It’s all in the Governor’s hands now - SWCLC
It’s all in the Governor’s hands now.Like so much of our lives this year, our legislative agenda was hijacked by COVID and Sacramento was not above exploiting the pandemic for their own purposes. Which was not necessarily good for the rest of us.
The Southwest California Legislative Council, our local Chamber/business coalition, adopted positions on 91 bills this session only to find the ground rapidly shifting under our feet. With the legislature out of session for two different COVID periods totaling nearly 60 days (not counting 4th of July and August recesses), it became apparent that they would not be able to apply due diligence to the plethora of bills before them.
And it came to pass in those days, a decree went out from Caesar Augustus to register, no wait, that’s a different story. But a decree did go out from our own Caesars of the Senate and Assembly that legislators should pull all but their most pressing bills and those having to do with COVID relief, to allow for necessary debate in the truncated session. Guess how many bills got pulled.
No, what actually happened was a pandemic in its own right of gutted and amended bills. More than we’ve seen in any session in the 15 years the Council has been monitoring the process. Suddenly every bill had some nexus to COVID. Housing bills, water bills, CEQA bills, tax and regulatory bills – all became COVID bills. Housing COVID, water COVID, tax for COVID, well, you get the picture.
So of the 91 bills initially considered by the Council, only 12 bills made it through the gauntlet relatively unscathed to land as so much bovine effluent on the Governor’s desk. Of 39 bills SUPPORTED by the Council, bills that would have been beneficial to our business community, only 4 made it through.
Of the 52 OPPOSED by the Council, just 8 made it through. 20+ bills seeking to carve out additional occupations from the overreach of AB5 were never even accorded a hearing in committee, nor was AB 1928 (Melendez/Kiley) seeking an outright repeal. Bills that would have made it easier to reach our green agenda by expanding the definition of renewable energy to include hydro and nuclear were likewise summarily exiled. Three bills expanding the definition of ‘small business’ and ‘family’ for the purpose of extending family leave passed, and two bills expanding corporate tax disclosures and reporting of violations were successful, none of which will benefit small businesses.
Fortunately some of the more onerous bills OPPOSED by the Council were also dispatched along the way including a proposal to collect a $275 per employee tax from businesses, including those headquartered outside the state but having employees in California. A proposal to add another 1% - 3 ½% tax to the state’s wealthy also died as did bills to allow cities to act as their own bank, a moratorium on rent allowing tenants to forgo payment until April 2022, and one that would have mandated full locking tops on pill boxes.
By the time you read this we’ll know which bills the Governor signed and which he vetoed but we’re not overly optimistic, given the record, that businesses will benefit much from this year’s agenda. The SWCLC will be publishing our annual Report Card with details of the bills and how our legislators voted, and we’ll be back with our regular monthly meetings starting in January discussing the issues and measures that impact your daily life. We hope to start in-person meetings again with the New Year and will keep you updated on our progress.