Capitol Punishment: Our Legislators Can Work Together Guest Column By Gregory N. Lippe The recent collaborative effort resulting in the qualification of Proposition 57 “The Economic Recovery Bond Act” and Proposition 58 “The California Balanced Budget Act” for placement on the March 2 ballot proves that our legislators can work productively, efficiently and cooperatively for the betterment of California. Only two of our seven valley Assemblymembers, Frommer and Strickland, and two of our five valley Senators, Margett and McClintock voted against ABX5 9, the bill to place Proposition 57 on the ballot. ACAX5 5, the bill to place Proposition 58 on the ballot passed unanimously. As many of you know, the key provisions included in both ABX5 9 and ACAX5 5 and, therefore, Propositions 57 and 58 (a $15 billion bond measure to deal with the budget deficit and a requirement that the state enact a balanced budget annually) were requested by Gov. Schwarzenegger to enable California to stop its current fiscal hemorrhage, to boost its credit rating and to provide fiscal stability and economic strength for the future. I believe that our governor and legislators deserve our praise for working together for the common good. I also believe that it is our duty to support them in their efforts by voting in favor of both propositions on March 2. Now that we know our elected officials can work together effectively for our benefit, we must demand that they continue to do so and stop introducing and voting for bills that punish jobs and businesses. During the prior regular legislative session, there were 51 bills introduced that were identified as “Job Killer Bills” by the Coalition for California Jobs, a coalition spearheaded by the California Chamber of Commerce to fight anti-job legislation and to protect and create jobs in California. The drafting, introduction and processing of these bills wastes valuable time and money and, if passed, the legislation causes businesses to either close or relocate to other states and results in the elimination of jobs. I believe that it is important to note that of the 51 “Job Killer Bills”, ten were authored by four of our Valley legislators as follows: Assembly, Frommer (1), Koretz (3); Senate, Alarcon (3), Kuehl (3). Therefore, although these Valley legislators constitute less than 4 percent of all California legislators, they are responsible for introducing 20 percent of the “Job Killer Bills.” Additionally, to date, 16 of the 51 bills have passed. Of those that passed, the four Valley legislators mentioned above voted as follows: Assembly, Frommer (14 aye, 1 no, 1 absent or abstaining), Koretz (15 aye, 1 no); Senate, Alarcon (16 aye), Kuehl (16 aye). On what I consider to be the positive side, it should also be noted that these same legislators voted for the placement of Propositions 57 and 58 on the March ballot. For the past seven months I have provided information about the bills that are hurting our jobs and our businesses and about those legislators who have voted for and against the bills. Our power is in our collective voice and our vote. I urge everyone to write, phone or e-mail your legislators. It’s time for us to deliver annual performance reviews and suggestions for future improvements. If our voices are heard and improvements occur, we will all benefit. If not, 2004 is an election year. The following are the bills I have chosen to profile this month: – SB 923: Adds new conditions and provides for additional costs to obtain waivers for waste discharges. Existing laws provide that, subject to certain conditions, a regional board may waive certain waste discharge requirements for specific discharges or specific types of discharges if the waiver is not against the public interest. This bill would impose new costly conditions and authorize the state board or regional board to require payment of an annual fee. The result will be additional costs to employers and increased costs to consumers. It creates an incentive for employers to reduce their work force and/or relocate to other states. Status: Passed Senate and Assembly, approved by governor on Oct. 10, 2003. Valley legislators voting for bill: Senate, Alarcon, Kuehl, Scott; Assembly, Frommer Koretz, Levine, Montanez, Pavley. Valley legislators voting against bill: Senate, Knight, Margett, McClintock; Assembly, Richman, Strickland. – SB 128: Requires that providers of cellular radiotelephone service extend a minimum grace period of an unspecified number of days to new customers during which the customer may rescind the agreement, without cost or penalty, if the customer is not satisfied with the service quality. This will burden cellular service providers with additional costs and place requirements on them that are not imposed on other industries. It will be a disincentive to providing new jobs and could cause the loss of existing jobs. Status: Passed Senate on May 12, 2003, currently in Assembly. Valley senators voting for bill: Kuehl, Scott. Valley senators voting against bill: Knight, Margett, McClintock Valley senators absent, abstaining or not voting: Alarcon Omission: In my December 8 column, I omitted the names of the Valley Assemblymembers who voted against SB 288, a bill that provides more stringent requirements than those of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency with respect to new and modified sources of air pollutants. Assemblymembers Richman and Strickland voted against the bill. Gregory N. Lippe, CPA, is managing partner of the Woodland Hills-based CPA firm of Lever, Lippe, Hellie & Russell LLP (LLHR) and a director of the Valley Industry and Commerce Association (VICA).