2016 CalChamber in the News


2016 articles and videos from news sources that mention the California Chamber of Commerce (CalChamber.)

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Time to Begin Tunnel Project
Re “Jerry Brown plunges ahead on twin tunnels” (Insight, Dec. 22): Gov. Jerry Brown makes a great case for this project. No other project has been studied for more hours, by more water experts, scientists and engineers than the California WaterFix. And for good reason – the status quo is not an option when water supplies for two-thirds of Californians are vulnerable to droughts and natural disasters. Allan Zaremberg in The Sacramento Bee

Minimum Wage, All-Gender Restrooms Among 2017 CA Workplace Laws
Erika Frank, the chamber’s general counsel, points out that a lot of localities have minimum wage rates that are higher than the state. In those areas — San Francisco is one — employers must pay the higher rate. (San Francisco Chronicle, 12/17/16)

Falling Incomes Turn California Into Modern-Day Dust Bowl
Nearly 60 percent of California voters with children living at home agree with the statement, “my children will have a better future if they leave California.” More than 75 percent now think “earning enough income to enjoy a middle-class lifestyle is becoming almost impossible in my part of California.” In Los Angeles County, it’s 87 percent. That’s from a new survey by the California Chamber of Commerce. And if you think those numbers are discouraging, the numbers in a just-released report from the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation are even worse. (Susan Shelley Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, 12/07/16)


Prop 53: What’s the Real Impact on CA’s Infrastructure?
Opponents believe that Prop 53 would threaten future infrastructure projects for California. “It would actually affect local governments — local governments who band together to build large infrastructure projects like water supply projects, toll roads and airports,” said Loren Kaye, president of the California Foundation for Commerce and Education, a think tank affiliated with the California Chamber of Commerce. “Airports are financed through revenue bonds. Toll bridges are financed by revenue bonds; big water projects are financed by revenue bonds.” (KCRA, 11/07/16)

Even if Prop. 64 Passes, You Still Can’t Get High at Work
Employers can still refuse to hire an applicant who tests positive for marijuana in a pre-employment drug test and fire workers who are tested for permissible reasons and fail the test, said Marti Fisher, a policy advocate with the California Chamber of Commerce. (San Francisco Chronicle, 11/07/16)


State I.O.U.s and Voter O.K.s
Opponents, however, including the Democratic Party and a host of labor, business and governmental groups, have argued that Proposition 53 would put crucial local projects at risk by handing veto power to people with no stake in the matters. That presents “almost an impossible task,” said Allan Zaremberg, the president of the California Chamber of Commerce, which opposes the measure. “It would really impair the ability for California to have state-local partnerships on significant major infrastructure projects.” (The New York Times, 10/11/16)

Gov. Jerry Brown, in 14th Year as Governor, Hits a New High in Vetoes
Brown’s vetoes this year included one of the five bills named by the California Chamber of Commerce as “job killers” that survived the legislative session. Since 1999, the chamber has placed that epithet on 553 bills, including 24 this year, that it considers to be the most hostile to business. (Dan Walters in The Sacramento Bee, 10/03/16)


Small Businesses Need a Break
Re “Hernandez isn’t the only one who needs leave” (Editorials, Aug. 4): This editorial insults California small businesses by claiming that adding yet another protected leave program to the state’s lengthy list would simply create an “inconvenience” for them. Small businesses are reeling from costs created by other recent mandates, including the minimum-wage hike and paid sick leave. If Senate Bill 1166 were to become law, an employer could face the need to provide up to seven months of leave to some employees when the proposal is coupled with existing mandates. (Allan Zaremberg in The Sacramento Bee, 08/08/16)


Business-Opposed ‘Job Killer’ Bills Will Face Final Test Next Month
Over the nearly two decades since, through four governorships, only a handful of the targeted bills have made it into law while still carrying the labels. (Dan Walters in The Sacramento Bee, 07/29/16)

Proposition 53: A Battle Over Debt
Powerful interests have joined to block Proposition 53, including the state Chamber of Commerce, which represents business interests, and the State Building and Construction Trades Council, or BCTC, which is affiliated with unions whose workers handle major construction projects, such as the $68 billion bullet train and the $15 billion twin-tunnels project in the delta. Both groups routinely play a major role in California elections. “What’s the problem with the existing law?” said Chamber President Allan Zaremberg. “I don’t see anyone complaining that revenue bonds are an issue in their community or the state.” (Capitol Weekly, 07/19/16)

States Aim to Fill Pension Gaps with “Auto IRAs”
With a push from AARP, a small but growing number of states are legislating “automatic IRAs” for the employees of their smaller businesses that don’t offer a pension or 401(k). The American Council of Life Insurers has been the biggest and most vocal opponent. But in California, the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association is part of a group of 36 trade and business organizations led by the California Chamber of Commerce that’s opposing a proposed auto-IRA. They want it amended to address a variety of concerns, including potential employer liability, said Marti Fisher, the Chamber’s policy advocate. (MoneyWatch, 07/05/16)


