David Dickinson is keeping a nervous eye on bills coming out of Sacramento these days.
As the executive responsible for much of the day-to-day operations at Delta Scientific Corp., a Palmdale maker of vehicle barricades, Dickinson is well aware of how laws in Sacramento affect his bottom line.
And news of bills that would raise workers' compensation benefits, grant employees paid sick leave and lengthen the statute of limitations on lawsuits filed against employers has caused him even more concern.
These are just some of the 34 bills that the California Chamber of Commerce last week targeted in its annual "job killer" list of bills regarded as onerous to business. That's up substantially from last year's initial list of 23 bills.
"These bills increase our costs," said Dickinson, whose barricades are installed at government embassies and other sensitive sites. "We do business across the globe and bills like these make us less competitive on a global basis."
With the state facing a huge budget deficit estimated at nearly $16 billion next year, state lawmakers are eyeing a host of taxes and fees on business, several of which have made the chamber's "job killer" list. Generating the most headlines has been a pair of bills by Assemblyman Charles Calderon, D-Montebello, that would impose taxes on transactions of goods and services conducted over the Internet.
Two other bills would raise personal income tax rates on high income earners. While this would seem to target wealthy individuals or families, business lobbyists point out that a lot of sole proprietors, partnerships, s-corporations and other entities report their revenues as personal income for the owners. So any new taxes end up as taxes on small businesses, many of which are struggling in the economic slowdown.
The remainder of bills on the chamber's job killer list targets a huge swath of economic activity in the state, including development and commercial properties, oil companies and electric utilities, the banking sector and logistics companies.
"There's a general theme to some of the legislation this year, of going after the industries that have money," said Marc Burgat, the chamber's vice president of government relations. "It all goes back to this huge budget deficit we're facing, $24 billion over two years."
If some of these bills actually become law, Dickinson said that will prompt him to step up his research on moving the business to other states, like Texas or Nevada.
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