Sen. Dodd: Bill to Protect Newspapers, Journalism, Clears Legislature
SACRAMENTO – The Legislature today approved a bill co-authored by Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, that would grant a one-year extension for newspapers to comply with the state’s new gig-worker law, protecting the industry from financial crisis while ensuring the future of employees and journalism.
“Simply put -- newspapers are an essential public service,” Sen. Dodd said. “In this time of great social and political upheaval, they keep us informed about our communities and our world. We must do what we can to keep the reporters reporting, the presses running and the newspapers flying onto our doorsteps so we can continue to know about the things that affect our lives.”
Many newspapers face an existential crisis. Nationwide, advertising revenue has declined by more than half over the past seven years, dropping from $25 billion in 2012 to $11 billion in 2019. The coronavirus pandemic has worsened the situation. Economists predict an additional 25% decrease in 2021 because of the associated economic shutdown. The demise of newspapers will mean lost jobs and a reduction in news coverage – from reporting on local school boards to news in our nation’s capital.
Assembly Bill 323 would extend the deadline for compliance with Assembly Bill 5, a new law requiring gig workers including newspaper carriers to be classified as full-time employees. Doing so would add an estimated 85% to newspaper distribution costs, forcing layoffs and newspaper closures. AB 323 would give newspapers until Jan. 1, 2022 to comply. The bill would further help the industry by giving preference to local news organizations for state agency advertising and marketing contracts.
AB 323 is authored by Assemblymember Blanca Rubio, D-Baldwin Park, and is co-authored by Sen. Dodd, Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg, and Sen. Bob Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys. It heads next to Gov. Gavin Newsom for a signature.
“AB323 is a critical piece of legislation for quality of life in California,” said Chuck Champion, president and chief executive officer of the California Newspaper Publishers Association. “Without it, many communities, ethnic groups and other populations served by specialized news outlets will lose their local newspapers and a key source of reliable information. We applaud Sen. Bill Dodd for his leadership of this important bill. He and the other senators who championed this measure clearly understand the vital role of newspapers in our daily lives and in our free society.”
Senator Bill Dodd represents the 3rd Senate District, which includes all or portions of Napa, Yolo, Sonoma, Solano, Sacramento and Contra Costa counties. More information on Senator Bill Dodd can be found at www.senate.ca.gov/dodd.