Jobs, high speed rail and CEQA reform were among the hot topics during the Bay Area Council’s successful Sacramento Day visit this past Monday. The Council led a delegation of about 70 members and staff to the Governor’s council room in the horseshoe to meet with top Legislative leaders and Administration officials and present our top policy priorities.

Assembly Minority Leader Connie Conway spoke about her support for high speed rail “in concept” but said support among her constituents in the Central Valley is eroding with the economy. Straight-talking Sen. Bob Dutton called, in general, for less government. Reducing California’s regulatory burden, Dutton said, could reduce unnecessary costs on businesses and enable them to hire enough workers to lower employment by a third. Sen. Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg called for reforming the state’s regulatory climate by adopting concurrent permitting, eliminating duplicative and superfluous regulations and requiring economic analysis on any new major regulations.

Michael Rossi, the Governor’s new Special Economic Advisor, insisted he’s not a “czar,” but said he’s focused on creating jobs nonetheless. Just a week into his new position, Rossi said he’s been busy getting up to speed on a mountain of reports and policy documents. He expressed eagerness to hear from businesses about the ways state government can help California improve its dreary employment picture. California League of Cities Executive Director Chris McKenzie had sharp words for the elimination of redevelopment agencies, saying it has caused “irreparable harm.” Natural Resources Secretary John Laird discussed the complexity of overhauling the state’s water storage and delivery system and emphasized that reliability and habitat restoration and protection must be taken together.

Following three hours of meetings, the delegation moved to Morton’s Steakhouse where the Council hosted a reception and dinner with the joint Assembly and Senate members of the Bay Area Caucus.  Thanks to caucus chairs, Assemblymember Rich Gordon and Senator Mark Desaulnier, for helping make the evening a success, and to Senators DeSaulnier, Ellen Corbett, Loni Hancock, and Joe Simitian, and Assemblymembers Gordon, Tom Ammiano, Bob Wieckowski, Luis Alejo, Nora Campos, Bill Monning, Mary Hayashi, Jerry Hill, Mike Allen, Nancy Skinner, Paul Fong, Jim Beall, Jared Huffman, and Fiona Ma who joined us for dinner.

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