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The IECA Policy Platform guides the organizations public policy efforts by outlining guiding principles on key policy matters impacting businesses in the region.

  • Economic Development
    The COVID-19 pandemic devastated California’s economy. The subsequent supply chain crisis has put greater pressure on businesses that survived the pandemic, especially on small businesses. When coupled with California’s high tax rate, high health care costs and excessive regulations, it is no surprise businesses are fleeing the state. Now more than ever, we need to make it easier for businesses to stay here and provide employment opportunities for California residents. The IECA Supports: Reasonable rules that help contain the COVID-19 pandemic, while allowing businesses to continue to operate safely. Economic assistance to businesses most impacted by government actions taken to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. Efforts to improve local use and knowledge of new economic development tools enacted by the state and federal governments that can aid in improving our communities. Efforts to expedite regulatory review and permitting processes for new and existing businesses and construction projects. Legislation that protects businesses from frivolous litigation by allowing businesses to make a good faith effort to correct any alleged violation before being subject to penalties and litigation. Market based incentives in lieu of government mandated policies. A system that provides adequate workers compensation coverage at a reasonable cost to businesses with the objective to rehabilitate and/or train the injured employee to return to the workforce. Programs which provide assistance with business retention, expansion and/or attraction, and job creation. Legislation that provides incentive and tax returns to local communities. The IECA Opposes: New California labor laws or regulations that are overly burdensome to employers. Mandatory business shutdowns that do not allow for businesses to demonstrate they can operate safely as a way to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Education & Workforce Development
    Employers have long understood the benefit of supporting a quality education system capable of preparing students to compete in a highly skilled workforce and labor market. Increasingly, jobs require more than a high school diploma and businesses seek employees with a college degree or post-secondary career training certification. The IECA believes it is imperative to have a coordinated effort among our business sectors and educational institutions to improve student outcomes and leverage the resources available in our region. The IECA Supports: Increasing the college and career ready graduates through programs, assessments and accountability of education standards. The upskilling and retraining of the current workforce in order to meet the changing needs of the employers through the expansion of programs such as Career Technical Education (CTE). Increases in funding for California State University San Bernardino and the University of California Riverside that allow them to increase enrollment in order to meet the needs of the Inland Empire region. Enhancements to the Pell Grant program by providing cost-of-living increases to the maximum grant. Promote a Regional Plan for College and Career success that includes vocational education, hands-on learning and alternate educational paths. A results-oriented approach to public education, workforce training and development to support the city/state job sectors. Initiatives and coordinated efforts among K-12, community colleges and four-year universities to increase college-going and college-completion rates in the region. Improving the quality of education through the investment in professional training for teachers, the performance of evaluations and implementation of compensation systems to encourage outstanding teachers and administrators. Enhanced employer input into the development of education programs to ensure they meet employer needs. The IECA Opposes: Any legislation (state or federal) which imposes a mandate but provides inadequate financial support to carry out that mandate.
  • Energy
    Businesses and consumers must have access to energy resources that are affordable and reliable for the regional economy to remain productive and competitive. As California works to meet its ambitious goal of 100 percent carbon-free electricity by the year 2045, it will be critical that the policy be implemented in a manner that maintains grid reliability and contain costs. IECA Supports: A balanced energy supply that includes natural gas, electricity, petroleum and renewable energy, such as renewable natural gas, biofuels, wind and solar to help California meet its NOx and GHG reduction goals in the building and transportation sectors. Investments and policies that improve the safety, resiliency, reliability and delivery of energy, especially as it relates to mitigating wildfire risks and impacts. Additional in-state reliable energy generation, infrastructure/transmission and renewable generation balanced to maintain a robust and economically viable economy. Energy efficiency programs and conservation of natural resources. Streamlining the process for energy transmission projects. Support local control by allowing municipalities flexibility to proactively implement programs and policies that best suit the community. Development and implementation of new technologies and infrastructure that allow public utilities to advance energy efficiency, sustainable energy projects and alternative fuels programs. Policies that direct funds to incentive programs that are the most cost-effective for businesses in reducing Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) or Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions. Policies that contain energy costs by reducing cross-subsidies in order to protect jobs and the economy.
