This Year’s Legislative Agenda
Blog Post by Lisa Kay, President
Last month I traveled on a delegation trip to our state capitol where we met with numerous elected and other officials. The most pressing issues are the ongoing drought and climate change. Other issues of top priority include transportation and infrastructure funding for our aging infrastructure. While it is still very early in the 2015 legislative session, these are issues we will continue to track as the bills wind their way through the process.
Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De Leon spoke with us about his aggressive climate change bill, SB350: the Energy 50-50-50 Plan. Consistent with Governor Brown’s climate change agenda, this is an aggressive plan to increase renewables by 50%, reduce petroleum use by 50%, and increase the energy efficient building stock in the state by 50% — all by 2030.
In February of this year, as requested by Governor Brown in the Environmental Goals and Policy Report under AB32, Cal EPA published “Climate Change Research Plan for California”. Our conversation with the Governor’s Office confirmed that climate change is top priority. The 5 Year “Climate Change Research Plan for California” can be found HERE.
What does this bill mean for business?
It will be important to watch this as it progresses. What we know for sure is that Californian currently pays more for energy then most of the rest of the country – this makes it difficult for our businesses to compete. Read about it in our article “Reducing Energy Costs for Your Operation” this month HERE.
On April 1, Governor Brown imposed the first ever state-wide mandatory water reductions.
This graphic shows how far we have yet to go in Southern California from a residential use perspective. Southern California, including Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Diego Counties have only reduced residential water use by 6% since 2013! In addition to reducing residential consumption, the executive order calls out requirements for businesses with large landscapes with a clear statement that they must meet the same reduction targets. It is expected that local water agencies will also focus on reductions of indoor and process use of water by the business community. We can expect water costs to increase in a time of scarcity. The pricing of water was identified as one of the most important tools for achieving conservation. Water suppliers are now required under the executive order to report water usage, conservation rates, and enforcement information.
What does this mean for business?
Increased costs and pressure on conservation, recycling and reuse where possible. Beverage manufacturers might already have challenges, based on this recent Reuters article HERE All businesses who use water might want to assess their water risks and further opportunities for conservation in their processes.
Transportation and Infrastructure
California’s aging transportation infrastructure, as well as, inadequate funding to perform needed maintenance and repairs is a legislative topic this year. To date, California’s fuel tax has been the funding mechanism for infrastructure; and a more fuel efficient fleet of vehicles in our state has reduced the pool of funding over the years. Speaker of the Assembly, Tony Atkins, shared information about her emerging plan for replacing the gas tax with a road user charge. Some states use a mileage based use fee or a fee based on vehicle miles traveled. One example of how this could more fairly replace the gas tax — a Tesla driver today doesn’t contribute to the transportation fund through fuel taxes because they are not using gasoline, however, that Tesla still drives the same roads as the state’s gasoline powered cars.
What does this mean for business?
Those of us who drive many road miles for our business will need to pay for those miles traveled to support the upkeep of the roads, bridges, etc. Today we do that through a gas tax, unless our business have hybrid or electric vehicles.
Other Legislation of Interest this Session
Two other bills of interest were introduced this session.
AB357 – Would require businesses to give hourly employees a minimum two weeks’ notice of work schedules and require additional pay (double time) for schedule changes. A lot of businesses are a bit concerned about the implications of this bill.
AB1252 – Would stop Prop 65 frivolous (or “shakedown”) lawsuits. This bill is supported by many businesses.
We will continue to track legislative and regulatory issues of issues to your organization and share information. If you need help or information on any of the above issues, please give us a call at 800-777-0605.