As Judge Gideon J. Tucker famously opined, “No man’s life, liberty, or property are safe while the Legislature is in session.” For Californians, a brief respite in the assault on our lives and businesses was called on September 10th. Ahhh, the end of another California Legislative session.
All told there were 2,776 measures brought before the body this year. While that’s a far cry from the 3,000 – 3,200 we’ve seen in some recent years, there were still plenty of trees sacrificed and much ink wasted on frivolous and/or downright deleterious efforts. The effluvium included 1,593 bills from the Assembly, another 828 from the Senate, plus a plethora of Joint Resolutions, Constitutional Amendments, House Resolutions, etc., more than enough to keep Rightway Septic in business for years. Of these, just over 800 bills survived the gauntlet to advance to the Governor’s desk where he must either sign, veto, or ignore them by October 10th.
The Southwest California Legislative Council, a business advocacy coalition of local Chambers of Commerce, evaluated 103 of the measures this session, bills it was determined would have the greatest impact for benefit or harm to our local business community. The Council voted to support 44 bills that would help job creation, reduce taxes and regulatory pressure, and generally expedite recovery of businesses that have thus far survived the pandemic mandates. 55 bills were opposed as job killers or other measures designed to make running your business more difficult or more expensive. There’s always more of those than the good kind.
Of those 103 bills, 29 advanced through the process to make their way to Governor Newsom, 13 the Council had supported, 16 opposed. Only three of the supported bills were by Republican authors including local legislators Assembly Member Kelly Seyarto’s AB 12 (R-Murrieta), Assembly Member Marie Waldron’s AB 1082 (R-Temecula), and Senator Rosilicie Ochoa-Bogh’s SB 657 (R-Menifee). Other supported bills included an effort to address the rampant unemployment fraud industry by cross-referencing UI application data with prison records (AB 110), how to crimp organized theft rings that shoplift on demand (AB 331), and a few aimed at helping businesses climb out of the pandemic hole by waiving some ABC fees, expanding a small business grant program, and allowing the continuation of take-out drinks and outside dining opportunities for restaurants.
The 16 bills opposed by the Council were all authored by Democrats plying their standard issues of expanded dependent coverage and/or sick leave on small businesses, making it easier to unionize farm workers and hospitality workers, establishing even more arbitrary timelines and costly ‘green’ goals, making contractors liable for any and all wages, fines, and penalties assessed against a subcontractor, and something we’ve all been demanding, gender neutral children’s toy and clothing sections in retail stores.
If you think some of those are bad and/or ridiculous, you should have seen what didn’t make it through – like single payer healthcare, elimination of your 2nd mortgage deduction, payment relief for tenants but not landlords, a tax on rental properties, and no fewer than a dozen more proposals to increase taxes – on the wealthy, on businesses, on property owners, on – you name it, they want to tax it. No budget surplus is big enough to forego the passion for more taxation. But don’t brea6he a sigh of relief just yet. Many of these more onerous bills that didn’t make it this year will reappear like magic at the start of the next session in January. Some bills sucked so bad a few authors actually pulled them so as not to put pressure on the Governor during the recall effort. But they’ll be back. Optics remain a driver of policy.
The Governor has already signed 5 of the SWCLC 13 supported bills into law and we can only hope that a few more ‘good’ bills are signed and that his veto pen remains active for some of the worst. I’m not holding my breath.