  • Environment
    Being a responsible business owner requires recognizing our shared responsibility to be good stewards of our natural resources. To this end, businesses must ensure that the state’s environmental efforts are balanced between preserving jobs and protecting our natural resources. The IECA Supports: Environmental efforts that are based upon sound science (e.g., realistic risk assessments, accurate pollutant inventories, and credible environmental and economic models) that are achievable, cost effective, technologically feasible and do not result in environmental leakage. A modernization of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) that preserves the law’s original intent while preventing abuse for purposes unrelated to environmental protection. Policies that weigh environmental effects against economic opportunity so that the overall quality of life of the affected populations is not adversely impacted. Participatory and inclusive processes between the regulated community, regulators, and other stakeholders leading to consensus-based rule making and the correction of deficiencies. The elimination of duplication with federal law, and ensure that rules are cost effective and flexible in their implementation. Advocating for environmental strategies that allocate responsibility equitably between the region and across all business sectors. Programs and initiatives that encourage voluntary phasing-in of new “green” technology and provide local governments and business with adequate incentive to support such technology changes. Responsible forest management practices that eliminate dead or dying trees. The IECA Opposes: Environmental regulatory approaches or mandates that the business community knows to be unduly punitive or costly and which, if implemented, will damage the region’s competitiveness or result in a net-loss of jobs to our communities. Unreasonable efforts to block development for species and habitat issues. An Indirect Source Rule (ISR) for warehouses and distribution centers that would establish volume caps, impede the development of California’s goods movement industry, reduce the incentive to invest in new facilities and environmental equipment or divert trucks to alternative locations that aren’t subject to such arbitrary caps.
  • Healthcare
    Since the adoption of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the number of individuals without health insurance in the Inland Empire has decreased from over 750,000 in 2012 to approximately 300,000 in 2017, a reduction of 60%. The healthcare sector was the only Inland Empire sector to expand employment throughout the recession. Despite the sector’s growth, the Inland Empire remains underserved with one health care worker for every 33.5 residents, 26.0% above the state’s average of 26.6. The IECA Supports: Competition in the health care market and among private-sector providers as the best means to achieve a more efficient, affordable, and quality-driven health care system. Health education and available programs that promote healthy lifestyle choices that can reduce healthcare costs. Boosting medical reimbursement payments provided through programs such as Medi-Cal, which offers free or low-cost health coverage to more than 13 million people — a third of the state's population. Efforts to establish parity in payments between acute medical and mental healthcare providers. The allocation of Health and Mental Health Realignment funds based on current population and updated regularly to reflect population changes and ensure equitable distribution across the state. Legislation to allow employers to offer more affordable benefit plans that allow choices in coverage. Preservation of Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act in California and adoption of similar policies at the federal level. Expansion of medical and other allied health education programs to address the region’s shortage of health care professionals. Adequate, sustainable and equitable funding for the provision of health care services at the local level. Efforts to update the state reimbursement formula for health care services to equalize the distribution of funds to local healthcare providers. Federal and state reforms that allow small businesses to obtain affordable, quality group health coverage and increased advantages from tax deductible medical care saving accounts and association plans. Actions to improve access of resources related to shortage designation or medically underserved populations. The IECA Opposes: A government controlled single-payer healthcare system. Proposals that would increase medical malpractice insurance for physicians. Cuts to funding that would impede local efforts to train and retain physicians and Allied Health Professionals.
  • Homelessness
    Since 2014, the number of homeless individuals in California has increased by 32% to more than 151,000. Homelessness impacts all of us, whether or not we experience it ourselves. It’s a public health problem, an economic problem but more importantly, it’s a human tragedy. While there is no one-size-fits-all plan that exists to address the issue, any solution must include access to housing that is affordable and employment opportunities. Many local communities are working hard to come up with solutions that meet their population needs. California needs to do more to support efforts occurring on the local level in order to reverse the trends of the last six years. The IECA Supports: Maintaining decision making at the local level on the best ways to address the issue of homelessness. Efforts to link housing assistance programs with employment placement programs. Reforming the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to streamline the approval process for affordable housing developments and homeless shelters. The state of California providing general fund support to local governments in their efforts to reduce the number of homeless in their communities. A focus on early intervention programs to assist individuals and families before they become homeless. Updates to the Mental Health Services Act (Prop. 63) to serve persons with mental illness who are experiencing homeless.
