California legislators love to regulate stuff, and 2015 was a particularly juicy year for them.  A recent San Francisco Chronicle article demonstrates as much.

The state legislature, over the course of the last year, passed “about three dozen employment laws” regulating various workplace issues. A litany of the most prominent:

“…SB358, the widely publicized Fair Pay Act.

… SB579 gives employees more reasons to take protected, unpaid time off for school activities or child care…

… SB667, effective July 1, changes the waiting period for workers who file a second disability claim for the same or a related condition…

… SB588 expands the ability of the labor commissioner to collect judgments arising from an employer not paying wages…

… AB1513 establishes how piece-rate employees are compensated for rest breaks…

 AB1506… amends the Private Attorney General Act to give employers time to correct certain mistakes on itemized wage statements before employees can sue them.” 

Now, each of these laws is probably good and noble in itself, passed for the best of reasons and intentions, a common-sense measure meant to achieve a common-sense social good.

That said, laws being laws, each must have an enforcement mechanism. You know how you enforce labor laws?


As if California’s labor and business laws aren’t already convoluted enough, there are now three dozen more laws on the books regulating- micro-managing, really- rest-break compensation, paid leave, dispute management, and a host of other little issues. And again- reasonable regulations are important, and the laws’ signatories could probably give excellent reasons for each one.

But the fact of the matter is, the regulatory code is now that much more complicated and has about three dozen more tripwires for a business to stumble upon in its relationship with its employees. Bigger firms might be able to weather this, but smaller businesses certainly have a harder time. Is there any wonder why businesses like Toyota flee the state? Aside from direct regulatory and tax costs, Toyota left for Texas where it could find a better housing climate for its workers- and California’s housing prices are artificially inflated due to intense regulations in land use, environmental, and construction policies.

This is one of the easiest ways to destroy jobs on the books- pure, unrestrained action upon good intentions, empowered by the force of law. The regulatory morass grows more and more complex, more hostile to opportunity and competition and enterprise, and with time it chokes out vibrant business life and opportunity where once they stood.

If Californians are actually serious about bringing more business, jobs, and productivity back to California, they should seriously consider a law requiring that the imposition of new regulations must be done in tandem with the repeal of old, redundant regulations. And aside from that, it would help if progressive micro-management laws were voted on based on their actual effects, rather than on the inaccurate emotional appeals activists make for them (case in point:the minimum wage hike.)

So no points for Team Golden, and about three dozen points for Team Blue.

That’s ok. We’ll catch up.