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Business Groups' Frustration Grows on Regulatory Reform



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(Sacramento, CA)
Monday, August 15, 2011

Back in February, in the heart of budget negotiations, Senate Democratic Leader Darrell Steinberg began a very public push to overhaul California's regulatory code.  He hauled dozens of binders to a news conference:

Steinberg: "You're looking at 28,000 pages of regulation, the California Code of Regulation.  28,000 pages!"

And he promised to work with business and environmental groups to streamline projects and eliminate duplicative regulations.  Six months later, that bill has yet to pass a single committee.  And despite several meetings with Governor Jerry Brown, business groups are growing frustrated.  Betty Jo Toccoli is with the California Small Business Association:

Toccoli: "I think there was a commitment from the governor's office to continue to work with us.  And I have no reason to think he won't.  But I don't think the sense of urgency is as great as it would have been if it was included in the budget."

Steinberg's office points to two bills that could see action soon.  One would tweak the state's environmental review process, which slows - and often stalls - development projects.  The other is the bill Steinberg discussed in February.  It's authored by Democratic Senator Ron Calderon, who's in discussions with business groups.

Calderon: "They all want a lot more than I think we are able to get votes for at this time. And I think it's important that we look at this as a very important step in the right direction."

That's a hard sell to Gary Toebben with the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce.  He says the state's struggling economy demands a sense of urgency that lawmakers appear to lack.

Toebben: "There are a few pieces of legislation that have some potential to make a small dent this year.  But I think the major reforms will probably have to wait until next year."

Evan Westrup in the governor's press office says Brown remains committed to regulatory reform:

Westrup: "We would've loved to have knocked this out in March during budget negotiations.  And these are clearly priorities that all Californians share.  We're moving forward as quickly as possible to make that happen."

But the governor could make some changes through executive orders.  So far, he hasn't.

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