A Senate policy committee this week passed an environmental standard bill identified by the California Chamber of Commerce as a job killer because of the uncertainty and increased potential litigation the bill would create for California companies.
SB 1 (Atkins; D-San Diego) gives broad and sweeping discretion to state agencies to adopt rules and regulations that they determine are more stringent than federal rules and regulations adopted after January 19, 2017.
The CalChamber labeled SB 1 as a job killer because the uncertainty created by the bill’s vague, ambiguous, and broad language and lack of due process in the rulemaking process would have a negative impact on the growth, employment, and investment decisions of almost every major California business.
Due to costs and anticipated litigation associated with SB 1, companies doing business in the state would be hard pressed to hire more workers or expand California operations.
At the Senate Environmental Quality Committee hearing on SB 1 on March 20, the author, Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, and coauthor Senator Henry Stern (D-Canoga Park) acknowledged the concern voiced by the CalChamber and other opponents about the uncertainty the bill creates for the regulated businesses.The senators expressed a willingness to work with CalChamber in good faith to address these concerns in the hope that all opposition could be removed.
SB 1 seeks to create an expedited administrative procedure not subject to the California Administrative Procedures Act when promulgating emergency rules pursuant to SB 1. Should SB 1 become law, it will likely instigate a wave of new litigation from interested parties wishing to compel a state agency to perform an act required by, or to review a state agency’s action for compliance with, any of the laws subject to SB 1. Businesses would inevitably be forced to intervene in these lawsuits in order to ensure that their interests are adequately represented.
In voicing opposition to the measure, a coalition of 35 business associations has joined CalChamber’s effort to educate policy makers about the negative impacts of the bill.
The coalition’s opposition letter states that “SB 1 is an unprecedented power transfer from the Legislature to the Executive Branch. It is too broadly written, contains ambiguous and undefined standards that will create significant costs, uncertainty and unintended consequences for the regulated community, and raises substantial constitutional concerns regarding a lack of due process and violations to the single-subject rule.”
Moreover, the bill circumvents the Administrative Procedures Act by improperly empowering state agencies with limited legislative oversight, and threatens to undermine wetland regulation efforts currently being pursued by the State Water Resources Control Board, as well as operation of the Central Valley Water Project. The bill will inevitably result in unnecessary litigation against state agencies and regulated entities.
SB 1 is a reintroduced version of last year’s SB 49 (de León; D-Los Angeles)—a job killer bill that was stopped in the Assembly.
SB 1 passed Senate Environmental, 5-2, and will be considered next by the Senate Natural Resources Committee:
Ayes: Allen (D-Santa Monica), Hill (D-San Mateo), Skinner (D-Berkeley), Stern (D-Canoga Park), Wieckowski (D-Fremont).
Noes: Bates (R-Laguna Niguel), J. Stone (R-Riverside County).
2019 Job Killers
SB 1 is the second bill to be tagged a job killer by CalChamber so far this year. On March 4, the CalChamber announced that AB 51 (Gonzalez; D-San Diego), a reintroduced version of a previous bill that was vetoed by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. in 2018, had made the list.