gonzalez told the Los Angeles Blade that safeguards to make sure companies are not replacing current employees was provided for in the legislation. The spokesperson also noted that said Gonzalez said that AB2257 “strikes a balance and continues to provide protections for workers against misclassification that had previously gone unchecked for decades under the old rules.”

AB5 which was primarily aimed at ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft, had inadvertently struck at other business sectors of the gig economy which opponents have labeled as permanently crippling the state’s economy by throttling traditional freelance employment that do not require a more traditional business model of employer-employee relationships. Numerous contractors told the Blade they were included in a legal definition that could end their livelihood.

The battle-lines were drawn a year ago when the California General Assembly passed AB5, which was drafted with the ride-sharing companies specifically targeted, that essentially implemented restrictions on how companies doing business in the state classified their workers. The law required that both Uber and Lyft reclassify their workforce of independent drivers as full employees, and further mandated that the companies provide healthcare and benefits to all the drivers in their system and pay additional taxes.

A lawsuit California v. Uber Technologies Inc. and Lyft Inc., CGC-20-584402, was launched by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and city attorneys from Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco, to force Uber and Lyft, into compliance. San Francisco Superior Court Judge Ethan P. Schulman issued an injunction August 10 but put a stay in place allowing the companies a ten day period after which a state appeals court ruled the companies can keep their business models in place while challenging a judge’s order to comply with a state labor law.

There are new exemptions included also for musicians with single-engagement live performances, those persons involved with sound recordings or musical compositions, insurance inspectors, real estate appraisers and inspectors, manufactured housing salespersons, youth sports coaches, people engaged by an international exchange visitor program and competition judges. It also exempts those engaged in consulting services or animal services, along with landscape architects and professional foresters.

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Religious Extremism/Anti-LGBTQ+ Activism

Anti-Trans far-right pundit Matt Walsh says gender affirming is evil

Walsh, who has over a million Twitter followers which includes the anti-LGBTQ Libs of Tik-Tok, called gender-affirming surgery “mutilation”

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Screenshot/YouTube

NASHVILLE – Daily Wire host and far-right extremist anti-transgender activist Matt Walsh went on Twitter Monday attacking trans people writing: “I believe that gender ideology is one of the greatest evils in human history. There is nothing they can threaten that would make me back down from this fight. I’d rather be dead than surrender to this madness. It’s as simple as that for me.”

Walsh, who has over a million followers which includes the anti-LGBTQ activist account Libs of Tik-Tok, has called gender-affirming surgery human body mutilation, added in another tweet: “The medical establishment, Big Tech, and the federal government conspire to punish those of us who criticize the accepted narrative. This is full on tyranny, and it will of course be defended by every single leftist who spends every day whining about “fascism.”

Alejandra Caraballo, a Clinical Instructor at Harvard Law School’s Cyberlaw Clinic and a former staff attorney at the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund and a Staff Attorney at the LGBTQ Law Project at New York Legal Assistance Group, noted on Twitter that Walsh’s tweet could incite violence against Trans Americans.

“This is a direct threat and incitement of violence against trans people. When he says “gender ideology,” he really means trans people. Matt says he’s willing to die to fight it. Some of his followers may take him up on that and engage in real violence,” Caraballo wrote.

Most recently attacks on American hospitals providing trans healthcare, especially those with clinics treating trans youth have been targeted by anti-Trans extremists led by Walsh and Brooklyn, New York-based Chaya Raichik, a former real estate agent whose ‘Libs of Tik-Tok’ have spread misinformation and lies about gender-affirming surgery which has fostered attacks on those healthcare facilities by far-right extremist elements.

Alarmed at the increase of violence,  in a letter sent Monday to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, the American Medical Association joined with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and Children’s Hospital Association asking the Department of Justice investigate [the] increasing “threats of violence against physicians, hospitals and families of children for providing and seeking evidence-based gender-affirming care.”

