When is Enough Enough??

We often hear from our members that the California Legislature churns out too many new laws each year and the 2019 Legislative Session is likely to be more of the same. California businesses struggle annually to comply with an ever-changing landscape, both with new statutes enacted by the Legislature (last year was a record with 1,016 new laws), as well as hundreds more regulations adopted by administrative agencies (between 500-600 new regulations each year according to the Office of Administrative Law).

This number is significant, however, considering that the Legislature introduces approximately 2,500 bills each year, it could be worse. For example, in 2018, there were 2,637 bills introduced. CalChamber positioned on 219 bills, 134 of which were opposed positions. Out of the 134 opposed, CalChamber identified 29 Job Killers. All of the Job Killers were stopped in 2018, and out of the other bills CalChamber opposed, only 26 made it to the Governor’s desk, with approximately half being vetoed.

One area that is regularly active with new laws is labor and employment. In looking back over the past few sessions, we can see that nearly 50 new laws are added every session. From the 2017-18 Session, there were 48 new laws enacted; from the 2015-16 Session, there were 64 new laws enacted; from the 2013-14 Session, there were 63 new laws enacted; and, from the 2011-12 Session, there were 56 new laws enacted. While all of these new laws are not significant, substantive changes, and may just be more technical in nature, the sheer volume of new laws and regulations is overwhelming and represents a huge burden, financially and administratively, for businesses operating in California, particularly small businesses.

Small businesses often do not have the means to hire in-house legal counsel or a Human Resources team to keep up with the changing laws. I cannot imagine opening say a cupcake shop in California. It is one thing to be a great baker, but having to keep up on California’s labor and employment laws with changes each year would be impossible for someone just trying to run a business in the Golden State. One of the ongoing challenges to the business community is to educate the Legislature that it isn’t necessary to pass 50 or 60 new laws every year in the labor and employment space, or any other area.

Hopefully the Legislature will take Governor Newsom’s Inaugural Address to heart when he said “And those who dream of building something of their own – a restaurant, a bookstore, a family farm – they will get our support” by passing fewer laws regulating California businesses.

Laura Curtis, Policy Advocate