The Legislature may be dominated by liberal Democrats, but the California Chamber of Commerce emerged from the 2011 session as a big winner in its annual "job killer" duel with labor unions, trial lawyers and environmental and consumer groups.
Each year, the chamber, backed by other business and employer groups, labels several dozen pending bills as "job killers," saying they impose costs or regulatory burdens that discourage business investment.
This year, 30 bills made the list, although business also opposes a wider array of bills. And when the gavel fell on the 2011 session early Saturday morning, just four of the 30 had survived.
A fifth, granting "card check" organizing rights to the United Farm Workers Union, also made it through the Legislature, but was vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown, who later negotiated a package of farm labor reforms that was enacted.
Democrat Brown must now decide whether to sign the four survivors or follow Republican predecessor Arnold Schwarzenegger's practice of vetoing virtually all bills wearing the "job killer" label that reached him. Brown has close ties to the groups supporting the four bills, but also has been cultivating business support for new taxes to balance the state budget.
The four are:
--Assembly Bill 22 by Assemblyman Tony Mendoza, D-Artesia, which would restrict the use of credit reports by employers when making hiring decisions;
--Assembly Bill 325 by Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, which would require employers to give workers up to three days of unpaid bereavement leave;
--Assembly Bill 559 by Assemblyman Sandré Swanson, D-Oakland, which would limit judges' ability to deny or reduce attorneys' fees in fair employment and housing cases;
--Assembly Bill 1155 by Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Watsonville, which would limit factors that affect "apportionment" of workers' compensation injury awards between job-related and non-job-related factors.
The "job killer" measures that fell by the wayside during the session covered a wide variety of labor relations, environmental and regulatory matters. Several died in the last, hectic hours of the session for a lack of votes, including a measure that would have required companies to retain, at least temporarily, employees of janitorial services when ownership changed hands, and another that would have banned polystyrene foam containers.