Multiple groups representing a broad array of industries have taken issue with the continued rollout of new regulations, despite much of the state being shut down in relation to COVID-19. Not only is the usual regulatory process continuing to progress, but Governor Gavin Newsom remains active in issuing executive orders that will have wide-ranging implications for the economy. Several agricultural groups have expressed concern about the inability to participate in the regulatory process.
“It really has been difficult to impress upon the state administration that there needs to be more consultation – more meaningful consultation – and more thought given before policies are implemented,” said Dave Puglia, President, and CEO of Western Growers. “There has to be more time to think these proposals through and not rush them over the finish line.”
While Puglia appreciates the work that the governor has been doing to help mitigate the impact that coronavirus is having, there are still considerations that need to be taken into account when issuing executive orders. One of the new regulations that is of particular interest to the agricultural industry is the executive order pertaining to sick leave pay that excludes a tax credit that is part of the federal policy, which will offset some of the costs.
“We’ve asked the Newsom administration to take another look at that, to model their policy after the federal policy so that we don’t end up harming farmers who are already bleeding cash because of this crisis,” Puglia noted. “We haven’t had any success getting them to focus on that yet.”
Multiple state lawmakers have also voiced concern about increasing regulatory burdens, particularly for sectors as important as agriculture. Many have called for a regulatory pause or the relaxing of enforcement for certain rules to put the economy in a better position to rebound once COVID-19 concerns have been addressed. Some lawmakers such as Assemblyman Adam Gray have spoken out about the governor’s emergency powers and the need to slow executive orders down so there is a chance to better evaluate the situation and allow for more participation in the process.
“That’s all the more reason to hit the pause button before implementing major sweeping policy changes because rush decisions are often bad decisions,” Puglia explained. “It’s a tough thing to do in a crisis but it’s really important to stop, breath, look around, ask people for input, and be as deliberate as one can even though time pressures are serious in the middle of a crisis.”