Learn more about FBA’s current priority bills.

Legislature takes seventh-inning stretch

By Dennis Albiani and Faith Lane
California Advocates

On July 21st, the Legislature adjourned for a month- long summer recess. When lawmakers return in late August, they will have four weeks of session remaining this year to act on the hundreds of bills still pending — plenty of time to play ball.

There have been a number of key victories for the Family Business Association and the business community so far this year. Perhaps the top two wins were putting on hold SB 762 (Wiener), the proposed death tax bill, and halting SB 562 (Lara and Atkins), the single-payer legislation that would have cost employers an estimated additional 15 percent in payroll taxes to pay for the $400 billion per year legislation.

A united employer coalition also stifled attempts to impose millions of dollars in significant tax increases on California employers. One example was SB 567 (Lara), which would have taken away several advantages for family businesses to transfer property to heirs and other family members. Like SB 762, the bill is on hold but still alive.

Even in light of these successful hits, there are plenty of wild pitches. Legislation attacking California employers continues to advance towards Governor Brown’s desk. Businesses have been the middleman this year in political fights between the Legislature and the Trump administration. AB 450 (Chiu) and SB 49 (De León) are two key examples that demonstrate California’s efforts to place employers in a no-win situation between complying with federal and/or state laws.

AB 450 would prohibit employers from cooperating with federal immigration enforcement unless there is a valid warrant. Additionally, it has numerous posting and notification requirements. If AB 450 is enacted, employers that are otherwise fully compliant with state and federal laws could be charged up to $10,000 for complying with federal authorities if any immigration enforcement occurs at the workplace. Likewise, under SB 49 businesses would be subject to private rights of action and writs of mandate arising out of new, more- stringent California standards and requirements that are in reaction to any loosening of environmental regulations by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other federal agencies.

Another bill to follow closely in the final weeks is SB 63 (Jackson), which would create the New Parent Leave Act. This would mandate up to 12 weeks of job-protected maternity and paternity leave for workers who work for companies with as few as 20 employees. This benefit would be on top of leave that California already requires, for a total of seven months of protected leave. Although the additional mandated leave is unpaid, it is not without significant costs to employers who are burdened with costs such as overtime pay for other employees covering the workload, or costs associated with temporary workers, in addition to maintaining medical benefits for the employee on leave.

FBA will remain at the forefront of efforts to defend against hostile, unfavorable legislation and regulations, and will continue to lead in advocacy for the creation of jobs and success of family-owned business in California. Play Ball!

FBA’s Policy Goals for 2017

1. Kill the Death Tax bill

SB 726 would ask the voters of California establish an estate tax of 40% if the federal tax is eliminated. It's another way to drive family businesses out of California and punish those who stay here.

2. Accelerate work on eliminating regulations and preventing onerous new ones

With the current makeup of the Legislature, total elimination of most regulations is virtually impossible, so FBA will explore what is feasible to change, what is most onerous and can be documented, and work on accomplishing those improvements.

3. Publicize FBA policy opinions and legislative positions

Work to achieve coverage of those positions and opinions in the news media.

4. Continue to explore opportunities to assist the transfer of ownership and property between family members and through successive generations
  • As tax reform is considered, take an active role to advocate for family businesses - identifying threats and opportunities.
  • Fight against split-roll proposals and protect Proposition 13 for commercial properties.
5. Continue to build relationships with key legislators and Administration officials
  • Sponsor the 5th Annual Family Business Legislative Conference.
  • Meet one-on-one with more key legislators and officials to educate them on the importance of family businesses and what issues are critical to family businesses.
  • Participate in coalitions, public events, and hearings advancing the family business model and issues.
6. Fight against proposals and legislation which will add new regulations, costs, and complexity for family businesses

FBA Takes Lead in Death Tax Fight

Faced with a strong and growing FBA-led coalition opposed to his bill to reinstate California’s estate tax, Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, has decided to make his SB 726 a two-year bill, meaning it will not be heard by legislative committees this year.

The Senate Governance and Finance Committee had been scheduled to take up the bill in late April, but it was pulled from the committee’s agenda at Wiener’s request.

FBA lobbyists assembled a coalition of nearly 50 business and farming organizations that recently sent a letter to Sen. Wiener outlining the many problems in the bill. FBA Vice Chair Ken Monroe also authored an op-ed that ran in Wiener’s hometown newspaper, the San Francisco Chronicle.

“We are pleased that Sen. Wiener has delayed action on his legislation, and will continue working with our coalition partners to persuade him to drop the bill altogether,” said FBA Executive Director Robert Rivinius. “Family businesses are the bedrock of California’s economy and our communities, and imposing a California-only 40 percent death tax would be a crippling blow to many family businesses and would cause many of them to relocate to more business-friendly states.”

SB 726 would ask voters to overturn ballot initiatives approved in 1982 to do away with the state’s estate tax. While Sen. Wiener says the measure would only be pursued if the federal government abolishes its 40 percent death tax, nothing in the legislation states that. The tax would generate about $4.5 billion a year for state government.

Rivinius also warned that the fight is not yet over and FBA must continue to lead the fight against the proposal.

“The best coalition is the largest one possible, and in our case that means having FBA members in every legislative district in California. Please join FBA today to help us continue the fight to defeat this dangerous bill.