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WECA Political Update, 3-5-2020Thursday, March 05, 2020
Proposition 13 School Bond

Joel Fox writes in Fox & Hounds “The biggest surprise so far is that it appears the statewide school construction and maintenance bond is going down to defeat. With 93 percent of the precinct counted, it trails 44 percent Yes, 56 percent No. The gap of over half-a-million votes will be hard to close with the votes remaining to be counted. Two political aspects if Proposition 13 fails—Gov. Gavin Newsom’s influence is damaged. He was the face of the bond appearing in television commercials and touring the state on behalf of the proposition. The school issue, which has been assumed to be a sure winner in the state with many polls indicating voters want to support the schools, may not be as powerful as believed. What does that mean to the coming campaign in the battle to raise taxes by altering 1978’s Proposition 13 with schools listed first as beneficiary of the new funds in both the title of the “Schools and Communities First” name and the Attorney General’s ballot label leading with “Increases Funding for Public Schools”…?

Fox neglects to mention the developer fee break or PLA language in Prop. 13, or authority to raise property taxes for local school bonds.

The SF Chronicle observed that “Supporters raised more than $9 million to pass the measure, while opponents listed no campaign contributions or spending. The state Legislature placed the measure on the ballot with bipartisan support. Gov. Gavin Newsom actively campaigned for the measure, making a stop in Oakland to plug the bond on Monday. It appeared it wasn’t enough to overcome what polls found was lukewarm support for the initiative in the weeks and months preceding the election. Early on, supporters feared that voters would confuse efforts to amend the original Prop. 13 passed in 1978 with the facilities bond measure, but efforts to change the number assigned to the initiative failed. It’s unclear how much that affected the tally Tuesday.”

One of the authors of AB 48 (which became Prop. 13), Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell (not thinking voters know what they are voting on – except in the case where he was elected, I guess), said “If it passes, it was because it was a school construction bond, and if it fails, it was because it was named Prop. 13”. O’Donnell has already announced legislation to remove Prop. 13 from the rotation.

There are at least three possible outcomes: 1) as ballots continue to be counted, Prop. 13 could ultimately pass as early votes tend to be more conservative that late votes, 2) the Legislature and Governor could try again in November with a different bond but would the people who contributed $9 million for Prop. 13 pony up the money again – and more importantly – would the teachers’ unions and public employees who want a split roll initiative on the November ballot want a school bond on the same ballot, 3) Prop. 13’s defeat could make passage of split roll more important for the special interest spending lobby and cause them to pour more money into that measure, and 4) the Legislature may finally retire Proposition 13 from circulation once and for all.

Oil industry millions fail to secure clear California wins

From Politico: The oil industry is learning the same lesson in California as former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg is nationally: money isn’t everything.

Energy-producing companies deployed millions of dollars to push chosen candidates into runoffs for the state Legislature, but early returns show those investments aren't yielding great returns. While the results are still shifting as ballots flow in, the early picture has some of the industry’s preferred Democrats running behind.

Modesto City Council Member Manmeet “Mani” Grewal – a Democrat seeking the open SD-5 seat – was 10 points behind in his attempt to land a spot before voters in November, despite an industry PAC spending $750,000 on his behalf. Similarly, former Assemblywoman Nora Campos drew more than $1 million from the industry PAC but trailed two Democrats in the race for an open SD-13 seat.

A brawl for the open AD-57 seat — the most expensive Assembly contest — has centrist oil-backed Democrat Sylvia Rubio effectively in a tie for a November spot with Democrat Lisa Calderon, who drew heavy labor support.

Along with Rubio’s prospects, it remains unclear if the more than $800,000 the industry spent to propel Democrat Carlos Villapudua into November will do the trick. Villapudua was leading two other Democrats for the open AD-13 seat, but Kathy Miller and Christina Fugazi were both within roughly a thousand votes.

And the industry’s chosen Republican was on the bubble in the open SD-23, a potential swing district: Republican Rosilicie Bogh sat in third, behind both Democrat Abigail Medina and Republican Lloyd White, despite some television support from the oil industry PAC. That race also remains too close to call, with about 1,200 votes separating Bogh and top vote-getter Medina.

