Cal Chamber lists ‘jobs killer’ bills

April 13, 2012

By Joseph Perkins

Nearly two and a half years into California’s recovery from its worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, more than 2 million state residents are officially unemployed.

Another 1 million are either underemployed–working part-time or temporary jobs when they really want full-time, permanent work–or so discouraged by the state job market that they’ve dropped out of the labor force.

Against that backdrop, the California Chamber of Commerce released this week its annual list of “job killing” legislation currently under consideration by lawmakers inS acramento. The chamber identified 23 bills, five of which particularly stood out to me.

They include:

AB 1963, by Assembly member Alyson Huber, D-Dorado Hills; and AB 2540, by Mike Gatto, D-Los Angeles. The bills would impose a new tax-and-use base on a number of services. It would fall hard on the state’s small businesses that will not benefit from proposed reductions in other tax rates (which probably wouldn’t materialize anyway).

AB 1439, by Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Salinas, would automatically increase the state minimum wage each year by the rate of inflation, even during an economic downtown. This may appear beneficial to workers, but it really is not.

For when the minimum wage increases, it puts upward pressure on all wages. That raises overall labor costs for businesses, discouraging them from hiring new workers.

AB 1808, by Assemblyman Das Williams, D-Santa Barbara, would significantly expand the definition of “public employee” to include employees of private employers where a public agency “shares” in the employment decisions of those privately-employed workers.

The legislation is a sop to public employee unions, seeking to grow their ranks to further increase their political influence in the state capital, by recruiting in private workplaces.

But there is a reason most of California private employers are non-unionized: Unionized labor is more expensive. And when labor is more expensive, employers can’t afford as many workers.

Then there’s AB 2039, authored by Assembly member Sandre Swanson, D-Alameda, which would expand the category of individuals with serious health conditions for which an employee can take a leave of absence.

This mandated benefit is beyond that which is required by the federal Family Medical Leave Act; and beyond the protected leave requirements of any of the other 49 states. It would ratchet up the cost of hiring and retaining workers in California, a burden borne disproportionately by the state’s small businesses.

Even if these were boom times, if the California economy was flourishing, if the state’s employers were adding record numbers of workers to their payrolls, it would be imprudent for the Legislature to enact any of the 23 job killer bills identified by the Chamber.

But it would be especially so during these challenging economic times when some 3 million Californians are either unemployed, underemployed or so discouraged that they have given up hope of finding a job.

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