Business interests capped a relatively successful year in Sacramento: All but one of the 19 bills the California Chamber of Commerce tagged as “job killers” failed to advance and several business-supported bills were signed into law.
For the last 20 years, the state chamber has identified bills it deems especially onerous for businesses, naming them job killers. This year’s batch of 19 marked the lowest total since 2001; some years the total has surpassed 50.
Of those 19, only three made it to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk. The rest were stopped primarily by a group of moderate Democrats, most representing the Central Valley. Those Democrats also stopped a highly controversial mandate for a 50 percent cut in petroleum use, one of three provisions of greenhouse gas reduction measure SB 350. The other two provisions did make it to Brown’s desk, though the bill was no longer considered a job killer.
Brown signed the remnants of SB 350 and one of the three job-killer bills that did reach his desk: AB 359, by Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, which enacts a statewide version of a city of L.A. law requiring a successor grocery store owner to retain current employees for 90 days after the sale transaction closes. He vetoed bills banning mandatory arbitration clauses and expanding family leave.
“We appreciate the governor’s thoughtful approach and attention to the adverse consequences of overly broad legislation,” said chamber Chief Executive Allan Zaremberg. “These vetoes will help establish the certainty that California businesses need in managing their workforce and will be a positive factor in promoting California job creation.”
The Valley Industry and Commerce Association was also pleased with the outcome of the legislative session. The San Fernando Valley group noted that of the 32 bills it watched closely, Brown sided with its position on 22. The governor signed 16 of 23 bills VICA supported.
VICA Chief Executive Stuart Waldman singled out two bills Brown signed as particularly positive, both dealing with funding for transportation: SB 9, which more narrowly directs cap-and-trade revenue to large transportation projects, and SB 767, which permits the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority to place a sales tax increase for transportation projects on the ballot in November 2016.
Tax Exemption Made Easier?
The state Board of Equalization next month is set to consider a proposal to make it easier to qualify for the partial state sales-tax exemption on manufacturing and research and development equipment.
The proposal, from the California Taxpayers Association, would give business owners more flexibility in how to substantiate the cost and expected lifespan of the equipment they purchase. The partial tax exemption applies to equipment with a lifespan of one or more years.
Current law generally requires business owners to report their equipment purchases as capital expenses using a depreciation schedule in order to qualify for the tax break. But that requires extra tax forms and calculations, which could be beyond the reach of startups in the research and development phase.
“Some businesses, particularly smaller businesses, do not capitalize equipment due to unpredictable annual gross receipts and lack of economies of scale,” the association wrote in its petition to change the law.
The association wants business owners to be able to use equipment warranties or industry equipment replacement standards as another way to substantiate that a purchased piece of equipment has a lifespan of one or more years.
The Board of Equalization gave its initial consent to the association’s proposal in August and will consider the final language at its monthly meeting in late November in Culver City.
L.A. Permit Fees
Local permit fees typically head in only one direction: up.
But that’s not entirely the case for a wide range of police permit fees in the city of Los Angeles. The City Council next week is expected to approve adjustments in the fees – both up and down.
The Los Angeles Police Commission has long held the responsibility for issuing permits for more than 50 different business activities in the city – everything from skating rinks and swap meet operators to key duplicators and tanning salons. Once a year, the fees are adjusted to take into account changing city personnel costs for issuing the permits.
For the 12 months beginning Nov. 1, most initial permit fees are heading … down. That’s because police commission staff, using a complex series of formulas, concluded that personnel costs have actually decreased over the past year. The fees are also dropping slightly, by about $10, according to a report issued earlier this year by the Police Commission.
But the good news ends there. Permit renewals – which make up the majority of permits issued – are slated to increase, in most cases by $25 to $173. The chief reason: Inspection and enforcement costs have risen as there are evermore permitted businesses to track.
Overall, permit fee revenue generated by the city is slated to increase about 10 percent to $13.5 million.
Staff reporter Howard Fine can be reached at email@example.com or (323) 549-5225, ext. 227.