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Climate change bills would add costly burden to business

State Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, center, answers a question concerning a pair of environmental measures before the Legislature during a news conference on Aug. 25.
State Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, center, answers a question concerning a pair of environmental measures before the Legislature during a news conference on Aug. 25. The Associated Press

Much to the dismay of small business owners across the state, the authors of two major pieces of climate change legislation refuse to take responsibility for the massive cost increases should their bills become law.

Senate Bill 32 would extend AB 32 (the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006) by another 30 years and stack the more aggressive carbon reduction goal of 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

Small businesses are already grappling with how to comply with AB 32, cap and trade and stricter regulations without cutting jobs, services, or simply closing their doors.

Sadly, SB 32 only compounds these challenges for the average small business by increasing these requirements – all with no clear direction as to how those operators and owners can meet those goals without severe adverse fallout for the business and its employees.

Although the intent may not be to harm small business or the economy, the reality is that rushing into implementing this vast expansion of AB 32 would be devastating to everyone in California.

A recent study by the California Building Industry Association warned that SB 32 could affect the construction of new homes and drive up the cost of housing, increasing the cost of a typical new home by a whopping $58,281. Pricing 683,000 families out of the housing market does not seem thoughtful or sensitive to the needs of struggling Californians. It is irresponsible to give even more unfettered rule-making power to state bureaucrats – this is power that the voters have entrusted to their elected representatives.

A companion bill, SB 350, adds more bad news to the economic picture.

It mandates a 50 percent gasoline and diesel fuel reduction by 2030, and gives even more far-reaching power to the unelected, unaccountable California Air Resources Board.

The bill’s author accuses opponents of fear-mongering, but the cold, hard fact is that this legislation will hit the poorest Californians in the areas with the worst roads the hardest.

The bad news for all Californians is that if both of these bills become law, everyone – whether you own a business or not – will be affected.

If you drive a car, gas prices will be higher. If you want to buy a house, you very likely could be priced out of the market. Small business owners will have to raise prices in order to cover the increases in gas and delivery charges. In some cases, small businesses may have to close up shop all together, which would be the worst consequence – intended or not.

Tom Scott is director of the National Federation of Independent Businesses/California.

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