Democrats Hold Business-Backed Measures on Suspense File
Most bills supported by the California Chamber of Commerce and other pro-business groups were held in the Senate and Assembly Appropriations committees during the recently completed suspense file process.
Suspense is the process whereby bills with fiscal impacts – over $150,000 in the Assembly — are held and then considered together based on the state’s fiscal condition.
Assembly Appropriations had 310 bills on its suspense file proposing some $5.8 billion in spending. The committee approved 55 percent of the bills, but held spending by the cash-starved general fund to $30 million,
Similarly, Senate Appropriations approved only $26 million in general fund spending, $23 million related to implementation costs of the new federal health care law.
The suspense file also serves a political purpose. It is a convenient place to park Republicans measures that Democratic leadership wants killed so their members aren’t confronted by a difficult or potentially politically harmful vote.
To avoid that, the measures just stay on suspense – like many of the chamber-supported bills.
Similarly, the Democratic leadership, which control both houses, can use suspense to hold legislation by their own membership, which would either embarrass the lawmaker carrying the bill or place fellow Democrats in the difficult position of having to vote for it.
Of the 20 bills the chamber had positions on in the upper house’s committee, 14 measures they opposed were released from suspense. Two bills they opposed were held.
Three measures the chamber supported were approved by the upper house’s committee including one the chamber labels a “job creator.” It would allow collection of a fee at several airports, including Burbank and Long Beach, to make terminal improvements.
The Assembly Appropriations Committee approved 17 bills opposed by the chamber and held 11 measures it supported. However, the committee held 10 bills opposed by the chamber, seven of which come from the chamber’s list of so-called “job killers.”
Among them were measures repealing the ability of businesses to write off past loses against current profits, annually limit tax deductions and credits based on the state’s fiscal health and restrict he ability of an employer to turn down an applicant based on a prior criminal conviction.
Authored by Democrats the measures were likely in part to avoid politically unpopular votes on them by Democrats.
Two Senate bills backed by the chamber won unanimous votes: One requiring community colleges to confirm a d degree on pupils saying they’re eligible for transfer to the California State University system and an exemption from mandatory minimum penalties for some reporting of waste discharges.
Filed under: Legislature/Legislation
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