Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Frivolous ADA Lawsuits Cutting into Funds that Could Otherwise Represent New Jobs

California Needs More Jobs, Not More Lawsuits

The First Step is Putting an End to ADA Lawsuit Abuse

It’s no secret that California’s jobs and economic climate is in crisis.

The Sunshine State faces a $15 billion budget deficit — and the state's unemployment rate remains in double digits.

If California is going to get back on track, it’s going to have to improve its climate for job creators — especially small business owners.

One place to start is reform of California’s abusive lawsuit climate, which threatens the Golden State’s small business owners, such as Roberto Guerrero. Please watch the video below to view Roberto’s story:

Click here to watch the video.
As you can see from Roberto’s story, abuse of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) is a real threat to California small businesses, such as Roberto’s.

Unlike in most states, California law authorizes monetary damages in ADA cases, which incentivizes enterprising plaintiffs and their lawyers to bring lawsuits for even minor ADA violations. The law also provides for damages of up to $4,000 for each and every visit to a non-compliant business, encouraging plaintiffs to not report problems and instead repeatedly visit a business in order to claim greater payouts.

Most small businesses, such as Roberto’s, operate on small profit margins. As such, in an economic downturn, a single lawsuit can mean the difference between survival and closing up shop.

Please click here to view Roberto’s story.

Understanding the problem is the first step toward reforming the Sunshine State’s abusive lawsuit climate.
IRLIRLAbout the Institute for Legal Reform (ILR)
The Institute for Legal Reform is an advocacy group working to end lawsuit abuse. ILR is a national campaign of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, with the critical mission of making America's legal system simpler, faster, and fairer for everyone.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

California Chamber of Commerce IDs Job Killing Legislation

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​The California Chamber of Commerce's List of Proposed Legislation to Keep An Eye on for Affecting Jobs. 
Please read through the list and report out on how these Bills may affect your business or your job.

CalChamber Releases 2012 Job Killer Bill List

​Unveils new website 

(April 10, 2012) The California Chamber of Commerce today released its annual list of “job killer” bills calling attention to the negative impact that 23 proposed measures would have on California’s competitiveness and job climate if they were to become law.  CalChamber also unveiled a new, one-of-a-kind website — — which will highlight California’s job killing proposals, policies, regulations, and legislators. 
“This year’s ‘job killer’ list includes 23 bills that threaten to create further hardships and costs for private sector job creators in a time of unprecedented unemployment,” said Allan Zaremberg, President and CEO of the California Chamber of Commerce.  “Businesses are clamoring for commonsense proposals and a return to reason in California.  In a state where we need to do everything possible to improve the economy, it is imperative that legislators stop introducing and passing bills that cost jobs and erode the quality of life for all Californians.”  
CalChamber’s new website,, will serve as a clearinghouse for all information related to those bills, regulations and policy makers deemed to be a threat to California’s ability to retain and create jobs.  Visitors to the site will have ready access to bill information, CalChamber position letters, articles, and CalChamber News video segments.
Legislation included on the “job killer” list released today will change throughout the year as bills are amended or new language is introduced.
The 2012 “job killer” list follows:

Barriers to Economic Recovery

AB 1543 (Alejo; D-Salinas) Unconstitutional Limit on International Trade — Increases the cost of state contracts and reinstates a requirement already struck down by California courts by prohibiting state and local governments from contracting with many businesses that use component parts and materials from other countries in construction projects and to manufacture goods.
AB 1897 (Campos; D-San Jose) Impedes Development — Increases the cost of development and creates project delays by requiring that general plans incorporate concepts related to healthy food access and urban agriculture.
AB 1963 (Huber; D-El Dorado Hills) Targeted Tax on Services — Imposes a new sales-and-use-tax base on numerous services, disadvantaging California businesses that will not benefit by the proposed reduction in other tax rates.
AB 2517 (Eng; D-Monterey Park) Inappropriate Wage Liens — Will basically destroy the real estate market in California by allowing employees to file liens on an employer’s real property or any other person’s real property where work was performed for unproven wage claims, that take precedent over almost any other lien on the property, including mortgages.
AB 2540 (Gatto; D-Los Angeles) Targeted Tax on Services — Imposes a new sales-and-use-tax base on numerous services, disadvantaging small businesses that may not necessarily benefit from the proposed tax exemption for the first $10,000 in business income.
SB 950 (Alquist; D-Santa Clara) Unreasonable and Duplicative Tax Penalties for Employers — Forces taxpayers to overpay their taxes in order to avoid severe penalties.
SB 1470 (Leno; D-San Francisco) Impedes Economic Recovery — Delays the recovery of California’s housing market by allowing all borrowers, including strategic defaulters and investors, to abuse the loan modification process to forestall legitimate foreclosures.

