Home Stretch: Small businesses brace for End of Session Legislative Battles

Tom Scott
CA Executive Director, National Federation of Independent Business

As the California legislature reconvenes this week for the remainder of the 2017 half of the 2017-18 two-year session, small business owners remain concerned that Sacramento will pass additional taxes, fees and regulations which impact their business and employees. This year alone, small businesses and working families have been hit with billions in new taxes, and we’re only halfway through this legislative session.

This year, our members and all small business owners are already feeling the pain from Sacramento ramming $5.2 billion gas and car tax increase, on top of an onerous Cap and Trade extension which will pile on countless costs and regulations to our struggling job creators in this state. Taxpayers’ rights were also decimated with the gutting of the elected Board of Equalization, which is often the last resort for small businesses hit with huge, confusing tax bills with no clear path for recourse.

Aside from adding severe cost and confusion to small business owners—what else do all these issues have in common? So far this year, sweeping public policy actions that impact our gas prices and taxpayer protections have been rammed through this legislature in mere days after secret closed-door deal making and virtually zero public input. In an era of increasing demand for an open and transparent government, we all deserve better from the California legislature.

As we move into these final weeks of the 2017 session, small business owners demand a more open process on the important issues ahead, such as a legislative package regarding affordable housing.

Various bills exist which claim to tackle our housing affordability crisis, whether through a tax on corporations to subsidize housing, or mandating local government create more affordable housing. We cannot tax, fee, and mandate our way to housing affordability—it’s simple economics. We must drastically increase our supply of housing in this state to keep up with demand, and everything this state does to make it harder to build new homes only exacerbates the problem. This is why reasonable regulatory reform must be part of any package to address our housing affordability crisis.

Of course, there are scores of other critical issues impacting small business, which is why we’ve updated our Good, Bad, & Ugly bill list for small business owners and all concerned taxpayers to stay updated. You can always find the current version online at www.NFIB.com/CA/GBU

Below are some other highlights of what’s ahead for small business in these final weeks of the 2017 half of the legislative session:

Good Bills:

AB 816 (Kiley): Public Cal-EPA Meetings – Support: Requires public California Environmental Protection Agency meetings, including subordinate departments like CARB and OEHHA, to be broadcast online and interactive to the public. It also requires them to be recorded for future access. In Senate Appropriations.

AB 1583 (Chau): Prop. 65 Reform – Support: Requires the Attorney General to serve a letter on a notifying party and the alleged violator when it determines that the relevant allegations have no merit in a Prop. 65 lawsuit. The bill makes some other minor reforms. It will help reduce frivolous litigation. In Senate Appropriations.

Bad Bills:

AB 168 (Eggman): Employee Wages – Oppose: Prohibits employers from asking applicants about their salary history, and requires them to provide a pay scale upon request. It effectively eliminates an employer’s ability to negotiate wages, and creates a new reason to sue. On the Senate floor

SB 772 (Leyva): CalOSHA Exemption from Regulatory Analysis – Oppose: Exempts the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health from state law requiring an economic impact analysis for the costs to businesses of new regulations. On Assembly floor.

Ugly Bills:

AB 1008 (McCarty): Ban the Box – Oppose: Prohibits employers from asking applicants about convictions until they make a conditional offer of employment. It creates new obligations and liabilities for employers and allows for new lawsuits. It will hamstring a small business owner’s ability to quickly fill a position. In Senate Appropriations

SB 2 (Atkins): Transfer Document Fee – Oppose: Creates a new $75 per document fee (or tax) for the transfer of real property to fund affordable housing programs. It caps at $225. On the Senate Floor.

Tom Scott is the State Executive Director for NFIB California, which represents 22,000 dues-paying small business members across the state.

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