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Six Bills to Watch as the Legislative Session Comes to an End

SCVBJ: Valley Industry and Commerce Association Column

Posted: September 2, 2014 6:53 p.m.
Updated: September 2, 2014 6:53 p.m.
 

The last month for the California Senate and Assembly to pass or kill bills this year has begun. At the end of August, Gov. Jerry Brown will have one month to sign or veto bills that make it through the Legislature. Many of the bills that have had been on the Valley Industry & Commerce Association’s (VICA) radar in 2014 are still in circulation, for better or for worse.

First, the bad news – it’s been quite a year of egregious anti-business policymaking. Lawmakers are going above and beyond to make doing business in California as difficult as possible now that the state is finally experiencing some economic recovery.

The proposal foremost on employers’ minds is Senate Bill 935 (Leno). If passed, the bill would increase the state minimum wage to $13 an hour by 2017, with annual increases based on the Consumer Price Index thereafter. SB 935 also includes $1 an hour increases in 2015 and 2016.

It’s an uncertain time for business owners in the state, with the California minimum wage having just risen $1 on July 1, and many municipalities attempting even higher wage hikes. Such a hasty increase would undoubtedly result in a loss of hours and jobs when the state is still in the early stages of an upswing.

Companies who provided low-wage, part-time job opportunities during the recession were largely responsible for getting the state back on track. Yet an attempt to shame those valuable employers, Assembly Bill 1792 (Gomez), would require the Employment Development Department (EDD) to compile an annual list of companies who have employees or an immediate family member on public assistance programs, regardless of how many. This would inevitably result in lawsuits, targeted media attacks and protests.

AB 2416 (Stone) would allow employees to file liens on an employer’s or third party’s personal or real property for yet-unproven wage claims. For instance, an IT company’s employees that perform work for many businesses could hold one of those businesses’ property hostage in the event of an alleged wage violation on the part of their employer. In addition to a business having to suffer the consequences of another company’s wrongdoings, those businesses would have to spend precious time and money to remove a lien on their property.

There is, thankfully, some reason in the Legislature. AB 1839 (Bocanegra / Gatto), would expand the very successful California Film and Television Tax Credit program. The bill grants eligibility to large-budget films, new one-hour television series and television pilots and extend the program for an additional five years.

Other states and countries with more robust film attraction programs are luring would-be California production away, costing our state billions of dollars in direct spending. It is time that we strengthened our film tax credit program to restore our diminishing entertainment industry.

A single-use plastic bag ban went into effect in the City of Los Angeles last year, and it has greatly reduced pollution and saved the city money in cleanup. SB 270 (Padilla) would impose a statewide bag ban consistent with that of Los Angeles, resulting in huge savings in money and resources for the state.

The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) is a major roadblock for development in California, and SB 674 (Corbett) is good news for mixed-use developers. The bill would extend the CEQA exemption for mixed-use projects by allowing 25 percent commercial development on a property, as opposed to the current 15 percent. AB 674 would reduce the cost of building smaller mixed-use properties, encouraging walkable communities where residents can live, work and shop.

VICA is watching closely as these bills make their way to the Governor’s desk, and urges business owners to contact their representatives. Let’s make 2015 a good year for doing business in California.

The Valley Industry and Commerce Association (VICA) is a business advocacy organization based in Sherman Oaks that represents employers throughout the Los Angeles County region at the local, state and federal levels of government.

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