By Scott Alevy, President & CEO
One of the most important services the San Diego East County Chamber of Commerce offers to our members (and the entire business community) is our advocacy on local, state and federal legislative issues. We are proud to serve as the voice of the business community in East County, and take that responsibility seriously.
When key issues and bills with a business nexus are identified, our Government Affairs Committee addresses whether they have a positive, negative or neutral impact on how business is done by our member companies. Their recommendation is forwarded to our full Board of Directors for an official position.
At their April meeting, the Chamber's Board of Directors voted to take formal positions on eight separate pieces of legislation that are currently making their way through the maze that is the California State Legislature.
When we take such positions, we educate our constituents through articles like this one, notify our legislative delegation and the California Chamber of Commerce, and send letters to the sponsoring legislators of each bill and key chambers in their districts.
Here are the two bills we chose to SUPPORT:
Senate Bill 1374, proposed by Sen. Harman of Huntington Beach
Topic: Liability: good faith reliance on administrative regulation
This bill, designated as a "Job Creator" by the Cal Chamber, relates to reliance on State Agencies' written advice. It would protect employers from inappropriate litigation by affirming they can rely upon the state government to provide them with information regarding how to comply with any law.
Assembly Bill 1721, proposed by Assembly member Donnelly of Hesperia
Topic: Air pollution: violations
Relative to Air Board & Air District violation warnings, this bill would require the California Air Resources Board and all air quality management districts to issue warnings rather than fines for the first violation of any state air pollution control law.
Your Chamber took official positions of OPPOSITION to these six bills:
Senate Bill 982, introduced by Sen. Evans of Santa Rosa
Topic: Corporations: political activities: shareholder disclosure
This bill would require a corporation located in this state that makes a contribution or expenditure in support of, or in opposition to, a candidate, ballot measure campaign, political party, or political action committee to issue a report on the planned political expenditures of the corporation in the forthcoming fiscal year as well as expenditures in the previous fiscal year.
Assembly Bill 1450, introduced by Assembly member Allen of Santa Rosa
Topic: Employment: discrimination: status as unemployed.
This bill deals with the expansion of Discrimination Litigation. It would prevent employers from legitimately inquiring into an applicant's employment history, out of fear of being charged with discrimination.
Assembly Bill 1648, introduced by Assembly member Brownley of Oxnard
Topic: Political Reform Act of 1974: advertisements: disclosure
This bill is all about limitations and restrictions on political speech and activity. It would substantially minimize the voice of California job creators in the election process by making significant, unnecessary, and overly burdensome changes to disclosures that are already required in political advertisements.
Assembly Bill 1740, sponsored by Assembly member Perez of Coachella
Topic: Employment discrimination: victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking
This bill would greatly expand the scope of discrimination lawsuits. It would increase the burden on California employers to conduct business and exposes them to a higher risk of litigation by expanding the Fair Employment and Housing Act to include a protected classification for employees who are victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. By adding unemployment status to the list of characteristics listed in FEHA, this bill would expand the bases upon which this crime applies, thereby imposing a state-mandated local program.
Assembly Bill 1543, introduced by Assembly member Alejo of Salinas
Topic: Public contracts: Buy American.
This proposed bill would substantially limit retail competition and lead to higher costs to do business with government. It would increase the cost of state contracts for goods and services and harms competitiveness of firms by requiring state and local governments to contract only with firms whose products and building materials are manufactured entirely in the United States. While we are supportive of USA-made materials and companies, we believe that our businesses should be able to use the elements that they choose without restriction.
Assembly Bill 2039, introduced by Assembly member Swanson of Oakland
Topic: Family and medical leave
This bill would expand Protected Leave Requirements for California employers. It creates an increased burden on employers and makes a California-only mandated benefit different than the federal Family Medical Leave Act by significantly expanding the category of individuals with serious health conditions for whom an employee can take a leave of absence.
We will remain vigilant in looking out for the best interests of the business community in East County. The positions we have taken on the legislative positions listed above are a part of that focus and commitment.
On infrastructure issues, including water and transportation funding and approvals, our Infrastructure and Land Use Committee weighs in and makes recommendations to the full board. And our Healthcare Reform Committee is keeping our eye on the ball on those very vital concerns.
Whether at a city council, state legislature or regulatory agency, or federal level, you can rest assured that the San Diego East County Chamber of Commerce will carefully evaluate the impacts of legislation and take official positions reflecting that scrutiny.