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Government Affairs and Merit Shop Advocacy

Thursday, October 12, 2023

Affordable Housing in San Diego – Just not Affordable for the Taxpayers Who Will Pay for it The Housing Authority of the City of San Diego plans to build a 99-unit affordable rental housing development for individuals and families earning 30 percent to 55 percent of the San Diego Area Median Income (AMI) in the Rancho Bernardo neighborhood. The project will consist of 49 one-bedroom units (537 square feet), 25 two-bedroom units (815 square feet), and 26 three-bedroom units (1,090 square feet) within one building. The project will be built on vacant land – reducing development costs and eliminating any costs of relocating existing tenants. Because the funding will come from a mix of both State and Federal funds, prevailing wages must be paid, and because it is a City project, it will be covered by a PLA. The result of which produces a projected cost of $909,431 per unit. City staff noted that the PLA and prevailing wages mandate contributed to exorbitant unit costs.
HVAC Manufacturers Commit to Six Million Heat Pump Goal 10 of the world’s largest manufacturers and suppliers of building heating and cooling equipment signed an agreement committing to actions to achieve California’s goal to have six million electric heat pumps installed by 2030. The announcement occurred at a two-day summit hosted by the California Energy Commission (CEC) and EPRI. The event brought government leaders with industry, academic, community partners, and others to explore affordable, reliable, and equitable pathways to electrifying buildings — a crucial part of California’s plan to achieve carbon neutrality by mid-century. The manufacturers signing on include A. O. Smith Corporation, Carrier, Daikin, Fujitsu, Johnson Controls, Lennox International, LG Electronics, Mitsubishi Electric Trane HVAC US, Rheem Manufacturing Company, and Trane Technologies.
Status Update
AB 3 (Zbur, D) Establishes the California Offshore Wind Advancement Act to develop a strategy for seaport readiness for offshore wind energy developments and to study the feasibility of achieving 70% and 85% in-state assembly and manufacturing of offshore wind energy projects. The CEC must consult with construction unions on how PLAs can achieve workforce development and apprenticeship goals. Signed
AB 309 (Lee, D) Creates the Social Housing Program within the Department of General Services to identify and develop up to three social housing projects on state-owned surplus land deemed suitable for housing. In April, Lee stripped out several State Building and Construction Trades Council boilerplate provisions, including the mandated use of a Skilled and Trained Workforce, community benefits agreements, and PW mandates. Vetoed because of cost.
AB 336 (Cervantes, D) This Iron Workers-sponsored bill will require a contractor licensee, at the time of renewal, to certify on a license renewal form the three workers’ compensation classification codes for which the highest estimated payroll is reported. Signed
AB 1121 (Haney, D) Requires awarding authorities to annually submit to the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) electronic project registration database a list of contractors, with specified information, that are ineligible to bid on or be awarded a public works contract or to perform work as a subcontractor on a public works project, under local debarment or suspension processes. Signed
AB 1204 (Holden, D) This State Building and Construction Trades Council-sponsored bill prohibits a contractor from contracting with two or more subcontractors in the same license classification for the same work at the same job site unless the subcontractor has employees who work in that license classification. Signed
AB 1628 (McKinnor, D) Prohibits, on and after January 1, 2029, a new washing machine from being sold or offered for sale in the state for residential or state use unless the washing machine contains a microfiber filtration system with a mesh size not greater than 100 micrometers (µm). Vetoed
SB 48 (Becker, D) This bill requires the California Energy Commission (CEC), along with other agencies, to develop a state strategy to achieve state goals for energy and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from existing buildings. Signed
SB 394 (Gonzalez, D) This bill requires the California Energy Commission (CEC) to convene a group of agencies and stakeholders to develop a master plan for healthy, sustainable, and climate-resilient schools. The bill mandates the plan includes “recommendations to ensure that local educational agencies have access to sufficient technical assistance, professional learning, training programs, and pipelines of sustainability and climate resilience personnel to implement decarbonization and adaptation plans that include high road labor standards, project labor agreements with unionized workforces…” Vetoed