The NLRA Offers California Tribes a Shield Against State Labor Protections For over 20 years, the State of California has used tribal gaming compacts to accomplish what federal law and tribal sovereignty would otherwise forbid: forcing tribes to follow state labor law in their casinos. Recently however, the Ninth Circuit decided that Congress, not California, has the paramount authority to regulate labor relations in Indian Country, and that the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) applies to tribal casinos. With federal authority confirmed, tribes can challenge state interference in their labor relations as a violation of federal law. More
Presidents have issued 14,215 pardons since 1902 President Donald Trump (R) issued seven pardons and commuted four prison sentences on Feb. 18. Trump has pardoned 25 people and commuted the sentences of 10 others since taking office. So, what exactly are pardons and commutations, and how do they work? What kind of historical data is available? Our elections team has been tracking this for years, so they sent me over some information yesterday. Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution grants the president the power of executive clemency. Executive clemency includes the power to pardon, in which the president overturns a federal conviction and restores “an individual to the state of innocence that existed before the conviction.” Executive clemency also includes the power of commutation, which allows a president to shorten or reduce a federal prison sentence. Clemency can also include the power to postpone a sentence or punishment—known as a reprieve—and the remission of fines. A president’s power of executive clemency is limited to federal offenses. He or she cannot pardon individuals for civil or state offenses. A president may also not use this power to intervene in impeachment proceedings. One of the first uses of the powers of executive clemency in U.S. history came in 1795 when President George Washington pardoned participants in a tax riot known as the Whisky Rebellion. Since 1902, presidents have issued 14,215 pardons and 6,557 commutations. The chart below shows the number of pardons and commutations by president since Theodore Roosevelt (R). This data was taken from the website of the U.S. Department of Justice, which includes information dating back to 1900. Our data starts with 1902 since that's the beginning of the first complete presidency using this information. Also, these numbers do not include instances of mass pardons such as in 1974 when President Gerald Ford (R) pardoned those who evaded the draft during the Vietnam War.

From 1914 to 1981—during all presidencies from Woodrow Wilson (D) to Jimmy Carter (D)—the number of pardons issued by each president was over 100 per year. Since Ronald Reagan (R), the average number of pardons per year has been less than 50. Rachel Barkow, a law professor at New York University, wrote in a New York University Law Review article in June 2015 that "The main reason for fewer clemency grants is the politics surrounding clemency and crime more generally." She stated that elected officials responded to public criticism of the criminal justice system by limiting their use of executive clemency. Barkow also noted in an email to Ballotpedia that beginning in 1978, the U.S. Attorney General delegated supervisory authority over clemency to the Deputy Attorney General who also supervises federal prosecutions.

Flow-Down Clauses To Subcontractors: What Actually Flows? Subcontractors must pay close attention to provisions in their subcontract that refer back to terms in the prime contract. These provisions are commonly referred to as "flow-down" clauses. Most subs are, of course, familiar with these provisions. They attempt to make the terms of a prime contract “flow down” to the subcontract. More

White House Announces EEOC, NLRB Nominees: The White House announced four nominations Monday to the NLRB and EEOC. Trump will nominate Jocelyn Samuels for a Democratic seat on the EEOC; former NLRB member Lauren McFerran for one of two vacant Democratic seats on the NLRB; Marvin Kaplan for an additional term in his Republican seat on the NLRB; and Gibson Dunn lawyer Andrea Lucas for a Republican seat on the EEOC.

Former UAW President Charged with Conspiring to Embezzle Union Funds From WSJ Federal prosecutors have charged former United Auto Workers President Gary Jones with conspiracy to embezzle union funds, making him the highest-ranking ex-union official to be ensnared in the Justice Department’s years long corruption probe. Story (Subscription may be required)

Community Solar Meets Requirements of California Solar Mandate The California Energy Commission (CEC) has approved the first community solar program as a means of complying with California’s solar mandate. Specifically, on February 20, 2020, following a three-hour hearing with many speakers on both sides of the issue, the CEC unanimously approved the Sacramento Municipal Utility District’s (SMUD) proposal to allow homebuilders to use a community solar alternative to the California solar mandate, which went into effect on January 1, 2020. SMUD’s community solar plan is called Neighborhood SolarShares. More
WECA Political Update -- February 20, 2020Thursday, February 20, 2020
Dear WECA Members,

The California Legislature and Governor Gavin Newsom placed Prop 13 on the March ballot last year to sell bonds for school construction. But because of the influence of the State Building and Construction Trades Council, and the acquiescence of developers and other business groups, it includes a provision that gives priority to school districts with a Project Labor Agreement (PLA). As the San Jose Mercury News said recently -- when it encouraged a "NO" vote on Prop 13 -- "Four years ago, when California voters last approved state school construction bonds, we objected to the measure, Proposition 51, because it continued the developer subsidy. Proposition 13 on the March 3 ballot makes it worse. Voters should reject it. Prop. 13 would drive up the cost of school construction by giving priority for state funding to projects that include union labor agreements [PLAs]. State law for public projects, including school construction, already requires paying prevailing wages for the area. This would further push up the cost by discouraging non-union contractors from bidding on the work."

WECA encourages you to share this information with employees, family, friends, and business associates. If Prop 13 passes with this PLA language, WECA believes it will be incorporated in every ballot measure and funding legislation approved by the California Legislature.

You can read the Mercury article here.

Have questions, concerns, or thoughts? Please contact Richard Markuson using the form below or click here.

