ERISA Preempts San Francisco Health Care Ordinance

The Golden Gate Restaurant Association took on San Francisco's attempt at universal health care - the Health Care Security Ordinance - and won. It turns out you CAN fight City Hall, particularly when City Hall decides to pass legislation that is clearly preempted by ERISA.

The San Francisco Health Care Security Ordinance was set to take effect January 1, 2008, and would have phased in based on employer size. Basically, employers had to spend a certain amount of money on health care or contribute to a San Francisco fund (read: another tax). But, unless the Ninth Circuit stays the district court's decision and allows the statute to take effect [which would be an insanely burdensome and expensive error if the law ultimately is deemed preempted] the SF ordinance is not going to take effect. Btw, the City is asking the Ninth Circuit to stay the district judge's order.

The district judge's opinion is here. (H/T Workplace Prof's blog for the link to the opinion).
You can learn about the ordinance and the ERISA preemption issues there. Here's the holding:

The Ordinance’s health care expenditure requirements are preempted because they have an impermissible connection with employee welfare benefit plans. By mandating employee health benefit structures and administration, those requirements interfere with preserving employer autonomy over whether and how
to provide employee health coverage, and ensuring uniform national regulation of such coverage. The Ordinance’s provisions also make unlawful reference to benefit plans because they refer to, are designed to act immediately upon, and
cannot operate successfully without the existence of employee welfare benefit plans.

:::temporary editorial breach of the fourth wall - "Speaking of tips: to my friends at that firm with initials that start with C. -- maybe for the New Year you can adopt the "hat tip" as your very own technique for acknowledging those of us who actually do the work!" ::::: [End the editorial narrowcast attack on lazy competitor].

Happy New Year everyone, even the folks at the C. firm!