Half of Riverside County lawmakers scored high marks and the other half received failing grades in a survey released Monday by the California Chamber of Commerce.
The chamber’s “Record on Major Business Bills” for the first year of the 2017-18 legislative session showed four county lawmakers rated 86 percent or higher in their votes on 19 bills closely monitored by the organization. The other four public servants received scores of 56 percent or less.
At the top of the pile were Sens. Mike Morrell, R-Menifee, and Jeff Stone, R-La Quinta, along with Assembly members Chad Mayes, R-Ranch Mirage, and Melissa Melendez, R-Lake Elsinore.
According to the chamber, both Morrell and Stone nailed perfect scores across the board, voting in line with the chamber’s position every time, while Mayes also had an impeccable record using the same criteria. Melendez, meanwhile, had a voting record of nearly 90 percent — falling short of a perfect score after either missing or abstaining on votes involving two bills the chamber considered important.
Sen. Richard Roth, D-Riverside, rated just inside “F” territory, voting eight times with the chamber and seven times against, with one abstention.
Assembly members Sabrina Cervantes, D-Corona, Eduardo Garcia, D-Indio, and Jose Medina, D-Moreno Valley, all scored well below 50 percent by the chamber’s standard. Garcia had the worst voting record, earning a zero for votes in favor of all bills that the chamber perceived as anti-business.
“The bills and votes reflect legislators’ attitudes toward private enterprise, fiscal responsibility and the business climate,” according to a chamber statement. “Most bills … cover major business issues that are of concern to both small and large companies.”
A few of the bills remain held up in committees for additional scrutiny, including Senate Bill 562, authored by Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens. The proposal would mandate single-payer health insurance in California, creating untold additional burdens for businesses, as well as steep “new taxes” on all Californians, according to the chamber.
Other bills were vetoed by the governor, including Assembly Bill 890, introduced by Medina. The measure sought to eliminate the local initiative power of citizens to seek changes, or block, zoning regulations. Under the bill, that power would instead have vested solely with local governing bodies, such as councils or boards of supervisors.
Bills that were passed and signed by the governor — but opposed by the chamber — included SB 33 and SB 63.
SB 33, authored by Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, disallows arbitration as a “litigation strategy” when it involves financial institutions trying to settle disputes with consumers whose personal information may have been compromised. The bill conflicts with the Federal Arbitration Act, according to the chamber.
SB 63, authored by Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, imposes new maternity and paternity leave mandates on employers, requiring businesses with as few as 20 employees to grant moms and dads 12 weeks of “protected” leave for child bonding, which the chamber argued would drive up expenses for small businesses.
The chamber’s full report is available here.
–City News Service
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