  • Housing
    Increasing and preserving access to housing that is affordable in areas of opportunity helps families climb the economic ladder, leading to greater community development and bolstering economic productivity and job creation. Yet, the cost to rent or purchase housing is becoming increasingly less affordable to millions of Californians. California leaders must do more to address the lack of affordable and workforce housing in our state. The IECA Supports: Incentives for local governments and developers to build more affordable and workforce housing. A reform of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to streamline the approval process of housing developments and reduce the number of lawsuits that seek to delay projects. Appropriate fee structures that are conducive to fostering economic growth through the housing and construction industry. Land use policies that balance the needs of meeting affordable housing demands, creating new jobs, protecting industrial, commercial and agricultural zones as well as preserving open space and our quality of life. Enhancing existing laws to ensure that local governments meet their Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) goals while maintaining local control to ensure plans meet the unique needs of each community. Efforts to guarantee approval of housing developments that meet criteria established by local governments. Increasing higher density housing (both market rate and affordable) near job centers and transportation hubs. Increases in housing assistance programs provided by the Federal Housing Administration and the Department of Veterans Affairs. The establishment of programs that provide local governments with tools to address local issues of economic development.
  • Immigration
    Immigration issues have a significant impact on California’s economy that affect all facets of our commerce and our economy. Immigrants have always and continue to be an essential part of our state and national workforce. The lack of an effective and comprehensive national policy regarding immigration has resulted in a multitude of challenges for businesses. To ensure California’s future prosperity, the IECA encourages reform to the national immigration policy that includes an earned pathway to legal status by establishing a guest worker program, improvements to the visa program, steps to secure our national borders and stricter enforcement of existing laws. The IECA Supports: Establishing a guest worker program that takes into consideration the needs of specific industries and determining time limits for certain workers. Providing greater border security through shared responsibility with neighboring countries. The provision of adequate resources to establish an earned consistent pathway to legal status for undocumented workers should be created, but should not be granted priority status in front of the current immigrant visa backlog. The required use of E-Verify, an electronic system that assists employers in verifying the employment eligibility of all newly hired employees. A shared verification system that interfaces with state and national databases and appropriate agencies. Penalties on employers and individuals who knowingly hire undocumented workers. Improving the efficiency of the visa program based on professional service requirements and market demand while ensuring the protection of opportunities for U.S. workers. Immigration employment laws that are reasonable and not burdensome to small business.
  • International Trade
    International trade represents a major economic engine for both the Inland Empire and the nation. Strengthening ties and increasing economic opportunities in the world’s largest marketplaces is vital to maintaining the state’s competitiveness in the global business community. The IECA Supports: Fair and equitable market access for California products abroad. Policies that broaden and strengthen relationships and opportunities while reducing barriers to trade and investment. Foreign trade zone programs as a vehicle to maintain global competitiveness. The establishment of a separate customs zones in the Inland Empire and the allocation of funding for new customs inspectors dedicated to serving the needs of the Inland Empire. The expansion and development of Southern California Logistics Airport, the Ontario Airport, the San Bernardino International Airport, the Palm Springs Airport, Jacqueline Cochran Regional Airport, and the March Air Reserve Base for the purpose of international commerce. The IECA Opposes: Tariffs on imports, which are a tax on consumers and businesses.
