Every year, more Americans leave the Golden State in search of a lower cost of living, lower taxes, and better employment opportunities. High corporate taxes and onerous regulations have driven hundreds of businesses out of California for at least a decade or longer. Where the jobs go, the people must follow.
The Democrat-controlled state Legislature, and Governor Brown, have written and signed more inimical laws that will further burden California taxpayers and small businesses. Unions, however, have been exempted.
AB 1650: This new law states that non-union construction companies who want to contract with the state, are not allowed to inquire about any prior criminal convictions of a potential employee at the time of initial contact. Only after the employer has determined that the applicant meets the minimum qualifications for the job, can he inquire about any criminal background of the applicant. Companies that have collective bargaining agreements (unions) are exempt from this provision. Surprise, surprise.
Let’s imagine you are the owner of a non-union construction company. A guy with a felony theft conviction walks onto your construction site looking for a job. He says he has previous construction experience, and may even specialize in the operation of some heavy equipment. He fills out an application.
As you look over his application, you see that there is a gap of a few years in his employment history. You question him about it and he says he does not want to disclose why he was not employed during that time. Was he in school? Was he sick? Was he looking for work? If the answers to these questions are no, you cannot ask him if he had served time in jail.
Let’s assume the employer determines the applicant is qualified, but discovers after the fact that he is a convicted felon. He decides it would be in his company’s best interest not to hire a felon. Will the employer be in danger of being sued for discrimination?
The language in this bill states, “Removing the conviction history box (from the application) can give thousands of individuals (convicted criminals) a fair shot at employment…” With union employers being exempted, is this law really about giving felons a “fair shot”? Why aren’t union companies not required to hire their fair share of convicted felons?
Another law that will make doing business in California more difficult is AB 1522. This bill mandates that all employers, except those with collective bargaining agreements (unions), provide any employee who has worked in California for 30 or more days in a year, one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked.
The effects of this law could negatively impact small businesses and curtail job growth. Under this new law, businesses will likely be forced to raise prices, hire fewer new employees, reduce existing employee benefits, hours and wages, and even lay off some current employees.
California drivers pay the highest gas tax in the nation. Yet, according to an article posted on nbclosangeles.com, California Highways Among Worst in U.S., Study Finds, our state spends an average of $679,296 per mile on road maintenance and improvements, but ranks 4th worst in the country on highway performance and proficiency.
California residents have long been beaten over the head by the environmental movement to drive more fuel-efficient cars, carpool, and use public transportation. Consequently, gas tax revenue has fallen in the last few years, so the state Legislature has passed a bill that requires the state government to study options for imposing a new mileage tax on drivers. SB 1077, signed into law by Jerry Brown, will waste more taxpayer dollars on a committee designated to study how the state can track the number of miles we drive every day.
If a mileage tax is implemented, it will heavily impact people who cannot afford to live close to their job. Many drive hundreds of miles per week back and forth to work. Consequently, the real estate values in their neighborhoods could be affected by fewer people buying in those areas to avoid paying the high mileage taxes. More families would be forced to rent smaller homes closer to work, rather than buy in outlying areas.
California continues to struggle with high unemployment rates, low-paying jobs, high taxes, and onerous regulations. Yet the Democrats and Jerry Brown continue to hurt small businesses and taxpayers, while showing favor to the powerful unions.
It’s time for voters to turn the tide for California. Local government is where the change must begin.
Photo Credit: Andy Blackledge