Job Numbers Released As released on Friday, job openings were 10.8 million at the end of January. While down 410,000 from December, openings are still extremely high. There are 5.1 million more job openings than unemployed workers. Job openings are not dropping as fast as many anticipated because businesses still badly need many workers and because the economy is not cooling as quickly as expected. For more snapshots of the U.S. economy from the Economic Policy Division at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, click here.
The Race is On for Arizona Senate Nothing shakes up local politics like an open congressional seat. The dominos are already beginning to fall after Democratic Congressman Ruben Gallego’s decision to run for U.S. Senate in 2024. Progressive would-be candidates are sizing up the 3rd Congressional District, which favors Democrats by 24 points in terms of voter registration. Noteworthy politicos considering running for Rep. Gallego’s seat include:
- Phoenix Vice Mayor Yassamin Ansari
- Phoenix City Councilmember Laura Pastor
- Phoenix City Councilmember Betty Guardado
- State Sen. Raquel Terán (D-Phoenix)
Terán’s decision is already being felt at the Capitol. Terán resigned as Senate Minority Leader recently to focus on her potential congressional run. With Sen. Rosanna Gabaldón (D-Green Valley) also stepping down from leadership for personal reasons, Senate Democrats elected new leadership.
The new Democrat Senate leadership team is:
- Sen. Mitzi Epstein (D-Tempe) - Senate Minority Leader
- Sen. Juan Mendez (D-Tempe) - Senate Minority Assistant Leader
- Sen. Eva Burch (D-Mesa) - Senate Minority Whip
- Sen. Lela Alston (D-Phoenix) will remain as Senate minority caucus chair
Coastal Cash Dash President Joe Biden came to California to raise campaign money. It’s the latest sign that the 80-year-old president is readying another run for the White House. Biden’s trip west took him to Rancho Santa Fe, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas, where he reportedly put all the California cash on “red.” (Bartlett/Markuson gambling strategy with 50% success rate)
AGC Economist Dismisses a 2023 Recession Strong job openings, wage growth, and robust investment into equipment, IT, and overall plant construction indicate the U.S. economy should avoid a recession this year, said Ken Simonson, chief economist for Associated General Contractors of America, during an AGC webinar on the construction outlook. “I remain optimistic that we’re not going to have one,” said Simonson, referring to a recession. “There’s just a lot of spending power on the consumer and business sides. State and local governments at all levels also have much money to spend. Tax revenues have held up in a way that you don’t see during a recessionary period.” Story
Labor Department Enters $20M Partnership to Open Doors to Women, Minorities in Trades The Department of Labor has entered a $20 million agreement with TradesFutures — a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit — to advance equitable opportunities in the construction industry, according to a press release shared with Construction Dive. The nonprofit will partner with the DOL, the National Urban League, and North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) to develop a gateway for women, people of color, veterans, Native Americans, and other underrepresented groups to access apprenticeship programs. The project will initially explore programs in Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee before expanding to other states. Story
California Continues to Lead the Nation – in Energy Costs The added costs of California’s policies and regulations continue to keep prices at the highest or near the highest among the contiguous states across all energy sources.
California Requires Bereavement Leave California’s new bereavement leave law, which became effective beginning January 1, 2023, requires most employers to allow their employees to take up to five days of leave upon the death of certain family members. Although vetoes had stymied previous bills providing for bereavement leave, Governor Gavin Newsom signed the new legislation — Assembly Bill (“AB”) 1949 — into law as an “important step” to ensure that low-wage workers “can access the time off they’ve earned while still providing for their family.” The new law makes California one of the few states requiring employers to provide bereavement leave. Story
The Basics of Community Solar Projects and Their Application to Multifamily Projects In recent years, the share of energy produced in the United States through solar photovoltaic (PV) technology has increased exponentially. In 2008, installed solar capacity totaled a mere 0.34 gigawatts, but that figure has now reached 134 gigawatts. One type of solar facility that has contributed to this dramatic growth is community solar projects (CSPs). The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory defines a community solar project as a “distributed solar energy deployment model that allows customers to buy or lease part of a larger, off-site shared PV system.” The owner or developer of a CSP receives payment from customers “subscribing” to the CSP in exchange for certain economic, environmental, and social benefits. Story
