When I was a staffer at the State Capitol almost ten years ago, I always looked forward to the one day that was dedicated to speaking with small business owners from the district.  One day.

Every week there was a delegation of union employees who stopped by my office to list their complaints:  They were organized, carried cheat sheets with their talking points and often wore matching t-shirts to show the Capitol community the strength of their numbers. But it was California’s small business interests that needed and deserved the attention of the Legislature.  Only entrepreneurs are usually too busy back home working to overcome California’s high taxes and hostile regulatory environment to visit as often.  And so we always looked forward to that one day of the year when they would bring their message to Sacramento in force.

Well, yesterday was that day.  Members of California’s chapter of the National Federation of Independent Businesses walked the halls of the State Capitol to talk about what the government should and shouldn’t do so entrepreneurs can grow their businesses, create jobs and contribute to the economic stability of their communities.

I no longer work at the State Capitol.  Or for the State Legislature.  But as a self-employed woman, I still care about whether the leaders in California support small business.  And whether they can resist passing legislation that redistributes the profits of hard work and initiative to benefit special and selfish interests.

More than any other state, California’s legislature needs to do a better job of balancing the interests of employees and employers:  Labor laws that trend too far in the direction of the employee will eventually hurt everyone.  And legislation should be passed to create incentives for companies to pursue R&D, instead of allowing expensive fees and taxes to swallow up profits that could be reinvested.  But, most importantly, California’s leaders need to appreciate the value of the entrepreneur and encourage us through legislative reform.  Otherwise more hard-working Californians will be running for the state’s emergency exit door.

This week the U.S. Chamber of Commerce announced a 15-city nationwide tour to shine a spotlight on small business owners and promote the principles of free enterprise.  In an effort to spread the message of how increased taxes and burdensome regulations inhibit growth and slow progress, the Chamber will hire a team of two writers to travel across the nation to listen and tell the story of America’s entrepreneurs.

John Hrabe and I made the penultimate cut and now we are hoping to take our conservative, free-market fanaticism on the road.  Since our competitors are from the East Coast, we have earned the moniker, “California’s team.” You can vote for us at http://www.freeenterprise.com/tour.

However, regardless of which team earns the distinction of “Official Tour Guides,” California elected officials should pay attention to their travels on www.freeenteprise.com.  Then maybe, after more than a decade, our leaders will begin to support more reforms that would finally give small businesses the freedom they need to succeed.