Excerpted from Bakersfield.com
April 28, 2020
By Assemblyman Vince Fong
As California prepares for the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Newsom administration must also be focused and prepare on how to best support our state’s communities and businesses moving forward. To revitalize our economy, we must provide our small business owners and entrepreneurs stability so they can reopen, grow and hire. There is no question that during a time of economic struggle, we must look for ways to remove burdens on businesses trying to survive.
One of the major cost drivers of doing business in California is the cost of complying with the state’s regulatory jungle. The easiest and most common sense way to help bolster our local businesses and communities is to temporarily pause the rulemaking process for new regulations that are unrelated to COVID-19.
For example, California’s regulations significantly reduce the water supplies available for our farmers in the Central Valley, who are working around the clock to ensure that community grocery store shelves are stocked with food while we are sheltering in place. Due to the lack of water, farmers are forced to fallow many acres of prime agricultural land that could otherwise help grow needed produce.
New state regulations also threaten to further deteriorate the condition of California’s economy. The California Air Resource Board is still considering a new regulation that would impose additional regulations on every vessel that comes into a California port. It makes no sense to burden our freight and transportation system that moves goods and products to our stores across the state when they are struggling. According to state staff, the cost of this regulation is estimated to be $2.16 billion over ten years. The state must postpone the development and implementation of this and other harmful regulations while our state weathers COVID-19’s economic fallout.
Furthermore, the very thought of increasing taxes or fees would be a disastrous decision. It makes no sense to provide state assistance and relief to families and business around the state, only to force them to pay it back through new taxes. We must do everything that we can to lessen the costs Californians face because of this pandemic.
In order for California to help, and not hinder, the work being done by local governments, businesses and families, it is imperative that the state implement an immediate moratorium on agency rulemakings not related to imminent health and safety concerns related to COVID-19 and halt any attempt to impose any new taxes or fees that would hurt California communities and businesses.
By implementing a moratorium on the development and implementation of new rules, taxes and fees, the state would take a critical and meaningful step in allowing our economy to recover from the economic impact stemming from the response to COVID-19. In this difficult time, the state should support Californians as much as possible and give them the best environment for them to succeed. Pausing non-critical regulations and stopping the imposition of new taxes or fees are common sense and necessary actions that will ensure that California businesses, entrepreneurs, and innovators can reopen, rehire and thrive.
In the coming weeks, the Assembly Budget Committee — of which I am a sitting member — will be holding hearings on the state’s budget outlook and the economic and fiscal policies needed as the state re-opens and returns back to business.
Assemblyman Vince Fong represents the 34th Assembly District, encompassing most of Kern County.