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WECA Political Update June 25, 2020

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Face Covering Update On June 18, the California Department of Public Health released updated guidance that requires Californians to wear a face-covering in high-risk settings. The direction mandates the use of cloth face coverings by the general public statewide when outside the home, with limited exceptions. 

Pertaining to work, workers must wear face coverings when they are in the situations listed below:
  • Interacting in-person with any member of the public;
  • Working in any space visited by members of the public, regardless of whether anyone from the public is present at the time;
  • Working in any space where food is prepared or packaged for sale or distribution to others;
  • Working in or walking through common areas, such as hallways, stairways, elevators, and parking facilities;
  • In any room or an enclosed area where other people (except for members of the person’s household or residence) are present when unable to physically distance.
The following individuals are exempt from wearing a face-covering:
  • Persons who are engaged in outdoor work or recreation such as swimming, walking, hiking, bicycling, or running, when alone or with household members, and when they can maintain a distance of at least six feet from others.
At present, this new guidance doesn’t impact the current industry-specific guidance covered in the Construction Industry COVID-19 Exposure Response and Prevention Plan developed by San Diego Construction Associations.

California Bill Update

B-2 Residential Remodeling Contractor SB 1189 (McGuire D- Healdsburg) creates a residential remodeling contracting classification, the B-2 Residential Remodeling Contractor, as a recognized branch of the general building contracting profession. WECA is seeking an amendment to require that electrical work performed by the B-2 be done by a certified electrician. The bill was passed by the Senate and will be considered in the Assembly in July.

CEQA We talked about SB 995 (Atkins D-San Diego) last time. It extends for four years the Jobs and Economic Improvement Through Environmental Leadership Act of 2011 (AB 900) until 2025. It makes housing projects that meet specific requirements, including affordable housing requirements, eligible for certification under the Act. The bill had been opposed by State Building and Construction Trades Council, who testified in support of the bill in committee – now we know why. Atkins agreed to include the BT’s “suitcase of amendments” that include:
  • Similar STWF unless there is a PLA
  • Requires PW payments on any project - even if it is not a PW
  • Requires all contractors and subcontractors to maintain and verify payroll records under Labor code unless there is a PLA
  • It allows payment of less than the PW hourly wage if subject to a CBA
  • Create new penalties for failing to meet STWF ratios of $10,000 per month and $200 per day per employee - which penalties do not apply if a PLA is in place. As you may recall – AB 3018 from 2018 created a penalty of $5,000 for a first offense - not sure why there is a new penalty in 974 - when there is one in existing law.
Another CEQA bill is SB 974 (Hurtado D-Spanger) that exempts from CEQA specific water infrastructure projects for small disadvantaged community water systems that improve the water system’s water quality, water supply, or water reliability. The BTs opposed the bill, and Hurtado made changes on June 18, like SB 995. These will surely make it easier and more affordable to provide clean water for small disadvantaged communities.

Skilled and Trained Workforce AB 2311 (Low D- Campbell) requires a public entity to include in all documents and contracts a notice that a project is subject to the skilled-and-trained workforce requirement. The State Building and Construction Trades Council rejected WECA’s request for indemnity language. The bill is in the Senate Labor Committee.

Family Leave Senators are poised to approve a job-protected family leave proposal backed by Gov. Newsom that was inserted late Tuesday into a gutted policy bill as part of the budget process. SB 1383 (Jackson D – Santa Barbara) would give all employees who are eligible for the state’s Paid Family Leave Program up to 12 weeks over 12 months to care for themselves, a new child, or a seriously ill spouse or domestic partner, sibling, grandparent or grandchild, mirroring Newsom’s January budget proposal. The bill would take effect in January. The California Chamber of Commerce opposes the measure. On Wednesday, the group added SB 1383 to its feared list of “Job Killer” bills, saying it was the wrong time to place new burdens on small businesses struggling to avoid shutting permanently because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

November Election

After hours of debate in which lawmakers repeatedly invoked the imperative to move closer to racial equality and invoked prejudice they had faced in their own lives, the Senate passed ACA 5 (Weber D – San Diego) on a 30-10 vote. If passed by voters, the measure would overturn Proposition 209, the 1996 voter-passed initiative that prohibited race as a factor in admissions policies for universities and government hiring and contracting decisions. Several Chinese American groups oppose reinstating affirmative action, arguing it would discriminate against Asian Americans, who are currently over-represented in both the CSU and UC systems. State Sen. Ling Ling Chang, a Diamond Bar Republican: “The answer to discrimination is not more discrimination.” Voters will have the final say in November. Fifty-five percent voted to pass 209 in 1996. [Politico & CalMatters]

California voters will also decide whether to let parolees vote. ACA 6 (McCarty D-Sacramento) was a priority of the California Legislative Black Caucus and of civil rights groups who said it would restore basic rights to people who have served their debt to society through incarceration. California law currently requires people to finish their parole terms before they can register to vote. The Senate passed the measure on a 28-9 vote that was largely along party lines, with Sen. Scott Wilk (R-Simi Valley) the sole Republican vote in favor. The parole measure is promoted by 31-year-old Esteban Núñez, son of a former Speaker of the California Assembly. He was convicted for his role in the 2008 killing of 22-year-old college student Luis Santos. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2011 reduced Núñez’s sentence from 16 years to seven, a decision that angered Santos’ parents and others who said Núñez’s political connections allowed him to circumvent justice. Núñez now works for a criminal justice nonprofit, advocating for bills like ACA 6 to help give the incarcerated a second chance.

Several other Legislative efforts will probably end up on the ballot. But as Joel Fox points out in Fox&Hounds, “the Democratic majority in the Legislature is at it again, attempting to manipulate election rules to favor a desired outcome with voters. It has happened a number of times in the last decade. The current effort is SB 300 by Senator Tom Umberg (D-Santa Ana) to place all constitutional amendments passed by the Legislature in the coming days on the November ballot where the majority feels they have a higher chance for success. Under current law, any measure that qualified after 131 days before the election would appear in the next election, June 2022 ballot.”
Ask Richard
Richard Markuson
WECA Government Affairs Advocate, Pacific Advocacy Group
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WECA is California's premier independent electrical contractors' association. We provide innovative training and education programs, critical business services, and responsive customer support to surpass the needs of our members and students. We are California state approved, and our top-quality electrical training has found a nationwide audience. For over 90 years, we have been training the next generation of electricians, and advocating for and protecting fair and open competition in the electrical industry.
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