Page 1

2016 Advocacy Agenda Enables Fast, Prudent Business Advocacy for Members As the Torrance Area Chamber of Commerce (TACC) embarks on its 103rd year promoting the interests of Torrance business to all levels of government, the 2016 political landscape is shaping up to deliver one of the busiest legislative years in recent memory. Rob Van Lingen TACC Vice Chair of Government Relations

With numerous business-related issues to be

considered by policymakers and a robust

ballot heading to California voters during a Presidential election year, TACC has published its Advocacy Agenda to articulate the Chamber’s viewpoints towards governmental policy in 2016. This document serves first and foremost as an internal tool for TACC to engage in timely, prudent business advocacy work. Traditionally, the Chamber determines its position towards various policies through its Governmental Affairs Policy (GAP) group, which meets once per month; however, this process can be slow in a policy world that changes by the minute. To mitigate this shortcoming, the TACC GAP group has developed this booklet, which will enable TACC to advocate proactively for Torrance business in 2016. Second, this document serves as an effective communication tool for TACC to provide business perspectives to elected officials.

The simplest communication to policy makers would be to merely – leave us alone. Unfortunately, business and government are complicated, which compels us to have a sophisticated and assertive communication tool such as this agenda guide. It is a privilege for me to able to work with the GAP group in 2016. It is my greatest hope that I can help TACC live up to the ideals of the extraordinary Torrance business pioneers who founded this Chamber 103 years ago. Torrance Area Chamber of Commerce // 2016 Advocacy Agenda

2016 Strategic Advocacy Priorities I. Small Business / Jobs Improve the state’s business climate

II. Tax and Fiscal Policies Promote growth of employment through balanced, consistent, and low tax rates

III. Aerospace and Defense Aerospace and defense must remain a leading economic sector in America and in the South Bay

environmental protections while enabling economic growth

VI. Health Care Increase employers’ abilities to offer quality health care coverage to workers

VII. Infrastructure/Traffic/Transportation Enhance local and state infrastructure to better connect the Torrance area to its region

VIII. Land Use and Development

IV. Education Funding and Workforce Development

Empower local government to implement public-private economic development strategies

California’s education system must be capable of producing a diverse and skilled workforce

IX. Tourism

V. Jobs, Energy, and the Environment

Increase demand for TACC members’ goods and services

Environmental policies provide sensible

Torrance Area Chamber of Commerce //

I. Small Business / Jobs

Downtown Torrance (Courtesy photo: Discover Torrance)

ADVOCACY OBJECTIVE: Improve the state’s business climate

Minimum Wage. Effective January 1, 2016 California Minimum Wage is $10/hr, making California’s minimum wage among the highest in the nation. Some municipalities in the state, to include the City and County of Los Angeles, have increased the minimum wage well above state law. In addition, the 2016 ballot will likely have at least one measure attempting to increase minimum wage. TACC is against all minimum wage policies that attempt to increase the minimum wage above its current form. The Chamber believes low wages are a symptom of low skills; thus, polices to address low wages need to focus on promoting skill development that is relevant to workforce demands and technological advancements. TACC is committed to addressing low wages through workforce development strategies. Workers’ Compensation. A massive overhaul of the state’s workers’ compensation system took place in 2012 to address bipartisan concerns with both permanent disability (PD) compensation and high system costs for employers. The compromise resulted in an increase of benefits paid to permanently disabled workers and regulatory overhaul to reduce “frictional” system costs for employers. Although the reform was a win for both business and labor, the reform left employers with a degree of risk: should the system’s “frictional” costs not be reduced as forecasted, the non-retractable PD benefit increase would drive system costs even higher. TACC advocates for the agreed upon 2012 reforms to remain intact and for further reform of the system to reduce the system’s high costs for employers. Torrance Area Chamber of Commerce // 2016 Advocacy Agenda

Employer-Employee Relations. TACC supports policies that promote employer-employee freedoms to negotiate terms and conduct of employment, and opposes polices that restrict those freedoms. Notably, TACC opposes employee retention mandates, employee scheduling mandates, and restrictions on an employer’s access to relevant employee work-related information.