Costly Workplace Mandates

AB 1313 (Allen; D-Santa Rosa) Increased Cost on Agricultural Employers — Drives up the cost of commodities to consumers by removing the existing overtime exemption allowed for agricultural employers.
AB 1439 (Alejo; D-Salinas) Automatic Minimum Wage Increase — Increases the cost of doing business on California employers by annually indexing the minimum wage rate upwards according to the percentage of inflation even during an economic downturn.
AB 1450 (Allen; D-Santa Rosa) Expansion of Discrimination Litigation — Subjects employers to charges of discrimination for legitimately inquiring into an applicant’s employment history.
AB 1808 (Williams; D-Santa Barbara) Improper Characterization of Private Employees to Allow Potential Card Check Unionization — Significantly expands the definition of “public employee” to include employees of any private employer where a public agency “shares” in the employment decisions of those private employees, thereby subjecting private employers to petitions of recognition from public employee unions.
AB 1999 (Brownley; D-Santa Monica) Expansion of Discrimination Litigation — Makes it virtually impossible for employers to manage their employees and exposes them to a higher risk of litigation by expanding the Fair Employment and Housing Act to include a protected classification for any person who is, who will be, or who is perceived as a family caregiver.
AB 2039 (Swanson; D-Alameda) Expansion of Protected Leave Requirements for California Employers — Creates a burdensome, California–only mandated benefit that significantly expands the category of individuals with serious health conditions for whom an employee can take a leave of absence beyond what is currently included under the federal Family Medical Leave Act.
AB 2217 (Pan; D-Sacramento) Targeted Burden on Companies with Call Centers — Discourages businesses from even locating a call center in California by requiring the business to adhere to overreaching mandates.

Expensive, Unnecessary Regulatory Burdens

AB 2424 (Portantino; D-Pasadena) New State Goals for Forestry — Increases costs of timber production by changing the state’s forestry goals to give equal consideration to each public need when reviewing forestry operations, including Timber Harvest Plans.
SB 568 (A. Lowenthal; D-Long Beach) Polystyrene Food Container Ban — Threatens thousands of manufacturing jobs within the state by inappropriately banning all food vendors from using polystyrene foam food service containers, ignoring the numerous environmental benefits associated with polystyrene products.

Fuel Price Increases

AB 1532 (John A. Pérez; D-Los Angeles)/ AB 2404 (Fuentes; D-Los Angeles)/ SB 535 (De León; D-Los Angeles)/ SB 1572(Pavley; D-Agoura Hills)  Illegal Tax Increase — Increases energy costs, including fuel prices, on consumers and businesses by allocating funds from an illegal tax to various programs that are not necessary to cost-effectively implement the market-based trading mechanism under AB 32.

Inflated Liability Costs

AB 1208 (C. Calderon; D-Montebello) Court Inefficiency — Creates uncertainty, inefficiency and unpredictability for litigants, further aggravating California’s reputation as a bad place to do business, by decentralizing control of trial court funds.
AB 2149 (Butler; D-Los Angeles) Discourages Settlement Agreements — Inappropriately interferes in the contractual relationship between two parties by allowing the sharing of certain information contained in settlement agreements.
SB 1528 (Steinberg; D-Sacramento) Inflates Litigation and Insurance Costs — Artificially inflates medical damage awards in personal injury cases by allowing an injured party to recover expenses never actually incurred, ultimately increasing not only legal costs, but also rates for auto, health, workers’ compensation and general liability insurance.

Monday, February 6, 2012

How to Keep High Speed Rail Jobs from Going Out of State or Overseas

The article below by Tim Sheehan of the Fresno Bee, provides a list of the five teams qualified as bidders for the California high speed rail project. There high participation of Spanish firms is understandable because Spain has the one of the most successful high speed rail systems. The question is: 

What is the California governor and legislature doing to make sure that state revenue primarily goes to creating jobs that stay in California? 

The administration and your elected representatives need to hear from you that you want controls on the contract requiring the work is done in California - even if that means relocating factories and a labor force to this beautiful state.