SB 410 (Becker, D) This bill requires the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to establish by September 30, 2024, reasonable average and maximum target energization periods to connect new customers and upgrade the service of existing customers to the electrical grid. This bill also requires reporting by electrical corporations and authorizes specified annual cost recovery, subject to a cap. Signed
SB 553 (Cortese, D) This bill requires employers to establish, implement, and maintain an effective workplace violence prevention plan (WVPP) that includes, among other elements, requirements to maintain incident logs, provide specified training, and conduct periodic plan reviews. This bill also authorizes a collective bargaining representative of an employee who has suffered unlawful violence from any individual to seek a temporary restraining order (TRO) and an order after hearing on behalf of the employee(s) at the workplace. Signed
SB 601 (McGuire, D) This bill specifies that if a violation of specific provisions of the Contractors Law occurs in a location damaged by a natural disaster for which a state of emergency has been declared, the court shall impose the maximum fine. The bill also adds violations about fraudulent or misrepresented licenses to specified Penal Code (PEN) provisions with a three-year statute of limitations period. Signed
SB 616 (Gonzalez, D) Expands the state's paid sick leave law to provide an employee with at least 40 hours or five days of sick leave by the 200th calendar day of employment. Signed
SB 799 (Portantino, D) This bill authorizes workers involved in a trade dispute to collect unemployment insurance (UI) benefits after a two-week wait period while on strike. Vetoed
SB 822 (Durazo, D) Requires the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) and the California Workforce Development Board (CWDB) to create high-road evaluation metrics in consultation with stakeholders. Requires, by January 1, 2025, specified state agencies to enter into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the CWDB to coordinate economic and workforce development planning, analysis, and implementation activities. Vetoed
Some Other Interesting Decisions
Undocumented seniors: Newsom vetoed a bill to expand an existing state program — which gave cash assistance to elderly, blind, or disabled immigrants — to eligible undocumented seniors. In his message, the governor emphasized his current efforts to “support the undocumented community.” Still, he wrote that passing this measure would “not be prudent nor would (the policy) meet its intended purpose without providing funding.”
Fare evasion: Agreeing with the BART board and other critics, the governor vetoed a measure to decriminalize transit fare evaders, writing that he “cannot take an action… that could, in turn, contribute to an increase in crime on transit.” (Meanwhile, BART continues to roll out its more challenging fare gates to combat fare evaders.)
Free condoms: Though the governor supported improving “adolescent sexual health,” he ultimately axed a measure to require California high schools to provide students free condoms, again due to costs.
Caste Discrimination: Newsom vetoed a bill that would have explicitly outlawed caste discrimination in California, dealing a blow to activists hoping to make the state the first in the nation to enact such a ban and a first-term lawmaker who shepherded one of the more controversial bills of the session through the Legislature. The law would have inserted caste into the definition of ancestry, making it illegal to discriminate based on caste under the Unruh Civil Rights Act, Fair Employment and Housing Act, and education discrimination law. In his veto message, Newsom said the bill is unnecessary because caste discrimination is already prohibited under existing civil rights protections that "shall be liberally construed."
Carbon Disclosure Newsom signed two bills requiring large corporations operating in the state to disclose their carbon footprints and climate-related financial risks starting in 2026. Senate Bill 253, by state Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), and Senate Bill 261, from state Sen. Henry Stern (D-Sherman Oaks), are the two most ambitious climate bills to come out of deep-blue California this year. Taken together, the laws will change the landscape for corporate disclosure. For the first time in the U.S., large publicly traded and privately held corporations doing business in California will need to make public their impact on the environment, including Scope 3 emissions or those generated through a company’s value chain and how climate change impacts their bottom line.
