Crocodile tears

Find a complete list of the Chamber’s so-called “job killer” bills at

Once a year, the California Chamber of Commerce releases a list of 25 so-called “job killer” bills under consideration in the Legislature. Of course, the Chamber’s concern isn’t so much lost jobs as lost profits, but no matter. The list, released last month, is mostly interesting for what it says about the obsolete attitude of the state’s foremost business-interest group.

Readers may remember that last year’s list of “job killers” included Assembly Bill 32, the landmark global-warming bill that passed anyway and is now the model for the nation. This year’s list includes several bills designed to implement that law and reduce greenhouse gases. They include AB 35, AB 888 and AB 1058 that implement green building guidelines, AB 1065 that implements tight energy-efficiency measures, AB 210 that controls vehicle emissions and Senate Bill 140 that fosters alternative fuels. According to the Chamber, all would cost jobs and therefore should be defeated.

One has to wonder just how the Chamber thinks we should go about ending global warming.

The same is true of health care. The chamber labels as “job killers” all three bills that seek to provide universal health care (and no doubt would oppose the governor’s plan if it were written yet). It doesn’t say how it would solve the problem of millions of Californians with no health insurance.

It also opposes AB 5, which calls for a comprehensive Central Valley flood policy and flood-risk management, as well as AB 70, which would hold those building in flood plains responsible for the damage resulting from flooding. Hello? Can anybody say Hurricane Katrina?

And here’s a question that puts apples to oranges. Which is more important, clean air or jobs? The Chamber says jobs and so opposes AB 493, the California Vehicle Incentive Program, and SB 974, which tackles air pollution at the state’s ports. Interestingly, the Teamsters union, the most job-defending union in the country, isn’t worried about this “job killer”—it supports the bill.

The list goes on: Bills that would clean the oceans, recycle plastic, protect nurses’ bargaining rights and help permanently disabled workers are on the list.

And that spinach that might give you a fatal dose of E. coli? SB 201, which would regulate the production of leafy green vegetables—well, that too is an alleged job killer.

Uh, excuse us, but didn’t a February 2007 study by the Public Policy Institute of California find such claims greatly exaggerated, i.e. that California’s share of national employment has remained roughly constant this past decade—and even has risen between 2000 and 2004. (Hint: That’s when fears about the “job killing” business climate were off the charts in California politics.)

Here’s hoping nobody buys the “job killers” nonsense this time around. If the Chamber wants to remain relevant and maintain any credibility at all, it’s going to have to do better than this.