Firms on short list to build part of rail system revealed

 | Thursday, Feb 02 2012 04:35 PM
Last Updated Thursday, Feb 02 2012 04:36 PM
Fourteen construction companies are on the short list of firms poised to bid for contracts to begin building California's high-speed rail system in the Fresno area later this year.
The list was revealed by California High-Speed Rail Authority CEO Roelof van Ark at the authority board's monthly meeting Thursday in Sacramento.
Van Ark said the companies have formed into five teams that the authority has qualified to compete for a contract on a stretch of the line through Fresno, from the San Joaquin River at the north end to American Avenue at the south end. The contract is expected to be worth $1.5 billion to $2 billion.
The builder teams are:
* California Backbone Builders, a consortium of two Spanish construction firms -- Ferrovial Agroman and Acciona.
* California High-Speed Rail Partners, composed of Fluor Corp. of Texas, Swedish-based Skanska, and PCL Constructors of Canada.
* California High-Speed Ventures, made up of Kiewit Corp. of Nebraska, Granite Construction of Watsonville, and Comsa EMTE of Spain.
* A joint venture of Dragados SA of Spain, Denver-based Flatiron Construction Corp., and Shimmick Construction of Oakland.
* Tutor Perini Corp. of Sylmar, Zachry Construction of Texas and Pasadena-based Parsons Corp.
The project includes building 12 street overcrossings or underpasses, two elevated viaducts, a tunnel and a bridge across the San Joaquin River. Laying the tracks will be done later under a separate contract.
While the authority has qualified the teams in a screening process, significant hurdles remain, and it could be months before the companies get a chance to submit bids.
The state Legislature has yet to approve nearly $3 billion in bond funds from Proposition 1A, a 2008 bond measure -- no sure thing, given a barrage of criticism of the authority's latest business plan by the state's legislative analyst, auditor and a peer review group appointed by the legislature.
Final environmental documents for two sections of rail routes through the Valley -- from Merced to Fresno and Fresno to Bakersfield -- must also be approved before the authority can seek bids. Van Ark said the authority's board will consider the environmental reports for Merced-Fresno in early May, but reports for Fresno-Bakersfield are going through more revisions.
Van Ark said appraisers will likely begin meeting with property owners in the Fresno area in late February and early March to explain how the authority plans to buy the right of way it needs to lay tracks through the city.
The route in Fresno generally follows the Union Pacific Railroad tracks near Highway 99 from the San Joaquin River through downtown, before curving south to follow the Burlington Northern Santa Fe freight tracks south of the city.
The reporter can be reached at or (559) 441-6319.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

California Governor Ordered Firing of UNQUALIFIED Regulators

Michael Mishak's article in the LA TImes does a fair job of covering the firing of Derek Chernow and Elena Miller for purportedly trying to block oil permitting in the state on environmental grounds. What the article missed was that both Chernow and Miller were grossly unqualified political appointees left over from the Schwarzenegger administration and that neither had any qualifications to be in the respective positions they held. Neither could legitimately make any assessments as to the safety of the well drilling process as neither was an engineer, geologist, or environmental scientist trained in evaluating such technologies or the consequences of failure of oversight. Their opposition to drilling was purely political because there was no basis for it to be anything else. Governor Brown needs to make sure that the new leadership team has impeccable credentials in both environmental protection and in the science/engineering fields they oversee. The following is the original Mishak article:

California governor ordered firing of regulator who cracked down on oil companies
Los Angeles Times (MICHAEL J. MISHAK)
Posted:  01/29/2012 12:02 PM
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Late last year, California Gov. Jerry Brown pushed for a top state regulator to ease key requirements for companies seeking to tap California's oil. The official balked.
Relaxing rules on underground injection, a risky method of oil extraction common in the state, would violate environmental laws, wrote Derek Chernow, then head of the Department of Conservation, in a memo obtained by the Los Angeles Times.
The process, in which a rush of steam, water and chemicals flushes oil from old wells, had been linked to spills, eruptions and a Kern County worker's death. The federal government had asked the state to tighten its regulations, but the oil industry complained that the stringent rules were killing jobs.
A week after Chernow wrote his memo, Brown had him fired, along with a deputy, Elena Miller. The governor appointed replacements who agreed to stop subjecting every injection project to a  top-to-bottom review before issuing a permit.
Brown's decision to side with energy interests over his regulators reflects the economic and political pressures on the governor during his return engagement in Sacramento. The economy is still sluggish in the wake of a deep recession, and unemployment remains high.
Although Brown has fought offshore drilling and sued oil companies throughout his career, making him a favorite of environmentalists, he now talks of tossing cumbersome regulations to revive the economy. The oil industry, in particular, employs tens of thousands of Californians, many of them in Kern County, where the jobless rate is 14.5 percent.
The governor is also seeking support from corporate interests, which complain that California is over-regulated, for his proposed ballot initiative to raise taxes. This month, Occidental Petroleum Corp., the largest onshore crude producer in the continental U.S., gave $250,000 to the signature-gathering effort.
Administration officials said the eased permit rules were part of Brown's larger effort to streamline regulations and spur job creation. The ousted regulators, they said, had taken a "one-size-fits-all" approach to permitting in a state with vast geological differences, sitting on applications for months and being unresponsive to industry.
"We have to balance good environmental protection and economic growth," said John Laird, Brown's secretary of natural resources. "The law allows discretion on how you best protect the environment and move the applications along.... Our goal is to make things run more efficiently."
Chernow and Miller declined to comment.
Underground injection is used to coax oil from depleted wells. Because California's oil fields have been heavily worked for decades, the method is responsible for most of the state's onshore production.
But the procedure came under the scrutiny of Chernow and Miller, who were brought aboard under former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in the wake of a scandal in the oil and gas agency. Officials there had been trading in stocks of the oil companies they regulated, among other violations.
Armed with an internal review that found lax monitoring of injection projects, Chernow and Miller in 2010 stripped field offices of their power to approve permits and strengthened oversight in Sacramento.
Catherine Reheis-Boyd, president of the Western States Petroleum Association, a lobbying group, said regulators began requesting so much information about every project - "an infinite do-loop" - that they effectively halted production for some operators.
The fight intensified last June, when a Chevron worker died after being swallowed feet-first into a sinkhole of boiling fluids. Investigators for the oil and gas agency blamed the accident on steam injection. Miller issued emergency orders ceasing operations near the damaged well.
In July, the federal EPA added its voice to concerns about underground injection in California. In an audit, it found that regulators were not adequately protecting potential drinking water and urged them to tighten extraction standards.
Oil companies, which wanted to expand work in California after unrest in the Middle East and North Africa had hurt output, were furious over the tighter permit requirements.
"We've been in business since the turn of the century, and then all of a sudden everything we do out there is not right," said Les Clark, executive vice president of the Independent Oil Producers Agency, a trade group. "It starts snowballing, and before too long you're not going to be in business because the regulations are too costly and too complicated to deal with."
A handful of state and federal lawmakers from oil-rich Kern County agreed, lobbying Brown and administration officials to intervene.
Democratic state Sen. Michael Rubio said in an interview that the permitting process was "broken" and that regulators were taking a "one-sided" approach to underground injection. "In government, we have an obligation to have an open-door policy and have input from all sides," he said.
Oil contractors began a letter-writing campaign, flooding the administration with complaints that the longer permit process was threatening their livelihoods. Occidental and Berry Petroleum Co. executives groused about the delays to analysts in their earnings calls, and Berry's chief executive officer said his Denver-based company would redirect investment outside California.
By October, Brown had asked that officials develop a permitting shortcut. According to Chernow's memo, the administration proposed allowing oil companies to begin drilling and injecting wells after submitting basic documents; they would be required to complete a full engineering review later and correct any problems after the fact.
Chernow argued that the proposal violated state and federal rules requiring a complete review before injection can begin and warned that it could open the state up to lawsuits. Environmentalists, he said, "will argue, correctly, that the laws ... are intended to prevent damage before it occurs," he wrote.
Administration officials said they ultimately abandoned that proposal but agreed to the industry's request that some projects be green-lighted without a full review. The officials have returned much of the permitting power to district offices, saying Miller's headquarters mandate caused a backlog and created an unnecessary burden for the agency. They said at least 77 well permits that were on hold as of Nov. 15 have since been approved.
Reheis-Boyd of the Western States Petroleum Association praised the agency's new direction, saying it now has a "clear pathway for people to get permits and proceed with drilling in this state."
"The communications lines are very open," she said.

Brown boasted recently about the expedited permits. At a solar energy farm in a Sacramento suburb Jan. 13, he reaffirmed his commitment to all forms of energy development.
"It's not easy," Brown said. "There are going to be screw-ups. There are going to be bankruptcies. There will be indictments and there will be deaths. But we're going to keep going."