SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A controversial new bill could soon force California businesses to submit their salary data to the state in an effort to achieve equal pay for women.

“Women are in the workforce primarily because they need to be and it’s important that women are paid equally,” said state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, who introduced the bill before a Judiciary Committee Tuesday.

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From the Woman’s March to the Me Too movement, there has been a growing awareness of a gender pay gap in the workforce.

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“It’s an enormous problem,” Jackson added.

So, could this new bill help?

Senate Bill 1284 would require all California companies with 100 or more employees to submit a pay data report that includes the number of workers, their race and sex, and the total earnings of each employee.

“It’s a way for companies to self-evaluate and to self-correct,” she said.

If discrepancies are caught, the state could take action under the equal pay act.

Opponents include the California Manufacturers & Technology Association and Chamber of Commerce, which has labeled the bill a job killer.

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“Our concern is that the information in 1284 won’t actually get the data they are looking for. It’s not an apples-to-apples comparison,” said Laura Curtis with the California Chamber of Commerce who spoke before the committee.

“We are concerned about the increased liability, the potential of individuals would be able to sue,” said Nicole Rice with the California Manufacturers & Technology Association.

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Opponents also believe the proposed law doesn’t account for years of experience.

“There can be wage discrepancy and you want wage discrepancy, you want individuals to be able to work longer at a job and earn more their job because they put in the hours and unfortunately that’s not what this will show,” Curtis said.

But supporters feel it’s a way to highlight income inequality and start to solve the problems.

“This bill is designed to collect data so we can understand why that pay gap continues to be as great as it is,” Jackson said.

The bill is being amended so that the data collected would only be shared with the state and not publicly.

The measure passed the Judiciary Committee 5-1 and heads to the appropriations committee before it can be heard on the Senate floor.

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