Opinion: Utah Sen. Mitt Romney Has a Plan That Is Pro-Business, And Pro-Climate Romney recognizes that climate action and business do not need to be enemies on the national stage. Story
In a possibly related story, Utah’s Largest Coal Company Gives up on Coal Canyon Fuel Co. LLC will relinquish two mining leases and apply the social cost of carbon in the environmental analysis of a third lease as part of a settlement agreement reached last week with environmental groups and the federal government. The agreement comes as the Biden administration weighs a hike in the social cost of carbon — a metric for calculating the monetary damages caused by greenhouse gas pollution — and amid continued debate over fossil fuel production on federal land. Story
Could “No Labels” make a big difference in the 2024 election? The Arizona Secretary of State Adrian Fontes announced that the national group No Labels submitted enough signatures to qualify in the state as a recognized political party - and just in time for the 2024 cycle. In a state where ultra-close statewide races have become the norm, politicos wonder if the No Label-ers could swing key contests next year for U.S. Senate, the White House, and more. Opinions differ. Secretary Fontes, a Democrat, believes No Labels candidates will bleed the GOP of support from traditional Republicans who’ve become alienated by MAGA messaging. Arizona Republic columnist Laurie Roberts isn’t so sure, arguing instead that No Labels will benefit Donald Trump (or any other GOP nominee) by playing the “spoiler” in next year’s race for Arizona’s presidential electoral votes. Nationally, Democrat think tank Third Way is sounding the alarm and warned that President Joe Biden’s narrow 2020 victory was powered, in part, by his support from independent and third-party voters. New Labels threatens to steal that support, Third Way writes, and could be determinative in swing states where “even a paltry third-party performance would put 79 Biden electoral votes at risk.” Perhaps the most intriguing possibility for No Labels involves Democrat-turned-Independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema. Adopting the political party as her new home would not only mean far fewer signatures for her to gather in qualifying for the 2024 ballot, but it also could provide her access to No Labels’ deep pockets, data modeling, and other party infrastructure. These are the kind of resources she gave up when she left the Democratic party in late 2022 - and could make her more formidable in a potential three-way General Election showdown against Democratic U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego and a GOP nominee. [Veridus LLC]
ON THE ROAD AGAIN: Governor Newsom is skipping the annual State of the State address and going on the road, writes POLITICO. Fresh off an easy reelection, Newsom has decided to forego a formal speech at the state Capitol and will instead lay out his agenda with a round-the-state series of events starting today in Sacramento. “He’s not interested in the pomp of the State of the State speech,” said political adviser Sean Clegg. “He wants to get a spotlight on these issues he’s going to talk about rather than getting up there and doing the laundry list.” Newsom will shine that spotlight as he rides political momentum into his second term. He overwhelmingly defeated an attempted recall in 2021 and then cruised to victory last November. Republicans who argue the governor has failed to allay pressing issues like homelessness and poverty have little power to impede his agenda in a Democrat-dominated Legislature.
Su for Labor? A potential promotion for former California labor chief Julie Su got even more contentious, as labor advocates squared off with conservative critics. Republicans and business advocates gathered in front of the state Capitol to blast Su’s nomination as U.S. Secretary of Labor over a laundry list of concerns. Those include support of a fast food labor regulation law that the industry is trying to kill in the 2024 election, a contract worker reclassification law that Uber, Lyft and others have so far blocked at the ballot box and in the courts, and a pandemic unemployment meltdown that delayed worker benefits while the state lost as much as $30 billion to fraud.
- Kevin Kiley, a new member of Congress and former Assemblymember from Rocklin: “I am urging President Biden in the strongest terms to immediately withdraw Julie Su’s nomination. To say that Su failed in her previous role… is an extreme understatement.”
- Tom Manzo, founder of the California Business and Industrial Alliance: “California is “over-regulating small, medium, large-sized businesses who cannot survive in this climate. And the last thing we need to do is export her policies to the United States.”
Backing Su are major labor unions, including SEIU and the California Labor Federation. They released a joint statement calling on the U.S. Senate to move ahead with her confirmation hearing after Biden nominated her last month. Supporters tout Su’s record as a civil rights attorney and policy efforts like ramping up California wage theft investigations.
- The union statement: “Su is universally respected for her competence and dedication. She has demonstrated a lifelong commitment to upholding workers’ rights and has worked collaboratively with high-road employers to support efforts to improve job quality.”
