Gov. Jerry Brown's signing of AB 1446 (Feuer) this past weekend paved the way for L.A. County voters to cast an historic vote on Nov. 6 in favor of congestion relief, thousands of new jobs and enhanced global competitiveness. Measure J (for Jobs!) will accelerate the projects included in Measure R the half-cent sales tax for transportation that voters approved by a 68 percent margin in 2008. This vote will not increase taxes, but it will extend the current half-cent sales tax an additional 30 years.
Another transportation bill SB 1225 (Padilla) signed on Saturday transfers the management authority of the Pacific Surfliner intercity passenger rail service from Caltrans to the LOSSAN JPA. This bill will create more local control and cost-effectiveness for Amtrak's second busiest corridor in the nation from San Luis Obispo to San Diego. These two bills set the stage for a 21st century transportation infrastructure for Southern California.
Throughout the legislative session and during the signing period, the Chamber successfully advocated for key legislation to foster economic competitiveness as well as major reforms in our education and workforce development system.
One of the significant bills that Gov. Brown signed last month included AB 340 (Furutani) which begins essential reforms to the state pension system for new hires. AB 340 raises the retirement age, caps the amount of salary that can count towards pension calculations, increases employee contributions to the retirement fund and ends the practice of spiking pay in the final year of service to increase pensions.
Directly impacting Los Angeles, the Governor also signed SB 1197 (Calderon) and AB 2026 (Fuentes), which will extend the California Film & Tax Credit for two years to make us more competitive in attracting and retaining at-risk television and motion picture production jobs.
Key education bills that were championed by the Chamber were SB 1456 (Lowenthal), which will incentivize our community college system to focus on successful outcomes; SB 1458 (Steinberg) which will improve accountability for K-12 schools; and SB 1070 (Steinberg) which will drive a strong high school reform agenda by initiating linked learning between education and career/college opportunities to improve graduation rates and decrease dropouts.
Among the many other bills the Chamber advocated for were SB 863 (De Leon) to fix the worker's compensation system; SB 1099 (Wright) which designates four quarterly dates for new regulations to take effect to eliminate ambiguity for business owners; and SB 1479 (Pavley) to address the billions in economic losses caused by piracy of intellectual property.
The Chamber was also successful in advocating vetoes for bills that would have made it harder and more expensive to do business in California. Governor Brown vetoed 12 bills the Chamber had opposed.
Turning our eyes towards the 2013 session, modernization of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), will be the top priority. SB 317 (Rubio), which would have made four major improvements toward returning the statute to its original intent, was shelved nearly as soon as it was introduced, but Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg has committed to CEQA Reform during the next session.
Due to redistricting and term limits, many new legislators will be serving in 2013, but the Chamber's goal of advocating on behalf of our members for an enhanced business climate in California will stay the same. We thank our members and other business organizations for their partnership in this important effort to make the Golden State a Mecca for job opportunities once again.
And that's The Business Perspective.
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