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Fewer ‘Job Killer’ Bills Make It to Governor’s Office

Howard Fine

Business interests largely were successful in stopping bills they labeled as anti-business in the recently concluded legislative session.

They were less successful in getting “business-friendly” bills through.

Of the 42 bills the Sacramento-based California Chamber of Com-merce targeted as “job killers,” only 11 have made it to Gov. Arnold Schwarz-enegger’s desk for his signature or—more likely—his veto.

Twenty-seven bills never made it out of the Legislature. They stalled in committee or died on the floor of the Senate or Assembly.

The remaining four bills still could be considered in a special session to address state budget issues.

“There was a slight sigh of relief from business stakeholders in the fact that fewer job-killer bills made it out of the Legislature,” said John Kabateck, executive director of the California chapter of the National Federation of Indepen-dent Business in Sacramento.

Job killer bills that fell by the wayside include one that would have substantially increased penalties for environmental, safety and wage violations.

Another would have gutted the state’s enterprise zone tax incentive program. Santa Ana is home to the county’s only state enterprise zone.

There were a few “doozies” that did make it through, Kabateck said.

Among the job killers on Schwarzenegger’s desk are bills that would restrict employers’ ability to use credit reports in hiring decisions.

Another would require incentive programs for employers to expire within seven years.

In past years, Schwarzenegger has vetoed more than 90% of job killer bills landing on his desk.

Meanwhile, of the 18 bills that the Califor-nia chamber labeled as “job creators,” only four cleared the Legislature. The governor has until Sept. 30 to sign or veto them.

Development Targets

State and local government agencies are battling over greenhouse gas reduction targets for developments.

The state wants steep cutbacks in greenhouse gases for new projects. The Los Angeles-based Southern California Associa-tion of Governments, which coordinates regional planning for government agencies, wants the cutbacks to be less stringent.

Builders, not surprisingly, are backing the association.

The tussle is the result of Senate Bill 375, a state law enacted two years ago to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from development projects.

The law is designed to encourage so-called “smart growth” developments that allow residents to walk to shops or use mass transit.

Last month, California Air Resources Board staff proposed that greenhouse gas emissions from development projects be reduced 8% from current per capita levels by 2020 and by 13% by 2035.

The per capita figure applies to the number of residents that each development would add to the population.

But the association proposed a 6% per capita reduction in emissions by 2020 and 8% by 2035.

The air board is set to consider the proposals at its Thursday meeting in Sacramento.

Workers’ Comp

A fight is brewing in Sacramento over whether employer premiums for workers’ compensation coverage should climb by as much as 30%.

Last month, the state Workers’ Compensa-tion Insurance Rating Bureau, funded by workers’ compensation insurers, recommended a 30% increase in premiums paid by employers, effective Jan. 1.

The bureau cited 2009 data showing that insurers are paying out 16% more in claims and administrative expenses than they are taking in through premiums.

That 116% ratio is the highest since 2002, the height of the last workers’ compensation insurance crisis.

Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner has come out against a steep increase, though the issue could well fall to his successor after the November election.

In past years, Poizner and his staff at the Department of Insurance have come up with far smaller increases in workers’ compensation rates or have called for no raise at all.

Under the state’s deregulated workers’ compensation insurance system, the insurance commissioner can recommend changes in premium levels, but insurers are free to charge whatever the market will bear, as long as their solvency is not threatened.

Fine is a staff writer with the Los Angeles Business Journal.

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