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Fletcher, business leaders talk job growth in assembly hearing

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Assemblyman and San Diego mayoral candidate Nathan Fletcher will host Friday an assembly hearing on job creation and hiring featuring a panel of high-profile business leaders.

The hearing is directed at job creation in California’s clean-tech, biotech, high-tech and blue-tech sectors. It’ll take place from 2 to 4 p.m. at Gen-Probe Inc. (Nasdaq: GPRO).

Fletcher, chair of the select committee on job creation for the new economy, said the hearing is focused on companies that are looking to fill vacant positions.

“It’s unconscionable that we have a recession and people can’t fill jobs,” he said.

Business representatives from Qualcomm (Nasdaq: QCOM), Brightscope, Soitec, Northrop Grumman (NYSE: NOC), as well as the Jacobs School of Engineering at UCSD and the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp. (EDC), among others, will share their perspectives with assembly members, including Marty Block (Lemon Grove) and Brian Jones (Santee).

A representative from the Jacobs School of Engineering has specifically been summoned due to industry complaints on finding qualified engineers.

“The focus is on companies that have jobs, and we want to hear what helps you hire,” Fletcher said. “No one ever spends their time sitting with legislators who say ‘we’re going to take a few hours with experts and we’re going to ask questions and follow up and understand how we can help.’”

Fletcher’s absence from Sacramento while running his mayoral campaign has been an increasingly common basis of attack from his opponents, specifically Councilman Carl DeMaio and District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis.

Both candidates hold elected positions that allow them to stay in San Diego through the year.

Congressman Bob Filner has missed nearly half of his votes in Washington, D.C. while campaigning.

While no votes will be filed during the committee hearing, it’ll allow Fletcher to meet his assembly responsibilities while speaking to San Diego voters.

This is the third such hearing held by Fletcher’s committee. He said previous hearings in Los Angeles and San Francisco elicited feedback that turned into actionable legislative proposals.

Two bills sponsored by committee member Henry Perea (Fresno) have been introduced following those hearings.

One bill, AB 2045, would allow qualified biotech and high-tech companies to surrender net operating losses to a taxpayer if the taxpayer will provide financial assistance to expand or progress the company.

Another, AB 1818, would allow tax credits for patent licensing against personal income and corporate taxes.

Fletcher also said his much-discussed compromise with Gov. Jerry Brown to close a $1 billion tax loophole for out-of-state companies -- the so-called single sales factor -- was informed by previous committee hearings with business leaders. That plan was ultimately voted down in the state senate.

The plan itself is the subject of a negative campaign mailer paid for by an independent expenditure committee allied with DeMaio, who currently leads Fletcher in mayoral primary polls.

The mailer accuses Fletcher of working with Brown to raise taxes. The new revenue from out-of-state companies, though, would have been used to provide tax breaks for small businesses and low-income workers.

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