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Government Affairs and Merit Shop Advocacy

Friday, August 18, 2023

They’re BAAACK While the Legislature was on vacation, Newsom signed some bills and vetoed a few. But there are many more that legislators must decide before they adjourn on September 14. By the numbers (courtesy of my friend Chris Micheli):
Of 1,770 Assembly bills introduced this session, 1,055 have been sent to the Senate and nearly 90 have already gone to Newsom’s desk.
Of 890 Senate bills introduced, about 660 have been passed to the Assembly and nearly 50 to the governor.
About 390 Assembly measures and 290 Senate bills are before the other chamber’s appropriations committees this week as they move toward the dreaded “suspense file” at the end of the month.
Gut-and-amend: While it’s too late in the session to introduce entirely new legislation, there is a workaround. Lawmakers can “gut” an existing bill that is still alive and “amend” it with a completely different proposal.
That’s the plan on a measure to allow striking workers to collect unemployment benefits, Politico reported late last week. The California Labor Federation backed the bill, whose leader Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher unsuccessfully pushed the idea in 2019 when she was in the state Assembly. 
WECA and CAPHCC Team at Joint Legislative Day. WECA and CAPHCC believe that constituent advocacy is an essential part of citizenship. This Wednesday, they collaborated on a morning of speakers and an afternoon of advocacy at the “Swing Space.” No, it is not a dance hall. The Swing Space is a new 9-story building at 10th and O St that is occupied by the entire Legislature (well, excluding recently deposed “speaker-emeritus Anthony Rendon who decided to sulk in an adjacent building), the Governor who occupies the entire ninth floor, and the Lt. Governor who was given a cubicle in the basement. The lobbying afternoon was highlighted by protestors from SEIU who attempted to shut down the building by occupying the entrance and chanting about collectivism. Several protestors, including one former Legislator and two Sacramento Council members, were arrested for failing to disburse when ordered by the CHP. 
Key Legislation they lobbied on
·      SB 28 (Glazer) Oppose Authorizes a $15 billion bond measure for the construction and modernization of public preschool, K-12, California Community Colleges (CCC), University of California (UC), and California State University (CSU) facilities to be placed on the ballot for the March 2024 primary election. Like Proposition 13, which was rejected by voters in 2020, this bond bill requires the state to prioritize funding to school districts with PLAs. (Assembly Appropriations)
·      AB 247 (Muratsuchi) Support Would put the Kindergarten Through Community College Public Education Facilities Bond Act of 2024, a state general obligation bond, of $14 billion to construct and modernize education facilities on the November 2024 statewide ballot. Unlike SB 28 no PLA language in the bill. (Senate Appropriations)
·       [TBD] (Portantino) Oppose requires employers to pay UI benefits to striking workers; by doing so would raise taxes on all employers across California, overturn more than 70 years of precedent, and put California’s UI program at risk of violating federal law. California is currently in historic debt (approx. $18 billion) due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the state-wide shutdown it caused. As a result, California employers are already paying increased UI taxes under federal law and are likely to face ongoing tax increases until approximately 2032. (Gut and amend)
·      SB 399 (Wahab) Oppose This bill effectively prohibits any discussion of political matters in the workplace. It is unnecessary, considering existing California and federal laws that protect employees from any coercion related to their political beliefs or activities. Further, the bill violates the First Amendment and is preempted by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). (Assembly Appropriations)
·      SB 616 (Gonzalez) Oppose Expands the state’s paid sick leave law to would more than double the existing paid sick leave requirement. If passed, employers must provide employees with no less than 56 hours or seven days of sick leave by the 280th calendar day of employment. (Assembly Appropriations)
·      SCA 7 (Umberg) Oppose SCA 7 would create a basis to challenge virtually any state or local government infrastructure, energy, or housing project or procurement proposal; eliminate charter city home rule authority over local wages and employment terms; prohibit state and local budget actions that reduce public employment; prohibit adoption of state or local laws that reduce private sector employment; create several new classes of potential organizing (workers) currently excluded from collective bargaining; and require reexamination potentially dozens or hundreds of proposed statutes from this session that could conflict with SCA 7. (Senate Elections and Constitutional Amendments)
