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WECA Political Update -- February 20, 2020

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Dear WECA Members,

The California Legislature and Governor Gavin Newsom placed Prop 13 on the March ballot last year to sell bonds for school construction. But because of the influence of the State Building and Construction Trades Council, and the acquiescence of developers and other business groups, it includes a provision that gives priority to school districts with a Project Labor Agreement (PLA). As the San Jose Mercury News said recently -- when it encouraged a "NO" vote on Prop 13 -- "Four years ago, when California voters last approved state school construction bonds, we objected to the measure, Proposition 51, because it continued the developer subsidy. Proposition 13 on the March 3 ballot makes it worse. Voters should reject it. Prop. 13 would drive up the cost of school construction by giving priority for state funding to projects that include union labor agreements [PLAs]. State law for public projects, including school construction, already requires paying prevailing wages for the area. This would further push up the cost by discouraging non-union contractors from bidding on the work."

WECA encourages you to share this information with employees, family, friends, and business associates. If Prop 13 passes with this PLA language, WECA believes it will be incorporated in every ballot measure and funding legislation approved by the California Legislature.

You can read the Mercury article here.

Have questions, concerns, or thoughts? Please contact Richard Markuson using the form below or click here.

2,557 major party candidates have filed for Congress in 2020 With 38 filing deadlines remaining, 2,557 major party candidates have filed to run for the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives in 2020. That figure has grown by 210 in the past month. 360 candidates have filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to run for U.S. Senate. There are 163 Democrats and 144 Republicans running. Fifty-three candidates are either independent or third party affiliated. In 2018, 527 candidates filed with the FEC to run for U.S. Senate, including 137 Democrats and 240 Republicans. 2,472 candidates have filed with the FEC to run for the U.S. House. There are 1,070 Democrats and 1,180 Republicans running. 222 are either independent or third-party candidates. In 2018, 3,244 candidates filed with the FEC, including 1,566 Democrats and 1,155 Republicans. Since January 20, 187 major party candidates have filed for the U.S. House. Of those, 121 are Republicans and 66 are Democrats. 23 major party candidates have filed for the U.S. Senate in the same time period. Of those, 13 are Democrats and 10 are Republicans. Four senators (three Republicans and one Democrat) are not running for re-election this year. Thirty-six representatives are not seeking re-election. Of those, 27 are Republican and nine are Democratic. In 2018, 55 members of Congress—18 Democrats and 37 Republicans—did not seek re-election. Thirty-five Senate seats and all 435 House seats are up for election on November 3, 2020. Two of those Senate races (Arizona and Georgia) are special elections. Twelve are Democratic-held seats and 23 are Republican-held seats. In the House, Democrats currently hold a 232-197 majority with one independent member. [Ballotpedia]

Bills, Bills, Bills Through today, February 20, there have been 1,170 bills introduced in the Legislature. That includes 792 ABs and 378 SBs. The deadline for introducing bills in the 2020 Session is Friday, February 21. With Monday being a state holiday, there are two remaining days for bill introductions. Historically, the second year of a 2-year session has had fewer bills introduced than in the first year. Last year, there were 2,576 bills introduced between the two houses, which is the most in the past decade. Over the past decade, there have been between 1,900 and 2,200 bills introduced in the second year of Session.

Split Roll Shares: According to a report released by the University of Southern California, only 6 percent of commercial properties facing a potential tax hike would make up the bulk of the projected billions of dollars in new state revenue if the "split-roll" measure is approved by voters in November. The report is being hailed as a win for the Schools & Communities First campaign, which says the analysis is proof that opponents' concerns about the impact on small businesses are unfounded. If approved, the tax measure would bring in between $10.3 billion to $12.6 billion annually, according to the report, with 6 percent of big commercial properties — worth more than $5 million — accounting for 78 percent of total state revenue. "It clearly shows that a fraction of the top corporations which have overwhelmingly benefited for so many years would finally pay their fair share," Schools & Communities First spokesperson Alex Stack said of the report. But critics of the proposal say the report doesn't accurately take into account the impacts on agricultural landowners and on small business owners who are renters. "This deeply flawed report is merely campaign propaganda," John Kabateck, California director of the National Federation of Independent Business, said in an email. Ed Ring with the CPC talks about the ballot measure here.

Presidential candidates have collectively raised more than $1 billion The 15 noteworthy Democratic and Republican candidates have raised a combined $1.015 billion since the start of the election cycle. We looked at presidential election fundraising since January 1, 2017, to determine who’s raised the most money so far. Story

Powerful Nevada Union Declines to Endorse: After clashing with Sanders over "Medicare for All," Nevada's Culinary Workers Union said Thursday it will not endorse in the presidential primary, POLITICO's Marc Caputo, David Siders and Natasha Korecki report. The union didn't endorse a candidate during the 2016 primaries, either. But the announcement is a setback for Sanders and to Joe Biden, who were vying for its blessing. The union and its affiliates are a key mobilization bloc for the Nevada caucuses, representing 60,000 workers in the restaurant and hospitality industries. Tensions between the Culinary Workers and Sanders remain fraught after the union circulated a leaflet warning that the Vermont senator would "end Culinary Healthcare" and "require Medicare for All," which in turn sparked outrage among Sanders' supporters and other progressives. Union leaders were doxed, meaning their personal information was released on social media. Sanders later tweeted a message of support for the union and called the harassment "unacceptable." Caputo, Siders and Korecki note that the non-endorsement creates an opening for moderates Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), who now may have an inroad with Latino voters, a crucial demographic, in a state where both candidates were polling in the single digits last month. [Politico]

