Wednesday, March 30, 2016

California Legislature Considers More Business-Bashing, Job-Killing Bills

As each year passes the California legislature introduces and often enacts increasingly severe measures that damage the state's business climate.

We need only look at the newest summary of legislation that the California Chamber of Commerce issued yesterday. Seeing some of the shocking language in the bills – note especially the italicized parts – makes me wonder what planet Sacramento legislators came from, or perhaps I should say what solar system California voters came from.

Calif State Assembly logoAfter reading the list, will anyone wonder why some businesses can’t wait to leave California for a friendlier state?

A shortened and edited version of the announcement follows:

The California Chamber of Commerce released a preliminary list of job killer bills to call attention to the negative impact that proposed measures would have on the state’s job climate and economic recovery if they were to become law. The list is preliminary because CalChamber expects to add more bills to the list as legislation is amended.

“These job killer bills represent the worst of the worst legislative proposals currently under consideration by lawmakers,” said Allan Zaremberg, President and CEO of the Chamber.
“Whether they create barriers to providing affordable housing for workers, or increase costs for companies trying to grow or stay in business, these job killer bills should not become law,” he said.

Calif Senate LogoThe preliminary list of 2016 bills along with 2015 carry-over bills follows:

Increased Labor Costs

SB 1166 (Hanna-Beth Jackson; D-Santa Barbara) Imposes New Maternity and Paternity Leave Mandate — Unduly burdens and increases costs of small employers, with as few as 5 employees, as well as large employers by requiring 12 weeks of protected employee leave for maternity or paternity leave, in addition to up to four months of existing pregnancy disability leave, for employees who have worked for the employer one day, as well as exposing employers with 50 or more employees to lawsuits for failing to provide 24 weeks of protected leave in a 12-month period.

SB 878 (Connie Leyva; D-Chino) Mandated Scheduling Requirement — Eliminates worker flexibility and exposes employers to costly penalties, litigation, and government enforcement, by mandating employers in the retail, grocery, or restaurant workplace, including employers who have hybrid operations that include a retail or restaurant section, to provide a 21-day work schedule and then face penalties and litigation if the employer changes the schedule with less than 7 days notice, even when the change is at the request of the employee.

SB 3 (Mark Leno; D-San Francisco) Automatic Minimum Wage Increase — Unfairly imposes a potential 50% increase in the minimum wage by 2022 (actually an 87% increase over an 8-year period when combined with the last increase just implemented in January 2016), and automatically adjusts minimum wage beyond 2018 according to national inflation, with no “offramps” to suspend the indexing if employers are struggling with other economic factors or costs.

Tax Increases

SCA 5 (Loni Hancock; D-Berkeley) Split Property Roll — Undermines the protections of Proposition 13 by unfairly targeting commercial property owners and increasing their property taxes by assessing their property based upon current fair market value instead of acquired value. Such costs will ultimately be passed on to consumers and tenants through higher prices and will result in job loss as businesses struggle to absorb such a dramatic tax increase.

ACA 8 (Richard Bloom; D-Santa Monica) Lowers Vote Requirement for Tax Increases — Adds complexity and uncertainty to the current tax structure and adds pressure to increase taxes on commercial, industrial and residential property owners by giving local governments new authority to enact special taxes for storm and wastewater infrastructure, including parcel taxes, by lowering the vote threshold from two-thirds to fifty-five percent.

Burdensome Environmental Regulations

SB 32 (Fran Pavley; D-Agoura Hills) Slows Economic Growth — Strengthens the already excessive authority of the California Air Resources Board and Increases costs for California businesses, makes them less competitive, and discourages economic growth by adopting further greenhouse gas emission reductions for 2030 without regard to the impact on individuals, jobs and the economy.

SB 654 (Kevin de Le√≥n; D-Los Angeles) Creates Unworkable Hazardous Waste Permitting Process — Discourages investment in upgrading and improving hazardous waste facilities by shutting down hazardous waste facilities if the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) fails to take final action on the permit renewal application within a specified timeframe, even if the permit applicant acted diligently and in good faith throughout the permit application process.

