Written by The Business Journal Staff
The California Chamber of Commerce (CalChamber) has released its annual list of “job killer” bills currently winding their way through the California Legislature, and the Greater Fresno Area Chamber of Commerce appears poised to join the state organization in opposing the “business unfriendly” legislation.
This year’s preliminary list of so-called job killer legislation identified by the CalChamber includes 18 proposed bills CalChamber officials believe would have an adverse impact on California’s job climate and economic recovery.
As other pending legislation is amended, Chamber officials anticipate adding more bills to its job-killer list, which this year includes proposed new laws touching on everything from potential arbitration discrimination to barriers to affordable housing and tougher regulations governing California oil production.
“These job killer bills represent the worst of the worst legislative proposals currently under consideration by lawmakers,” said CalChamber President and CEO Allan Zaremberg.
“As everyone knows, California has areas that are booming economically and other areas that are stagnating,” Zaremberg added. “Each part of California has unique problems and these job killers will negatively impact future economic growth. Whether they create barriers to providing affordable housing for workers or increase costs for companies trying to grow or stay in business, these job killer bills should not become law.”
Among the bills on this year’s list — and why the Chamber believes they are anti-business:
• AB 2667 (Thurmond; D-Richmond) and AB 2879 (Stone; D-Scotts Valley), which deal with employment arbitration agreements. Chamber officials believe both bills are discriminatory and will lead to “confusion and [increased] litigation” by requiring individuals who are members of the military to sign a mandatory arbitration agreement as a condition of employment.
• AB 2162 (Chu; D-San Jose), AB 2502 (Mullin; D-South San Francisco), SB 1150 (Leno; D-San Francisco), SB 1318 (Wolk; D-Davis), a slew of bills that Chamber officials say would erode housing affordability around the state by increasing the cost and reducing the supply of the Golden State’s affordable housing stock.
• AB 1727 (Gonzalez; D-San Diego), SB 878 (Leyva; D-Chino) and SB 1166 (Jackson; D-Santa Barbara), proposed bills CalChamber officials believe will increase labor costs by allowing independent contractors in almost every industry to collaborate and set prices for their services as well as other terms and conditions of their contracts (AB 1727); mandates employers in retail, grocery and restaurant businesses provide their employees with a 21-day work schedule and then face penalties and litigation if the employer changes the schedule with less than seven days notice(SB 878); and a create new maternity and paternity leave mandate (SB 1166) that the Chamber says will “unduly burden and increase costs” for both small and larger employers.
The Chamber also is targeting several “carryover bills” from the 2015 legislative session. These bills, Zaremberg said, promote “burdensome environmental regulation” (SB 32), create an “unworkable” hazardous waste permitting process (SB 654) and mandate unnecessary increases in labor costs (SB 3) and taxes (SCA 5).
SCA 5, written by Berkeley Democrat Loni Hancock, generated a firestorm of controversy from business leaders across the state when it was introduced last year. The so-called “Split Roll” tax bill, according to Zaremberg, “undermines the protections of Proposition 13 by unfairly targeting commercial property owners and increasing their property taxes by assessing that property tax based upon fair market value instead of acquired value.”
Zaremberg said that the costs created by SCA 5 would “ultimately be passed on to the consumers and tenants through higher prices” and also will result in job losses as businesses “struggle to absorb such a dramatic tax increase.”
Democrats authored all of the bills on the CalChamber’s 2016 job killer list.
In the Valley, local business leaders began their own annual review of potential job-killer legislation during a regular monthly meeting held this week at the Greater Fresno Area Chamber of Commerce.
The Fresno Chamber’s Government Affairs Council, the policy body of the organization that is chaired by longtime member Ruth Evans, met on Wednesday to review the CalChamber list, according to Nathan Alonzo, the Chamber’s government affairs manager.
“We’re going to be taking a closer look at some of these bills,” Alonzo said. “We believe that many could significantly impact” both local jobs and businesses.
In the past, the Fresno Chamber has joined the CalChamber in formally opposing the job killer bills and under new CEO Nathan Ahle, that practice will continue, according to Alonzo.
In the agenda prepared for this week’s meeting, the Chamber staff recommended the Government Affairs Council oppose 10 of the job killer bills that appear on the current CalChamber list (AB 2667, AB 2879, AB 1727, SB 1166, SB 899, AB 1759, AB 1882, AB 2729 and ACA 8).
The Fresno Chamber is also expected to join the CalChamber in opposing the so-called California Drug Price Relief Act Initiative, which, if approved, would restrict the amount that state agencies could pay for prescription drugs, tying the ceiling price to the amount set by the U.S. Department of Federal Affairs.
That ballot measure is currently supported by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation and opposed by a long list of major pharmaceutical companies.
More information about the CalChamber’s position on the “job killer” bills is available at www.cajobkillers.com.