Business-friendly bill or not?

Jan. 11, 2010 By KATY GRIMES

In what appeared to be the first good news of the new year, the Assembly Committee on Jobs and Economic Development voted unanimously to ease the permitting process for start-up and expanding businesses in the state.

Not so fast… this bill only applies to businesses contracting with the state.

AB978 proposes to streamline the application process by providing an online master application for small- and medium-sized businesses doing business with the state, making it easier for them to navigate the process of securing the necessary permits and licenses.

Nothing was addressed in this hearing about non-state, private sector businesses and the existing multi-layered permitting process.

The bill’s author, Assemblyman V. Manuel Perez, D-Indio, described the one-stop permitting bill as “important economic recovery and efficiency” for the struggling business community in the state.

The bill would require the State Chief Information Officer to develop a master business licensing and permitting application, in collaboration with other relevant agencies, with the goal of ending the frustrating, multiple layers of permitting and licensing currently experienced by start-up businesses in California.

During discussion of the bill, Assemblyman Jim Beall, D-San Jose, was concerned how the state would pay for the streamlined permitting. “The state would have to find creative ways to pay for it initially,” Beall commented. He concluded by saying that the process of streamlining might initially cost the state, but the “process will eventually save the state money for business.” It was not clear how the bill would cost the state more money.

In support of the bill, Assemblyman Bill Berryhill, R-Stockton, reminded the committee, “The voters are saying ‘make things simpler.’ ”

The bill’s author Perez concluded the discussion with , “The goal is to make the state of California a business-friendly state.”

There was no opposition by committee members to the bill.

AB978, Internet-based one-stop permitting, may be a ray of hope to California businesses in this tough economy, but only if they contract with the state government. Private sector businesses in California apparently will still face permitting challenges… not sure how that is “business-friendly.”

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