By Annie Spilman
“With some of these issues that we face, if we were to try to start our business today, we may not be able to.”
“As a compliance officer, that’s a nightmare.”
“That has the possibility of sinking my company.”
These were just some of the warnings legislators heard from Texas small businesses during the 86th legislative session. If left unchecked, the growing web of local employment regulations spreading across the state will strangle new job growth and make it harder to do business in Texas.
Time and again, those concerns have been presented to city councils as they consider passing paid sick leave ordinances. Time and again city officials have disregarded them in favor of scoring political points with special interest labor groups.
San Antonio has created a commission whose purpose is to tweak the city’s harmful paid sick leave law — and not in a meaningful way, but shrewdly changing the title of the ordinance to withstand court scrutiny. That’s correct — the law in its current form will not stand up to a legal challenge. Despite this fact and the massive outcry from San Antonio’s small businesses, City Council passed it anyway. Now the commission has suggested changes to the law that will make it even more burdensome for small-business employers.
Local employment regulations like paid sick leave are a relatively recent national phenomena, but they have become the single biggest threat to our economy. In passing these regulations, city officials dictate private employment policies that affect anyone who crosses the city limits for work, regardless of where they live or where their business is based.
Regulating something so ubiquitous as employment on a city-by-city basis is illogical, inefficient and unpredictable. If every Texas city passed its own employment regulations, the layers of unnecessary bureaucracy would be so overwhelming they would drive out anyone looking to do business in multiple cities. It would have serious implications for all Texas employers, including restaurants, retail stores, contractors and health care facilities.
The issue is not necessarily the policy or the wage benefit being provided — in fact, many small-business owners testified to the Legislature they already provide the types of benefits being mandated by the paid sick leave ordinance. The problem is the inconsistency created by regulating in a piecemeal, city-by-city approach.
When businesses face uncertainty and unpredictability, their ability to grow, hire more employees and invest in their employees by offering higher wages, bonuses or benefits is hindered, if not halted. That is a losing proposition for all Texas workers.
The question we face now is whether our local leaders will stand up for Texas jobs and keep our economy globally competitive or allow burdensome local regulations to rob Texans of the opportunity to work.
The Alliance for Strengthening and Securing the Economy in Texas, known as ASSET, collectively represents millions of employers and employees in the Lone Star State and almost every industrial sector of our economy. We believe employment and business operational decisions are best left to private employers, not government.
The bottom line is employment regulations are a statewide issue affecting statewide job growth. San Antonio elected officials should not attempt to dictate private business policies with statewide implications. Texas businesses can — and should — have the ultimate say on this issue.
The council meets Thursday to consider the revised draft.