California’s New Law Will Limit How Much Some Freelance Journalists Can Write

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Shelby Talcott Senior White House Correspondent
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A new California law set to take effect Jan. 1 will limit how much some freelancers, including journalists, can work.

The law is largely aimed at companies such as Uber, Lyft and food delivery services. However, it will also extend to some workers in the freelance journalism business, and Vox Media has already cut hundreds of freelance writers because of it. The outlet previously praised the law in an article titled “Gig Workers Win In California Is A Victory For Workers Everywhere.”

“Instead, it is because of an absurd new law — signed by [Democratic California] Gov. Gavin Newsom on Sept. 18, which will take effect tomorrow here in California — I will, arbitrarily and nonsensically, be limited to only 35 articles on any one outlet in 2020,” Mediaite contributor John Ziegler lamented in an article Tuesday about the law. (RELATED: California Gov. Calls Semi-Auto Rifles ‘Godamn Weapons Of Mass Destruction)

“The law, [California Assembly Bill 5] AB5, which was intended to combat freelance workers being taken advantage of by the ‘gig economy,’ has already caused hundreds of other California writers to completely lose their jobs, and the carnage resulting from the easily-foreseen unintended consequences of this regulation has only just begun.”

AB5 was meant to prohibit companies from claiming that workers were independent contractors instead of employees, according to Forbes. Politicians have said that certain companies were exploiting the system, and this law is the attempt to remedy the problem.

Despite being aimed at larger corporations such as Uber and Lyft, the law will affect freelancers aiming to do other jobs. It is based on the idea that people don’t want to be freelancers, as well as that employers would rather make these people full-time workers if the freelance option is no longer available to them, according to Ziegler.

“Consequently, barring a legislative miracle, my contributions to this website in 2020 will only be a small fraction of what they have been over the last few years,” Ziegler wrote.

Written by Democratic San Diego Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, AB5 affects workers in California. It has received backlash, with Uber and Postmates launching a lawsuit to block it. Despite the backlash, Gonzalez has backed her proposal.

There is allegedly “no real logic to the 35 number” for freelancers, Ziegler wrote, suggesting “at best, it is based on an extremely antiquated notion of how often you need to submit work in the Internet era in order to get paid anything close to legitimate paycheck.”

“There is no rhyme or reason to these nonsensical exemptions,” according to the lawsuit, filed Monday.