Commentary

California Lawmaker Hints At Changes To Freelancer Restrictions

Freelance journalists who live in California or work for publishers in the state may have reason to celebrate. Lawmakers there are working to amend a law that sought to force publishers to hire writers, editors and photographers who contributed more than 35 "content submissions" a year.

California Assembly Bill 5, or AB 5, took effect on Jan. 1 and had the unintended consequence of threatening the livelihoods of people who prefer to freelance instead of working for a publisher full-time. Freelance reporters and photographers were unfairly targeted in a law mostly aimed at "gig economy" disrupters, such as Uber, Lyft and Postmates.

Lorena Gonzalez, the California assembly member who drafted AB 5, last week sent a tweet indicating she sought to removethe 35-submissions cap in AB1850 and more clearly define freelance journalism. She also apologized for the stress that AB 5 had caused.

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"For the added stress that has caused anyone, or the feelings of not being heard, I am truly sorry. I am direct & straightforward, passionate about workers' rights and too busy to directly respond to everyone, but I do listen and I care about getting this right," Gonzalez tweeted.

I applaud Gonzalez's efforts to amend the law, which has an outmoded view of the workforce, particularly for knowledge workers and creative professionals who are comfortable with the flexibility of freelance work.

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