NFIB Holds Capitol Conference

The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) held the second annual Day At The Capitol event today.

What might sound like a snoozer to many, of particular note on the speaking agenda were Assembly members Felipe Fuentes, D-Sylmar and Alyson Huber, D-El Dorado Hills. Both Fuentes and Huber had reform issues to discuss with the business crowd; Fuentes addressed regulatory reform and Huber talked about the need for state government reform.

Fuentes’ wife owns a small garment industry business.  He recounted how they spend every Thursday evening, over candle lit dinners every week discussing how many businesses are leaving the state due to regulatory issues.

Putting his money where his mouth is, Fuentes has authored AB 2529, which would require the Department of Finance to assist state agencies with the review of new and existing regulations for, and to review analyses performed by agencies in trying to pass new regulations or in reviewing existing regulations.

“The good news is that we are broke,” Fuentes said, referring to California’s budget deficit.

Huber enlightened the audience with the story  of her path to the Capitol. Before she ran for Assembly, she “didn’t think the people in Sacramento got it,” prompting her to run for office. Huber was critical of legislators putting new programs into place every time “new revenue” came in, without tools to remove any programs.

WIthout a process to sunset state programs that are old, inefficient or failed, Huber has tried to get legislation passed addressing this issue, and assured the audience that she will continue until she succeeds.

A panel discussion followed with the Governor’s Office of the Small Business Advocate Marty Keller, who has been consistent in advocating that California’s more than three million small businesses organize and form a political action committee. According to Keller, If the 3.5 million small businesses contributed only $10 each to the cause, they might finally have a powerful at the state capitol.

The next panel discussion was very interesting as well, with John Howard of Capitol Weekly moderating, John Chang of the Sacramento Bee, Cal Watchdog’s own Editor-in-chief Steven Greenhut, and John Myers with KQED discussing politics and political media. There was consensus that the current Governor’s race is unusual with three billionaires spending record amounts of money on the race. The need for pension reform dominated much of the discussion with Greenhut saying prisons should privatize.

The panel agreed and discussed how state pension spending enriches only public employees, and not the state’s programs. As state salaries, benefits and pensions continue to increase, services get cut.

John Myers concluded that with 38 million people in California, we’ve become a nation state. The challenge is how to find consensus on the state’s issues. He said that the problem is that California’s legislature has become too representative of the people of the state, who can’t agree on what they want or need.

Regulalory reforms, Worker’s Compensation reform and opposition to another increase in unemployment insurance are all issues the NFIB is currently working on.

For more information, go to Nfib

– Katy Grimes

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