SACRAMENTO (Sept. 6, 2019) – The R Street Institute commends the California state legislature for the passage of Senate Bill 601, which would authorize any state agency that issues a business or occupational license to reduce or waive various fees if someone has been displaced by a state or federal emergency within a year of the incident.

Every year, natural disasters in California displace thousands of the state’s residents. The recent Tubbs Fire and Camp Fire have been among the costliest natural disasters in the nation’s history, resulting in more than $1 billion in liability, claiming more than 100 lives and devastating nearly 20,000 structures. Just these two recent disasters have harmed more than 381,000 businesses in nine counties across the state.

The goal of the bill, introduced by California Senator Mike Morrell, is uncontroversial and laudable: to help people who are struggling with economic devastation get their lives back on track as soon as possible. Although the state government has been a big help to devastated communities in many ways, it can also impose some impediments.

“The average licensing fee in California is nearly $500,” said R Street Western Region Director, Steve Greenhut. “That isn’t 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.”

Greenhut also praised Senator Morrell’s bill for encouraging Californians to play by the rules: “By giving a fee break to disaster-hit business owners and workers, the state is sending the right message: that it cares about helping its hard-pressed residents get back on their feet and about creating the right business climate.”