Written by Gordon Webster, Jr.
Call it “California logic.”
How do you empower small businesses to rebuild the economy? Double down on the harmful regulations, taxes and edicts that made the state a challenging business climate even before the coronavirus.
It doesn’t make much sense, but that seems to be the path California legislators are taking even as Gov. Gavin Newsom continues to order most businesses to close their doors.
The California Chamber of Commerce this week released its latest list of Job Killer bills – ten pieces of legislation that seek to shift the costs of the COVID-19 pandemic onto the laps of small businesses. From workers’ compensation to leave and tax increases, these bills are drafted by legislators who continue to draw a paycheck as most small business owners can’t find the ground beneath them.
“It’s truly unfortunate—and, quite astonishing—that anyone in the legislature would unnecessarily increase costs on California’s distressed employers and reduce employment opportunities for California workers,” said CalChamber President and CEO Allan Zaremberg, in a statement.
“Nearly four million Californians have filed for unemployment benefits and many more are without work-related income. Our legislature should focus solely on keeping California employers and workers in business,” added Zaremberg.
One of the bills, AB 196 by Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), would codify a recent executive order from Gov. Newsom that assumes essential workers who contract COVID-19 got it on the job, opening up employers to astronomical workers’ compensation costs. A recent article on this order by The Business Journal said it could cost employers tens of billions of dollars.
A few of these job killers are a variation on the same theme: Prepare for workers’ comp underwriters to ditch California, leaving everyone high and dry.
Several other bills add new layers of protected worker leave that must be paid for by employers who don’t even know if their businesses will remain solvent this time next week. The federal government has already legislated extended leave requirements in response to COVID-19. Leave it to Democrats in Sacramento to pile on added layers like an unsustainable onion.
Now more than ever, proponents of small business and fans of steady paychecks must voice their concerns to their elected officials in Sacramento. A pandemic and economic shutdown is not the time to add to the burden of small businesses.