For the legislative and political week January 10-14
Welcome to the January 10-14 edition of the NFIB California Main Street Minute from your NFIB small-business-advocacy team in Sacramento.
Single-Payer Health Care
- Assembly Member Ash Kalra is at it again, holding a news conference on January 6 to announce the restart of his Assembly Bill 1044 and the addition of Assembly Constitutional Amendment 11 that explains how his universal health care scheme will be paid.
- “AB 1400 would all but eliminate private insurance by turning the responsibility for administering and paying for health coverage over to the state government,” reported Politico California. “But it would not become operable until the financing issues are resolved, questions that would be tackled through the proposed constitutional amendment.”
- NFIB California sent this news release commenting on Kalra’s proposal. You can read the California Business Roundtable’s response here, and the California Chamber’s comment here.
- AB 1400 gets its first hearing tomorrow (January 11) in the Assembly Health Committee, whose chairman, Jim Wood, couldn’t wait to issue a news release saying he intends to push it forward.
- NFIB has sent a letter of opposition to AB 1400 to Wood and committee members. The measure has until the end of the month to pass the Assembly or is dead for the year. Look for your NFIB Action Alert.
Unemployment Insurance/State Budget
- Today (January 10) is the day we find out if Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Fiscal Year 2022-2023 budget draft has any money to shore up the state’s unemployment insurance trust fund.
- The Golden State is one of only nine states still in hock to the federal government for loans it took out to keep unemployment benefits going to those in need of them and to others who scammed the system. Furthermore, the interest clock is ticking and payment deadlines approach on the almost $20 billion it borrowed. Guess who will be paying more in payroll taxes if the state doesn’t come up with anything?
- “If we do nothing, California employers will be hit with a new annual tax to repay this UI loan debt beginning January 2023,” said Assembly Member Steven Choi in a news release announcing his proposal. “AB 1596 directs $19.3 billion from the estimated $30+ billion historic state surplus to fully repay this federal UI loan and prevent this tax increase next year. Small businesses should not be punished with a new tax to repay the massive unemployment insurance claims which were the result of government-imposed lockdowns.”
- “The state continues to have a robust surplus,” reports NFIB California’s chief legislative advocate, Kevin Pedrotti. “We anticipate early legislative budget committees and then a pause until the May budget revision is released.”
- Legislatively, adds Pedrotti, “Committees have ramped up to hear ‘two-year’ bills. All house of origin measures must pass to the respective next house by the end of January or end up dead for the session. Many bills get listed for hearing, but not all are considered as authors and committee chairs decide not to pursue.”
Retail Theft Update
- The Main Street Minute had speculated retail theft would be a hot issue in the Legislature, and so far, it hasn’t disappointed. Assembly Members Marie Waldron (Assembly Bill 1597) and Kevin Kiley (AB 1599) have proposals taking aim at Proposition 47.
- Last Tuesday (January 4) Assembly Member Rudy Salas unveiled his proposal for curbing the worst excesses of Prop. 47. “Enough is enough, we need to fight back against the criminals who are stealing from our communities,” said Salas in a news release. “We have seen the unintended consequences of Prop 47’s weakening of our theft laws and I believe California voters are ready to make their voices heard on this issue again. AB 1603 provides that opportunity and will allow us to take a stand against the theft and criminal gangs who are plaguing our state … AB 1603 will fight back against the increase in retail crime by amending the theft provision of Proposition 47 by reducing the threshold amount for petty theft and shoplifting from $950 to $400, back to its original threshold before the passage of the measure in 2014.”
- As a member of the majority party, unlike Waldron and Kiley, Salas’ bill is expected to have a little more traction. But both Gov. Gavin Newsom and Attorney General Rob Bonta remain big fans of Prop. 47, so it is doubtful Salas’ measure will get too far.
- Instead, the best hope for getting a rein on retail theft remains a proposed ballot initiative calling for, “Anyone convicted two or more times for these types of theft crimes must be incarcerated for up to one year. No exceptions. No excuses.” The measure is at the attorney general’s office awaiting the green light to begin gathering signatures. A comment period ended December 23.
NFIB California in the News
- The New Year opened with NFIB quoted in The Epoch Times about the state’s new minimum-wage rate.
- Last Thursday (January 6), ABC News 10 in San Diego wanted State Director John Kabateck’s take on calls for more paid leave.
Unfilled Job Openings
- Last week’s (January 6) release of NFIB’s monthly Jobs Report showed not much has changed in a small-business owner’s inability to fill job openings. What stood out, however, is increases in compensation are now at a 48-year high.
- In its January report, New Challenges for the New Year, the research firm Morning Consult listed the top three reasons current job holders and those seeking work listed for either taking their time or looking elsewhere:
- 59% I wanted to earn more money
- 15% I ran out of savings
- 13% I wanted more intellectual stimulation/bored at my job
- On Friday (January 7) the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on NFIB’s request for a stay of the OSHA vaccine mandate that requires all businesses with 100 or more employees to have those employees vaccinated or tested weekly and required to wear a mask at work (NFIB v. OSHA). To hear the arguments live, or later on-demand, visit: https://www.c-span.org/supremecourt.
- The White House continues to woo Sen. Joe Manchin over to supporting the Build Back Better Act.
- Holly Wade and Beth Milito, whom you can hear on an NFIB California podcast talk about all the research NFIB has conducted in the past few years, hosted another of their webinars last week, Essential Finance & Accounting Strategies for Small Business in 2022. Click here to watch it.
Next Main Street Minute January 17.