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California Democrats: job assassins

Right Here Right Now

Posted: August 10, 2008 8:00 p.m.
Updated: October 12, 2008 5:02 a.m.

As my loyal fans (all two of them - thanks mom and dad!) are aware, when I'm not writing for The Mighty Signal I work as a labor and employment attorney, almost exclusively on the part of management.

Over the course of the last two years, my professional responsibilities have helped to reinforce my ideological beliefs, especially when it comes to my views on the importance of fostering the growth of business here in California.

Unfortunately, the Democrats in the state Legislature do not share my perspective and have not shown any urgency to maintain a pro-business atmosphere. Rather, this Legislature is poised to kill more California jobs than any single group of legislators in recent memory.

A few examples of the "Job Killer" bills currently being advanced by the Democrats are:
- A bill that would require all California employers, regardless of size, to provide paid sick leave to its employees working more than seven hours per year.

A similar bill that was passed in the city of San Francisco in 2006 saw 13 percent of businesses with five or fewer employees leave the city in the first 18 months.

The California Chamber of Commerce predicts that a similar statewide bill would cause the loss of more than 400,000 California jobs and could cost taxpayers up to $4.6 billion in administrative costs over the first five years (A.B. 2716).

- Another bill would impose a $400 million tax on businesses that move cargo containers in or out of the ports at Long Beach/Los Angeles and Oakland.

The new tax would nearly double the cost of shipping cargo in or out of the two busiest ports on the West Coast. If this bill is signed into law, large manufacturers and industrial businesses may be forced to do business in other states with more favorable shipping laws to reduce tax burdens for importers and exporters (S.B. 974).

- Two proposed bills would repeal the workers' compensation reform laws signed by Gov. Schwarzenegger in 2004 and increase the costs to California employers. One bill would create a 15 percent increase in the workers' compensation costs borne by businesses, while the other would change the legal burden to make it easier for claimants to sue their employers (S.B. 1115 and 1717).

The good news is that these four bills have not yet been signed into law, so an opportunity still exists to appeal to your legislators and the governor to help save local jobs.

On the other side of the coin, Democrats in the Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee killed a bill in April that would have permitted small employers to authorize a four-day, 10-hour work week without being penalized by state overtime laws.

Businesses throughout California cried out to have this bill pass because it would help save labor costs, energy costs and would also help with employee morale (A.B. 2127).

Thankfully, Assembly Republicans have vowed to revisit this issue during the next session, and employers and pro-business agencies are preparing a full-scale campaign in support of the legislation.

Ironically, Democrats have always been touted as representing every man, the party of the little guy. The problem with passing pieces of legislation like those set forth above is that jobs will be lost as a direct result of the Democrats' short-sightedness.

Businesses will leave California, more Californians will be in the unemployment line, and the costs of state assistance will jump to cover those out of work, thereby increasing the burden on the state and the taxpayers.

Economic times are tough for everyone these days, and the Democrats in the California Legislature are not helping matters by acting as job assassins.

Fostering growth for businesses - large and small - would benefit everyone.

Employees would have job stability, the Legislature would have greater tax revenues to spend, and business owners would have the incentive to grow their business locally instead of moving out of state or overseas.

It's time for the voters to step up and have their voices be heard - California jobs are important, and job assassins are no longer welcome in our Legislature.

Brian Koegle is a local attorney. His column reflects his own views, not necessarily that of The Signal. "Right Here, Right Now" runs Mondays in The Signal and rotates among local Republican writers.


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