The California State Senate on Wednesday, June 24 voted in favor of a bill introduced by Senator Andreas Borgeas’ (R-Fresno) that aims to reduce financial penalties that the state can levy onto a small business. The bill, SB1457, cleared the Senate 39-0 as part of the consent calendar and now heads to the State Assembly to be voted on.
“[The bill] creates an opportunity for state agencies to provide financial relief for small businesses by allowing agencies to operate with discretion previously disallowed, when enforcing monetary penalties,” a press release on Senator Borgeas’ website said.
If signed into law, state agencies will be able to avoid financially penalizing a business for violations — a level of restraint that agencies could not have exercised beforehand. Violations related to criminal actions or ones that pose an imminent threat to health and safety are not included in the bill.
“I am proud this important piece of legislation was passed by my colleagues today,” said Senator Borgeas. “Small businesses and employees throughout our state are struggling to recover from the pandemic-induced recession. California must do everything in its power to help them recover – including the waiver and reduction of civil penalties if they are trying to make a correction in good faith.”
As well as allowing state agencies to express restraint in delivering fines, the bill also instructs state agencies to continue with their efforts in helping businesses interpret and implement regulations that are passed down by the state.
In an attempt to reduce the severity of fines, the bill gives state agencies a number of powers including the option to consider the severity of the violation and what steps a business might have taken to comply with regulations before being issued a fine.
The bill passed as part of the consent calendar, which is a way of passing a group of non-controversial bills together at once, rather than one-by-one. To be eligible for the consent calendar a bill must not have garnered any “no” votes in committee or had anyone express opposition to the bill at a hearing.
Officially known as SB1457, its alternate title is the California Small Business Regulatory Fairness Act.