President Obama deserves credit for shutting down an ill-advised regulatory effort by
his Environmental Protection Agency, one that would have ratcheted down the
national ozone standard for new emissions. The EPA had estimated the tighter standard would
save 12,000 lives each year but could cost the economy as much as $90 billion
The President cited the
struggling national economy to justify withdrawing the proposed rule, and faced
withering criticism from environmental advocates. His action is a belated but
welcome recognition that government overregulation threatens economic recovery
and damages our national competitiveness.
Joel Fox argued yesterday in this space that Governor Brown
should seize the precedent and revisit whether implementation of AB 32 should
be delayed for a year. That’s a sound recommendation, but I would take it a
step further: If the liberal leader of their party can yank back a harmful
regulatory proposal, then Democratic leaders of the Legislature should pay heed
as they consider bills to add more burdens on the California economy.
Because if there’s an even
bigger anchor on California businesses than state regulatory agencies, it is
the California Legislature.
There’s no shortage of bills
in the last week of the legislative session that are slouching toward the
Governor’s desk. To cite just a few:
AB 350 would require building owners to retain
for an additional 60 days all employees from contractors whose contracts have
been terminated. So poorly performing employees of a contractor would stay on
after the contractor was fired.
SB 568 would ban the use of polystyrene
("clamshell") food containers, even though they are recyclable and hygienic – and
their manufacture employs thousands of Californians.
AB 22 would restrict the ability to use consumer
credit reports for legitimate employment purposes, hamstringing employers at
just the time we want to encourage hiring.
AB 1155 would increase the overall cost of
employing workers by increasing the risk of higher workers compensation
premiums. The bill erodes the historic workers comp reforms by exposing
employers to paying for disabilities that did not arise on the job.
Of course, rejecting these bills
– like the President’s action on the EPA regulation – merely prevents further
harm. The Legislature has not given the slightest consideration to rolling back
laws that have demonstrably reduced California’s competitiveness and new
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