Main Street Menace of the Week: AB 1000 (Ma) – Mandatory Paid Sick Leave

John Kabateck
NFIB State Director in California

While the legislature is in session, the National Federation of Independent Business/California will be profiling anti-small business bills and the adverse effect they would have on California’s job creators. This is the third column of that series.

It seems that our state legislators continue to experience a chronic case of short-term memory. It would be the only logical reason that they continue to propose bill after bill every year that add additional burdens and mandates to small businesses in California. The latest in the string of these “Menaces” is Assembly Bill 1000, by Assembly Member Fiona Ma.

This is an identical twin of last session’s AB 2716 by the same author – same bad policy, new bill number. It would require every California employer to provide each employee with paid sick leave. Once an employee works only seven days in California, they would start to earn paid sick leave benefits, and within 90 days they would be able to begin taking time off for themselves or relatives. This mandate covers seasonal and part-time employees and would be required regardless of an employer’s ability to pay. Furthermore, as a “gimme” to the trial lawyer lobby, it would include fines, penalties and the right to sue if an employer is unable to comply with this one-size-fits-all mandate.

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Main Street Menace of the Week: SB 810 (Leno) – Government Run Healthcare

John Kabateck
NFIB State Director in California

While the legislature is in session, the National Federation of Independent Business/California will be profiling anti-small business bills and the adverse effect they would have on California’s job creators.  This is the second column of that series.

"I’m from the government and I’m here to help."  Just hearing those words strikes fear in the hearts of hardworking small business owners everywhere.  In California it is especially frightening, given the number of onerous regulations, soaring costs, and other burdens that are regularly heaped upon the plates of small businesses.  Add to that the financial crisis facing the state with foreclosed homes, rising unemployment, and a growing state deficit, and government is not seen as a savior by most right now.

So in the middle of all this our legislature is once again considering yet another "law of unintended consequences", Senate Bill 810 (Leno), which would turn over our already-stressed healthcare system to an incapable, if not absentee, caretaker: our state government bureaucracy.

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Main Street Menace of the Week: SB 789 (Steinberg) – Employee Intimidation at its Worst

John Kabateck
NFIB State Director in California

While the legislature is in session, the National Federation of Independent Business/California will be profiling anti-small business bills and the adverse effect they would have on California’s job creators. This is the first column of that series.

Former presidential candidate Sen. George McGovern has a message California’s legislators need to hear: “As Americans, we should strive to ensure that all of us enjoy the freedom of expression and freedom from fear that is our ideal and our right.” This progressive icon and pillar of the Democratic Party was addressing Congressional members of his own party and that party’s biggest financial supporter—labor unions.

This spring, Congress is expected to continue to discuss and debate unionization in the workplace through federal “card check” legislation, referred to by most as the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA). After reading the fine print, most would agree that a more appropriate name would be the “Employee Forced Choice Act.”

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One crisis at a time, please – is that too much to ask?

John Kabateck
NFIB State Director in California

Some consolation for small business owners during the current economic crisis has been the positive impact the 2004 bipartisan workers’ compensation reforms have had on lowering insurance costs. After all, countless small businesses wouldn’t even be here to experience the worst recession in decades if Gov. Schwarzenegger hadn’t championed the passage of Senate Bill 899. As I travel throughout the state meeting with small business owners, they regularly cite the immense savings they’ve witnessed from these historic reforms – some savings in the thousands of dollars, but many saving upwards of ten thousand dollars or more. This is money they’ve been able to reinvest in employees, benefits and other efforts to promote and grow their small businesses.

The savings generated by those reforms – an average of 64 percent drop in insurance costs since 2003 – today could very well be the difference that’s keeping a small business afloat.
That’s why a recent column by The Sacramento Bee’s Dan Walters should send shivers down every employer’s spine. A review panel known as the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB) has gutted a major provision of the 2004 reforms that instituted a more objective and equitable system for providing permanently injured workers with cash benefits.

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How Is “Compromise” a Win if Main Street Shuts Down?

John Kabateck
NFIB State Director in California

It has become increasingly evident to Capitol insiders, pundits and others that the Governor and Legislature may be close to reaching a budget “compromise” in the coming days.

As the leading representative group for California small businesses, we must ask: “What, in fact, is the true meaning of ‘compromise’ if it shutters the few remaining mom-and-pop businesses already on life support and sends the last batch of working Californians to the unemployment line?”

When it comes to identifying small business as a “priority issue”, many of our elected leaders surely make a valiant effort to “talk the talk” during campaign season, but a select few truly “walk the walk” when it comes to making important, sustainable decisions that will protect the very men, women and families that sent them to Sacramento in the first place.

