For the legislative and political week March 21-25
Welcome to the March 21-25 edition of the NFIB California Main Street Minute from your NFIB small-business-advocacy team in Sacramento.
Saying ‘No’ at the Speed of Light
- Last Monday (March 14) to some fanfare — to the extent you can have fanfare at a Shell gas station in Sacramento — Republican leadership in the Assembly and Senate held a news conference to call for suspending the state’s 53.3-cents-a-gallon tax on gasoline. Just two hours later, the Assembly voted 40-18 against Assembly Bill 1638, which would have suspended the tax for six months.
Saying ‘Yes’ to a $400 Check
- On Thursday (March 17), a group of Democratic Assemblymembers announced their plan to help alleviate soaring gas prices: a $400 rebate for every California taxpayer, whether drivers or not. According to a news release issued by the group, “This rebate will more than cover the current 51.1 cent per gallon gas tax for one full year of weekly fill ups for a car with a 15-gallon gas tank … A rebate is a better approach than suspending the gas tax—which would severely impact funding for important transportation projects and offers no guarantee that oil companies would pass on the savings to consumers.”
Employees Who Feel Unsafe
- NFIB joined with other business associations to send this March 15 joint letter to Sen. Maria Elena Durazo opposing her Senate Bill 1044, which would prohibit an employer, in the event of a state emergency or an emergency condition, as defined, from taking or threatening action against any employee for refusing to report to, or leaving, a workplace within the affected area because the employee feels unsafe.”
- According to the letter, “If SB 1044 were in effect right now, any employed Californian could refuse to show up to work today, regardless of the health and safety precautions taken by their employers. The breadth of the bill would cripple emergency response, ignores existing protections, and undermines Cal/OSHA’s existing health and safety procedures.”
Can’t Leave Well Enough Alone
- In another NFIB-joined coalition letter, this time to Sen. Dave Cortese, chair of the Senate Labor, Public Employment & Retirement Committee, the coalition lays out its reason for opposing Senate Bill 1127, “which fundamentally alters longstanding rules and timeframes for determining eligibility for workers’ compensation claims and, as drafted, would dramatically increase systemic friction and litigation. SB 1127 reduces the timeline for employers to make a decision about covering a claimed injury, but it does not harmonize any of the other statutes and regulations that prevent employers from complying with the new timeline. The bill changes the rules for all claims — including public and private sector employers — but the provisions as they apply to public employers are especially challenging.”
- Assembly Bill 1949, which makes it unlawful for an employer to refuse an employee up to five days of bereavement leave, cleared its first legislative hurdle March 16 on a 6-1 vote. It now heads to the Assembly Judiciary Committee. As reported in last week’s Main Street Minute, NFIB sent this letter to the bill’s author, Assembly Member Evan Low, expressing our concerns and opposition to yet another costly and unnecessary leave program in the state.
A Good Bill?
- Yes, good bills do occasionally surface. One such is Assembly Bill 1996. NFIB was happy to lend its name in this letter of support to the bill’s author, Assembly Member Ken Cooley.
- “AB 1996 requires that state agencies review existing regulations to determine whether those regulations are inconsistent, overlapping, or contain outdated provisions. It further directs the agencies to then adopt amendments to those regulations to eliminate those issues. The broad authority given to regulatory agencies has led to voluminous regulations that are difficult to reconcile with one another and are sometimes outdated.”
CEQA in the Way? We’ll Fix That
- One does have to marvel at the breakneck pace the Legislature moved on Senate Bill 118, which overrode a court order and rescued the admissions policies of UC Berkeley and all state universities from an enrollment freeze forced on it by another misuse of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). In one day (March 14), SB 118 passed the Assembly 69-0, the Senate 33-0, and then signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom. The University resumed sending out letters of acceptance.
- NFIB has long called for reforming CEQA well beyond the realm of a university – something to help Main Street businesses in all our communities. This New York Times article explains some of the reasons why.
NFIB Joins Retail Theft Coalition
- NFIB has joined the California Retail Association’s Californians for Safe Stores and Neighborhoods’ campaign to Dismantle, Disrupt, Deter, and Divest retail theft.
That’s Half-a-Trillion Dollars
- Luckily, Assembly Bill 1400 missed a key date for passage and is dead for the year. But before its demise, only estimates as to the cost of converting California into a single-payer, universal health-care state were available. The Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) now has produced something closer to the mark. In an exclusive dispatch to its subscribers, Politico Pro says it has obtained the LAO analysis presented to the Assembly Rules Committee, which requested a thorough review of AB 1400. That review pegged the cost of single-payer health care at between $494 billion and $552 billion a year. A year!
- For comparison, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposed 2022-2023 state budget for everything calls for spending $286.4 billion. It’s expected proponents will give single-payer another try in the next Legislature, so the LAO’s analysis is very useful because it will serve as the numbers to use going forward.
- As a reminder, the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research reports 94% of Californians have health care. This NFIB California web story provides additional background on the whole issue.
Latest NFIB California Podcast
- There’s an old boxing term to describe a fighter who is much more lethal than his size would have you believe: he punches above his weight. That would seem an apt description of the NFIB Small Business Legal Center. Check out the latest NFIB California podcast with the Center’s executive director, Karen Harned. If you don’t already know, you will be amazed at how many U.S. Supreme Court cases the Small Business Legal Center has been not just involved in but at the center of. Harned also talks about her Center’s involvement with state courts and the reason federal agencies get creative with regulations and stray from the subject at hand.
NFIB California in the News
- The Southern California Record asked State Director John Kabateck for more comment on his news release calling for solutions to skyrocketing gas prices. “Suspending the gas tax for a designated term as we try to see ourselves through this terrible war and the unforeseen impacts of the lingering effects of COVID would have been the responsible and right thing to do.”
Quote of the Week
- “Idaho is not San Francisco, Portland or Seattle, where public officials have engaged in failed experiments to permit and encourage public camping disguised as protests.” — Idaho Gov. Brad Little telling campers to get off his lawn.
Highlights from NFIB Legislative Program Manager Caitlin Lanzara’s weekly report
- NFIB urges members to vote their NFIB Member Ballot at NFIB/VoteMyBallot. Issues include worker shortage, overtime pay regulations, taxes, big tech and antitrust, and wage and hour compliance assistance.
- On March 16, NFIB’s March 2022 COVID Small Business Survey (22) showed inflation pressures and lost sales opportunities challenge small businesses. Over half of owners report supply chain disruptions have a significant impact on businesses.
- On Mar. 17, NFIB’s Statement for the Record for the U.S. House Committee on Ways & Means Oversight Subcommittee hearing titled, “Hearing with IRS Commissioner Rettig on the 2022 Filing Season” included NFIB concerns of:
- IRS’s delay in processing the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC)
- IRS penalty notices
- Section 9674 of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which requires Third-Party Settlement Organizations (TPSOs) to collect sensitive taxpayer information and issue a 1099-K for goods and services transactions made by customers with $600 or more in annual gross sales beginning this year.
- Previously, TPSOs were only required to issue a 1099-K for users with $20,000 in transactions and more than 200 transactions in a calendar year.
Next Main Street Minute March 28.