In recent years, California has seen several of the most damaging and costly natural disasters in its history. The 2017 Tubbs Fire, Southern California mudslides, and 2018 Camp Fire have combined claimed over 100 lives, destroyed more than 25,000 structures, and impacted an estimated 381,784 businesses.
Following such events, expenses increase as victims must replace important paperwork and possessions, including state licensing documents.
SB 601, by Senator Mike Morrell (R-Rancho Cucamonga), aims to provide some relief during this process. It would allow state agencies and departments to waive or reduce fees for businesses or entrepreneurs having to replace licenses within one year following displacement following a federal or state-declared disaster.
“It is difficult to fathom having to rebuild entire lives after a disaster,” said Morrell. “As Californians, we are all in this recovery effort together. As part of that process, the state should provide what relief it can to help these individuals and communities thrive again.”
According to the Institute for Justice, California is among the most onerously regulated economies in the nation. The average amount spent on licensing fees in California is $486 and many occupations require a physically displayed license in the workplace.
“Sen. Morrell's SB 601 seems like a small thing, but it can be a big help,” said Steven Greenhut, western region director for the R Street Institute, sponsor of SB 601. “The average licensing fee in California is nearly $500 – not much in the context of a fire-ravaged house perhaps, but enough to impose hardship when people are trying to rebuild their lives in the middle of a disaster. Reducing or eliminating fees is not only an act of good faith by government officials, but it can help get people back to work as soon as possible. It also encourages people to play by the rules.”
The bill has unanimously passed the Senate Committee on Governance and Finance as well as the Senate Committee on Business, Professions, and Economic Development.