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With a deadline nearing, California state senators advanced sweeping legislation Tuesday night to limit the number of Californians classified as independent contractors. And after an intense lobbying campaign, lawmakers also made a last-minute deal that would ease the measure’s effects on the newspaper industry.

Senators approved Assembly Bill 5 29-11 after two hours of debate, which included GOP senators offering a dozen failed amendments that would have exempted some truck drivers, physical therapists and other workers. The measure still requires passage in the state Assembly before the end of the week when the Legislature adjourns for the year. Gov. Gavin Newsom has endorsed the bill.

“Today we are determining the future of the California economy,” state Sen. Maria Elena Durazo (D-Los Angeles) said. “We can either choose to become complicit in the exploitation of hard-working Californians or we choose to rebuild the working and middle class, protect taxpayers and help responsible businesses thrive in the state.”

AB 5 would remake California employment practices by aligning the law with a 2018 California Supreme Court ruling that significantly expanded the number of workers who must be provided benefits as business employees.

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