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Lobbyist: New bill found for enterprise zone

June 26, 2002|By DARREN SIMON

Staff Writer

BRAWLEY — With the possibility that Imperial County will find itself forced to fallow farmland, a lobbyist working for this city says it becomes even more critical that the state Legislature name Brawley as an enterprise zone.

Toward that end, a new bill has been found to revive the city's chance of earning that designation.

The enterprise zone would expand the city's ability to provide tax incentives to attract new business beyond the scope of the city's current manufacturing enhancement area designation.

The city's MEA only allows it to provide tax incentives to manufacturing industries. An enterprise zone allows such incentives to be offered to a wider spectrum of businesses.


Bill Dohring, a lobbyist in Sacramento working on the enterprise zone issue, said if fallowing is imposed on the Imperial Valley to conserve water for water transfers, it would result in a loss of jobs. The fallowing issue is highly contentious and could lead Imperial Irrigation District officials to take a stand against transferring water.

However, Dohring said if fallowing occurs, the Valley is going to need help to bring in new business to take up the slack left by lost jobs.

He said an enterprise zone designation in Brawley could go a long way toward helping the Valley attract the business it will need.

Dohring said this morning the last-minute effort to try to earn Brawley that designation is on track.

Assemblyman Dave Kelley, a Republican representing the Imperial Valley, authored legislation for the enterprise zone issue.

His legislation as part of Assembly Bill 490 died in the state Senate Housing and Community Development committee during the current legislative session.

With the session nearing an end, Assemblyman Juan Vargas, a Democrat representing the San Diego area, agreed to author new legislation for the enterprise zone with Kelley as a co-author.

To get the legislation back into the Senate, Dohring "hijacked" another bill — AB 523 — which also had died in committee. Dohring revised the bill to only include the Brawley enterprise issue with the idea that a bill with the one matter would have a better chance of succeeding.

Dohring said that bill will be heard by the Senate Revenue and Taxation committee Tuesday and may need to be heard by Housing and Community Development.

If it passes both committees, it then will go before the entire Senate. If it is approved, it then will go back to the Assembly for a final vote before it goes to the governor for his signing.

"There's a big chance," Dohring said. "I'm just really glad there was help from some good legislators."

Dohring has pointed out that critics of such legislation might focus on the fact that the state is facing a budget shortfall, saying now is the wrong time to allow tax breaks.

Dohring said such critics need to understand if an enterprise zone helps spark new jobs that will help the state's economy.

>> Staff Writer Darren Simon can be reached at 337-4082.

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