Bill to End Gender Disparity in Retail Pricing is Withdrawn After Pushback from Industry Lobbyists
Other opponents said the bill created gray areas that could lead to excessive and costly accusations over pricing. Jennifer Barrera, a lobbyist with the California Chamber of Commerce, said she was concerned that small businesses could be sued even when they had valid reasons for their pricing decisions. “There is still ambiguity in the statute, and if there is room for ambiguity then it’s going incentivize litigation,” she said. (Los Angeles Times, 06/29/16)

‘Pink Tax’ Bill Dies: You’ll Still Pay More for Products Marketed to Women
But the business-friendly California Chamber of Commerce branded the bill a “job killer” and pushed for its defeat. The California Retailers Association said it was unworkable and would result in confusion, inaccurate pricing and increased costs. “The version that was up for a vote would have been harmful,” said Jennifer Barrera, a policy advocate with the California Chamber of Commerce. “It could have led to frivolous lawsuits over minor pricing differences that have nothing to do with gender.” (The Orange County Register, 06/29/16)

California Bill to Ban Gender-Based Pricing Dies
SB899 would have allowed consumers to file discrimination lawsuits against companies that violate the ban on gender-based pricing. Business groups warn that the measure would subject companies to frivolous litigation and raise prices for consumers. (The Associated Press, 06/28/16)

California Keeps Gender-Based Pricing for Retail Goods
The measure stalled in the Assembly Judiciary Committee last week amid concerns that it would subject businesses to costly lawsuits. The California Chamber of Commerce had placed SB 899 on its list of “job killers.” (The Sacramento Bee, 06/28/16)

‘Brexit’ Could Halt the Growth of California Trade with Britain
California and its $5 billion of annual exports to Britain could be standing in harm’s way if there’s economic upheaval caused by Britain’s vote to leave the European Union. “No one in California can be immune from dramatic changes in the international economic structure,” Allan Zaremberg, president of the California Chamber of Commerce, said in a statement. “California has a lot at stake.” (Los Angeles Times, 06/25/16)

British EU Exit Could Sting California, but the Price of Scotch Might Fall
“California has a lot at stake,” Allan Zaremberg, president of the California Chamber of Commerce, said in a prepared statement. “We are the sixth largest economy in the world and a major trading and investment state, and no one in California can be immune from dramatic changes in the international economic structure.” (The Sacramento Bee, 06/24/16)

Should California Limit the Number of Small, New Water Systems?
Opponents include the California Chamber of Commerce, California Building Industry Association and Association of California Water Agencies. They note that it’s often developers who need to create new water systems, particularly if they can’t work out agreements with existing ones. “In its current form, the bill would set up an open-ended bureaucratic process that could make it more expensive to build new homes and developments,” said Valerie Nera, a lobbyist with the California Chamber of Commerce. (San Jose Mercury News, 06/20/16)

California’s Prop 65 Controversy
‘Prop 65 has become a litigation playground for plaintiff’s attorneys,’ states Anthony Samson from the California Chamber of Commerce. In fact, Kevin Ott from the Flexible Vinyl Alliance in Washington, DC says the average settlement from retailers, manufacturers, and distributors is $65,000 per notice. This means that businesses sued under Prop 65 could end up having to pay $65,000 in fines three separate times per lawsuit. (Chemistry World, 6/16/16)

Job Creators
Job creation should be a prime emphasis of the legislature. The California Chamber of Commerce has gained notoriety over the years for its list of job killer bills—those bills that the Chamber feels will prevent job creation or reduce the number of jobs in the state. Since the job killer list has existed, legislators and governors of both parties have paid close attention to the Chamber’s concerns, often siding with the Chamber on these bills. (Joel Fox in Fox and Hounds Daily 06/15/16)

Kirk West, Longtime Business Advocate in the Capitol, Dies at 79
Kirk West, a towering and affable fixture of Capitol politics for more than a half-century, died Thursday after a battle with cancer. He was 79. West’s career in politics included stints in several private and public positions, including chief executive of both the California Taxpayers Association and the California Chamber of Commerce. (The Sacramento Bee, 06/03/16)


It’s Time for California to Curb Enthusiasm for ADA Lawsuit Abuse
At the state level, Senate Bill 1142 has been introduced by Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, and Sen. Richard Roth, D-Riverside, has proposed SB 269. Both bills have been named among the California Chamber of Commerce’s 12 “job creator” bills. (Los Angeles Daily News, 04/26/16)

