Now Is Time for State to Be Flexible

Stuart Waldman
President, Valley Industry & Commerce Association

I don’t think any of us truly believed we would be living through this unimaginable time. As the weeks and months continue to pass us by, we are given time to reflect and time to think about how we will move forward.

The business community has been hit incredibly hard by the economic impacts of COVID-19. While essential businesses have been allowed to continue operating, several other businesses that I know in and outside of the San Fernando Valley have either been forced to shut down or are barely surviving.

As decision makers begin looking at how to safely reopen the economy, the Valley Industry and Commerce Association and the business community will remain a partner to ensure we revitalize employment and revitalize the investment and dynamic economic activity that are the hallmarks of the Golden State.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has shown tremendous leadership during this public health crisis and while there are many who may not be keen on his decisions, we must recognize that lives have been lost and many more would have been lost if we had not taken the measures and precautions put forth by the governor.

As we look at recovery, the governor and legislature have shifted the focus of the state budget and other legislative actions to core issues related to COVID-19 recovery.

State and local governments have worked closely with essential businesses during this state of emergency and it is critical that we carry this constructive partnership forward to ensure a broad-based recovery of jobs and economic activity throughout the state.

All state, regional and local regulatory bodies, commissions and agencies – just like the governor and legislature – should shift their focus to COVID-19.

These regulatory bodies, commissions and agencies should provide an immediate six-month extension on rulemaking hearings and the promulgation of new rules and regulations not urgently needed or related to public health and safety in correlation to COVID-19. This will provide fairness to all stakeholders, ensuring broader participation in the rulemaking process. It will also allow agencies time to consider the unprecedented economic impacts of COVID-19 and the uncertainty regarding the pace, scope and breadth of the recovery.

Second, all regulatory bodies, commissions and agencies should apply discretion and flexibility in regulatory requirements or deadlines that are not practical during the COVID-19 crisis, particularly those that divert essential workers and resources away from their delivery of critical goods, energy and services. Such requirements or deadlines should be deferred until at least 90 days after the lifting of state and local safer-at-home orders and resumption of normal business activities.

These steps will assist the business community and all levels of government in aligning to advance the governor’s and legislature’s mission for California to end the COVID-19 pandemic and emerge with a stronger, more resilient and more inclusive society.

The business community is not seeking to overturn rules. We want to ensure essential businesses can remain laser-focused on health and safety of their operations and meeting the needs of California communities. Adopting new rules and regulations, or even considering new rules and regulations during this time should be out of the question.

All of California is focused on COVID-19 and we are focused on what our lives and businesses will look like in the next few months, and even in the next year. We will continue providing input on ways to achieve our shared objective of safely restoring stable employment and economic recovery as quickly as possible to ease the impacts and anxieties brought about by COVID-19.

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