Litigation. California continues to rank near the bottom in its overall legal climate. TACC advocates for the improvement of the California legal system, the protection of arbitration agreements in employment contracts, the reduction of private rights of action, and the reduction of litigation costs. ADA Reform. A menacing uptick in frivolous American with Disabilities Act (ADA) litigation that essentially extorts small businesses has greatly impacted some Torrance employers. The rise in ADA lawsuits has also fraught the City of Torrance. TACC advocates for policymakers to reform the lucrative ADA lawsuit environment in California while maintaining protections for individuals with disabilities.

California’s Legal Climate

#1 “Judicial Hellhole” in the nation, according to the latest ranking of the “most unfair” civil litigation courts by the American Tort Reform Foundation

40% of the nation’s disability access lawsuits are brought in California*

Labeling Mandates. TACC opposes frivolous labeling mandates that increase business costs but serve little or no benefit to consumers. In addition, TACC is against policies that require disclosure of ingredient information but do not provide protections for confidential business information.

54% of construction-related

Prop 65 Reform. TACC supports the intent of Prop 65, which is a law that requires businesses with ten or more employees to warn individuals before knowingly exposing them to chemicals known to cause cancer and/or reproductive toxicity. Unfortunately, the law’s intent has been compromised by individual attorneys who abuse the law for personal financial gain. Prop 65 abuse continues to harass businesses and detract from the policy goals the law set forth. TACC advocates for Prop 65 reform that restores the original warning, and discourages frivolous lawsuits by plaintiffs’ attorneys.

*Source: NPR News **Source: California Commission on Disability Access

accessibility complaints filed between 2012 and 2014 were filed by two law firms**

intent of the law, reduces over-

CA Workers’ Compensation Costs Compared to Other States, National Median Year









Rank by Most Expensive









% of National Median









Source: Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services Torrance Area Chamber of Commerce //

II. Tax and Fiscal Policies

Central Torrance (Photo by Brandon Smith, TACC)

ADVOCACY OBJECTIVE: Promote growth of employment through balanced, consistent, and low tax rates Split Roll, Prop 13. TACC supports Prop 13 in its current form and is against polices that seek to eliminate Prop 13 provisions for residential and commercial property owners. For small business owners who do not own property, an increase in commercial property tax rates would likely increase their operating costs because property owners would likely pass the increased tax liability onto small business owners through higher rent costs. TACC believes a significant increase in commercial property tax rates would cause many small business owners to cut jobs, benefits, or raise prices to keep pace with the added costs. Payroll Taxes. Policymakers need to be keenly aware that polices that mandate for employers to increase their labor costs have implications to the amount of payroll taxes an employer must pay. TACC advocates for government decision-making to always consider the real costs of policies by understanding the second-and-third-order effects of legislation. TACC is largely against policies that increase payroll taxes for employers. Unemployment Insurance (UI). The state’s UI program is financed almost exclusively via payroll taxes paid by employers, who pay the highest rate allowable under law plus additional charges derived from UI debt woes (i.e., $8.7 billion deficit at the end of 2014). TACC believes that reducing unemployment is most critical to the stabilization of the UI program. State policymakers must improve California’s business climate to enable job creation and private investment. In addition, TACC advocates for UI stability through improvement of the UI program’s integrity by reTorrance Area Chamber of Commerce // 2016 Advocacy Agenda

ducing fraud, overpayment, and improving eligibility determinations. Targeted Taxes. TACC is against tax policies that target a specific industry to pay for services that have widespread public benefit. Measure R/Countywide Transportation Tax: In 2009, Los Angeles County voters passed Measure R, which is a half-cent sales tax for Los Angeles County to finance new transportation projects and programs, and accelerate those already underway. TACC advocates for a more equitable allocation of county-wide transportation tax dollars to South Bay transportation projects and for the South Bay to have more representation on the Metropolitan Transit Authority Board. City of Torrance Fiscal Snapshot Source:

