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  • Archive for September 16th, 2011

    Sep 16

    “JOB KILLER” BILLS AWAITING ACTION BY GOVERNOR BROWN

    Posted by Crystal Whitfield | No Comments

    From our friends at the CalChamber, here is an update on all the pending “Job Killer” bills. In the closing days of the legislative year, four California Chamber of Commerce opposed “job killer” bills passed the Legislature.

    One “job killer” passed the Legislature in June and was vetoed by the Governor on June 28.

    The following bills await action by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr.:

    Costly Workplace Mandates

    AB 22 (Mendoza; D-Artesia) Hampers Employment Decisions: Unfairly limits private employers’ ability to use consumer credit reports for legitimate employment purposes, such as those positions that have direct and unsupervised access to any amount of cash and/or valuable non-financial assets.

    AB 1155 (Alejo; D-Watsonville) Erodes Workers’ Comp Reforms: Increases costs and lawsuits in the workers’ compensation system by eroding the apportionment provision that protects an employer from paying for disability that did not arise from work.

    Employee Benefit Mandates

    AB 325 (B. Lowenthal; D-Long Beach) Unpaid Bereavement Leave: Requires an employer to provide employees with up to three days of unpaid bereavement leave and elevates the significance of the right to bereavement leave to the same level as the right to be free from racial or gender discrimination and harassment, thereby adding to California businesses’ legal costs and responsibilities.

    Inflated Liability Costs

    AB 559 (Swanson; D-Oakland) Undermines Judicial Discretion: Unreasonably increases business litigation costs by limiting judicial discretion to reduce or deny exorbitant attorneys fees in fair employment and housing claims that should have been raised in a limited civil proceeding. 

    The CalChamber believes the current provisions of the Agricultural Labor Relations Act (ALRA) adequately protect the rights and interests of employees and employers, as well as unions.

    Status of All Job Killers

    The end-of-legislative year status of other “job killers” is available here.

    Action Needed

    The CalChamber is urging members to contact the Governor and ask him to veto the “job killer” bills listed above. Sample letters are available here.

    We thank the CalChamber for all that they do to represent and protect all aspects of California’s business community. We are proud members of the CalChamber.

    Sep 16

    SB 474 INDEMNITY BILL FIXED

    Posted by Crystal Whitfield | No Comments

    Earlier in the year our industry strongly opposed SB 474 (Evans; D-Santa Rosa) a bill that would have shifted construction liability issues solely on the property owner and/or general contractor of a project. Over months of negotiations, language was accepted that relieved most of the concern with the bill.

    SB 474 prohibits property owners from making another person responsible for the property owner’s own active negligence in an indemnity agreement related to a construction contract.  However, SB 474 maintains the property owner’s ability to require any party involved in the construction process to provide a full, complete and immediate defense of the property owner if a property owner is sued.  The owner’s ability to obtain insurance covering the owner for these defense and indemnity obligations is preserved

    We are neutral on the bill, not encouraging the Governor to take action either way on this bill.

    Sep 16

    SB 617 REGULATORY REFORM

    Posted by Crystal Whitfield | No Comments

    SB 617 (R. Calderon; D-Montebello) reforms the regulatory process by requiring an economic analysis of all major regulations at the beginning of the regulatory process, thus providing more transparency and better data on which to base selection of the most cost-effective regulatory alternative.

    This analysis will then drive the development and selection of regulations that fully meet the goals of the underlying statute while having the least negative impact on the state’s economy.

    If the agency adopts anything other than the most cost-effective option, it must state on the record why and justify its choice. Currently a proposed regulation’s fiscal analysis, if any, comes at the end of the process and is not based on uniform standards of analysis.

    We strongly urge the Governor to sign this measure which takes a much needed step in the right direction of regulatory reform.

    Sep 16

    TWO CEQA “BILLS” TO THE GOVERNOR

    Posted by Crystal Whitfield | No Comments

    In the waning days of the session, three bills dealing with CEQA were written/re-written and passed onto the Governor. Although business groups have been pushing for a wide-variety of reforms to CEQA throughout the previous eight months of session, none of these measures represented any of those reforms, though some concepts contained in some of the bills are seen as very small, but positive steps in the right direction.

    The bills are SB 226 (Simitian; D-Palo Alto), SB 292 (Padilla; D-Los Angeles), and AB 900 (Buchanan; D-San Ramon).

    SB 226 allows benefits to certain urban infill projects deemed “green.” SB 292 applies specifically to the Los Angeles Downtown stadium project, providing expedited judicial review. And AB 900 purports to be a streamlining bill that will provide similar benefits to any project that meet certain criteria.

    Since all of these bills pertain to complicated subject matter hastily written at the end of session, we are still reviewing them and have yet to urge the governor to sign or veto them.

    Our industry has been begging for CEQA reform for years, however there is concern that these bills provide benefits to a very limited number of projects and could actually stall real change with thin veneer of reform. There are also concerns that the criteria under AB 900 are so convoluted that very few, if any, projects would ever see any benefit. Finally, the latter bill also applies Prevailing Wage to privately funded projects, and codified LEED certification as ways to get the benefit. These are both very troubling policy issues that need to be carefully reviewed.