  • Local Control
    Local governments are better suited to deal with local issues than a distant federal or state government. Local governments are closer to the people, more responsive to citizens, and better equipped for representing their constituents on many important issues. Local control in the sense of local awareness, involvement, and influence has always been, and always will be, the best way to have open and efficient governance. It is the best way to get the best outcomes for the greatest number of citizens for the least use of resources. The IECA Supports: State and federal governments setting overarching goal but maintaining decision making on how to best achieve the goal at the local level. Proving local governments with adequate tools and resources to implement state and federal mandates. These include reform to overly burdensome regulations and funding formulas. Efforts to update the state reimbursement formulas to equalize the distribution of funds to local governments. Establishing clear and consist rules and regulations for local governments to comply with state and federal mandates. The IECA Opposes: Efforts that remove or reduce local control and transfer decision making to state or federal agencies.
  • Regulations
    During the 2010s about 6.1 million people moved from California to other states, while only 4.9 million people moved to California from other parts of the country. This is due to the high cost of living that has resulted in some of the highest cost of housing, highest costs for energy in the nation. What’s more, companies are also leaving California due to its difficult business climate. A study by the Hoover Institution at Stanford University found that business headquarters are leaving California at an increasing rate. From January 2018 to June 2021, it documented 265 headquarter relocations, or an average of six relocations per month. The growing costs of more regulations targeted toward businesses are just passed through to the consumers of the services and products from those businesses. As California considers new regulations, it must consider the cumulative effect of existing regulations. The IECA Supports: The preparation of cost/benefit analyses to ensure economic impacts are weighed before the imposition of regulatory statutes. Laws and government regulations written in plain, simple language for workplace rules to ensure that employers know how to comply with the law and that workers are clearly informed of their rights. The reform of the burdensome regulatory process of local, state and federal government as a means to attract and encourage new business and retain current business. Reasonable government standards of business signage, ordinances and regulations applied uniformly for all businesses. The IECA Opposes: New California labor laws or regulations that are overly burdensome to employers.
  • Taxation and Budgetary Policy
    The cost of doing business in California is substantially higher than in comparison to other competitor states. California has the highest income tax, the highest sales tax and the highest gas tax. A silver lining for California’s businesses has been proposition 13, which has helped keep the state's property tax rate affordable and helped protect businesses from spikes in property values. The IECA Supports: Reform measures that solve the state budget's long term structural deficit and that promote sustainable creation of quality jobs in our region. Support and promote the appropriate preparation of cost/benefit analysis ensuring economic impacts are weighed before the imposition of regulations or taxes. Support local/regional and state programs that secure tax credits and tax incentives. Reforms to the public pension systems to enable municipal governments, school districts, special districts and the State of California to meet their long-term retirement obligations. Clear distinctions between taxes and user fees and a direct nexus for fees to an administrative cost or provision of public service. The updating of funding outdated formulas to ensure that the Inland Empire receives its fair share of monies for state programs. Proposals to protect employers from higher costs and to provide meaningful incentives for employers to create new jobs and to strengthen our workforce pool. Efforts to reform the California budgeting process and structure to encourage long-term fiscal stability and limits on spending growth with excess revenues put into reserves and/or back into local government. Supports legislation that ensures the return of local sales tax dollars to the point of origin (areas). Efforts to secure tax incentives for research and development, high-tech innovation and targeted work-training programs. Simplification of federal and state income, banking and corporate tax systems and efforts to stabilize annual revenues and expenses. The IECA Opposes: A split roll property tax which would increase taxes on businesses, a cost that would be passed onto California residents. Tariffs on imports, which are a tax on consumers and businesses. Measures increasing business taxes and fees unless such fees/ taxes improve the overall economic viability of business community. Unfunded government mandates. Government mandates that unduly regulate or tax business Opposes taxes that unreasonably targets the business community. Opposes legislation that increases worker’s compensation and unemployment insurance to business owners. Taxation of a specific industry or group, unless necessary to mitigate the negative impacts caused by the industry or group.