Tax Revenues (2013-14)

Expenses (2013-14)

Torrance Area Chamber of Commerce //

III. Aerospace and Defense

Torrance Aviation Center (Courtesy photo: Discover Torrance)

ADVOCACY OBJECTIVE: Aerospace and defense must remain a leading economic sector in America and the South Bay Los Angeles Air Force Base (LAAFB). LAAFB has played a critical role in the creation of the South Bay’s aerospace cluster. TACC is a committed community partner to LAAFB and supports programs and policies that enhance the quality of life for service members, and their families, stationed at the Base. Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC). TACC is an advocate for retaining LAAFB in the South Bay. Should Congress authorize a BRAC Commission in the future, LAAFB should not be considered for closure or realignment. TACC believes the public-private synergy and intellectual capital that has emerged from LAAFB’s presence in the South Bay is unprecedented, strategic to national defense, and cannot be replicated in any other part of the country.

Torrance Area Chamber of Commerce // 2016 Advocacy Agenda

IV. Education & Workforce Development

Pillar at Torrance High (Courtesy photo: Discover Torrance)

ADVOCACY OBJECTIVE: California’s education system must be capable of producing a diverse and skilled workforce Southern California Regional Occupation Center (SoCal ROC). Career Technical Education and adult re-training programs are essential to the development of a 21st century workforce. SoCal ROC is a vital educational institution that provides workforce development training for countless students across the South Bay, many of whom are or become employed by Torrance businesses. TACC advocates for business and community support of SoCal ROC and for a long-term funding solution for the Center so that it continues to provide quality workforce programs. Implementation of TUSD Bond Measures. TACC supported bond Measures T and U passed by voters in 2014, which authorized the Torrance Unified School District (TUSD) to issue over $190 million in bonds under a no-tax rate-increase financing plan. TACC, along with the community, will monitor the bond measures as they are implemented. TACC supports the work of TUSD to provide quality education for students. Educators in the Workplace. The Torrance Area Chamber of Commerce sponsors a Foundation, which is a 501 (c)(3) organization that supports business-related programs for TUSD. In 2015, TACC launched its “Educators in the Workplace” program, a program designed to enable teachers and administrators to better understand the 21st century workplace. Throughout the program, teachers and administrators visit various businesses in Torrance to receive insights from business leaders about local workforce needs. TACC will seek to collaborate with government in 2016 to expand the efficacy of programs such as Educators in the Workplace. Increasing Veteran Employment in Torrance (iVet) Program. TACC values the skills that veterans bring to the civilian workplace and is supportive of policies that help veterans transition to jobs. TACC hosts the iVet program, which formally takes place once per year; however, TACC works with various government and nonprofit organizations throughout the year to help connect veterans with employment opportunities in Torrance. Torrance Area Chamber of Commerce //

V. Jobs, Energy, and the Environment

Wilson Park in Torrance (Courtesy photo: Discover Torrance)

ADVOCACY OBJECTIVE: Policies provide sensible environmental protections while enabling economic growth

Where does Torrance get its Water?

California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). TACC supports the CEQA’s intent to sensibly protect the environment and to ensure the public is allowed to participate in the process. Unfortunately, the overly complex environmental law is often misused by self-serving parties to protect their own economic interests. TACC advocates for CEQA reform that allows for the approval of economic development projects in a timely manner. Water Reliability. TACC supports the work of the state and federal government to continue to ensure California has a reliable supply of water. TACC supports the California WaterFix, which is a plan to build three new water intakes on the Sacramento River and to modernize the San Joaquin-Bay River Delta in order to provide reliable water delivery to Southern California.

