CHLA Mid-Session Update

With the height of COVID-19 in the rear view mirror and a massive number of new legislators seeking to make their mark, it has been a busy year in Sacramento and across the state. The following are some of the biggest issues CHLA is tracking and actively influencing.

Fee Transparency
Consumers don’t like surprise charges, and neither do the President, State Attorney General, or a handful of legislators who are all advocating for hotel fee disclosure reforms. During the President’s state of the union address earlier this year, resort fees were specifically mentioned, and efforts from Attorney Generals across the nation are making headlines. In California, three similar measures, including one backed by Attorney General Rob Bonta, are all making their way through the legislative process. While CHLA is a strong advocate for transparency, our industry should also be protected from language which would put our hotels at a competitive disadvantage relative to other domestic or international lodging options. With this in mind, CHLA has engaged with a coalition of stakeholders to lobby each of these measures to create a functional and fair disclosure policy.

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Resort Regulations
California’s hotels are overwhelmingly in favor of environmental sustainability and responsible resource management practices. However, one measure sought to take current requirements to the extreme and threatened to create confusing, expensive, and unnecessary requirements. For example, one element of the measure sought to take away oversight and approval of pesticide usage at resorts from the California Department of Pesticide Regulations and instead, grant it to the California Coastal Commission. The other provisions followed similar logic. Fortunately, CHLA was able to generate a large grassroots opposition campaign to stop this measure in its tracks.

24-Hour Cancellations
If airlines can do it, then so can hotels. At least, that is the idea behind a bill which would require hotels to offer free 24-hour cancellation policies if a reservation is placed more than 24-hours in advance of the date of stay. While CHLA is in favor of policies which favor consumers, this bill would potentially be a disadvantage to them because hotel rates are often discounted for non-refundable rooms, meaning that consumers win out under the current model. As CHLA is explaining to legislators, if this measure passes, that discount becomes much more difficult to maintain, and consumers stand to lose out.

Recall and Retention
The proponents of the original hotel recall and retention are at it again, only this time, they want to make it permanent. One bill is simple—it would remove the “sunset” provision (language which permits a bill to expire) and would render all employees terminated as the result of large layoff events subject to recall and retention. However, a second measure would apply similar recall and retention requirements to all employers with 100 or more franchise locations, and would require the employers to offer employment to the employees at any nearby establishment in the event of a closure or layoff. CHLA maintains that in a market where employers are struggling to fully staff hotels, there should be fewer barriers to employment, not more.

ADA Reform
This is proving to be a tumultuous year for reform of California laws surrounding accessibility standards. At the start of the year, CHLA announced our legislation, authored by Asm. Stephanie Nguyen, which is designed to tackle forum shopping, abuse of California accessibility laws by vexatious litigants, and more. However, CHLA chose to hold the legislation last month in response to a rapidly shifting political environment and to preserve the effective language of the measure. By the same token, CHLA is shifting to support other ADA reform legislation which would establish rights to cure alleged violations in both physical and website-based construction. Similar measures have been introduced in the past, but, failed passage for various reasons. This is a tough issue, and one which CHLA needs to make sure we get right.

This list is not exhaustive (CHLA is tracking over 100 bills at the time of writing, while many of the 2,600 total bills introduced are also being amended and added to CHLA’s tracking/advocacy lists). It is designed to highlight some of the hotel-specific issues moving at the state level today. Over the coming months, bills will die, be amended, and more. CHLA will continue to advocate for your interests and appreciates your continued support.

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