New Assembly Bills Will Kill CA Jobs

MAY 23, 2011

By KATY GRIMES

In less than three hours in the Assembly on Thursday, scores more anti-business bills were passed — always by a Democratic majority. The bills, if passed by the Senate and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, would slam already shell-shocked California businesses, proving that legislators are deaf to the plight of the middle class, business owners and employers in the state.

Taken individually, which is how legislators are able to continue the slow strangling of employers and businesses, the bills may not look like anything other than business nuisances. However, collectively these bills are job-enders for many employees, and business-killers for owners who are already at the tipping point.

Most of the bills include nasty financial penalties and provide sharp teeth for easier enforcement by vindictive state agencies looking for revenue.

AB 22 by Assemblyman Tony Mendoza, D-Artesia, would prevent prospective employers from using a consumer credit report as part of the interview and application process. While many people have lost homes and have downgraded credit, this is only one part of the job interview process. If the employee-applicant has a single reason for the damaged credit, it can easily be explained and is most likely not going to be a deal breaker.

But employers are looking for integrity and want to know if the prospective employee ran out on a home or apartment, ran up mountains of credit card debt or defaulted on other loans or financial obligations such as a car loan. This has been a very important tool which employers need, and not just for accounting positions. (This bill was passed by the Assembly on a party-line vote, 41-28.)

AB 688 by Assemblyman Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, would prohibit a retailer from selling baby food, infant formula or over-the-counter medicines if the expiration or “use by” date has passed. Most of America’s expired packaged food products and medicines are sent to third-world countries, according to central valley Republican Assemblywoman (and doctor) Linda Halderman. “Individual family pharmacies in California will get hit,” Halderman said. And she said that it has not been proven that the stamped expiration date reduces the potency of the medicines or that the packaged food is rotten.

This bill may appear to be a health bill, but it is really trial-lawyer driven. “What this bill says is, Let’s allow the trial attorneys to sue small business. Who contacts an attorney instead of the supermarket when a product has an expired date on it?” asked Assembly Steve Knight, R-Lancaster. “The government says we are going to be able to extort money out of stores. It’s not what we should be doing today in Sacramento.” (Passed 47-21)

Bereavement Leave

Mandatory bereavement leave for employees, which can be taken any time within 13 months, is just the latest bill from Bonnie Lowenthal, D-Long Beach. AB 325 is one more mandated employee leave legislation targeting private-sector employers. The impact of these kinds of mandates on the employer causes tremendous hardships — production and legal — and always leaves the employer without someone to do the work, or the flexibility to work with the employee for the time off.

The bill is not needed. Most employers grant needed time off to employees without being told to do so by the state. But they coordinate it with the employee, in an adult discussion. This presumptuous bill, as with most employee-favored mandates, treats employers like impertinent children, and the state as the wise, all-knowing adult. (Passed 46-26)

AB 551 by Nora Campos, D-San Jose, would increase the penalties on contractors who fail to pay the prevailing wage on public works projects of from $50 to $100 each day, and from $20 to $40 each day on subcontractors.

The prevailing wages are wage rates for particular trades or crafts set forth in “prevailing wage determinations” issued by the Department of Industrial Relations. But I dare anyone to try to figure out what the prevailing wage rate is using the DIR website. What a nightmare.

The bill also states that if the labor commissioner decides that the oversight by the employer was “willful,” the fine is bumped up to $120 each day until the employee is paid correctly. I suspect that most employers will be called “willful.” This bill is clearly designed to bolster the State Building and Construction Trades Council and even the California Teamsters, which wrote in the analysis that this bill will strengthen wage laws by enhancing enforcement. There’s your motive. (Passed 47-23)

Another Bill for Lawyers

AB 246 strengthens the “enforcement against polluters,” according to the bill’s author, Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski, D-Freemont. The bill extends the civil prosecution authority of water code violaters to district attorneys and some city attorneys. This bill is just another nod to attorneys, as well as a revenue generator for the state. Water code violations are already fuzzy and now can include storm drain runoff. Look out employers: even “landscape runoff” is considered pollution.