Newsom for President We’ve written recently about Gavin Newsom’s plan to replace Joe Biden as the Democratic candidate for President in 2024, but the evidence keeps mounting. Politico sums it up “He would seem to have a lot on his plate, given that he’s in charge of running the world’s fifth-largest economy, but Gavin Newsom seems to have found time to take on a side gig as America’s leading shadow climate diplomat. The California governor is cementing the Golden State’s status as a climate policy power broker, striking deals with China and other major polluters. Newsom’s administration has sealed pacts with China and Australia to phase out fossil fuels, improve building energy efficiency, boost resilience against wildfire, heat, and drought, and freely exchange ideas on policy and academic matters. And California Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis recently led a delegation to Japan of some 80 renewable energy and transportation industry executives. ‘These are more than just ceremonial meetings,’ Mary Nichols, the former chair of the California Air Resources Board, said in an interview. ‘These are planned sessions where people will spend a day, a week, or even more doing a deep dive into some specific issue.’ Newsom’s decision to wade into the global climate scene follows in the footsteps of his two predecessors in Sacramento, Jerry Brown and Arnold Schwarzenegger, who also actively engaged in climate diplomacy.
Upping The Ante California lawmakers are poised to pass first-in-the-nation legislation requiring companies to disclose their environmental impact and the financial risks they face due to climate change. Lawmakers are set to consider two bills, SB253 and SB261, in the Assembly Appropriations Committee around Sept. 1. Passage there would set up an Assembly floor vote by Sept. 14, where the emissions disclosure bill sponsored by state Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) narrowly failed last year. Companies including Microsoft, Patagonia, and REI Co-Op sent a letter to Assembly Appropriations Chair Chris Holden urging his panel to pass the bills, and Adobe last week also signed up in support of SB253, according to Jack Persons, a spokesperson for Wiener. Bill sponsors have scheduled a rally for SB253 at the California Capitol on Aug. 23 to gin up support. Wiener’s bill would require public and private companies that do business in the state and generate at least $1 billion in revenue to disclose their direct and supply-chain emissions starting in 2026, going further than proposed federal disclosure rules. SB261, led by state Sen. Henry Stern (D-Calabasas), would require public and private companies generating at least $500 million in annual revenue to prepare climate-related financial risk reports starting by the end of next year. A similar measure proposed by Stern failed to advance last year.
Cal/OSHA Announces Expanded Presence for Workers and Employers in the Central Valley, Inland Empire and Central Coast Cal/OSHA announced it will be increasing its physical presence in Fresno, Santa Barbara, and Riverside counties – allowing Cal/OSHA field inspectors to respond more efficiently in the Central Valley, Inland Empire, and Central Coast areas while providing services and resources to workers, employers, and community-based organizations in these areas.
The Division is setting up temporary satellite offices and is in the process of establishing permanent office locations in:
·      Regional Office in Fresno
·      High Hazard Office in Fresno
·      District Office in Santa Barbara
·      District Office in Riverside
Business Community Pans New Northern Arizona National Monument Relying on the 117-year-old Antiquities Act, President Joe Biden recently said he would designate nearly 1 million acres of land in northern Arizona as a national monument. The new designation would end new mining claims in the area permanently. Mining in the affected area is already blocked until 2032. Claims initiated before 2012 will remain valid, however. The new restriction was met with concern from Arizona’s business community. Story The WSJ put it another way, A Gift to Putin: No Uranium Mining Near the Grand Canyon Story
PBGC To Dole Out Another $2.2 Billion Of Taxpayer Monies to Five More Failing Union Pension Plans As it has for the past year, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp (PBGC) announced on Thursday that it is spending more than $2.62 billion in taxpayer monies to bailout five more failing union pension plans. Story