In 2014, Torrance received 80% of its total potable water supply from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. This water originated from two sources: (1) the Colorado River and (2) Northern California. The remaining 20% came from one operating well pumping from the West Coast Ground Water Basin and from a groundwater desalination project. Source: Torrance Annual Water Quality Report (2014)

Climate Change. TACC is concerned about the issue of climate change; however, the Chamber does not believe that climate change is the only issue facing California. TACC believes economic growth should be the paramount aim of public policy because it leads to innovation, growth in jobs, and to a greater degree of prosperity for California residents. Therefore, TACC is opposed to overly burdensome climate change-related policies that neglect economic considerations. Furthermore, climate change policies should have clearly measurable performance standards to assess their real economic benefits versus their real economic costs. Policies cre-

Torrance Area Chamber of Commerce // 2016 Advocacy Agenda


ated to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions emitted by industry should be pragmatic and long-run in perspective. In addition, such policies need to have builtin, conditions-based decision points to determine whether the policy is working, whether the policy is worth its impact on the economy, and whether the policy should continue to be implemented.

80% of CEQA lawsuits target infill projects in established communities rather than greenfield projects on undeveloped or agricultural lands outside established communities

Implementation of Cap-and-trade, Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). TACC continues to advocate for GHG emission reduction policies and regulations such as cap-and-trade and renewable electricity mandates to be implemented as economically possible. TACC is against expanding the current cap-andtrade program and RPS beyond 2020 until the legislature independently evaluates the policies for their costs versus their benefits.

13% of CEQA petitioners are recognized state and national environmental advocacy groups

64% of the petitioners filing CEQA lawsuits are either individuals or local "associations" that often have no prior track record of environmental advocacy

Source: Holland and Knight LLP, In the Name of the Environment: Litigation Abuse Under CEQA (2015)

Total Economic Contribution of California Oil and Gas Industry (2013) Employment (jobs): Direct TOTAL Percent of California Total Employment

184,100 455,940 2.1%

Labor income ($ millions): Direct TOTAL Percent of California Total Labor Income

$ 23,280 $ 38,280 2.9%

Value added ($ millions): Direct TOTAL Percent of California Total GDP

$ 47,610 $ 71,890 3.4%

Output ($ millions): Direct TOTAL Percent of California Total Output

$ 165,500 $ 203,790 5.7%

Source: estimates

by LAEDC, published June 2015 Torrance Area Chamber of Commerce //

VI. Health Care

Cyclists riding along Torrance Beach (Courtesy photo: Discover Torrance)

ADVOCACY OBJECTIVE: Increase employers’ abilities to offer quality health care coverage to workers Affordable Care Act (ACA) Implementation. In 2016, all small employers (i.e., 50-100 employees) in California are required to purchase ACAcompliant health plans. TACC advocates for policies that help small employers implement the provisions of ACA and financially incentivize small businesses (i.e., 49 employees or less), which are not subject to the ACA mandate, to offer coverage to their workers. TACC supports legislation that increases coverage affordability and value for employers within the private small-group health care market and the Small Business Health Options Program, a state run exchange. Medi-Cal. Because California policymakers have decided to expand the state’s Medi-Cal program under ACA, financial pressures have spurred some policymakers to want to raise taxes on employers and/or increase penalties on employers that do not offer health care to pay for new costs associated with the program. TACC is against such policies that attempt to pass Medi-Cal costs onto employers. Higher than expected Medi-Cal enrollment, coupled with high drug costs, have added to the program’s financial burden on the state. Because re-imbursement rates often do not cover the costs of the care provided, the unreimbursed costs tend to be passed onto individuals in the private health care market via higher premiums. This dynamic leads to higher costs for businesses that must offer ACA-mandated health care plans to their employees. TACC supports policies that promote innovation; contain costs; increase access to affordable, quality care; and ensure a sustainable future for Medi-Cal. Torrance Area Chamber of Commerce // 2016 Advocacy Agenda

VII. Infrastructure, Traffic, Transportation

Pacific Electric Railway- El Prado Bridge (Courtesy photo: Discover Torrance)