Oil And Gas: Newsom signed a bill to require oil companies to fund well closures and vetoed another that would have diluted the state's authority over oil refineries. He signed Assembly Bill 1167, from Wendy Carrillo (D-Los Angeles), which requires oil companies to pay more upfront for the costs of eventually closing used-up wells. He vetoed Senate Bill 842, by state Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena), which would have tacked new requirements onto the gasoline price-gouging legislation Newsom and the Legislature passed with fanfare early this year. The decisions reinforce Newsom's self-styled image as a foil to Big Oil, which he has accused of extorting Californians by charging high gasoline prices. He and Attorney General Rob Bonta also sued oil majors last month, seeking compensation for climate change-related damages.
California Bans Inquiries About Applicant Cannabis Use On October 7, 2023, Governor Newsom signed Senate Bill (SB) 700, which makes it unlawful under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) for an employer to discriminate against a job applicant based on information regarding prior use of cannabis that is learned from a criminal history. However, SB 700 does not preempt state or federal laws requiring an applicant to be tested for controlled substances, nor is an employer prohibited from asking about an applicant’s criminal history as long as in compliance with state law requirements. This change takes effect on January 1, 2024. As a reminder, in 2022, the California legislature passed Assembly Bill (AB) 2188, which makes it unlawful for an employer to discriminate against a person in hiring, termination, or any term or condition of employment based upon (1) a person’s use of cannabis off the job and away from the workplace, or (2) an employer-required drug screening test that has found the person to have non-psychoactive cannabis metabolites in their hair, blood, urine, or other bodily fluids. AB 2188 also takes effect on January 1, 2024. There is an exemption for the building and construction trades. Story
Employees in California Get a Bump in Paid Sick Leave Governor Gavin Newsom approved Senate Bill No. 616 (SB 616), significantly increasing the amount of paid sick leave required under California’s existing paid sick leave law. Under existing law, employees in California who work for 30 or more days within a year for the same employer are entitled to accrue paid sick days at a rate of not less than one hour for every 30 hours worked beginning at the commencement of employment, subject to use and accrual limitations. The statute allows employers to choose an alternative accrual method or provide paid sick leave in a lump sum, so long as employees receive no less than 24 hours or three days of paid sick leave by the 120th calendar day of employment. Story
Workplace Violence Prevention Plans Required For California Employers by July 2024 Governor Newsom has signed SB 553, a first-of-its-kind workplace violence prevention law, which requires nearly all California employers to create, adopt, and implement written Workplace Violence Prevention Plans that include numerous elements, annual workplace violence prevention training, violent incident logs, and the creation and retention of various records. Interestingly, the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA), in collaboration with various stakeholders, has been working on a general industry workplace violence standard since 2017. Now, SB 553 requires the Division to enforce new workplace violence requirements largely modeled on Cal/OSHA’s existing draft standard. Under the new law, the Cal/OSHA Standards Board must adopt workplace violence standards codifying SB 553 no later than December 31, 2025. But regulations or not, Cal/OSHA is empowered and directed to start enforcing SB 553 on July 1, 2024. Story
California Impeachment California voters approved Proposition 21, allowing for impeachment of state officers for misdemeanors, on Oct. 10, 1911.  Proposition 21 was a constitutional amendment to allow state officers, including the governor and judges, to be impeached for any misdemeanor in office. The vote was 157,596 (76.16%) to 49,345 (23.84%).
Governors have been impeached 16 times in U.S. history, with nine removed. The last time a sitting governor was impeached was in 2009 when Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) was convicted and removed from office.
In 2023, the Texas House of Representatives impeached Attorney General Ken Paxton (R). The Texas Senate acquitted him on Sept. 16.
1911 was a busy year for ballot measures in the Golden State. Voters decided 23 legislatively referred constitutional amendments, approving 22 of them. Voters rejected Proposition 19, which would have expanded the list of government officials eligible to receive a free or discounted railroad ticket from railroad companies. Voters rejected that proposition 49% to 51%.