Not surprisingly, Gov. Newsom signed controversial legislation (Assembly Bill 1346) to ban the sale of gas-powered lawn equipment.
The new law will be another costly burden on the estimated nearly 8,300 landscaping businesses in the state, many of whom are minority entrepreneurs. It’s the latest in a series of taxes, fees, regulations, and other mandates Sacramento has imposed over the years on entrepreneurs that make it so much more difficult for them to make a go of it in California.
As Dr. Wayne Winegarden writes in “Entrepreneurship as a Pathway to the American Dream,” one of the papers in PRI’s Breaking Down Barriers to Opportunity series, “government-created barriers to opportunity are standing in the way of immigrants and low-income entrepreneurs launching a startup and accessing credit and capital to grow their business and hire more workers.”
Lawncare and landscaping businesses have historically been an affordable entry point for low-income and minority entrepreneurs to work their way into the middle class and provide more prosperous futures for their families.
New mandates like those in AB 1346 will make it even more expensive to run small landscaping businesses. The trade association representing the lawn care industry estimates that switching to an electric commercial riding lawnmower would be more than double the cost of the equivalent commercial gas-powered riding mower, which today cost between $7,000 and $11,000 each. Additionally, they say that landscaping crews would need to have 30 to 40 fully charged batteries on hand to power their equipment for a typical day’s work.
These new costs would be in addition to California’s expensive and often-unrealistic green energy policies that have had a disproportionate impact on working class and minority communities.
As documented in PRI’s study “Legislating Energy Poverty,” California has the highest average state electricity prices in the lower 48 states and the nation’s second-highest gas prices thanks to misguided government policies.
Add these costs together and many may decide to throw in the towel rather than comply with these government mandates from Sacramento. This could mean fewer job opportunities for the more than 100,000 people who work as landscaping and groundskeeping workers in California, according to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics figures.
For those who do decide to stick it out, their customers can expect significantly higher bills for lawn care services having to comply with the expensive new Sacramento mandates.
As I wrote previously, there are also a host of other negative consequences from this new law such as the law effectively banning the sale of new gas-powered electric generators that many Californians are increasingly relying upon as our power grid becomes less reliable.
The bottom line – the latest burdens on entrepreneurs coming down from Sacramento – on top of many other policy mistakes enacted over the years – will make it much more expensive for small entrepreneurs who run lawn care and landscaping businesses to prosper and much harder for the state’s economy to fully recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tim Anaya is the Pacific Research Institute’s senior director of communications and the Sacramento office.