As state leaders started another legislative cycle, Sen. Anthony Cannella reflected on his first year in office and talked about some of his bills in the works.
Cannella, the Republican state senator who represents San Benito County and parts of the Central Valley, sat down recently while he was on a trip here to talk with voters and business leaders.
He recounted his first year in office, before which he was the mayor of Ceres, and said he and others “fought for a spending cap and fought for reform.” He said the Democratic governor’s 12-point pension plan “largely models what we presented.” Cannella also expressed pride in a regulatory reform bill signed by Gov. Jerry Brown that requires new regulations to include an economic impact analysis determining an option that is the “least impactful to the economy.”
“By the very nature of it, it’s going to require more analysis,” he said. “Right now they do nothing. They do zero.”
As for the 2012 legislative session, he talked about a bill he is developing that would allow for expediting of major building projects if the particular area of concern meets two of three criteria including: whether the location is an area with higher-than-average unemployment, poverty or foreclosures, he said.
Another bill is targeted toward San Benito County in particular. Cannella is co-authoring a bill with Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Watsonville, to forgive the county on a long-disputed $3 million tax payment. He mentioned the county’s nearly $6 million annual deficit and said the additional hit would be “very painful for them.”
He also talked about his bill to create an online one-stop shop, for residents interested in opening a business, which would include “everything you need” as far as government permits go.
“My goal is to start from where we left off and continue advocating for the same types of things,” Cannella said.
Cannella talked positively of the governor. He said he has focused on trying to build strong relationships on both sides of the aisle.
“I focused last year on building real relationships with people and I think that goes a long way,” he said. “Ultimately, it’s a product of term limits – you don’t have the history with people. Every two years you get new people, and at some point it’s hard to continue those relationships. So I focused on that.
“I also focused on trying to understand everybody’s perspective. I look at the world through my lenses, my experiences. They do the same, so I’ve tried to find common ground on various things.”
Still, he is rigid in his belief that over-regulation is the state’s biggest challenge.
“If you go talk to a business owner who’s got problems, you say, ‘Which regulation?’ They say, ‘I can’t tell you which one.’ It’s death by a thousand cuts. We are so restrained and we don’t know what to do. You don’t know who to go to.” For business owners, he said there is “no predictability” when it comes to future financial decisions, such as expanding a plant.
Cannella said there is a “desire” to pull back on business regulations, but the challenge is that, he said, “You have different stakeholders.”
“Government is not a speed boat,” he said. “It’s a cruise line. It takes time to turn the ship. There’s a few of us beating the drum, and I believe we are making progress.
“But it’s going to be very challenging because you have all these folks who are trying to protect their own little kingdoms. Ultimately, it’s very hard to fight that.”
He said he is encouraged, though, by public participation in the government process, as witnessed during his recent visit.
“I do think people are more engaged now than they were before,” he said. “I think my motto is, people have their kids and they have their day jobs. They just want to be left alone.
“What happens is, when the economy is bad or the government’s doing bad things, all of the sudden that person that just wants to take their kids to practice starts lifting their head up and saying, ‘What are you doing? You are affecting my life in a negative way.’”