But the bill only got support from five of the 12 members of the Senate Governmental Organization Committee on June 29, falling short of the required majority. The other seven members either voted “no” or abstained.

The Assembly bill was sponsored by the Natural Resources Defense Council. In a letter supporting the bill, the council stated that current penalty levels are often inadequate for deterrence.

“AB 846 is needed to level the playing field for law-abiding businesses,” the NRDC wrote.

But business groups argued that increasing penalty levels during the current economic slowdown would drive up costs for businesses and could force some to lay off employees or shift operations to other states. The California Chamber of Commerce had labeled the bill as one of more than three dozen “job killer” bills.

Amnesty Deadline

Aug. 4 is the deadline for businesses to apply for all required permits from the South Coast Air Quality Management District without having to pay late fees or penalties.

The six-month amnesty was declared in response to the tough economic climate, in order to encourage businesses to get permits for their equipment and operations or renew them.

The “permit application penalty holiday” applies to all businesses and government agencies regulated by the air quality agency, except for very large polluters such as oil refineries.

On its website, the district says the fees waived during the amnesty start at $900 for small equipment like a restaurant charbroiler and go to $5,300 for larger equipment like spray-paint booths.

During the previous amnesty program in 1995 the agency received 600 permit applications, mostly from small businesses.

So far this year, the district had only received about 260 permit applications, according to spokesman Sam Atwood.

“We’d like to think this is because most businesses already have their permits,” he said.

Businesses can request a permit application or find out if a permit is required at the district’s website at www.aqmd.gov or they can call the agency at (909) 396-3385.

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

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