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Halfway through the annual legislative process, scarcely a third of the bills given the "job killer" epithet by the California Chamber of Commerce are still alive.

The legislative year began with 27 measures on the annual list but a number didn't make it out of committee and several others died when they faced floor votes before last week's deadline for bills to gain approval in their "house of origin."

Generally the bills on the list are sponsored by liberal groups such as labor unions, consumer advocates, environmental groups and personal injury attorneys. And while they and the chamber, backed by other business interests, do battle in the Legislature, they are also jousting in this year's elections, with each side trying to nominate and elect friendly lawmakers.

Last week's casualties included measures to impose a moratorium on "fracking" to develop California's oil reserves (Senate Bill 1132), to require disclosure labels on foods containing genetically modified ingredients (SB 1381) and to raise taxes on corporations deemed to pay executives too much (SB 1372).

However, several others on the list survived last week's floor votes, including one requiring employers to grant paid sick leave to workers (Assembly Bill 1522), expanding liability for contractors wage and hour violations (AB 1897), allowing employees to file liens for unpaid wages (AB 2416), prohibiting enforcement of arbitration agreements (AB 2617), allowing school districts to impose differential parcel taxes on commercial property (SB 1021) and expanding the right to sue for product defects (SB 1188).

One major tax bill on the list, making it easier to raise property taxes on commercial property when it changes hands (AB 2372), was modified enough to gain support by the Chamber of Commerce and passed the Assembly.

A number of the measures on the list are either direct tax increases or constitutional amendments that would allow tax increases and that require two-thirds legislative votes to advance. But they went into limbo when the Democrats' "supermajority" in the Senate vanished as three Democratic senators were suspended after being charged (senators Leland Yee, D-San Francisco and Ronald Calderon, D-Montebello) or convicted (Rod Wright, D-Baldwin Hills) of crimes.

Overall, including those that had moved earlier in the biennial session, about 10 of the 27 original measures appear to be alive, having escaped from their original houses, but they still face committee and floor votes in the other side of the Capitol.

PHOTO: California Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Allan Zaremberg, in 2010. The Sacramento Bee/Paul Kitagaki Jr.


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