Assemblyman Scott Wilk
[KHTS] – California’s Legislature wrapped up a late night session Thursday night that went until after midnight, Assemblyman Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, said Friday.
There were myriad bills that were voted on as legislators worked to “gut and amend” hundreds of bills this week, a process by which a bill is often taken apart and re-assembled after it leaves committee, Wilk said.
Proposals for a new minimum wage and drivers licenses for illegal immigrants in particular drew Wilk’s ire, while he was happy with minor reforms with CEQA that were also passed.
A minimum wage of $10 was criticized by Wilk because he felt it put an undue burden on small-business owners, who create two-of-every-three jobs in California, he said.
“I feel bad for small business owners,” Wilk said. “They’re already paying the highest taxes in the country, they’re already over-regulated and now they’re going to be further squeezed by having to pay a dollar more.”
California’s new minimum wage is the highest in the country, while San Francisco set its minimum wage at $10.55 last year.
Some major cities, like Los Angeles, adhere to the state’s hourly wage of $8.
Seven states have set their minimum wages higher than California, according to an interactive map created by the U.S. Department of Labor.
The Legislature approved a minimum wage hike of the current $8 an hour to $9 starting with the next fiscal year in July, and it would hit $10 by January 2016.
If the AB 10, introduced by Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Salinas, is signed, it would mark the first time in six years that minimum-wage workers in California received a pay increase.
Massachusetts is the only other U.S. state with an $8 per hour minimum wage.
A bill allowing for undocumented citizens to obtain drivers licenses, also introduced by Alejo, was a situation where “ideology trumps common sense,” Wilk said.
“I was opposed to that on the floor. It makes absolutely no sense,” Wilk said. “If you’re not in this country legally, that we would issue you a drivers license when you’re not supposed to be (here). The argument there basically, is ‘They should be able to drive to work.’ Well, guess what, they’re not supposed to be working.”
One of the bills that passed late last night was a bill for the renovation of the Sacramento Kings’ ARCO Arena renovation. In that bill contained a small reform for CEQA that the GOP caucus had been working toward all session.
The California Environmental Quality Act, passed in 1970, is a statewide law that establishes a process for land development whereby the significant impacts of a project are analyzed and disclosed, as well as any measures that should be undertaken in order to mitigate those impacts.
While business advocates often argue that the law makes development extremely difficult because of all of the grounds the law creates for somebody to sue if they’re looking to stop growth. Environmentalists consider CEQA a necessary law to protect habitats and so any environmental impacts are lessened whenever possible.
Initially, Wilk said he was opposed to the legislation, because it only offered CEQA exemptions for the stadium developers.
“I thought if it’s good enough for rich people, it should be good enough for everybody,” Wilk said. “When they added a couple of exemptions that were going to be available statewide, that’s going to make it easier to do urban infill and I supported that legislation.”
The exemptions had to do with the consideration of traffic as a significant impact.
Gov. Jerry Brown issued statements of support for the bills, which means that all three are likely to be signed when they hit his desk later this year.
The Legislature is not scheduled to reconvene until January.