Money for Fighter Jets Could Pay for Border Wall: The Trump administration plans to take $3.8 billion allocated by Congress to build fighter jets, ships, vehicles and National Guard equipment to fund barrier construction along the U.S.-Mexico border. That puts the total amount the Pentagon has contributed for Trump's border wall at nearly $10 billion. The move sets the stage for another fight over border wall money on Capitol Hill. "We're going to scream about it. We're going to complain about it. We're going to try to stop it anyway we can," House Armed Services Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) told POLITICO. "But at the end of the day, unless Republicans in Congress support us, then we won't be able to get it done."

California Governor Recall Effort Signature Deadline Passes Supporters of the effort to recall California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) had until February 13 to submit 1,495,709 signatures to force a recall election. Republican congressional candidate Erin Cruz submitted the recall. Secretary of State Alex Padilla (D) approved the recall for circulation on September 6, 2019. As of January 29 this year, there were 197,150 signatures submitted, and 134,357 had been deemed valid by the secretary of state. The recall petition alleges that Newsom mismanaged the state and caused poor schools, deteriorating infrastructure, high costs for gas and utilities, and increased homelessness and debt. The recall petition also criticized Newsom’s support of policies such as Medicare for All and laws that aid immigrants living in the country illegally. In response to the recall efforts, Newsom filed a statement with the secretary of state in August 2019. In his statement, Newsom said that the "…recall effort will cost California taxpayers $81 million dollars! It is being pushed by political extremists supporting President Trump’s hateful attacks on California." California became a Democratic trifecta in 2011. A state government trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers. Democrats control the California state House by a 61-18 margin with one vacancy and the state Senate by a 29-10 margin with one vacancy. Newsom succeeded Jerry Brown (D) as governor in 2019. He won the 2018 election with 61.9% of the vote. Three gubernatorial recall efforts are currently underway in 2020. From 2003 to 2019, Ballotpedia tracked 22 gubernatorial recall efforts. During that time, two recalls made the ballot, and one governor was successfully recalled. Former California Gov. Gray Davis (D) was recalled in 2003 and replaced by Arnold Schwarzenegger (R). In 2012, former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) was retained in a recall election. The only other governor to ever be successfully recalled was former North Dakota Gov. Lynn Frazier (R) in 1921. [Ballotpedia]

Employment Law Risks for Family Businesses One of the benefits of operating a family business is the opportunity to work closely with other family members on a daily basis. However, it is important to remember that a family member is just like any other employee in the eyes of the law and should be treated as such. Story

OSHA Issues Guidance on the Usage of Headphones on Construction Sites In late 2019, OSHA released a letter of interpretation in response to employers’ questions regarding the rapidly increasing use of headphones on construction sites. The convenience, simplicity, and decrease in price of wireless headphones have made them wildly popular. Manufacturers and advertisers have taken advantage of that popularity to advertise wireless headphones as having features appealing to workers, such as volume-limiting capabilities and noise-canceling capabilities, and even promoted them as ear protection devices. These products, however, also have the ability to play music, podcasts, videos – anything that can be watched or listened to via a Bluetooth device. To better appeal to workers, some manufacturers have gone as far as to advertise their products as “OSHA approved”. Employers subsequently sought clarification and guidance on whether use of headphones on job sites is prohibited by OSHA regulations. Story

CA Supreme Court Publishes "Hours Worked" Decision The California Supreme Court has concluded that employees must be compensated for time spent on the employer’s premises waiting for, and undergoing, required exit searches of packages, bags, or personal technology devices. The Court explained that this time is compensable because the employees are under the employer’s control and the searches are being performed for the employer’s benefit. The Court reached this decision applying California law, and the same result would not necessarily be reached under the FLSA. Employers should therefore review any policies or practices that require employees to perform any “off the clock” or otherwise uncompensated tasks. Key factors identified by the Court as to whether the activities are compensable are the location of the activity, the degree of the employer’s control, whether the activity primarily benefits the employee or employer, and whether the activity is enforced through disciplinary measures. The Court’s opinion, Frlekin v. Apple, Inc., Case No. S243805, can be accessed here.

Microgrids on the Rise as CPUC Seeks to Streamline Resiliency Projects The state of California is calling for more investments in microgrids for electric power resiliency. Spurred by a 2018 legislative effort that recognized the multitude of benefits microgrid technologies can offer (e.g., grid reliability, renewable integration), the reality of increasing California wildfires and power outages make microgrid deployment a necessary option. Story

Vocational ed makes a comeback Columnist Dan Walters writes “Somewhere along the way, California’s public schools became enamored with the notion that all students will — or at least should — acquire degrees from four-year colleges. Local school districts often adopted college-prep-for-all policies and in doing so denigrated and often eliminated what was once called vocational education — classes to prepare students for useful and often lucrative jobs in the real world. Story

Some States’ Economies Could Slump This Year The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia projected last month that the economies of ten states would contract in 2020, according to a report by Bloomberg Businessweek. The Philadelphia Fed’s forecast didn’t take into account the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China in December, which could hurt the economies of other states, including California and North Carolina, that trade heavily with that country. [United Press International, US News & World Report]