The Latest Business Lobby
Chamber Chair Chris Martin. Photo by Gary Leonard.

During its two-day trip to lobby state lawmakers in Sacramento last week, the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce's 85-member contingency found a receptive ear for its aggressive business agenda.

From education to transportation to workers' compensation, the Downtown-based group voiced its concerns on a multitude of issues as it met with ranking Assembly members and finagled a 30-minute session with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

"Chambers just don't put on this kind of trip," said Chris Martin, the Chamber chair and the chief executive of Downtown-based architecture firm AC Martin Partners. "Everyone was very complimentary about the fact that we brought this group and had a very specific agenda."

Martin said the group carried "strong messages" about state budget responsibility without raising taxes, as well as the need to rewrite the California Environmental Quality Act in order to help lower the cost of housing for those in the low- to moderate-income bracket.

The Chamber delegation also lobbied state leaders to reconsider a plan to take funds from the California Department of Transportation to pay for a $3 billion expansion of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.

"As far as we are concerned, those dollars are for transportation issues," Martin said. "In their desire to make a breathtaking, spectacular statement for visitors and tourists, they turned the Bay Bridge into a public art contest."

Martin said the issue has a direct effect on Downtown and its commuters, since it would raid $450 million from improvements to the 710 Freeway, the 110 Freeway, and efforts to repair damaged roadways following the recent rainstorms and flooding.

Also part of the March 1-2 delegation were executives from such entities as Forest Lawn, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, SBC and the Gas Company.

"I think everyone recognized that the business community does have the capability to band together as a group with a high-profile presentation," Martin said. "We're not just going to sit back and be a silent voice."

page 8, 3/7/2005

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