by Ron Fong/president and CEO, California Grocers Association
California’s political outlook appears even more unpredictable than in years past due to an intersection of events that don’t happen very often.
From the election of the first new governor in eight years, to a legislature in flux due to a number of recent resignations resulting from inappropriate behavior on the part of some of its members, to new taxes going into effect, to the always unpredictable actions coming out of Washington, D.C.—2018 is shaping up to be a year to remember. But will this year to remember be a good one or bad one for the grocery industry? The signs point to a good one.
As you may recall, there was much political uncertainty at this time last year when the California Legislature prepared to begin the first year of its newest two-year session. Much of that uncertainty was attributed to the election of a new president with a decidedly conservative agenda, which led Democratic leaders of both legislative houses here in California pledging to fight against his agenda as it pertained, mostly, to immigration and the environment.
At the time, this “D.C. as the bad guy” scenario was thought to be potentially beneficial to our industry and other business sectors as it would take legislative attention away from the business sector and focus it on how to lessen the impacts of Washington D.C.’s conservative agenda on the people of California. This did indeed prove to be the case for the most part. There were no major anti-business pieces of legislation that survived the legislature and signed into law.
The expectation is that this year will be no different. Legislative leaders here in Sacramento have doubled down on their pledges to resist Washington, D.C., which, again, ought to bode well for the grocery industry and other businesses.
If last year was any indication, they will continue prioritizing legislation that would lessen the impacts of actions taken in our nation’s capital and, quite frankly, leave us alone. Another thing that is likely to lessen the focus on business by the legislature include a focus on legislation to deal with sexual harassment in the capitol and other workplace environments in the wake of numerous scandals involving state legislators, lobbyists and staffers.
And, lest we forget, every seat in the State Assembly and a number of seats in the State Senate are up for election. It is always worth noting that legislators have a tendency to become more risk-averse in an election year, which ought to work out in favor of our industry.
As with all forecasts of this nature, it must be kept in mind that past performance does not guarantee future results. That being said, we will keep our fingers crossed here in Sacramento that future results stay in line with past performances in light of the many similarities we face this year as we did last year.
Fong became President and CEO of CGA in March 2008. A native Californian and a lawyer, he joined CGA after 12 years with the California Credit Union League (CCUL). At CGA, Fong serves as the association’s chief legislative and political advocate and oversees government relations, member services, convention and communication programs. He also is president of the California Grocers Association Educational Foundation (CGAEF). His grandfather started Carmichael Supermarket, the first grocery market in Carmichael, California, in 1941, and Fong worked in the grocery business as he grew up.