On Friday, Senator Tom Umberg (D-Santa Ana) announced that he will introduce a bill next week that would waiver operating fees for businesses that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The currently unnamed bill would specifically waive all state and local operating fees for businesses that have been impacted y the COVID-19 pandemic and all subsequent stay-at-home orders.
Senator Umberg and other supporters noted that since businesses have been forced by state, county, and local laws to operate at a diminished capacity or completely shut down, the added costs of operating fees, which in many cases can cost businesses up to four figures a year, have been unduly hurting businesses. Since businesses aren’t operating at 100% or are even closed down by law, many have argued that it is unfair for them to have to keep paying fees as if they were open.
“California businesses have sacrificed too much for our public health: many have closed permanently, others have been forced to lay off valued employees, and all have struggled. It is wrong for the state to charge fees to companies and professionals for work they are prohibited from doing through no fault of their own,” said Senator Umberg in a press release on Friday. “Hopefully, this effort will go a long way towards recognizing the sacrifices of the state’s small and family-owned businesses and sole proprietorships, in particular, as they endure another round of closures. It is time we acknowledge – in a meaningful way – those businesses with shuttered doors, and the painful decisions made by families up and down the state.
“This bill is a start – the beginning of a long conversation with stakeholders both in Sacramento and throughout California to make sure the voices of Main Street are heard and their sacrifices valued.”
Senator Umberg’s as-yet unnamed bill is the first new planned bill this coming session to give more relief for businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many more bills that will deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and it’s subsequent economic shakeup are expected next week in both the Assembly and Senate as the next session is due to start on December 7th.
“Just from what I’ve seen so far, most new bills are dealing with COVID in some way, shape, or form,” noted Dana, a State Capitol staffer, to the Globe. “Even things that normally don’t have to do with health or public safety, or about economic distress, are at least going to be touched on in most cases. We saw this happen earlier this year when both houses said that most non-COVID-19 related bills would be pushed back, so most bills found ways to be tied to COVID-19 or to the economic factor. And we’re seeing it again. Partly, it’s out of a need for help, but it’s partly to make sure the bills stay up in case another outbreak happens and they need another limited session with limited bills.
“This session will not be a normal session by far. The Assembly meeting in an NBA arena should have been a big tipoff there.”
The new bill by Senator Umberg, as well as other new bills, are expected to be presented in the Legislature beginning next week.