And the Bills Just Keep on Coming?
California Senate, Assembly bills cover a broad spectrum of trade-related activities
SACRAMENTO - 03/10/04 - A juggernaut of trade-related legislation is ponderously clanking a path through California's Democrat-controlled legislature as Sacramento continues to re-define its role as a trade facilitator and promoter in a post-recall environment of dramatically reduced budgets and a new Republican governor at the helm.
With the mismanaged and now-defunct California Technology, Trade & Commerce Agency a bitter memory and the state's overseas trade offices shuttered, Sacramento is taking a fresh look at the impact global business has on the state's economy and what part, if any, it should play in positioning the state in the global business arena.
On the Senate side, almost a dozen bills covering a broad range of issues from promoting agricultural exports and tourism to trade promotion and maritime security are up for consideration, while the Assembly is pondering legislation affecting port congestion, environmental controls, export development, and food labeling among others.
A sampling from the Senate and the Assembly?
SB 1261 is a wide-sweeping, generic bill sponsored by Sen. John Vasconcellos (13th District) that would provide that the Department of Food and Agriculture "is the primary state agency for the promotion of California agriculture, fish, and forest exports, and for the administration of federal-state export programs for those products;" mandate that the Business, Transportation and Housing Agency fill a similar role "with respect to foreign investment, international public infrastructure projects, and support for California businesses in accessing international markets.
The bill also directs'that the state Air Resources Agency and the California Environmental Protection Agency assume the mantle of promoting "the international exchange of environmental protection technologies and the promotion of the transfer of environmental technology to and from the state."
Authored by Sen. Jackie Spier (8th District), SB 1390 - the California Tourism Marketing Act - would budget at least $7.3 million a year to establish a California Travel and Tourism Commission "for the purpose of increasing the number of persons traveling to and within the state." The bill stipulates that the appropriation for the Commission would be appropriated from the General Fund.
SB 1453 "would require any employer that outsources jobs that would result in the replacement of 20 or more workers in California to, not less than 60 days before the employer enters into a contract with a contractor or subcontractor located outside the United States to perform the outsourced job functions, give written notice of the contract to the Employment Development Department and the employees based in California whose jobs would be affected by the outsourcing."
The bill was authored by Sen. Liz Figueroa (10th District).
Sen. Betty Karnette, a Democrat whose 27th District encompasses much of the region adjacent to the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, is the author of SB 1837 which would establish an Office of Trade Promotion in the Governor's office "to serve as the state's primary resource and focal point for all trade-related activities and inquiries" and "to faclitate collaboration among organizations that can provide complementary trade services." The bill stipulates that the proposed Trade Promotion Office would be funded from existing resources in the Governor's Office.
SB 1857 is an attempt to resurrect the state's shuttered network of overseas trade promotion offices. The bill - authored by Republican Sen. Dennis Hollingsworth (36th District) - "would declare the intent of the Legislature to provide for trade and international trade offices on behalf of the state through public-private partnerships."
On the Assembly side?
Bay Area Democrat Leland Yee (12th District), seen by some as the Assembly's new "flag bearer" on trade-related issues, is the author of AB 2411, a broad-based bill "that would state the intent of the Legislature to enact legislation to create and maintain relevant organizational structures and procedures to support the implementation and growth of international trade and investment in California."
Yee's AB 2524 would "enact" the California Export Development Corporation (CEDC) law and add provisions to establish the CEDC in the Business Transportation and Housing Agency. The bill would also authorize the guarantee of loans by the Corporation through the Small Business Loan Guarantee Program.
Assemblyman Alan Lowenthal (5th District) is the author of several bills currently before the Assembly that could significantly impact the movement of goods in and out of California's deep-water ports.
His AB 2041 would establish an as-yet undetermined charge for the "privilege" of transporting cargo by commercial motor vehicle into or out of the Port of Los Angeles or the Port of Long Beach between the hours of 8:00 am and 5:00 pm, inclusive, Monday through Friday, inclusive. All revenues derived from the imposition of the charge would be deposited in a so-called Congestion Management Fund "and expended to fund certain projects to help alleviate congestion caused by scheduling shipments by commercial motor vehicles during the specified hours."
Lowenthal's AB 2042 would "require that the Port of Long Beach and the Port of Los Angeles ensure that all future growth at each port will have a zero-net increase in air pollution," while AB 2043 would compel the state's ports to contribute "an unspecified amount of money" annually to fund a Maritime Port Strategic Master Plan Task Force tasked with approving ports' development plans.
Assemblyman Keith Richman's AB 1911 "requires the Governor to instruct the Secretary of Business, Transportation and Housing to establish, on a contract basis, an international trade and investment office in Israel," while AB 2206, authored by Assemblyman Marco Firebaugh (50th District), would "require the Secretary, to the extent that sufficient non-state funds are available'to develop a statewide collaborative alliance of public / private sector trade development organizations to achieve specified international trade and investment purposes?"
The bill would also authorize the establishment of representative offices in foreign locations "subject to the availability of sufficient non-state funds for that purpose."
AB 2887 - authored by Democrat Jenny Oropeza (55th District) - would require the Governor to notify the Legislature "subsequent to signing any document involving a foreign government."
Under existing law, the Governor is the "sole official organ of communication" between the government of the state and any other state or of the United States."
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