Language Guides for Contractors The Contractors State License Board (CSLB) has begun publishing Spanish-language versions of its licensing exam study guides. All study guides can be downloaded for free on the Examination Study Guides page of the CSLB website. As of March 15, 2023, the following exams have study guides also available in Spanish:
- B-2 – Residential Remodeling Contractor
- C-2 – Insulation and Acoustical
- C-4 – Boiler Hot Water Heating and Steam Fitting
- C-5 – Framing and Rough Carpentry
- C-9 – Drywall
- C-22 – Asbestos Abatement
- C-29 – Masonry
- C-31 – Construction Zone Traffic Control
- C-32 – Parking and Highway Improvement
- C-33 – Painting and Decorating
- C-34 – Pipeline
- C-35 – Lathing and Plastering
- C-36 – Plumbing
- C-38 – Refrigeration
- C-39 – Roofing
- C-42 – Sanitation Systems
- C-43 – Sheet Metal
- C-45 – Sign
The Spanish study guides for the remaining exams will be released over the next few weeks. In addition, CSLB is in the process of getting 10 exams translated into Spanish, including the Law and Business; B – General Building; C-8 – Concrete; C-9 – Drywall; C-15 – Flooring and Floor Covering; C-27 – Landscaping; C-33 – Painting and Decorating; C-36 – Plumbing; C-39 – Roofing, and C-54 – Ceramic and Mosaic Tile. This process is expected to be completed later this year. For these exams, Spanish-speaking applicants will take the exam in Spanish rather than using a CSLB-approved translator. Spanish-speaking applicants can still use a translator for the remaining exams that are not being translated.
WECA Phoenix Gets a New Councilperson Unofficial results show two City Council candidates endorsed by Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego as the winners in Tuesday’s runoff election. The election was required by law because no candidate received a majority of votes last November. The race for Phoenix City Council District 8 is historic. Kesha Hodge Washington, an attorney from Laveen, is on track to become the first African American woman to serve on the Phoenix City Council. “I find it exciting because I do understand the value of representation at the table, but I’m also committed to ensuring that I’m representing the entirety of the district. I don’t want any demographic to feel that I am not representing them,” she said. Story
Arizona Housing Bill Rejected by State Senate Over Affordability, Local Control Worries The Arizona State Senate on Monday failed to pass a bill that would have mandated local zoning reforms to encourage the development of lower-cost starter homes. Almost half of Senate Republicans and nearly all Democrats voted against Senate Bill 117 in a 20-9 vote. According to local news reports, those voting against it largely opposed the measure over concerns that it would excessively limit local control and lacked affordable housing requirements. Gov. Katie Hobbs-D, also opposed the bill, telling reporters in February that she didn’t support “a one-size-fits-all approach” to address the state’s growing affordable housing and homelessness crises. Story
Because California Apparently Has Enough Water, the Biggest Dam Removal Project in US History is Set to Start in California, Oregon Preconstruction work is underway on the largest dam removal and river restoration project in U.S. history. The $450 million project will take out four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River in Oregon and California to restore habitat and passage for migrating fish. Omaha, Nebraska-based Kiewit is the prime contractor, while Knight Piesold, headquartered in South Africa, is the civil prime design partner on the project. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved the project in November 2022, and it is set to wrap up in 2024. Story
EVITP Requirement in Oregon On the heels of the Biden Administration’s refusal to adopt a nationwide mandate for EVITP certification for all level two and above EV charger installations, Oregon State Senators Wagner, Lieber, and Representative Fahey have introduced SB 582 to impose a state requirement like AB 841 in California. Portland General Electric, Climate Solutions, and the Sierra Club all testified in favor of the bill last week.
And Finally, a Bill to Streamline Water Storage Projects in California AB 66 would require the Natural Resources Agency, and each department, board, conservancy, and commission within the agency, to approve the necessary permits for specified projects that meet certain employment conditions within 180 days from receiving a permit application and would deem those permits approved if approval does not occur within this time period. What employment conditions, you ask? Most readers will not be surprised to read that to qualify for this permitting process, the project must be subject to a PLA. What you might be surprised about is who the authors of the bill are.
· Assembly Member Devon Mathis (R-Porterville)
· Assembly Member Juan Alanis (R-Modesto)
· Assembly Member Philip Chen (R-Yorba Linda)
· Assembly Member Diane Dixon (R-Newport Beach)
· Assembly Member Heath Flora (R-Modesto), [Modesto has two Assembly members?]
· Assembly Member James Gallagher (R-Yuba City)
· Assembly Member Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale)
· Assembly Member Low (D-Campbell), [Really, only one Democrat?]
· Assembly Member Marie Waldron (R- Valley Center)
· Senator Brian Jones (R-Santee)
None of the Republicans would explain why they were supporting a PLA bill.