Tuesday, February 06, 2007

SB-Cal Newsletter: February 2007

Small Business California’s Annual Survey
Small Business California (SB-Cal) is in the process of doing its third annual survey. This survey is used to set the agenda for the year for SB-Cal.

Last year the priority issues were health insurance, workers compensation, education/workforce, infrastructure, regulations and energy. Please visit our website
http://www.smallbusinesscalifornia.org/ for our accomplishments in 2006.

You can help by going to our website
http://www.smallbusinesscalifornia.org/ and completing the survey. The results of the survey will be sent to every state legislature, the Governor, and the media. Please take a moment.

Thank you.

Small Business California Legislation
Small Business California has been extremely busy in Sacramento. We are sponsoring three bills, which you should know about, because we will be coming to you later in the year asking for you to write letters of support.

The first bill is a tax credit for business owners that set up a 125 (cafeteria) plan. 125 plans are set up by employers and allow employees to pay health insurance premiums, health insurance deductibles, co-pays etc. with pretax dollars. The problem is that in pass through organizations, (sole proprietors, partnerships, S corporations, etc.) the owners of these businesses cannot take the benefits like their employees. This bill would allow owners to take these same benefits.

This is a simple fairness bill. It just makes sense that if an employer (owner) pays for a 125 plan and administers the plan that they should be treated the same as their employees.

The second bill would address the issue of some businesses not providing workers compensation coverage for their employees, creating an unleveled playing field for legitimate businesses. The bill would require the Economic Development Department to send to the Fraud Commission in the Department of Insurance a list of employers. It would also require the Workers' Compensation Insurance Rating Board to send the Fraud Commission all the employers that are providing workers compensation insurance. The Fraud Commission would then do a crosscheck and for those that are not providing coverage take steps to get them to provide coverage.

The third bill would address a problem that has arisen in the workers compensation reforms. Under current return to work regulations businesses with 50 or more employees can have their employee's benefit payments reduced by 15% if they provide the employee the opportunity to return to work. If they do not provide this, their disability payment is increased 15%. The problem is that the employer must provide employment for 12 months.

This clearly is impractical for a number of businesses especially those in the agricultural, entertainment, retail, and construction sectors where jobs are short term. This bill would eliminate the 15% increase if the job were short term.

We will continue to report to you the progress of these bills and hope you will support us in our efforts to get these bills passed and signed by the Governor.

Health Insurance

For the last two years the ever-increasing cost of heath insurance has been the number one issue for small businesses in California. Small Business California has played an active role in the health debate.

We have met with Senator Perata and Speaker Nunez’s office regarding their bills. We have also met numerous times with the Governor's office and I was on the panel when the Governor announced his proposal.

Small Business California’s position is that cost containment must be addressed and the cost of health insurance must be reduced. Future increases must be at or below the inflation rate.

If this accomplished, Small Business California has taken the position that small businesses would be willing to pay something towards their employee’s health insurance along with contributions by employees and government.

Small Business California will continue to be at the forefront of the debate. Please visit our website
http://www.smallbusinesscalifornia.org/ for our position paper on this issue.

Flex Your Power
Flex Your Power is looking for small businesses that should be highlighted with an award because they have acted to save energy.

Does your business have unique ways that you've saved on fuel costs while still serving your customers well?

Have you invested in energy efficiency and have a good story to tell regarding other benefits you didn't realize would come your way? (I'm thinking of my local service station where they used a PG&E program to change their lighting and saved a bundle but they improved the QUALITY of the lighting to a major degree!)

Or, does you company actually manufacture or otherwise supply technologies that save energy and help other small businesses profit as a dividend?

There is one thing we know for sure. Small businesses are often just too busy to do more than to run the business. That said, I hope you'll take a minute to consider asking SB-Cal to nominate your business for an award.

We'll do all the paperwork and call you to get information.

Call me directly at my cell 510-459-9683 if you'd like to be nominated for a Flex Your Power award in one of the categories below.

Hank Ryan, Executive Director – Small Business California


(DUE MARCH 15, 2007)
There's never been a more important time. There's never been a more important reason.

Conserving energy not only cuts costs, but also reduces emissions that lead to global warming. Join the ranks of outstanding leaders in California who know the time to fight global warming is now.

Flex Your Power seeks to recognize businesses, local, state and federal governments, farmers, water districts and institutions that understand that saving energy means saving money and the environment. If your organization is making steps to reduce energy use, please tell us your story by applying for a Flex Your Power Award.

Awards will highlight leaders in each of the following categories:
  • Energy Efficiency
  • Demand Response
  • Education and Leadership
  • Innovative Products and/or Services

APPLY NOW! Visit http://www.fypower.org/feature/awards/ learn how.

AB 32 Climate Change Legislation
SB-Cal offers "OP ED" piece regarding California's AB 32 Climate Change legislation.
(click here:


In an effort to develop a long term solutions based approach to the California's Climate Change legislation, AB 32, we've published an "OP ED" in the SF Examiner that defines our working plan. (see link:

Small businesses are a major part of the "demand" side of energy use. Pro-active small business investments in energy efficiency require three main elements:

  • Accurate energy savings information, preferably verifiable via Internet monitoring where possible.
  • Access to capital like On Bill Financing so as to remove cash flow issues that often block energy efficiency investments.
  • Regulations that encourage small businesses to invest in energy efficiency.

The "OP ED" (see link http://www.smallbusinesscalifornia.org/SF_Examiner_OP_Ed.pdf) article points out one simple way California regulators may encourage energy efficiency investments by CA small businesses. If there were a way to even slightly accelerate the processing time for liquor permits in return for proof of $2500 in Energy Star food service or refrigeration equipment purchases, businesses would have ample reason to look into these purchases at the right time, before the business is operating. This regulatory adjustment is consistent with other programs offered by the CA Dept of Alcoholic Beverage Control and does not call for any additional costs.

Hank Ryan will be traveling throughout CA in the coming months to speak to small business groups and other interested organizations on this issue. If your group would like to host Mr. Ryan for a 30-minute (including Q&A) presentation, please email to:

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