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Democrats Propose Reforms Of Business Regulations

JUDY LIN

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) â¿¿ Democratic lawmakers and business leaders announced Thursday a package of bills designed to make California's regulatory environment friendlier to businesses.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and Assembly Speaker John Perez announced an agreement with business leaders on two bills they hope to pass next week before the end of this year's legislative session.

Job growth has been at the forefront for state leaders as California continues to struggle with a 12 percent unemployment rate, the second highest in the nation after Nevada.

"We are here ... to put an end to the drumbeat that California is not friendly to business," said Steinberg, a Democrat from Sacramento.

The main bill would require state agencies to assess the economic impact of regulations before they are adopted.

SB617 by Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Monterey Park, and Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, would require state agencies to evaluate new regulations if they have an estimated $50 million economic impact or more on businesses.

The agencies would have to consider the least burdensome and cost-effective method of implementing those regulations.

A second bill would establish the Governor's Office of Business and Economic Development to develop an economic strategy and market California as a good place to do business. AB29 by Perez, a Los Angeles Democrat, also would create a business investment program to assist people who want to invest or expand in the state.

The bills are supported by the California Chamber of Commerce and the California Manufacturers and Technology Association, which called the package a good first step to reducing business costs.

"California is in a very deep hole right now," said Jack Stewart, president of the manufacturers group. "We have 12 percent unemployment. We're not seeing new investment. There are a lot of other things that need to happen to reduce costs in California to bring California in line with other states and nations."

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