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Olsen fears $13 an hour minimum wage will cost 500,000 Californians their jobs

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POSTED February 26, 2014 7:29 p.m.

California Assembly member Kristin Olsen isn’t wild about the loss of jobs that raising the minimum wage to $13 could trigger.

Nor is the Modesto Republican a fan of the Twin Tunnels.

Olsen shared her views during the weekly Manteca Chamber of Commerce coffee Wednesday morning hosted by Doctors Hospital of Manteca. It was conducted at the new Imaging Center facility on Norman Drive adjacent to the new Cancer Center.

Olsen urged business leaders to contact her office with their fears over the SB935 bill. The measure that is now in the Assembly would raise the minimum wage to $13 an hour.  Her chief of staff Paul Zeek said a similar bill was passed just last year raising the wage level to $10 that will take effect later this year.

Olsen told the group that an independent business study by economists has estimated the passage of the proposed new law, expected to be headed for committee review soon, will cost California some 500,000 jobs, She urged business owners and professionals to relate their concerns to her Modesto office and express concerns about the expected impact that she can use as evidence to argue her case in the Assembly.

In regards to the licensing of registered nurses as well as to workers in the construction industry, Olsen said she is on top of the delays in the system that is keeping recently graduated nurses from getting a job.  The Board of Registered Nurses (BRN) operates under the Department of Consumer Affairs where most agencies have been using the Breeze Electronic System that is causing time delays that have gone from the normal two weeks processing time to 90 days.

Until the nurses applications can be accepted, they have been facing delays in taking their tests to obtain their credentials. Zeek told of one nurse in Modesto who said she had been offered a job however the months-long delay was putting her position in jeopardy.

Zeek reiterated that the Breeze system isn’t working well now and hasn’t for some time as all data is being input by hand.  There are 37 agencies working under the Department of Consumer Affairs overseeing an array of workers from clinical workers to contractors and others having similar problems, he said.

“Because Kristin is involved, they have hired workers who we hope will be able to iron out the glitches,” Zeek said. “The system has been known to go along fine for days before it crashes.  Since December it has been a tremendous hardship especially for new nurses just graduating.”

Zeek further suggested that those needing more information go online to DSC.CA.gov.

Olsen said another area concerning her currently is the past BART strikes that have severely impacted commuters from the Central Valley.  She said 75 percent of those affected by the shutdowns actually live in the valley.  She is backing a move to make future strikes seen as interrupting “essential services” that will demand BART not to allow shut downs of operations and the commuters not to be held hostage in the process. 

“I have San Joaquin County’s back when it comes to water — clean water to all parts of California,” she said.  “The Twin Tunnels will not do anything for us.  They will only ship water elsewhere.  It’s so short sighted,” Olsen stressed. 

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