ADVOCACY OBJECTIVE: Enhance local and state infrastructure to better connect the Torrance area to its region Transportation Funding. California policymakers continue to advance an unprecedented and expeditious policy agenda to limit greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles, making the gas tax a non-viable revenue source to fund the upkeep of the state’s road networks. Government policies that require improved fuel efficiency in new vehicles and incentivize the purchase of electric cars have created a predictable circumstance in which low -income earners, who are less likely to afford new or electric vehicles, shoulder more of the gas tax burden than drivers of new or electric vehicles. TACC supports policies that implement a transportation revenuegenerating structure that is fair, transparent, and adequate to fund the upkeep of the state’s road networks. TACC is against policies that raise or implement new taxes as a last resort for road funding. Whether or not a sensible tax policy is warranted in the future, the Chamber first holds government accountable to appropriately manage revenues and to prioritize the expenditure of reveSource: California Department of Transportation nues on essential government services such as road maintenance. Local Transportation Projects. TACC supports the efforts of the City of Torrance to build innovative transportation infrastructure to better connect Torrance to its region. TACC supports transportation projects that improve traffic flow and circulation within the city and help to connect the city’s internal transportation network with external transportation networks to increase commercial tourism in Torrance. Torrance Area Chamber of Commerce //

VIII. Land Use & Development

Sketch of the Del Amo Fashion Center (Courtesy photo: Discover Torrance)

ADVOCACY OBJECTIVE: Empower local government to implement public-private economic development strategies Land Use Approval. TACC supports policies that create efficient review processes that allow for the City of Torrance Planning Commission to timely approve precise land usage plans for development that would benefit the economy and the residents of Torrance. In addition, the Chamber supports streamlined processes that empower the Torrance City Council to approve zone changes and variances needed for such development to take place in a timely manner. Hawthorne Boulevard. TACC is supportive of the economic growth taking place along the Hawthorne Boulevard corridor. The Del Amo Fashion Center, Del Amo Financial Center, multiple automobile dealerships, and other economic development projects along Hawthorne Boulevard are helping Torrance grow and prosper. Downtown Revitalization. TACC supports City of Torrance efforts to prioritize the revitalization of the City’s unique Downtown area. TACC views the Downtown area as one of the City’s most important areas. Post-redevelopment. TACC supports a policy agenda that establishes a common set of development tools for local government to exercise similar to the tools that were available under California’s redevelopment programs prior to their dissolution in 2012.

Torrance Area Chamber of Commerce // 2016 Advocacy Agenda

IX. Tourism

Torrance Beach (Courtesy photo: Discover Torrance)

ADVOCACY OBJECTIVE: Increase demand for TACC members’ goods and services Discover Torrance. TACC supports Discover Torrance to lead efforts to attract visitors to the area. Specifically, the Chamber supports marketing efforts that effectively advertise the Torrance area’s unique attractions and quality businesses to the public. TACC believes marketing efforts should focus on reinvigorating Torrance’s image to fully encompass the economic evolution that has taken place within the City. Tourism Infrastructure. During City of Torrance Mayor Patrick Furey’s 2015 State of the City Address, Mayor Furey announced that the City Council is exploring options to bring a Rubber Tire Trolley Service to Torrance. TACC is supportive of efforts to improve the City’s tourism infrastructure to better circulate visitors and Torrance residents to commercial destinations throughout the City. LAX. TACC supports innovation of LAX to help bring more tourists from around the world to Southern California. TACC supports efforts to increase connectivity between the Torrance area and LAX to capitalize on Torrance’s advantageous proximity to one of the busiest airports in the world. Port of Los Angeles. Torrance is located near a major tourism hub, the Port of Los Angeles (POLA). TACC supports polices and planning that help bring tourists arriving at the POLA to commercial areas in Torrance.

Torrance Area Chamber of Commerce //

2016 Advocacy Agenda  

The Torrance Area Chamber of Commerce's plan for advocating on behalf of member businesses.

2016 Advocacy Agenda  

The Torrance Area Chamber of Commerce's plan for advocating on behalf of member businesses.