There is a saying in Latin: Primum Non Nocere, which translates to “First Do No Harm.”
That phrase basically means that given an existing problem, it may be better not to do something, or even do nothing, than risk causing more harm than good.
Unfortunately, this advice is being ignored by the California State Legislature. One might almost think that the liberal politicians in Sacramento are actually trying to do the opposite–to do harm.
Each year the California Chamber of Commerce, in the middle of the legislative session, unveils what it has come to call the “job killer” list of proposed legislation that would “decimate economic and job growth in California.”
In releasing the 2015 list of job killers, Allan Zaremberg, President and CEO of the CalChamber, said, “Although we will be opposing a number of bills throughout this year, the ‘job killer’ list represents the worst of the worst.”
The list this year starts out with 16 bills, all authored by Democrats. As the legislative session advances it is common for more bills to be added to the list. That is due to bills that were thought non-viable starting to move through the process, amendments to current bills making them worse, or new language being dropped into placeholder bills.
Here are summaries of a few of this year’s Job Killers:
SB 406 — This bill significantly expands the California Family Rights Act by dramatically reducing the employee threshold from 50 to, basically, one. It also expands the family members for whom a leave may be taken, which will provide a California-only, separate 12-week protected leave of absence on both large and small employers. Imagine the devastating impact to a small retail store, say a frozen yogurt shop with two employees, if suddenly one of them announced they were taking twelve weeks off?
AB 359 — This bill would require that if a grocery store were sold to a new owner, the new owner would be required to retain the employees of the former grocery employer for 90 days – and unless the employees in question perform unsatisfactorily during this period, they have to be retained. Topping it off, the bill includes what is called a private right to action, which means trial lawyers can have a field day enforcing this legislation in the courts, driving up costs for employers.
SB 350 — This bill increases costs and burdens on all Californians by mandating an arbitrary and unrealistic reduction of petroleum use by 50%, increasing the current Renewable Portfolio Standard to 50% and increasing energy efficiency in buildings by 50%–and all by 2030, without regard to the impact on individuals, jobs and the economy. We are already seeing the job-killing impact of AB 32 cap-and-trade regulations. This would only compound those problems.
SB 203 — California has state-only labeling requirements for sugar-sweetened drinks. This legislation would expose beverage manufacturers and food retailers to lawsuits, fines and penalties if they are found to be selling non- or mislabeled beverages. Again, a boon for the trial lawyers, as they would be able to go straight into court and sue folks whose only crime was not carrying beverages with the California label.
SCA 5; ACA 4 — Both are proposed Constitutional Amendments that, if placed before the voters and passed, would actually lower the vote threshold to pass many local tax increases from a two-thirds vote to 55%. Local governments would also be granted new authority to enact special taxes. These two measures represent a direct assault on Proposition 13, the historic reform put into place in 1978 by California voters to keep their taxes low.
This is a sampling of just a few of these onerous bills. If you would like to read the entire list of Job Killers, and weep, you can see them at CAJobKillers.com.
After reading about these onerous bills, I will share with you some optimistic news. The California Chamber of Commerce has actually been very successful at killing most of those bills they put on the Job Killer list–a practice that started in 1999. Looking back at just the last four years, under Governor Brown, 127 bills were identified as Job Killers. Of those only 14, or less than 10%, reached the Governor’s desk. And Brown vetoed eight and signed only six. Killing over 95% of the really worst-of-the-worst bills is a great track record.
But don’t get too excited–there are still a great many pieces of terrible legislation introduced which do not rise to the level of making the Job Killer list.
Forget the idea of doing no harm–California Democrats are so focused on rewarding their various constituency groups (public employee unions, trial lawyers et al.) that California businesses large and small end up in the crosshairs.
Jon Fleischman is the Politics Editor of Breitbart California. A longtime participant, observer and chronicler of California politics, Jon is also the publisher at www.flashreport.org. His column appears weekly on this page. You can reach Jon at firstname.lastname@example.org.