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Card check effort a serious threat to free enterprise

John Kabateck
NFIB State Director in California

Imagine if last November when you walked into your voting booth, the curtain was open and people were watching you vote. Now visualize these spectators are telling you how to vote.

Is that wrong? If you think so, then you would agree that attempts by organized labor to take away an employee’s long-standing right to privacy when voting on the critical issue of whether or not to be represented by an organized labor group.

In 2007, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 800, the sadistically-named “Employee Free Choice Act.” It should really be called the “Employee NO Choice Act,” because it rips away the curtain or privacy and may result in employees being forced to accept a government-negotiated wage and benefit contract.

Organizing by card check would be a radical change in union organizing. It initiates the union drive from outside the business, not by the employees themselves, and means that small business owners would be uninformed about organizing drives.

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It’s Time to Draw a Line in the Sand…

John Kabateck
NFIB State Director in California

Yesterday, the National Federation of Independent Business/California, the state’s leading small business association, formally joined in legal efforts to prevent legislators from circumventing the state Constitution by cleverly replacing the word “tax” with “fee” in an effort to obtain a simple majority vote to raise taxes on hard-working Californians.

Why did our organization, and the 23,000 small businesses we represent, choose to engage in this lawsuit? Frankly, because California’s “mom and pop” business owners – indeed, our state’s number one job creators – are absolutely outraged. As well they, and millions of other voters throughout the Golden State, should be!

Last November, California voters sent a new crop of presumed “leaders” to Sacramento with the hopes that they would not only create the law, but that they would abide by it as well. Moreover, voters approved Proposition 11, the Voters First Act, to put redistricting into the hands of the people of California, not the elected leaders (foxes) who have for too long been guarding their precious and plum positions (henhouse).

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Hail, Hail, The Gang’s All Here! But Do They Care About Small Business?

John Kabateck
NFIB State Director in California

As the newest crop of legislators arrives at the Capitol today to officially assume their oath of office, one must ask: “Will this class of Senate and Assembly inhabitants have a greater appreciation and understanding of small business than history has shown?”

If more of our state leaders had hands-on experience signing the FRONT side of a check, they’d appreciate exactly what small business owners are going through in this economic downturn and how their decisions impact the jobs and lives of working Californians. Sadly, the majority of our Capitol leaders have no idea what kind of fatal blow new and unexpected costs – be they taxes, levies, assessments, fees – will do to small business owners and the people they employ.

Most small businesses have limited incomes and razor-thin profit margins, which basically means that every month, every pay period, once they have paid what is due for administrative, payroll, overhead, property, utilities, permits, inventory, and, yes, taxes, they are left with little, if anything, for their own livelihood or other unanticipated future needs. In fact, many small employers at this point in history are faced with the sad reality that they are steeped in red ink and are scrambling to find immediate sources of credit or some form of capital to survive.

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Hitting the Healthcare Gas Pedal

John Kabateck
NFIB State Director in California

A coalition of unlikely bedfellows, including my own association, is making good on its promise to step on the healthcare gas pedal shortly after America selected a new president.

In a Veterans Day full-page ad in USA Today, the National Federation of Independent Business, America’s largest small business association, AARP, Business Roundtable, and Service Employees International Union sent a joint letter to President-elect Barack Obama calling on him to make healthcare reform one of his top priorities in the first 100 days of his administration.

“If you will commit to taking action on this critical issue early in your administration, we will commit to engaging our members by hosting a health care reform summit, working with you to develop a proposal as part of your agenda for the first 100 days and educating our members about the challenges and trade-offs reform entails,” the letter said.

NFIB, AARP, SEIU and the Business Roundtable launched the Divided We Fail campaign to help build consensus and work toward bipartisan solutions to affordable, high-quality healthcare among the small business, big business, labor and consumer communities that each represents.

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It’s Time to Hold Politicians Accountable!

John Kabateck
NFIB State Director in California

Healthcare reform – an on-time state budget – eminent domain reform – education reform. What do all of these issues have in common? They were all sidelined by the partisan gridlock that continuously has our State Capitol in a stranglehold. It is clear that voters have grown tired of inaction in Sacramento and our ongoing budget crisis and wasteful, ineffective spending. The question becomes – what can be done to fix our political system and hold politicians accountable so that the issues facing our state can be resolved?

NFIB/CA believes that Proposition 11 is a step in the right direction. Proposition 11 will create a 14-member independent citizens commission to redraw state legislative district lines based on strict non-partisan rules. Unlike the current process, Proposition 11 will ensure that the redistricting process is open and transparent and will respect existing city and county boundaries and communities. It will exclude individuals with obvious conflicts of interest, including elected officials and their staff from serving on the commission.

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