Referencing Walsh’s declaration and others who complain that their anti-trans view points are free speech and being censored, including the recent 7 day suspension of Raichik that expired Monday as well as the letter asking the U.S. Attorney General and the Justice Department to investigate , Caraballo noted:

“The instigators of the anti-LGBTQ moral panic are now pushing the narrative that they are going to be prosecuted by DOJ for their speech. They won’t be prosecuted. They haven’t violated the law. However, they need to fuel further outrage and feign persecution.”

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Illinois

ACLU sent letters rejecting lawsuit threats by anti-LGBTQ group

Awake Illinois has repeatedly used hostile epithets against those they disagree with, labeling them “groomers,” “hateful,” and “perverts”

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Awake Illinois advert soliciting for new members (Screenshot/YouTube)

CHICAGO – The ACLU of Illinois has authored letters to a homophobic and transphobic group that threatened two residents, who have posted online their opposition to the organization and its anti-LGBTQ+ agenda, with defamation lawsuits.

Maggie Romanovich of Wheaton and Kylie Spahn of Downers Grove received letters from leaders of Awake Illinois in early September suggesting that Awake would file a defamation lawsuit against them if they did not “cease and desist” from such criticism and remove existing online posts. 

The anti-LGBTQ+ far-right extremist group has urged removal of LGBTQ inclusive books and cancellation of drag events in the suburbs. The group and it’s members consistently use harsh and offensive language against others to advance their interests, and now are trying to suppress their critics.

Awake Illinois officials have repeatedly used hostile epithets against those they disagree with, labeling them “groomers,” “hateful,” and “perverts.” Yet in the instance of the letters to Romanovich and Spahn, the ACLU of Illinois says Awake seeks to curb the speech of others. 

The ACLU of Illinois letters to Awake Illinois on behalf of Romanovich and Spahn reject the threatened lawsuits as groundless, noting that all of the material cited by Awake Illinois is protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

“These letters from Awake Illinois are empty threats with zero legal basis,” said Rebecca Glenberg, senior supervising attorney at the ACLU of Illinois who signed the letters. “Awake Illinois and its members consistently use harsh and often offensive language directed against others to advance their interests, but now feign injury when our clients express strong feelings against them.”

“If they think these letters will stop our clients or others from speaking out against what they see as a dangerous agenda, they are wrong.” 

Awake Illinois’ letter to Romanovich referred to her letter to the editor printed in the Daily Herald, which criticized a congressional candidate for his connection to Awake Illinois, opining that the group is appalling, extremist, homophobic, racially insensitive and otherwise objectionable.  Such opinions are constitutionally protected and cannot be the basis of a defamation lawsuit, the ACLU of Illinois wrote. 

The action comes shortly after a Member of Congress revealed that he had received a similar “cease and desist” letter from Awake Illinois. In mid-September, the Chicago Tribune reported that Awake Illinois sent the letter to Representative Sean Casten, a vocal critic of the group.  Like Romanovich and Spahn, Casten rejected the group’s threats of a lawsuit. 

“Our Constitution allows groups like Awake Illinois to express their views in the public square like anyone else. But they may not use the courts to suppress the views of others,” Glenberg noted. 

You can read the letters to Awake Illinois on behalf of Romanovich and Spahn here and here.

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California Politics

LA Mayoral race tight- Luna maintains lead over Sheriff Villanueva

In the race to replace Eric Garcetti as Mayor, Rep. Karen Bass is leading billionaire businessman Rick Caruso – 34% to 31% among all voters

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Photo Credit: County of Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES – New polling released Monday showed that in the race to replace Eric Garcetti as Mayor of Los Angeles, Rep. Karen Bass is leading billionaire businessman Rick Caruso – 34% to 31% among all voters.

In the new UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies survey, Caruso is now just 3 points behind — which is within the poll’s margin of error. In August, Caruso trailed by 12 points although the poll found that among likely voters, Bass still leads by 15 points – 46% to 31%.

In the race for Los Angeles County sheriff, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday that retired Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna has a formidable, 10-point lead among likely voters over the incumbent, Alex Villanueva, a new UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies/Los Angeles Times poll showed.

With little more than a month until the Nov. 8 runoff election, 36% of likely voters polled said they are planning to cast ballots for Luna, while 26% said they favor Villanueva.

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