inside_legislationAs the legislative season moves forward at high speed and local elected bodies turn to budgeting, the Chamber actively monitors proposed legislation and comments in support or opposition when we believe the interests of local businesses can be supported or are at risk. In an effort to maximize our effectiveness and impact, much of our work is done through coalitions of business organizations across the state and we try to collaborate with our sister Chambers in the area whenever possible.

In the last several weeks, the Chamber has joined with like-minded organizations to comment on a range of bills working through the state legislature, including the following:

AB 445 (Cunningham, O’Donnell) – SUPPORT. As proposed to be amended, the bill will continue funding for career education and training programs for an additional three years. CMTA and the State Building Trades are co-sponsors of this important workforce training measure.

SB 49 (deLeon) – JOB KILLER – OPPOSE. Creates uncertainty for businesses with respect to the federal environmental standards proposed to be incorporated into California law if backsliding occurs at the federal level in the future, and increases the potential for costly litigation by creating private rights of action under California law when certain events occur.

AB 890 (Medina) – OPPOSE. Would require all local ballot initiatives to undergo a CEQA review, and prohibit any initiative from going to the ballot if it has the potential to directly or indirectly impact the environment. Would essentially block all local initiatives from the ballot.

AB 1583 (Chau) – SUPPORT. Reduces litigation costs by requiring private enforcers of Proposition 65 to provide the alleged violator with the factual basis for the Certificate of Merit at the same time the information is provided to the Attorney General, a district attorney, or city attorney or prosecutor.

AB 657 (Cunningham; R-Templeton) – SUPPORT. Helps small business navigate state regulations by increasing ability to contact small business liaisons in each agency.

Of local interest, the Chamber has been working with Allan Hancock College to build support for SB 769 (Hill) which would expand the ability of community colleges to offer four-year baccalaureate degrees. For communities like Northern Santa Barbara County, which does not have access to the CSU system, we believe this is a critical tool in providing a well-trained work force for our local economy.

We have also been encouraging statewide business organizations to support SB 530 (Vidak) which proposes steps to help address the housing challenges unique to agricultural regions and workers.

Finally, the Chamber went on record opposing proposed fee increases by the County’s Planning & Development department. While we recognize the County has significant financial challenges, we do not believe that the staff proposal was well developed or included necessary incentives to ensure that costs are reduced and efficiencies put in place before imposing new fees on local residents and businesses.

The Chamber will continue to be vigilant and active in helping to educate elected leaders and their staff about the impacts of proposed regulations and legislation. If your business or industry is concerned about a particular legislative proposal, or needs assistance in dealing with a regulatory agency, please reach out to our president/CEO, Glenn Morris (glenn@santamaria.com, 805.925.2403 x825) and we’ll do our best to assist.