This week, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors brought back a proposal to implement a business registration program for all businesses in unincorporated L.A. County. In 2016, when the proposal was first raised, VICA strongly opposed the registration program and fee as the VICA board failed to see what problem it would solve. Creating a new program will add another layer of regulation and fees with no benefits to County residents, local employees or business owners.
In theory, the motion was introduced to aid in wage enforcement and to allow County staff to connect with the business community. In the Board of Supervisors discussion on May 3, 2016, no evidence was presented demonstrating that unregistered businesses are more likely to violate wage laws, or that county staff are unable to outreach to businesses. Instead, the discussion centered on what other cities are doing and the fee amount.
It is an unnecessary use of County resources to start a business registration program without a clear impetus. We support reasonable wage theft enforcement that does not penalize compliant businesses, however there are existing wage enforcement programs at a county, state and federal level. Additionally, VICA and many other business organizations work regularly with County staff and Supervisors’ offices representing hundreds of businesses. We have not heard from any affected stakeholder that the County is unable to reach out to the business community.
Though County staff has stated that the fee would be nominal, a registration program would require additional paperwork from businesses, County resources to administer and promote, and fines for businesses which fail to register correctly. L.A. County has many urgent issues to address, including homelessness and transportation. We believe that this time and money could be spent on more important issues facing the County.
VICA will continue to work with County Supervisors and staff as they prepare the report back. We will ask that the County not pursue a costly program without a clear understanding of what the program is designed to achieve, that is not already being accomplished.