Celebrating 134 Years of Leadership

Commentary by Jennifer Barrera

February 20 marked the 134th anniversary of CalChamber’s work on behalf of the state’s businesses and job creators. We are grateful for the opportunity to advocate on behalf of our 13,000 members—companies that are the backbone of California’s private sector economy.

Our legacy as California’s largest, most respected and most influential advocacy and compliance organization is the result of a remarkable combination of our members and staff. Our member companies provide jobs and benefits for hundreds of thousands of California workers while fueling the economy and creating innovative solutions that make our lives better. Our staff advocates at the very highest levels of government and mobilizes the power of small business at the State Capitol.

Equally important, we serve as the premier provider of resources and compliance materials to meet the ever-changing HR needs of California employers.

CalChamber’s past is a story of accomplishment. As we look into the future, we are excited about the opportunity to continue to lead in areas of critical importance to the long-term success of our state.

What’s Coming in 2024

Already this year, CalChamber staff has been hard at work on bills and regulations dealing with AI, employment and workplace mandates, water policy, environment, and climate change, including transitioning our economy to clean energy.

Our policy team, with the assistance of a broad business coalition, killed a number of dangerous proposals near the beginning of January, including a resurrected version of the wealth tax proposal, a de facto ban on warehouses, expansion of litigation related to non-compete agreements, and a measure that would have expanded workers’ compensation presumptions. Later in the month, our collective advocacy efforts resulted in the early death of a bill that sought to ban political contributions.

CalChamber’s annual job killer list will be released soon. Our policy staff is currently analyzing bills to determine what will be included on the 2024 list. We also will be looking for proposals for the job creator list and will announce those as we identify them. The dire state budget situation will drive many discussions this year as we wait to see what cuts are coming and where.

Political engagement is a major imperative for CalChamber and we are ramping up efforts for both the primary and general elections.


A major priority for 2024 and beyond is reform of the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA). CalChamber and several other partners in the business community are leading a concerted, strategic effort to fix the issues that PAGA has created for all businesses, including small companies and non-profits. The ballot measure, slated for 2024—the Fair Play and Employer Accountability Act—continues to be a priority and needs a yes vote by the electorate, so spread the word! Please visit fixpaga.com to see the latest on our education effort and learn how to get involved.

Proposition 1

Coming up quickly on the March 5, 2024 ballot is the vote on Proposition 1, the Governor’s plan to provide the resources to help communities across the state recover from the unprecedented mental health and homelessness crisis. The plan authorizes $6.38 billion in general obligation bonds ($4.4 billion earmarked for mental health treatment facilities and $2 billion for housing for homeless veterans and homeless individuals with substance use and mental health challenges).

We have been working to build support for the measure. In January, I joined the Women for Prop. 1 event assembled by women business, health care, and political leaders. Also in January, a CalChamber-hosted briefing brought together local chamber partners and regional business allies with representatives of the campaign and senior officials from the Governor’s office. The briefing highlighted the resources that Proposition 1 will unlock to tackle homelessness, as well as the measure’s accountability and local control provisions.

Please visit https://treatmentnottents.com/ to sign up for updates and see other information you can share.

CalChamber in Court

On January 30, we announced our leadership role in challenging two of California’s new climate reporting laws—SB 253 and SB 261. Joining the U.S. Chamber and allied business groups, we filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the measures. Please see the full statement on the lawsuit here.

Compliance in 2024 and Beyond

Finally, we continue to be extremely proud of the role CalChamber plays as the state’s premier authority and provider of employment law compliance services, products and training. We have unique expertise and connections that allow us to provide an unmatched suite of services, products and trainings to keep our members compliant with California’s ever-changing employment laws and regulations.

Our newly launched cybersecurity training class is another way in which we are looking to support all needs of business in California. Please visit our CalChamber Store for additional information!

Thank you to all our members and colleagues for the privilege of allowing us to partner with you. We look forward to much continued future success!

Jennifer Barrera is president and CEO of the California Chamber of Commerce.

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Jennifer Barrera took over as president and CEO of the California Chamber of Commerce on October 1, 2021. She has been part of the CalChamber team since 2010 and stepped into the top position after serving as CalChamber executive vice president, overseeing the development and implementation of policy and strategy for the organization, as well as representing the CalChamber on legal reform issues. Barrera is well-known for her success rate with the CalChamber’s annual list of job killer legislation, efforts to reform the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) and leadership working with employers on critical issues, including most recently those arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, she advises the business compliance activities of the CalChamber on interpreting changes in employment law. Barrera earned a B.A. in English from California State University, Bakersfield, and a J.D. with high honors from California Western School of Law. See full bio