The California Chamber of Commerce and nearly 200 allied business organizations representing all sectors of the economy and employing millions of California workers sent a letter this week to Governor Gavin Newsom and the Legislature calling for specific and immediate actions to curb the impact of the current pandemic-related economic crisis as well as address the underlying causes of an ongoing exodus of employers to other states.
“The State will need a strong business recovery to bring back jobs and stability to our communities. We cannot recover when businesses are shutting down and employers are leaving,” the coalition states.
In the letter, the signatories state that many employers currently believe they could safely reopen given the extensive work they have done to create a safe environment for their employees and customers. The letter further describes how the pandemic has exacerbated the challenge of doing business in an already high-cost state and, as a result, some employers are shutting down their office/locations here completely, transferring well-paying jobs elsewhere.
While the coalition praises the Governor for his proposed grants, loans and tax relief for businesses, they believe much more must be done now to alleviate pressure on business and local economies.
The coalition specifically calls on the Governor to take executive action to:
• Suspend compliance with the California Family Rights Act for small businesses;
• End enforcement of structurally infeasible components of the Cal/OSHA COVID-19 emergency regulation—specifically those dealing with mandatory testing requirements and the payment of wages for employees excluded from the workplace due to COVID (since employees who test positive are already covered under Workers’ Compensation and other provisions); and
• Temporarily delay the next installment of property taxes due in April 2021.
The coalition is asking the Governor and/or the Legislature to swiftly enact policies that will:
• Expedite additional financial resources to small businesses by expanding the eligibility pool and increasing the maximum amount of grants provided as well as providing immediate financial reimbursement or quarterly tax relief for employers who are investing in state-mandated upgrades or expenses related to the pandemic; and
• Allow employers to utilize net operating loss carry forwards and business tax credits suspended in 2020.
The coalition is further asking the Legislature to consider and pass bills to:
• Eliminate disincentives for telecommuting;
• Relieve employers of abusive lawsuits under the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA);
• Delay enforcement of new or updated regulations;
• Pay down the Unemployment Insurance (UI) Fund;
• Reject new taxes; and
• Eliminate barriers to housing by reforming the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and reinstating policies that encourage economic development.