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by Tim Cremins, Director, California/Nevada Conference on Operating Engineers
AB 742 Stifles Economic Growth and Job Creation, Subverts Local Land Use DecisionsTimes are tough right now and good jobs are hard to come by for many Californians. Rather than considering bad legislation like Assembly Bill
742 that stifles private investment, business and employment, California State Legislators should be doing everything they can to enact policies that create jobs and encourage new, private investment in our economy.
Several influential labor groups have joined business and local government to urge legislators to reject this special interest bill, was introduced at the last minute solely to kill an important new aggregate production project in Riverside County on behalf of the wealthy and politically influential Pechanga tribe.
On the natural, labor has had a good relationship with many tribes in the state, but the Pechanga leadership has overreached with AB 742, which erases hundreds of badly needed new jobs in construction and transportation in an area suffering some of California's highest unemployment rates.
The proposed Liberty Quarry project in Temecula has been in the county environmental and land use permitting process for six years and is close to final consideration by Riverside County Supervisors. For most of that time, the tribe sat on the sidelines, offering little input on the project until AB 742 was suddenly created for the tribe just weeks before the end of the legislative session to circumvent the local decision-making process and put an end to the project.
The negative economic ripple effect of AB 742 is considerable. Usurping local government land use authority sets a dangerous precedent that impacts any future aggregate mining projects in the state, effectively eliminating thousands of potential new jobs and further damaging our economy. In addition to the lost jobs, the bill would erase more than $350 million in local and state taxes and fees from the project to help budget strapped agencies provide important public services.
Projects like Liberty Quarry are vital to the economy and the thousands of jobs that depend on local sources of aggregate to build critical infrastructure like roads, schools, hospitals, businesses and homes. Without these local supplies, material needs to be trucked in from distant locations, increasing costs and potentially stalling job-producing construction projects.
Ill-conceived legislation like AB 742 sends the wrong message to companies already doing business in California and to others that might invest here and bring new jobs. It reinforces the impression that our state is unfriendly to business and is an unreliable investment partner prone to enacting capricious special interest legislation that kills jobs rather than creating them.
AB 742, scheduled to be heard is Senate Natural Resources Tuesday morning, must be rejected to send a different message about our commitment to job creation and economic growth. Local officials should make the call on Liberty Quarry, not Sacramento.
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