California Bill to Unionize ‘Gig’ Workers Likely Dead for 2016
Business groups like the California Chamber of Commerce and the Internet Association, a technology industry lobbying group, opposed the bill. Labor groups including the Teamsters and the United Food and Commercial Workers were in support. (The Sacramento Bee CapitolAlert, 04/21/16)

New Bill Would Give Californians Three Paid Days of Parental Leave
While opponents aren’t arguing with the intent of the bill, the California Chamber of Commerce said companies would struggle with paid leave, particularly if they don’t currently have a paid leave policy. Businesses are also struggling to comply with three days of paid sick leave and other forms of protective leave. “It’s a matter of balance when you start talking about protective leave of absence,” said Jennifer Barrera, policy advocate for CalChamber. (Sacramento Business Journal, 04/21/16)

Uber And Lyft Drivers Could Organize Under Assembly Bill
Business groups oppose the bill. Tech industry groups say the bill is too broad; it does not limit the number of collective bargaining units that could negotiate with each company. Jennifer Barrera of the California Chamber of Commerce also said it wouldn’t just affect the tech industry. “This could impact obviously a host of industries, including health care, construction, agriculture, across the board,” said Barrera. (Capital Public Radio, 04/21/16)


California Lawmakers OK Highest Statewide Minimum Wage
California lawmakers on Thursday approved the nation’s highest statewide minimum wage of $15 an hour to take effect by 2022 after it was hailed by Democrats as an example to the nation as it struggles with a growing gap between rich and poor. However, Allan Zaremberg, president of the California Chamber of Commerce, said the increase was being made too fast. “It is unfortunate the Legislature didn’t take advantage of the opportunity to address the issue in a more balanced manner,” he said. (The Associated Press, 03/31/16)

Here’s Where CalChamber Stands on Two High-Profile Ballot Issues
Worried about employer costs, the California Chamber of Commerce has taken a stand on two high-profile issues headed to the ballot. (Sacramento Business Journal 03/07/16)

California Bond Vote Measure Takes a Beating
Democratic legislators and officials, business and labor representatives, and water suppliers took turns Wednesday flailing a November ballot measure that would require voter approval of major state revenue bond issues. The California Chamber of Commerce and the State Building and Construction Trades Council, which are often at odds, also voiced their opposition, and were joined by the Association of California Water Agencies. (The Sacramento Bee 03/02/16)


A Tax Hike That No One Could Quibble About
The state Chamber of Commerce, California’s most powerful business lobby, supports the tax on health plans. “It’s the right thing to do and makes sense,” says chamber President Allan Zaremberg. “However, on a pure political scale, there are people who are appropriately prudent — and should be.” (George Skelton in the Los Angeles Times 02/22/16)

Addressing an Uneven Economy
Allan Zaremberg, president and CEO of the California Chamber of Commerce, recently hit it on the head with his assessment of Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed budget and the state’s priorities in recovering from the economic downturn. (Fresno Business Journal, 02/15/16)


Communities Need Good Schools
Ali Youssefi pointed out a number of ways developers can help make Sacramento’s urban core more vibrant and draw in new residents. I would add one more important piece, however. Vibrant communities need families, not just single 20-somethings and active retirees looking to live closer to commercial and cultural amenities. (Allan Zaremberg in The Sacramento Bee, 01/30/16)

Change To Prop. 13 Could Be Headed For November Ballot
But Allan Zaremberg with the California Chamber of Commerce says the measure would reach beyond the rich. “In California, if you have a small restaurant, you’re probably renting from somebody who has a property of $3 million or more,“ Zaremberg says. “So you’re gonna pay more in rent. And you just can’t afford that.” (Capital Public Radio 01/19/16)

California Must Address Our Uneven Recovery
Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed a state budget brimming with new revenues, but carefully socking part of the surplus away for a future economic downturn. He understands the impermanence of recovery. In fact, California has been the source of recent national fluctuations, from the dot-com bubble 15 years ago to the more recent housing bubble. (Allan Zaremberg in The Sacramento Bee 01/18/16)

Retirement Liabilities Remain Despite State Budget Surplus
In negotiations with public-employee unions, he’s asking state workers to pay into a fund through a deduction on their paychecks. The state would pay an equal amount. “Over the next three decades we’d have enough money to basically eliminate that unfunded liability going forward,” Finance Director Michael Cohen told the California Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday. (The Associated Press 01/18/16)

California Cranks Out New Businesses and Jobs Despite Criticism
Still, critics of the state’s business climate say the rapid pace of new business creation masks the challenges for long-tenured companies operating in an expensive state. “Certainly you have the talent here and you have the investor capital, so start-ups are going to blossom here more than the rest of the country,” said Allan Zaremberg, president and chief executive of the California Chamber of Commerce. “Once you get beyond that, if you have an IPO, you have to be able to perform. Mature industries are always looking at their costs: Can my employees afford to live here? Can I afford the rent?” (Los Angeles Times 01/02/16)