By: Stuart Waldman
As the end of the legislative session comes upon us, we review the bills that are still being considered by our electeds. Some of these bills are helpful for the California business community, while others make us wonder just what our legislators were thinking.
Here we will review some of the legislation that the Valley Industry and Commerce Association (VICA) has been tracking. This is a partial list that includes bills that are good for business, bad for our economy or completely ridiculous.
The Good (VICA-Supported)
AB 1446 (Feuer) authorizes the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority to place an extension of Measure R on the upcoming November ballot. This legislation will allow for voters to decide whether to extend a sales tax increase in order to fund transportation projects in Los Angeles. VICA supports allowing voters the opportunity to decide on additional taxes and transit programs.
AB 2026 (Fuentes) will extend the California Film and Television Tax Credit Program for five additional years, extending the sunset date through July 1, 2020. The bill will encourage more filming in the state and help grow the California economy by providing revenue and thousands of jobs.
SB 1197 (Calderon) imposes additional accountability measures on the California Film & Televisions Tax Credit Program and extends the program through July 2017. Though not as lengthy an extension as AB 2026, this piece of legislation will still go a long way towards allowing the California economy to recover.
SB 1099 (Wright) limits regulation effectiveness dates to be quarterly: January 1, April 1, July 1 or October 1. This bill will provide certainty to California businesses and inevitably lead to better compliance and reduced costs for both businesses and the state.
The Bad (VICA-Opposed)
SB 1431 (DeLeon) requires stop-loss insurance plans to cover all employees and dependents of a purchasing self-insured small employer. It also sets annual individual employee and aggregate thresholds for stop-loss policies. This dangerous bill will create an unreasonably high risk level for small employers at which the stop-loss coverage would apply: $95,000. This would effectively eliminate self-insurance as an option for California businesses.
AB 2674 (Swanson) expands the rules related to an employee’s right to inspect their personnel record. Provisions in the bill allow employee representatives (including union leaders and attorneys) to request records of on behalf of employees. This bill would create unrealistic timelines for employers to provide personnel records and open opportunities for legal challenges from union leaders.
AB 889 (Ammiano) imposes wage and hour regulations on individual homeowners retaining babysitters, nannies, in-home elderly care workers and housekeepers. The bill would require meal breaks, rest periods, overtime compensation, itemized wage statements and workers’ compensation coverage. The legislation would create significant and unprecedented liability for homeowners and businesses who employ such workers.
The Ugly (VICA OUTRAGE)
SB 568 (Lowenthal) prohibits food vendors from using polystyrene foam food containers. This bill will cost millions of dollars for businesses each year and cost our fragile economy thousands of jobs. Alternative materials are more than twice the price and may not be recyclable. Despite the intentions of the bill to reduce negative effects on the environment, the regulation would likely create additional greenhouse gas emissions and further damage our environment.
AB 1532 (Perez) creates the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Account within the Air Pollution Control Fund, in accordance with Governor Brown’s cap-and-trade implementation plan. Tied together with SB 1572 (detailed below), this bill will allow for funds generated by the Governor’s cap-and-trade plan to be allocated to as-yet undefined “green” programs. It is likely that these programs would include the Governor’s “pet-project” the High Speed Rail.
SB 1572 (Pavley) implements Governor Brown’s auction-based cap-and-trade proposal, which charges businesses for emissions allowances and uses the revenue to fund vaguely or undefined special programs. The bill allows for little to no oversight of the use of funds by taxpayers or legislators. VICA believes that allowances should be free of charge or mandate any revenue gained from the sale of allowances be put back into the local economy to afford businesses the ability to make upgrades towards fewer emissions.
The Legislature, with their new regulations and heavy taxes, keeps providing fewer reasons to keep doing business in California. Despite the numerous attacks on businesses in the state every legislative session, VICA continues the fight to improve the business climate for all California businesses. When California is more welcoming to businesses, the economy will grow, jobs will be created and budget deficits will be righted. With more VICA victories in the Legislature, the closer we get to turning this recession around.