Losses and Wins for Small Business

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

It’s too early to assess all the bills of concern or hope for the business community given the last minute flurry of action as the legislature closed down for the year.

With bills whipping through the legislature in the closing day of session, small businesses are always on edge but there were minuses and some pluses for the business community.

The most high profile measure of concern to small business was the bill to raise the minimum wage. It’s out of the legislature and endorsed by the governor. John Kabateck, executive director of the National Federation of Independent Business, thoroughly examined the position of small business on this bill in yesterday’s Fox & Hounds while beseeching the governor to veto it. Sorry, John, that’s not going to happen.

While the emphasis here is the concern the minimum wage bill will have on small businesses’ economic calculations as many struggle to sustain their enterprises, there is also a direct affect on entry level workers who may miss an opportunity to get into the work force or see their hours cut back.

On the plus side for small business, AB 227 flew through the legislature. The measure is intended to protect small businesses by reforming potential minor Proposition 65 violations against predatory lawsuits.

The 1986 environmental law intended to protect consumers from exposure to toxic chemicals by requiring advance warnings has often been abused. Lawsuits have been filed against small businesses if a posted sign is the wrong size or the list of products in question at a business establishment is not all-inclusive.

AB 227 takes a sensible approach allowing business owners a short period to fix any defects before the business is subject to legal action.

While more time is needed to assess the influence of this legislative session on business and small business in particular, it must be noted the disappointment in not getting real CEQA reform out of the legislature. Yes, Sen. Steinberg got his CEQA exemption for a Sacramento arena project but statewide CEQA reform is an important issue to improve the state’s economy. The governor was behind substantial reform and much time was spent over the last few months urging the legislature to act in a responsible way.

That didn’t happen, and California business will continue to muddle along under the CEQA burdens that were never imagined when Governor Ronald Reagan signed the bill.

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