So Many New Laws with More to Come

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

As the new year begins, 900 statutes were added to California law books. If history is our guide—807 new laws last year, 950 the year before that–there will be hundreds of more laws added at the end of this year. Certainly, citizens can’t keep up with all these new laws, not to mention that lawmakers themselves often aren’t aware of all the details in the laws. Here’s a modest suggestion for the newly installed legislature: Concentrate on dealing with major issues like infrastructure improvements rather than adding so many new laws.

As I suggested a couple of years ago, the avalanche of yearly laws might be the result of the designation attached to legislators as “lawmakers.” A quick etymological research found the word is Middle English and has been around since the 14th or 15th century. Perhaps if legislators were not called lawmakers they would not have the urge to make so many laws. With shelves groaning under the weight of so many state laws, subtracting a number of the old laws would be in order.

Yet, lawmakers constantly make new laws and woe be to the business or citizen that ignores them. Especially with predatory attorneys lurking, looking for opportunity. This is a constant concern for the business community so businesses best beware of the new laws that just took effect.

Some of the new laws for business: Increase in the minimum wage for companies with 26 or more employees (SB 3); minimum wage dispute bond requiring employers, if they appeal a Labor Commission ruling, to post a bond covering wages and costs to employees (AB 2899); expanded effect of the state’s Fair Pay Act to consider race and ethnicity while ignoring prior salary history so as to justify disparity in compensation (AB 1676 and SB 1063); new state laws dealing with the acceptance of immigration documents for job seekers (SB 1001); expanding what employers can ask of potential employees’ criminal records dealing with juvenile criminal history (AB 1843); agricultural worker overtime adjustments (AB 1066); all-gender single use restrooms (AB 1732).

Of course this is only a partial list. Businesses should check with local employment attorneys or chambers of commerce to get a list of all the new laws that apply to their businesses. A place to start is this California Chamber of Commerce site.

Burdening business with many new laws can bury businesses and slow the economy. Rather than piling on new regulations that slow economic growth, the legislature should pause to deal with major issues to boost the economy such as infrastructure fixes and housing. Granted this is a difficult task. It will take examinations and concentration to reveal the best workable solutions. More time should be spent on the big issues rather than creating so many bills and so many new laws.

Instead of “lawmakers” let’s refer to legislators as “economy builders” that lift all Californians.

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