Business interests were largely successful in stopping bills they labeled as antibusiness in the recently concluded legislative session. They were less successful in getting “business-friendly” bills through, however.

Of the 42 bills the California Chamber of Commerce targeted as “job killers,” only 11 have made it to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s desk for his signature or – more likely – his veto. Twenty-seven bills never made it out of the Legislature; they either stalled in committee or died on the floor of the Senate or Assembly. The remaining four bills could be considered in a special session to address state budget issues.

“There was a slight sigh of relief from business stakeholders in the fact that fewer job-killer bills made it out of the Legislature,” said John Kabateck, executive director of the California chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business.

Job-killer bills that fell by the wayside include one that would have substantially increased penalties for environmental, safety and wage violations. Another bill would have gutted the state’s enterprise zone tax incentive program.

But Kabateck said there were a few “doozies” that did make it through. Among the job killers on Schwarzenegger’s desk are bills that would restrict employers’ ability to use credit reports in hiring decisions. Another would require incentive programs for employers to expire within seven years.

In past years, Schwarzenegger has vetoed more than 90 percent of job-killer bills landing on his desk.

Meanwhile, of the 18 bills that the California chamber labeled as “job creators,” only four cleared the Legislature; the governor has until Sept. 30 to sign or veto them.

Malibu Anti-Septic

Citing concerns about the impact on businesses and property owners, the city of Malibu plans to ask the state water quality board to order modifications to a Los Angeles water board rule that bans septic tanks throughout the central business and civic district.

The Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board passed the ban in November, citing studies that showed septic tank discharges were flowing into the ocean. All new septic tanks are banned in the Malibu Civic Center area. The ban states existing commercial septic tanks must be shut down by the end of 2015 and existing residential tanks by the end of 2019. In all, about 550 residences and businesses are subject to the ban.

A sewage treatment system that would replace the septic tanks is projected to cost at least $50 million. To pay for the system, businesses could be taxed between $7,000 and $20,000 per month.

Business leaders and property owners objected, saying the city needs more time to build the treatment system. Also, ban opponents said septic tanks should only be prohibited near Malibu Creek instead of the broader Civic Center area.

The city is proposing to remove high-volume septic tanks closest to Malibu Creek. Also, the city’s proposal would extend the time lines for the rest of the Civic Center area to be hooked up to a new sewage treatment system.

City officials said their plan would garner more community support, while the regional water board’s ban would generate legal opposition that would stall any efforts to improve the water quality.

“The Regional Board’s proposed prohibition zone will lead to continued conflict that will stall progress to accomplish the clean water goals that we all share,” Malibu Mayor Jefferson Wagner said in a statement.

The state water board is scheduled to take up the city’s request and proposal at its Sept. 21 meeting in Sacramento.

Development Targets

State and local government agencies are battling over greenhouse gas reduction targets for new development. The state wants steep cutbacks in greenhouse gases for new projects, and the Southern California Association of Governments wants the cutbacks to be less stringent.

Builders, not surprisingly, are backing the association.

The tussle is the result of SB 375, a state law enacted two years ago to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from future development projects. The law is designed to encourage so-called “smart growth” developments that allow residents to walk to shops or use mass transit.

Last month, California Air Resources Board staff proposed that greenhouse gas emissions from development projects be reduced 8 percent from current per capita levels by 2020 and 13 percent by 2035. The per capita figure applies to the number of residents that each new development would add to the population.

But the Southern California Association proposed a 6 percent per capita reduction in emissions by 2020 and 8 percent by 2035.

“We hope that SCAG’s action will be seriously considered by CARB later this month and factored into their final targets,” said Holly Schroeder, chief executive of the L.A.-Ventura chapter of the Building Industry Association.

The air board will consider the proposals at its Sept. 23 meeting in Sacramento.

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

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