Democrats Propose Business Reform Package


With one week remaining in the 2010 legislative session, Democrats held a press conference this past Thursday to announce a last-minute proposal that would require additional review of new state regulations.

Governor Brown, Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg, Assembly Speaker John A. Perez and a few Democratic lawmakers stood together with leaders from the California Chamber of Commerce and the California Manufacturers and Technology Association to present this new package of legislation.

With California facing a 12 percent unemployment rate, Democrats are trying to act on the jobs front by introducing measures addressing regulatory reform.  In the past, Republicans have sought changes such as regulatory review through the budget process, using the state's two-thirds vote requirement as negotiating leverage.  That was also the case this year, when five Senate Republicans considered placing taxes on the ballot in exchange for a regulatory overhaul, pension cuts and easing environmental rules.  In the end, the Governor and the GOP5 never reached agreement, and the Legislature passed the budget on a majority vote.

One of the bills referenced at the press conference, SB 617, would implement significant new regulatory reforms that the authors believe are key to luring new businesses to California, growing existing business in California, and helping create jobs for Californians.  Specifically, the bill would require state agencies to review major regulations more thoroughly, focusing on how proposed regulations would impact: investment in California; incentives for innovation; creation of new businesses in California; creation or elimination of jobs; and, equally important, the health, safety and welfare of the public, workers, and the environment.  The measure would achieve these objectives by requiring agencies to more rigorously assess the economic impacts of major regulations before they are adopted.  The bill would also increase transparency by ensuring the public and other stakeholders to have a meaningful opportunity to participate in the regulatory process.  Further, the bill would ensure agency compliance by giving the Governor's Office of Administrative Law the power to return regulations that fail to comply with the new regulatory standards.

Another measure, AB 29 authored by Speaker Perez, would implement recommendations by business leaders to create the Governor's Office of Business and Economic Development (or "Go Biz") as the lead agency to develop economic strategy and marketing of California's inherent advantages for commerce.  The bill would simultaneously create a California Business Investment Services Program to assist people and businesses who want to invest in, and expand, California trade and industry.

Assemblymembers Steven Bradford and Robert Wieckowski have also introduced proposals to help promote business and job growth in California, including AB 408 to help streamline processes for businesses dealing with hazardous waste.