  • Telecommunications
    An individual’s ability to access educational and professional opportunities, workforce participation, and access to health information are increasingly dependent upon the availability of a high-speed broadband internet connection. Yet the digital divide continues due to service affordability or lack of access to high speed broadband internet necessary to participate in modern society. The IECA Supports: Uniform state and federal policies that encourage continued investment in telecommunications and improve access to new technologies. Legislation and regulations that will encourage innovative utility and telecommunications infrastructure. Private sector investments to develop state-of-the-art broadband capabilities for businesses and residents. The prompt permitting by local government requests for the placement of infrastructure related to the expansion, construction, and implementation of advanced broadband networks, including the development of 5G Network. A policy that protects the rights of business and residential consumers to select the communications provider of their choice by providing communications companies the authority to enter buildings and businesses without prejudice, while complying with State and Federal laws. Protecting the principles of open Internet. Financial incentives that help provide broadband internet to communities that lack access without prejudice. A transparent process when local governments considering the establishment of Government Owned Broadband Networks. As part of the process, local governments should: Focus on gaps in service, not on competing with existing providers and not undermining private sector investment. Assess private sector options, including public-private partnerships and reducing barriers to private sector service. Provide a clear plan for how they would avoid increasing public debt, raising taxes on businesses and residents, and prevent the diversion of resources from other critical public services. Consider feedback from all groups to ensure that the decision considers all risks and options.
  • Transportation
    Repairing California’s transportation system requires major road pavement overlays, fixing unsafe bridges, as well as operational improvements that necessitate, among other things, the construction of auxiliary lanes to relieve traffic congestion choke points and fixing design deficiencies that have created unsafe merging and other traffic hazards. The Inland Empire’s continued economic success rests on a robust transportation infrastructure system. The IECA Supports: Policies that address the movement of people and goods including autos, transit, bicycles, and other active transportation modes. Cost effective alternative fueled vehicles and the required infrastructure improvement to support such vehicles. Innovative funding allocations to accommodate increased mobility on the region’s highways and overall transportation system, including goods movement. Advocating for expanded regional transportation facilities, projects and funding. Expanded use of tolling as an additional source of transportation funds. The expansion and development of Southern California Logistics Airport, the Ontario Airport, the San Bernardino International Airport, the Palm Springs Airport, Jacqueline Cochran Regional Airport, and the March Air Reserve Base for the purpose of international commerce. Increased federal and state investment in transportation infrastructure that will support the regional economy, reduce traffic congestion and ease movement of people and goods throughout the region. Expanding the authority of transportation agencies within California to utilize design-build contracting and other innovative methods to decrease project costs and improve delivery times. Efforts to ease and promote the use of freeway alternatives, such as transit and telecommuting to reduce congestion and emissions. Directing a portion of cap-and-trade revenues to roads in major freight corridors. Improving road conditions and traffic flow reduces fuel consumption and GHG emissions. The use of technology in our roads and highways as a means of reducing congestion, improving air quality and incorporating the adoption of new technologies such as autonomous vehicles. Expanding commuter rail throughout the Inland Empire as a way to connect the region. Integration of transportation plans for all of the region to ensure a cohesive and complimentary vision. The IECA Opposes: Efforts to tie Regional Housing Needs Assessment goals to transportation funding. The use of Vehicle Miles Traveled Policy (VMT) as a measure of environmental impact in CEQA as it will result in higher costs of new inland residential units or the cancelation of projects altogether.
  • Water
    California’s ability to address its water needs and our region’s ability to manage its water supplies efficiently are key determinants in our region’s economic prosperity. It is critical for our region to actively support public policies that will ensure the long-term reliability of water supplies. The IECA Supports: Proposals for a long-term, comprehensive state water plan that is reliable and includes conservation, new supply, the capture of storm water runoff, recycling, storage and conveyance that is equitable for all Californians. The Delta Tunnel project, a long-overdue infrastructure upgrade that will improve the reliability and sustainability of California’s aging water system, improve river flows and benefit the fragile Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta ecosystem. A fair and equitable distribution of funds or other resources provided to underperforming water agencies and disadvantaged communities as a part of a statewide program to ensure clean, affordable water to all Californians. Collaboration between water agencies in order to meet the water supply needs of the Inland Empire and to support long-term growth. Measures to educate and encourage businesses on reducing usage and increasing efficiency and/or effectiveness of water conservation efforts including the use of recycled water. Restoration efforts at the Salton Sea in order to avoid an ecological devastation and a public health disaster.
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