Lobbyists for the California Chamber of Commerce and other business groups blocked or neutralized more than 80 percent of the bills on the chamber's "job killer" list in the just-concluded 2012 legislative session, and would score even higher if Gov. Jerry Brown rejects any of the four measures that reached his desk.
The list, which the chamber issues each year, sets the stage for battles pitting business groups against labor unions, environmentalists, consumer advocates and personal injury lawyers over the latter groups' major legislative issues. Over the years, relatively few of the business-opposed measures on the lists have survived intact, with most having been rejected in the Legislature, modified to remove opposition or vetoed by Brown and previous governors.
Brown signed two of the 32 bills on the list earlier in the year, but business lobbyists killed most of the others. Just eight were alive when the session's final week began on Aug. 27. Of those, four survived to await Brown's signature or veto.
Three of the survivors, Assembly Bills 1186 and 1532 and Senate Bill 535, set parameters for spending what could be billions of dollars in fees from the state's new "cap-and-trade" program of curbing greenhouse gas emissions. The chamber has branded the fees "an illegal tax," hinting that it and other business groups may launch a court challenge when the fees are actually imposed.
The fourth surviving bill, Assembly Bill 2346 by Assemblywoman Betsy Butler, D-Los Angeles, would impose new obligations -- and new penalties -- on farmers regarding heat-related deaths of their field workers.
This year's late-session casualties included Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg's measure, backed by personal injury attorneys, to alter how medical damages are awarded, and others giving overtime pay to farm workers, expanding family leave rights, and banning polystyrene food containers.