Bills make it easier for agencies to penalize biz

April 4, 2013

By Katy Grimes

Detroit city limits

Wednesday the Senate Environmental Quality Committee passed three bills, despite all three bills receiving credible legal and technical challenges. The committee ignored protocol, and allowed the bills to move on with the proviso work would continue to be done on them.

Taxing vehicles for alternative fuels technology

SB 11, by Sen. Fran Pavely, D-Agoura Hills, SB 483 by Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, and SB 691 by Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, were passed from the Environmental Quality Committee despite gaping flaws and legal problems.

Claiming SB 11 is “a major piece of public health and clean energy legislation, Pavely’s said her bill would merely prevent a vehicle “fee” from expiring.  Despite promises of a sunset date from the fee back in 2007 in the original bill, Pavely justified the “fee” extension because the money goes to funding alternative fuel and vehicle technologies.

The fund was created with a tax on vehicles, car and boat registrations, as well as smog abatement, and goes into the Carl Moyer Memorial Air Quality Standards Attainment Program, for another ten years.

The Carl Moyer Memorial Air Quality Standards Attainment Program is run by the California Air Resources Board, which no doubt, doesn’t want to lose this gravy train of money.

“My SB 11 will help create jobs and attack air pollution, too,” Pavely famously Tweeted when the bill was announced. But I prefer the response Tweet she got:  “@SenatorPavley Your SB 11 is a job killer and do nothing about air pollution. Please,stop passing laws, I beg of you.”

Technical, good government bill bills

Beware whenever a lawmakers says “It’s just a technical, good government bill.” Chances are, it’s not.

Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, introduced her bill, SB 483, and said, “it’s a technical bill for dealing with hazardous waste.”

There’s nothing simple or minor when the California Environmental Protection Agency is knocking on the door of a business making inquiries about hazardous waste.

“This makes it easier for agencies to do their work,” Jackson said.

And that’s the crux of the bill – it makes it easier for the CalEPA to harass California businesses.

“This bill would revise and recast the area and business plan requirements and, among other things, would require instead that a unified program agency enforce these requirements,” the bill says.

Jackson’s bill would add onsite inspections of businesses, and bump up the paper reporting requirements businesses have to the EPA.

Interestingly, each of the witnesses who testified in support of SB 483 used similar or the same language as Jackson.

“It is not a very glamorous bill,” said a representative from the California Association of Environmental Health Administrators. And he said they were working through the existing government codes for “good government.”

“It’s a technical bill,” the California Fire Chiefs Association representative said.

The bill clearly needs work given the even farther reach of the EPA into private business.

Be sure to read my story today about Hancock’s SB 691, which would exponentially increase the penalties on business for air quality violations.

All three of the bills passed, including Hancock’s SB 691, needing extensive work. But Democrats will continue to pass the bills along through the committee process, ignoring opposition and legal challenges.

And that’s the way it’s done when the Democrats are in charge.

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