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WECA Political Update 4-30-2020

Thursday, April 30, 2020

WECA Political Update
April 30, 2020
Government Affairs and Merit Shop Advocacy
Legislature Returns Home And by home – I mean Sacramento! I knew the Senate and State Assembly would be heading back to town when I started getting e-mails from elected officials asking how my family and I were weathering the COVID-19 crisis. Some were probably sincere but many were, I believe, a test to see if I was responding to email so they could follow-up with an invitation to one of their “virtual fundraisers” that will start to happen once they return over the next two weeks.

The Assembly will gavel in on Monday morning – but will not meet in the usual crowded floor session – and the committee hearings will be short and perfunctory with limits on the number of lobbyists, media and general public admitted.

The Senate is delaying their return for a week as they implement plans to permit remote voting. Here too, there is disagreement – as the Assembly has concluded that remote voting is not permissible under California law.

While earlier pronouncements loftily claimed that “only bills dealing with COVID-19, homelessness, and disaster response would be taken up, the Assembly will be considering such weighty matters as: Alice Peña Bulos Memorial Highway, Telecommunications: automatic dialing-announcing devices: call mitigation technology, Deceptive practices: debt settlement, Pregnant correctional officers: duty assignment policy, Los Angeles Unified School District: best value procurement, Governor’s Military Council, Refugee social services, Residential property insurance, Mobile Slaughter Operations: Sheep and Goats, Charitable organizations: charitable fundraising platforms and platform charities, and Faith-based organization affiliated housing development projects: parking requirements. Sounds like business as usual to me.

Bay Area Shelter in Place The San Francisco Bay Area stay-at-home order has been modified. It now allows for all construction to proceed, but with a new mandatory safety protocol for both “Large Construction Projects” and “Small Construction Projects”.

“Large Construction Projects” will require the following:

Assign a COVID-19 Safety Compliance Officer (SCO) to the jobsite and ensure the SCO’s name is posted on the Site-Specific Health and Safety Plan. The SCO must:
1)     Ensure implementation of all recommended safety and sanitation requirements regarding the COVID-19 virus at the jobsite.
2)     Compile daily written verification that each jobsite is compliant with the components of this LCP Protocol. Each written verification form must be copied, stored, and made immediately available upon request by any County official.
3)    Establish a daily screening protocol for arriving staff, to ensure that potentially infected staff do not enter the construction site. If workers leave the jobsite and return the same day, establish a cleaning and decontamination protocol prior to entry and exit of the jobsite. Post the daily screening protocol at all entrances and exit to the jobsite. More information on screening can be found online at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/index.html.
4)    Conduct daily briefings in person or by teleconference that must cover the following topics:
a)     New jobsite rules and pre-job site travel restrictions for the prevention of COVID-19 community spread.
b)     Review of sanitation and hygiene procedures.
c)     Solicitation of worker feedback on improving safety and sanitation.
d)     Coordination of construction site daily cleaning/sanitation requirements.
e)     Conveying updated information regarding COVID-19.6. Emergency protocols in the event of an exposure or suspected exposure to COVID-19.
5)     Develop and ensure implementation of a remediation plan to address any non-compliance with this LCP Protocol and post remediation plan at entrance and exit of jobsite during remediation period. The remediation plan must be translated as necessary to ensure that all non-English speaking workers are able to understand the document.
6)     The SCO must not permit any construction activity to continue without bringing such activity into compliance with these requirements.
7)     Report repeated non-compliance with this LCP Protocol to the appropriate jobsite supervisors and a designated County official.

The project must also have a COVID-19 Third-Party Jobsite Safety Accountability Supervisor (JSAS) for the jobsite, who at a minimum holds an OSHA-30 certificate and first-aid training within the past two years, who must be trained in the protocols herein and verify compliance, including by visual inspection and random interviews with workers, with this LCP Protocol.

1)     Within seven calendar days of each jobsite visit, the JSAS must complete a written assessment identifying any failure to comply with this LCP Protocol. The written assessment must be copied, stored, and, upon request by the County, sent to a designated County official.
2)     If the JSAS discovers that a jobsite is not in compliance with this LCP Protocol, the JSAS must work with the SCO to develop and implement a remediation plan.
3)     The JSAS must coordinate with the SCO to prohibit continuation of any work activity not in compliance with rules stated herein until addressed and the continuing work is compliant.
4)     The remediation plan must be sent to a designated County official within five calendar days of the JSAS’s discovery of the failure to comply.

Here is Alameda County’s Order for reference. The six Bay Area counties are basically the same.

Governor Newsom Taps California Business, Labor, Health Care and Community Leaders for New Task Force on Business and Jobs Recovery On the heels of Lenny Mendonca’s resignation as Chief Economic Advisor, Head of Go-Biz, and Chair of the High-Speed Rail Authority, Governor Newsom selected former Presidential candidate and proponent of Trump impeachment Tom Steyer to become his chief advisor and to chair the Governor’s Task Force on Business and Jobs Recovery. The Task Force will work to develop actions government and businesses can take to help Californians recover as fast and as safely possible from the COVID-19-induced recession and to shape a fair, green, and prosperous future. They will meet twice a month throughout 2020 to develop options that would work for all Californians, with a particular focus on those hardest hit by the pandemic. 80 members – including all the living ex-governors were originally appointed – but that list has grown to 87. You can see the full list here.

Columnist Dan Walters was not particularly optimistic about the chances for great success.

“The group’s unwieldy size is compounded by an inability to meet personally. Moreover, its something-for-everyone composition, its polarizing co-chairs, its brief time frame and, finally, the dim history of such exercises make some positive and lasting effect unlikely.” On Steyer, he observed “Having Steyer, with his penchant for ideological confrontation, in the driver’s seat is probably more an impediment than a lubricant.”

George Skelton of the LA Times observed, “There are 14 union leaders, including Art Pulaski, executive secretary-treasurer of the California Labor Federation.” And Robbie Hunter, President of the State Building and Construction Trades Council, is a member and co-chair of the Capital Markets & Infrastructure sub-committee – one of 12 sub-groups (complete list here) of the taskforce who are supposed to figure out how to get California moving again. The Markets & Infrastructure sub-committee is supposed to determine “how can the state and other California entities take advantage of low interest rates to invest in infrastructure and other capital projects, create jobs and put people back to work in a cost-effective way? Where can government partner with business, industry, and NGOs in order to expedite processes and streamline projects, while still protecting workers, consumers and the health of the public?”

Skelton reached out to several of the members of the taskforce for comments – one who responded was the mercurial Hunter who “offered some hope. He talked about compromising on a longtime developer bugaboo: the California Environmental Quality Act, which often slows down projects because of long, drawn-out lawsuits. He suggested streamlining the CEQA appeals process for major projects — just as the Legislature has previously done for sports stadiums and arenas. ‘I think that’s doable,’ Hunter said.” Skelton probably neglected to ask Hunter if a PLA would be a requirement of such a deal.

Bill Changes Authority of Governor Possibly anticipating US Senator Kamala Harris’ selection as VP candidate – and the chance that Biden/Harris are elected in November – Assemblyman Kevin Kiley amended his AB 2194 to require that a vacancy in the office of United States Senator be filled in the same manner as a vacancy in a congressional representative or state legislative office. Under existing law, the Governor appoints when a vacancy occurs in the US Senate or County Board of Supervisors, but other vacancies are filled by special elections. The bill is unlikely to get much traction.