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WECA Political Update October 29, 2020

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Second wave of COVID-19 impacts construction, and the results aren't good A second wave of business impacts from COVID-19 is reverberating through construction contractors’ operations, and those consequences are getting worse as the pandemic wears on, according to the latest survey results from the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC). Story

CalChamber Best Business Votes 2020 The California Chamber of Commerce has released its report of Legislative votes on business issues. Not surprising is a partisan tilt in the results. Only one Senate Democrat, Steve Glazer, scored in the top tier (80% or more with CalChamber). Eight Assembly Democrats and one NPP (former Republican Chad Mayes) scored in the top tier. You can see the vote list here.

Gov. Newsom Pledges to Ban Fracking in California – Then Greenlights More of It “On Sept. 23, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order to ban hydrofracturing in the state by 2024. Just three weeks later, on Oct. 16, his administration approved permits to frack six new wells owned by a company with whom he has lobbying ties.” Story

Cutting Ties with Turkey: Politico reported that the national lobbying firm Mercury Public Affairs was subjected to a pressure campaign by Armenian-American activists incensed by Turkey’s support for Azerbaijan in ongoing hostilities with Armenia. The firm’s quick decision to scrap its $1 million contract with Turkey is a victory for Armenia in a conflict that’s playing out in Washington and California, as well as the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh along Armenia’s border with Azerbaijan. But it is a troubling signal that elected officials will resort to a type of “secondary boycott” to control advocacy efforts. The Armenian National Committee and another group, the Armenian Assembly of America, tried to put pressure on Mercury by holding protests outside its offices in Washington and Los Angeles and urging Mercury’s clients to cut ties with the firm if it kept representing Turkey. The campaign had an effect. Kathryn Barger, the chairwoman of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, and Hilda Solis, a supervisor and former Labor secretary in the Obama administration, wrote to Mercury to urge the firm “to immediately sever any business ties with the Republic of Turkey.” (Mercury is a contractor to Los Angeles County, which is home to a large Armenian population.) California state Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and 16 other state lawmakers told Mercury they wouldn’t engage with the firm as long as it represented Turkey. And the Los Angeles Community College District informed Mercury that it would “begin to exercise the 30-day termination clause” in its contract if Turkey remained a client. Is this the future of advocacy in California, where elected officials refuse to talk–because a lobbyist has a client that is “out-of-favor” with a constituency? Will Democrats eventually refuse to talk to a lobbyist because they represent the merit shop community?

According to a story in Politico, Bernie Sanders makes a play for Biden Labor secretary…. “two people close to Sanders--including one former aide--said the senator has expressed interest in being in the administration should Biden win in November. Sanders has been making his push for the top job at the Labor Department in part by reaching out to allies on the transition team, one person familiar with the process said.” Yikes!

On the ballot in Arizona At the federal level, Arizona voters will elect 11 presidential electors, one U.S. Senator, and nine U.S. Representatives. Three seats on the Arizona Corporation Commission are up for election. Both chambers of the state legislature are on the ballot, with all 30 seats up in the state Senate and all 60 state House districts. Three seats on the state supreme court and 11 intermediate appellate court seats are on the ballot. Voters will also decide on two statewide ballot measures. Ballotpedia is tracking local elections taking place in six cities, two counties, and 42 school districts. Story

One Big Election - $14 billion The cost of this year's federal elections will hit close to $14 billion, shattering records and doubling the amount spent to influence presidential and congressional contests in 2016, according to an estimate released by the Center for American Politics.

More Exodus - CBRE said to be on the move Despite Democrats’ denial about California’s reputation as a business-adverse environment, CBRE Group Inc.--the world's largest commercial real estate services and investment firm--is moving its headquarters from Los Angeles to Dallas, according to multiple sources from the Dallas Business Journal with knowledge of the deal. With the relocation, CBRE would be the next in a line of companies moving to North Texas from California. Last year, McKesson Corp. left San Francisco for Irving--just after Core-Mark Holding announced it would leave the Bay Area for Westlake. More recently, Charles Schwab Corp. nailed down Jan. 1 as the move-in date for its headquarters in Westlake, relocating from San Francisco.

IRS Announces Retirement Plan Limitations for 2021 On October 26, 2020, the Internal Revenue Service issued Notice 2020-79 to announce the cost-of-living adjustments applicable to pension and retirement plan dollar limitations for the 2021 tax year – most of which will remain unchanged from 2020. Additionally, the Social Security Administration has determined that the 2021 contribution and benefit base will be $142,800, up from $137,700 in 2020. No change in a limitation means that the increase in the cost-of-living index was not sufficient to trigger the applicable statutory cost-of-living adjustment ("COLA").

No Roadwork in Sandy Ego – for a bit The City of San Diego announced a shutdown of road construction within one mile of polling locations from Saturday-Tuesday. More

You might just not know what you are drinking. A couple dining in a NYC restaurant was mistakenly served a $2,000 1989 Mouton Rothschild after ordering a $18 Pinot Noir. The young couple were dining at Balthazar in New York and found themselves enjoying the Mouton Rothschild that had been ordered by four Wall Street businessmen at another table who had ordered the Bordeaux First Growth – the most expensive wine on the restaurant’s list. Neither of the groups noticed the mistake until informed by the restaurant manager. Then the Wall Street guys said they “had thought the wine wasn’t a Mouton.” (Yeah, right) Story