For the legislative and political week ending February 26
Welcome to the February 22 edition of the NFIB California Main Street Minute from your small-business advocacy team in Sacramento.
- The big news of last week was the February 17 announcement by Gov. Gavin Newsom, Senate President Toni Atkins, and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon of a $9.6 billion COVID relief early budget package. A summary of the package can be read here. NFIB California’s news release about it can be read here.
- Of benefit to small business are three items in the package:
- $2 billion in tax cuts over the next several years by exempting the first $150,000 of expenses paid by federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and federal Economic Injury Disaster Loan funds. (An estimated 87% of PPP loans were under $150,000.)
- $116 million in fee cuts by waiving various fees for two years for heavily impacted industries, such as the 59,000 restaurants and bars licensed by the Alcoholic Beverage Control department (which can pay annual fees of between $455 and $1,235) and more than 600,000 barbers and cosmetologists licensed by the Dept. of Consumer Affairs
- $2.1 billion in additional funding for the state’s COVID relief small business and non-profit grant program up to $25,000 per grant.
On other legislative matters …
- NFIB will be the lead sponsor on a business liability protection bill, the number and authors of which are expected to be announced this week.
- Assembly Member Frank Bigelow has also introduced Assembly Bill 1313, which “would exempt a business, as defined, from liability for an injury or illness to a person due to coronavirus (COVID-19) based on a claim that the person contracted COVID-19 while at that business, or due to the actions of that business, if the business has substantially complied with all applicable state and local health laws, regulations, and protocols.”
- Assembly Member Ash Kalra has introduced Assembly Bill 1400, a single-payer, health-care bill. NFIB has helped beat back previous attempts, pointing out the tremendous cost to the state budget, and will continue to fight further attempts.
- NFIB California co-signed a February 18 letter to the governor and legislative leaders letting them know it “must respectfully oppose any proposal to impose a new COVID-19 leave mandate on employers unless the State is willing to pay for the costs of that leave. California’s response to COVID-19 cannot continue to be subsidized by the business community, especially in light of the new paid time off and testing requirements under the California Occupational Safety and Health Emergency COVID Regulations (ETS).” The letter is instructive for reminding people how many paid leave opportunities already exist.
- NFIB California has registered its opposition to Assembly Constitutional Amendment 1, a proposal that would “lower the necessary voter threshold from a two-thirds supermajority to 55 percent to approve local general obligation (GO) bonds and special taxes for affordable housing and public infrastructure projects.”
- The deadline to introduce bills passed Friday, February 19, leaving in its wake 2,369 measures between the two houses. By comparison, during the 2019 Session, there were a total of 2,576 bills introduced, and during the 2017 Session, there were a total of 2,495 bills introduced.
- NFIB had already identified more than 130 bills of impact to small business, but that could grow to 250 once it has time to see what was added after Friday’s deadline.
- The Assembly Committee on Jobs, Economic Development and the Economy has asked for NFIB’s ideas on how to get the economy moving again. When it meets tomorrow, Tuesday, February 23, it will have this letter from NFIB California on file. You can read the committee’s agenda here.
In other news …
- Have you seen the state’s new COVID-19 compliance portal for businesses? If not, see it here.
- U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield), the House Minority Leader, praises NFIB in this 37-second video.
- In a Bloomberg news story comparing Governors Cuomo and Newsom’s handling of the COVID crisis, NFIB California State Director John Kabateck was quoted, “People want recovery and they want it now. Small business owners are confused, frightened, and overwhelmed by what [the] government is asking them to do.”
- The next NFIB webinar, Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC): Step by Step instructions with a CPA, is this Wednesday, February 24. Register here.
- The $15 per hour federal minimum wage hike in the COVID-19 recovery legislation is progressing through the House. A floor vote in the House on the COVID-19 recovery legislation/budget reconciliation package is expected next week.
- NFIB members can take action opposing the $15 federal minimum wage increase here. NFIB will Key Vote against the federal minimum wage hike. Read more here.
Next Main Street Minute, March 1.