At the close of a legislative session dominated by the deepening budget crisis, fewer bills deemed by business groups as "job killers" made it to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's desk than in previous years.

Schwarzenegger has 30 days to sign or veto the bills. In past years, he has vetoed more than 90 percent of job killer bills.

Of the 32 bills tagged by the California Chamber of Commerce as job killers, only seven passed the Legislature and were sent to Schwarzenegger. That compares with a typical average of 10 to 12 job killer bills getting through the Legislature.

"This year, a lot more job killer bills were held in the appropriations committees of both chambers, in part because of budget concerns but also because of concerns about their impacts on the economy," said Marc Burgat, vice president of government relations for the California chamber.

Among this year's job killer bills:

- AB 943, which would limit the ability of employers to check job applicants' credit histories.

- AB 1404, which would restrict the ability of companies that emit carbon gases to trade credits with other companies.

- SB 242, which would impose penalties on employers who fail to post signs or otherwise communicate with customers in languages that are commonly spoken in the community.

- SB 793, which would expand an employee's right to sue an employer for discrimination.

Schwarzenegger earlier this month vetoed one of the seven job killer bills, SB 789, which would have allowed for card-check union representation elections for farm workers.

Several other bills that didn't quite make the job killer ranking but are still of concern to employers also cleared the Legislature this month, including AB 98, which requires all individual health policies to cover maternity services.

"This would greatly increase health insurance costs for the many small business owners who buy their insurance as individuals," said Michael Shaw, legislative director for the California chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business.

Business groups also oppose a bill, AB 838, that would create more indoor heat regulations and another bill, SB 104, that would add two gases to the list of greenhouse gases that must be reduced under the state's 2006 anti-global warming law.

On the flip side, only two of the 18 bills the California chamber identified as "job creators" cleared the Legislature. The rest of the bills that the chamber and other business groups believed would spur economic growth fell by the wayside after fierce opposition from labor and environmental groups.

One, AB 333, was signed by Schwarzenegger in July; it extends the life of subdivision parcel maps in anticipation of a rebound in homebuilding. Developers who already have parcel maps won't have to resubmit them for approval if they expire.

The other bill, SB 827, reinstates permits for major construction projects in the L.A. area that were frozen by a judge's ruling last year. That ruling resulted from a lawsuit filed by environmental groups over the right of the South Coast Air Quality Management District to grant permits at discounted prices for major construction projects and business expansions. The bill was formerly numbered SB 696.

Service firms targeted

Law firms, accounting firms, medical offices, dry cleaners, hair salons and tens of thousands of other service companies throughout the state have started receiving letters from the state Board of Equalization. The letters tell the businesses they must register with the board and pay all use taxes owed on products purchased from out-of-state vendors.

The first letters went out the week of Sept. 7; in all, the board said it will mail letters to 184,000 service-oriented businesses throughout California.

This registration push is the result of a little-noticed bill, ABx4-18.

The bill's aim was to get more service firms to pay use taxes by forcing them to register with the Board of Equalization the same way retailers and manufacturers now must do. It will also make it easier for the board to track down scofflaws, according to Board of Equalization spokeswoman Anita Gore. The state estimates more than $1 billion in use taxes go unpaid each year.

Backers hope the measure will bring in $81 million in additional revenue to state coffers during the current fiscal year, $183 million in the 2010-11 fiscal year and $367 million in the 2011-12 fiscal year.

Any service firm that has at least $100,000 in gross receipts and is not currently registered with the board has to register by the end of this year and must start paying use taxes on purchases made from out-of-state vendors during the 2009 calendar year.

Staff reporter Howard Fine can be reached at or at (323) 549-5225, ext. 227.

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