California Oil Production Barriers

AB 2729 (Das Williams; D-Santa Barbara / Tony Thurmond; D-Richmond) Gas Price Increase — Jeopardizes the production of California based fuel supply and increases costs to the industry by revising the definition of an idle well and requiring permanent closure of 25% of California’s long-term idle wells each year.

AB 1759 (Rob Bonta; D-Alameda) Gas Price Increase — Jeopardizes the production of California based fuel by banning the use of hydrogen fluoride and hydrofluoric acid at facilities that use more than 250 gallons and are located within two miles of a residence, notwithstanding the fact that there are significant safety regulations in place at the local, state and federal levels.

AB 1882 (Das Williams; D-Santa Barbara) Gas Price Increase — Jeopardizes the production of California based fuel by substantially complicating the existing permitting process for the Underground Injection Control program by imposing duplicative requirements and requiring the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources to cede aspects of its permitting authority to the regional water quality control board.

Affordable Housing Barriers

AB 2162 (Kasen Chu; D-San Jose) Erodes Housing Affordability — Increases the cost of and delays housing and other development projects by eliminating existing mitigation options for impacts to oak woodlands under the California Environmental Quality Act and instead imposes an entirely new and separate permitting process for the removal of even one valley oak tree.

AB 2502 (Kevin Mullin; D-South San Francisco / David Chiu; D-San Francisco) Erodes Housing Affordability — Increases the cost and reduces the supply of housing by authorizing local governments as condition of development to impose a costly and inflexible price-controlled inclusionary housing requirement and, in doing so, legislatively repeals an established court decision upholding developers’ ability to set initial rental rates for new dwelling units.

SB 1150 (Mark Leno; D-San Francisco) Erodes Housing Availability — Increases risk and the cost of residential loans by allowing a party not on the mortgage loan to interfere with appropriate foreclosures and creates a private right of action for violations of overly complex and burdensome requirements.

SB 1318 (Lois Wolk; D-Davis) Erodes Housing Affordability— Inappropriately leverages necessary affordable housing in order to solve infrastructure issues with the consequence that the housing won’t be built by imposing requirements on water or waste water districts to serve certain communities first.

Meritless Litigation

SB 899 (Ben Hueso; D-Logan Heights) Increased Meritless Litigation Costs — Drives up consumer costs and increases frivolous litigation similar to the disability access lawsuits in California, by prohibiting a retailer or grocery store from discriminating against a person on the basis of gender with the price of goods and subjecting them to a minimum $4,000 of damages for each violation.

Arbitration Discrimination

AB 2667 (Tony Thurmond; D-Richmond) and AB 2879 (Mark Stone; D-Scotts Valley) Arbitration Agreements Discrimination — Unfairly discriminates against arbitration agreements and therefore is likely preempted by the Federal Arbitration Act, which will lead to confusion and litigation. Such will be the result by prohibiting arbitration of Unruh Civil Rights violations made as a condition of a contract for goods or services (in AB 2667) and by prohibiting an employer from requiring an individual who is a member of the military to sign a mandatory arbitration agreement as a condition of employment (in AB 2879).

To see future changes to the CalChamber list, go to www.cajobkillers.com

If you are a California resident and want to see your legislator’s record on business-related votes in 2015, see here.

One focus of this blog has been to address California’s hostility toward business, as addressed in the new study, California Business Departures: An Eight-Year Review 2008-2015, updated Jan. 14, 2016.

Joseph Vranich is known as The Business Relocation Coach while the formal name of his business is Spectrum Location Solutions. Joe helps companies find great locations in which to grow. He offers an introductory consultation at no cost to help company leaders understand the Site Selection process and explore whether a project makes sense.

Joe is a keynote speaker on the benefits of relocating out of high-tax, high-cost, over-regulated states to friendlier business environments. For more information, see Biography and Speaking Availability. On Twitter, Joe is known as @LocationConsult.