    Sep 16

    SB 469 ANTI-DEVELOPMENT BILL VETO REQUESTED

    Posted by Crystal Whitfield | No Comments

    A bill we have been working on very hard passed the Legislature on a strict party line vote and is now on the Governor’s desk.

    SB 469 (Juan Vargas; D-San Diego) would require additional economic and community impact analyses for retail developments that are 90,000 feet or larger and sell groceries.  The open secret in the Capitol is that the purpose of this bill is to allow certain company’s projects to more easily be harassed by activists. We strongly urge the Governor to veto this bad bill.

    Sep 16

    AB 155 SALES TAX FAIRNESS DEAL

    Posted by Crystal Whitfield | No Comments

    After a decade of work trying to resolve the issue of online sales tax collection, both the Assembly and the Senate passed a deal worked out between traditional brick-and-mortar companies and Amazon. The coalition pushing this effort represented hundreds of companies and all the major national and state commercial real estate associations.

    In the last state budget, language was adopted that requires Amazon to begin collection sales taxes immediately. That language passed, despite the company’s objections – which immediately began collecting signatures for a referendum to reverse the law. A costly statewide battle over the issue was not something either side truly wanted to pursue, so talks began to try to avert such a fight.

    AB 155 (C.Calderon; D-Whittier) reflects those discussions with Amazon.com and the California retail and shopping center industry. Specifically, Amazon has committed that they will begin collecting sales tax in this state on September 15, 2012, while working to resolve the issue at the federal level.

    This is a huge leap forward where we, as a state, can finally move forward and operate in a fair marketplace where every company has to play by the same rules. We encourage the Governor to sign AB 155.

    Sep 16

    AB 350 FAILS IN SENATE

    Posted by Crystal Whitfield | No Comments

    In a huge win for the commercial, industrial, and retail real estate industry, AB 350 (Solorio; D-Santa Ana) failed to get enough votes to pass the Senate Floor, the last night of the legislative session. Despite coming up for seven separate votes, supporters failed to get 21 votes in the Senate to secure passage.

    AB 350 sought to require employers with a new contract for property services (building maintenance, licensed security, window cleaners, and food cafeteria services) to hire all of the prior contractor’s employees.

    “At the same time legislators and Governor Brown are stressing the need to ease regulatory burdens on business to improve the economy and jobs, AB 350 would have done the exact opposite – putting more onerous requirements and costs on small businesses,” said Ray Magnussen, president of Paragon Services in San Diego and president of Building Owners and Managers Association of California. “We all breathed a huge sigh of relief when the Senate rejected this anti-jobs and anti-small business measure.”

    AB 350 was opposed by dozens of small business, taxpayer and labor groups, as well as twenty newspaper editorial boards throughout the state. A coalition effort was funded through all California BOMA local association and a support from BOMA International’s Industry Defense Fund.

    Additionally, your calls and emails to key legislators were absolutely critical in our efforts to defeat the bill. We asked for your help and you delivered. Thank you.

    Sep 16

    LEGISLATURE ADJOURNS FOR THE YEAR; PILE OF BILLS ON GOVERNOR’S DESK

    Posted by Crystal Whitfield | No Comments

    The 2011 Legislative session has adjourned for the year, and a huge pile of bills sit on the Governor’s desk waiting to be signed or vetoed.

    In the final two weeks of session, the Legislature feverishly worked through hundreds of bills. Many significant pieces of legislation, including bills to drastically change health insurance, regulate energy, provide bargaining benefits to public employee unions, and increase cumbersome land-use regulations, were voted on.

    Sep 16

    GOVERNOR BROWN VETOES ATTEMPT TO ALTER BUDGET “TRIGGER” CUTS

    Posted by Crystal Whitfield | No Comments

    Saying that, “job number one is protecting the integrity of our balanced budget, because it directly impacts California’s financial stability,” Governor Brown announced that he signed two bipartisan bills relating to health care that will bring in additional federal revenue.

    In the same release, the Governor announced that he vetoed an attempt by Legislative leadership to alter the “trigger” cuts that were contained in the budget that passed earlier this year.

    “I am vetoing a third bill that would have undermined investor confidence in California by altering the budget’s mechanisms for automatic trigger cuts. The trigger mechanisms were adopted when I signed the budget and were essential to improving our credit standing. Indeed, our no-gimmick, on-time budget was the reason S&P assigned its highest rating to the short-term notes sold this past week—the first time that’s happened since 2007,” said Governor Brown.

    The Governor vetoed SBX1 6 by the Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review, which alters the trigger cuts mechanism in the 2011-2012 state budget. The bill would have required the Director of the Department of Finance to consult with legislative leaders on alternatives to the cuts outlined in the budget and thereby raise questions that could affect the sales of Revenue Anticipation Notes and General Obligation bonds.

    Click here to read the veto message.