Union Station—2020: the legislative year in review

2020: the legislative year in review    

This being our last issue of the year, let’s take a look back at the public-sector labor bills that lawmakers nationwide considered this year.

Our next edition will come out on Jan.  8, 2021. Until then, happy holidays! 

How many bills were introduced, and what happened to them  

State legislatures either introduced or carried over from previous sessions 102 bills involving some aspect of public-sector labor policy. 

As of Dec. 11: 

  • 5 bills have been enacted into law.
  • 4 bills have passed lower chambers, but have not yet passed upper chambers. 
  • 77 are pending in committees. 
    • Most of these bills will die in committee at the end of the year. Bills in New Jersey and Virginia may carry over into the 2021 session. 
  • 16 have died in committee. 

How this compares with 2019: In 2019, state legislatures either introduced or carried over from previous sessions 107 relevant bills. Nine of these were enacted into law, four were vetoed, and the remainder either died in committee or carried over to the next sessions. 

Where bills were introduced   

Lawmakers in 30 states introduced public-sector labor bills in 2020. In eight of these states, lawmakers introduced five or more relevant bills: 

  • Pennsylvania: 10 bills
  • Oklahoma and Washington: 8 bills
  • Maryland and Virginia: 7 bills
  • California and New Hampshire: 6 bills
  • Iowa: 5 bills

How this compares with 2019: In 2019, lawmakers in 31 states introduced relevant bills. In six of those states, lawmakers introduced five or more relevant bills: Oregon (10 bills), Pennsylvania (9 bills), Washington (8 bills), Massachusetts (6 bills), New Hampshire (6 bills), and Oklahoma (5 bills). 

Who introduced bills

In 2020, Democrats introduced 52 of the 102 relevant bills we tracked this year. Republicans sponsored 37 bills. Bipartisan groups or committees introduced the remaining 13 bills. 

How this compares with 2019: In 2019, Democrats introduced 55 of the 107 bills we tracked. Republicans sponsored 39 bills, and bipartisan groups or committees sponsored the remaining 13 bills. 

Enacted legislation   

Four states have enacted five bills this year. Three of these states – California, Virginia, and Washington – are Democratic trifectas, meaning Democrats control the governorship and both chambers of the state legislature. Vermont has a divided government. 

  • California AB2850: Grants the Public Employment Relations Board the jurisdiction to enforce statutory provisions governing employer-employee relations within the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
  • Vermont S0254: Requires public employers to provide unions with employee contact information. Provides for the automatic deduction of union dues from members’ paychecks, and permits unions to meet with new employees to provide them with information regarding union membership.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
  • Virginia HB582: Repealed the previous ban on public employee collective bargaining.
  • Virginia SB939: Permits local governments to recognize unions as bargaining agents for public-sector workers.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
  • Washington HB2017: Establishes collective bargaining rights for administrative law judges.
    • Democratic sponsorship.

What we’re reading