The State Water Resources Control Board has all authority over the state’s water quality policy and enforcement. Expect the definition of a polluter to be broadly expanded, and more business owners hit with new penalties for violations on policies they didn’t even know existed. (Passed 43-25)

AB 818 was authored by Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield, D-Van Nuys. It would require owners of apartment buildings with five units or more to arrange for recycling services, and recycling containers for the tenants. (Passed 48-23)

Even More Bills

There are so many more of these invasive, punitive, restrictive bills passing the Senate and Assembly every day — all directed at the taxpaying middle class, small business owners and employers.

What’s worse is that there was no actual floor debate on these bills. Republicans made their opposition known on each Democratic bill, and Democrats just read from their prepared talking points, without actually responding to the issues pointed out by the opposition.

Since January 1, 70 businesses that we know of moved out of state. There is no source keeping track of the businesses which expand in other states instead of California, or the businesses that have closed, no longer able to afford the high cost of doing business in this state.

Lawmakers’ answer is to just keep piling on taxes, fees, regulations and penalties, while beefing up state agency enforcements — squeezing the last breath out of the gasping middle class.

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NOTE: After a call from Assemblyman Blumenfield’s office, the section on AB 818 was modified for clarity.

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  1. larry 62
    larry 62 23 May, 2011, 14:00

    Looks like almost all of the bills were passed along party lines, but then should that surprise anyone? Well, at least my son the lawyer, (not a trial lawyer) should have plenty of work defending business’s.
    The sooner this state goes broke, the better. Then we can start over and do it right.

    Reply this comment
  2. Craig Powell
    Craig Powell 23 May, 2011, 18:27

    When will this madness ever stop? When will the voters of California realize that the “progressive” legislators that they keep reelecting are throttling the golden goose of private enterprise. These are the job-creators and they hold the economic future of our state and our children in their hands. Do we welcome them, encourage them, make their lives easier? No. We slap their faces with a barrage of new laws and regulations that make any sane business owner recoil in horror at the prospect of expanding in California, locating in California or even remaining in California.

    A recent poll reported that when existing California business owners are asked whether, if they had it to do over again, would they start a business in California, 75% said “No.”

    Reply this comment
  3. Reality Ck
    Reality Ck 23 May, 2011, 18:29

    The reality is that members of both parties propose expensive entitlements that are “feel good” that don’t get a reality check about the out year costs in either service or capacity. What was the last veterans bill that died in committee?

    Reply this comment
  4. G Corbett
    G Corbett 23 May, 2011, 20:30

    I think it’s fair to cite the opinion that some of the bills are not friendly to businesses, and some vary in societal benefit. But that’s the point of a Legislature, to give fair hearing to these issues.

    Let’s at least provide a semblance of balance here: businesses get many tax breaks in California, and there’s actually virtually no evidence that employers source jobs elsewhere based on taxes or other ancillary costs. It’s where the best employees or markets to sell the goods or services is located. Study after study has shown this, yet the rhetoric never stops. The constant whining, and totally subjective assertions above, based on zero sources and vague rationale such as the one stating that “employees’ generally get bereavement leave based on adult discussions” is somewhere in la la land. Perhaps, you should get worked up about the fact that we have a 5 day work week, or such evil things as maternity leave. Oh, horror. Progressives. Think about thanking progressives the next time you have a Saturday bbq. Anything progressive you pitch a fit and start up with the wild eyed right wing slander. At least use some evidence and facts to bolster these pathetic arguments.

    I think I do get the logic behind this column’s logic though; which is that all mandates and protections for low-level employees are harmful and anti-business, and to you, they don’t deserve the protections of the state. That’s not conservative; that’s just mean-spirited.

    Reply this comment
  5. Curtis L. Walker
    Curtis L. Walker 23 May, 2011, 21:05

    How many new businesses started up or moved to CA for the same period of time? Only then does the 70 you site become usable information. Source, too.

    Reply this comment
  6. Frank Harris-Smith
    Frank Harris-Smith 24 May, 2011, 11:41

    A simple, factual response to G Corbett’s Changing the Subject, Ignoring the Facts, and Name Calling (Liberal SIN)

    70 companies have moved out of California since the beginning of the year.

    They want to extend all the *temporary* tax increases.

    With AB32’s renewable energy mandates your energy bill *will* skyrocket

    And I’m mean-spirited? Right…

    Reply this comment

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