Message from the President & CEO
While we've been working on publishing a Re-Opening Toolkit providing necessary information for businesses in our community, we are also involved in a coalition that is fighting some very erroneous pieces of legislation. One bill in particular- a recent add to CalChamber's Job Killer list- is AB 398 from Assemblyman Chu. AB 398 will issue a head tax of $275 per employee for companies with over 500 employees. To give you some perspective, this would mean Adventist Health Lodi Memorial, the local Waste Management branch, Pacific Coast Producers, and MORE would be on the hook for this new head tax. In the middle of this pandemic, this bill will discourage employers from creating more jobs within their companies, as well as hurt California's economic competitiveness for outside businesses coming to our state. Why would Amazon want to open another plant in California - creating hundreds and hundreds of jobs- if there is an additional bill? We say additional because regulations in our state are already much more invasive than others.
CalChamber has designated this bill to be "catastrophic" during an economic crisis, one that would hinder our state from pulling ourselves out of the recession we inevitably are facing. According to the bill's verbiage, funds would go to K-12 education. But we have seen this type of language before- and without a thriving business community to provide jobs for those entering the workforce, where would California be? It saddens us that bills like these keep coming to the table in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, a time where businesses are at risk of not surviving.
Here are a few other bills and issues your Chamber is keeping an eye on in the coming weeks:
- California's gas tax is set to increase on July 1 as part of SB 1 passed in 2017. Californians will now be taxed an additional 3.2 ¢ to 50.5 ¢ per gallon- and considering over 6 million people in our state lost their jobs due to COVID-19, the Chamber feels it is highly inappropriate to continue raising taxes. Assemblyman Fong, vice chairman of the Assembly Transportation Committee, stated the increase "further rubs salt into the wounds of California residents who are struggling with uncertainty and real financial pain."
- The Paid Family Leave Trailer Bill- requires all employers to provide 12-weeks protected leave of absence to employees. This is addition to the CARES Act that requires 2-weeks of leave to care for someone in your family who is sick or for an employee who is sick. Between federal employee protections, the state's added leave could total up to 26 weeks for employers to hold a job for an employee. If they do not hold or protect the job, the business could be fined or subjected to costly litigation from their employees.
- Cap and Trade Budget Bill- the California legislature announced last week substantial and harmful change to the cap-and-trade market a mere 18 months after the Air Resources Board completed its rulemaking to implement bipartisan legislation passed in 2017. Many legislators expressed surprise and disappointment that the Legislature would consider such a cost increase at a time of record unemployment and in the midst of an economic recession. Assembly Member Jim Cooper (D-Elk Grove) expressed this frustration at a Budget Subcommittee hearing last week, noting that “without any policy committee hearing, or public input, language has been shoved in the budget that would reopen the agreement we worked on so hard.”