John Sullivan

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Legal Newsline)-California lawmakers, grappling with declining tax revenues and a sluggish state economy ought to enact statutory changes to help jumpstart the Golden State's economy, a tort reform group says.

The Civil Justice Association of California this week called on lawmakers in Sacramento to enact "straightforward economic recovery solutions" that will help create jobs and generate revenue for the state.

In a statement, CJAC President John Sullivan specifically urged state legislators to resurrect three proposals that he said would make California more attractive to businesses.

The proposed bills failed gain traction in the state Legislature, and under normal rules would be dead for the session. But Sullivan said given the state's dire financial situation, these are not normal times.

"These proposals should be even more attractive now. They do not cost taxpayer dollars, nor do they reduce public health or safety," Sullivan said. "They will, however, be recognized nationally by business decision-makers - the people who, in preparing for economic recovery, will decide how many personnel and facilities to add or retain in California, and how much to develop in a different state."

Sullivan called for lawmakers to reconsider Assembly Bill 298, which would allow both sides in a class action lawsuit the same right to appeal the decision regarding class certification Currently, only a plaintiff can appeal the decision of whether to certify a class.

"This imbalance is one of the reasons why business lawyers rank California among the worst states in class action fairness," CJAC said in a statement.

Senate Bill 393 would bring California's judicial interest rate in line with market rates.

CJAC noted that since 1982, the interest rate in California for pre- and post-judgment interest has been fixed at 10 percent per year, while most key interest rates fluctuate between 4 percent and 7 percent.

"This unfair rate, which puts defendants who wish to appeal at a disadvantage, is particularly difficult to justify in these tough economic times," the industry-sponsored group said.

Lastly, Senate Bill 807 would reduce unnecessary litigation against businesses by clarifying California law regarding meal and rest periods.

The bill would clarify the labor code section to mean employers must "make available" meal and rest periods, not "must make sure employees take them."

"As state legislators head back to the drawing board, they have another chance to consider these proposals and to send a powerful message that we welcome private investment in California employees and production of goods and services more than in the past," Sullivan said. "National and even international media have been describing California as a broken state. There is no time better than now to show tangibly that California is shedding anti-jobs and business policies."

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