On January 1 Assembly Bill 5 (AB-5), authored by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez of San Diego, took effect requiring most independent contractors to be reclassified as employees. Your newspaper carrier is an independent contractor. Newspapers across the state appealed to be exempted entirely from the law, but instead were granted a short exemption which expires at the end of this year. Newspapers are in no better position today to absorb the massive increase in costs associated with the conversion than they were when the bill was made law. Many newspapers will be forced to cease publication leaving many communities without a credible source for local news.
Assembly Bill 323 is currently being considered by the Legislature. It is our last hope. The bill is authored by Assemblywoman Rubio and, if passed by the Assembly and Senate, it will extend the exemption for independent newspaper carriers for two years. In addition, in recognizing the impact the pandemic has had on local journalism, the bill provides for deference to community and ethnic media companies when making state-funded advertising buys.