2,557 major party candidates have filed for Congress in 2020 With 38 filing deadlines remaining, 2,557 major party candidates have filed to run for the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives in 2020. That figure has grown by 210 in the past month. 360 candidates have filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to run for U.S. Senate. There are 163 Democrats and 144 Republicans running. Fifty-three candidates are either independent or third party affiliated. In 2018, 527 candidates filed with the FEC to run for U.S. Senate, including 137 Democrats and 240 Republicans. 2,472 candidates have filed with the FEC to run for the U.S. House. There are 1,070 Democrats and 1,180 Republicans running. 222 are either independent or third-party candidates. In 2018, 3,244 candidates filed with the FEC, including 1,566 Democrats and 1,155 Republicans. Since January 20, 187 major party candidates have filed for the U.S. House. Of those, 121 are Republicans and 66 are Democrats. 23 major party candidates have filed for the U.S. Senate in the same time period. Of those, 13 are Democrats and 10 are Republicans. Four senators (three Republicans and one Democrat) are not running for re-election this year. Thirty-six representatives are not seeking re-election. Of those, 27 are Republican and nine are Democratic. In 2018, 55 members of Congress—18 Democrats and 37 Republicans—did not seek re-election. Thirty-five Senate seats and all 435 House seats are up for election on November 3, 2020. Two of those Senate races (Arizona and Georgia) are special elections. Twelve are Democratic-held seats and 23 are Republican-held seats. In the House, Democrats currently hold a 232-197 majority with one independent member. [Ballotpedia]

Bills, Bills, Bills Through today, February 20, there have been 1,170 bills introduced in the Legislature. That includes 792 ABs and 378 SBs. The deadline for introducing bills in the 2020 Session is Friday, February 21. With Monday being a state holiday, there are two remaining days for bill introductions. Historically, the second year of a 2-year session has had fewer bills introduced than in the first year. Last year, there were 2,576 bills introduced between the two houses, which is the most in the past decade. Over the past decade, there have been between 1,900 and 2,200 bills introduced in the second year of Session.

Split Roll Shares: According to a report released by the University of Southern California, only 6 percent of commercial properties facing a potential tax hike would make up the bulk of the projected billions of dollars in new state revenue if the "split-roll" measure is approved by voters in November. The report is being hailed as a win for the Schools & Communities First campaign, which says the analysis is proof that opponents' concerns about the impact on small businesses are unfounded. If approved, the tax measure would bring in between $10.3 billion to $12.6 billion annually, according to the report, with 6 percent of big commercial properties — worth more than $5 million — accounting for 78 percent of total state revenue. "It clearly shows that a fraction of the top corporations which have overwhelmingly benefited for so many years would finally pay their fair share," Schools & Communities First spokesperson Alex Stack said of the report. But critics of the proposal say the report doesn't accurately take into account the impacts on agricultural landowners and on small business owners who are renters. "This deeply flawed report is merely campaign propaganda," John Kabateck, California director of the National Federation of Independent Business, said in an email. Ed Ring with the CPC talks about the ballot measure here.

Presidential candidates have collectively raised more than $1 billion The 15 noteworthy Democratic and Republican candidates have raised a combined $1.015 billion since the start of the election cycle. We looked at presidential election fundraising since January 1, 2017, to determine who’s raised the most money so far. Story

Powerful Nevada Union Declines to Endorse: After clashing with Sanders over "Medicare for All," Nevada's Culinary Workers Union said Thursday it will not endorse in the presidential primary, POLITICO's Marc Caputo, David Siders and Natasha Korecki report. The union didn't endorse a candidate during the 2016 primaries, either. But the announcement is a setback for Sanders and to Joe Biden, who were vying for its blessing. The union and its affiliates are a key mobilization bloc for the Nevada caucuses, representing 60,000 workers in the restaurant and hospitality industries. Tensions between the Culinary Workers and Sanders remain fraught after the union circulated a leaflet warning that the Vermont senator would "end Culinary Healthcare" and "require Medicare for All," which in turn sparked outrage among Sanders' supporters and other progressives. Union leaders were doxed, meaning their personal information was released on social media. Sanders later tweeted a message of support for the union and called the harassment "unacceptable." Caputo, Siders and Korecki note that the non-endorsement creates an opening for moderates Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), who now may have an inroad with Latino voters, a crucial demographic, in a state where both candidates were polling in the single digits last month. [Politico]

Money for Fighter Jets Could Pay for Border Wall: The Trump administration plans to take $3.8 billion allocated by Congress to build fighter jets, ships, vehicles and National Guard equipment to fund barrier construction along the U.S.-Mexico border. That puts the total amount the Pentagon has contributed for Trump's border wall at nearly $10 billion. The move sets the stage for another fight over border wall money on Capitol Hill. "We're going to scream about it. We're going to complain about it. We're going to try to stop it anyway we can," House Armed Services Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) told POLITICO. "But at the end of the day, unless Republicans in Congress support us, then we won't be able to get it done."

California Governor Recall Effort Signature Deadline Passes Supporters of the effort to recall California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) had until February 13 to submit 1,495,709 signatures to force a recall election. Republican congressional candidate Erin Cruz submitted the recall. Secretary of State Alex Padilla (D) approved the recall for circulation on September 6, 2019. As of January 29 this year, there were 197,150 signatures submitted, and 134,357 had been deemed valid by the secretary of state. The recall petition alleges that Newsom mismanaged the state and caused poor schools, deteriorating infrastructure, high costs for gas and utilities, and increased homelessness and debt. The recall petition also criticized Newsom’s support of policies such as Medicare for All and laws that aid immigrants living in the country illegally. In response to the recall efforts, Newsom filed a statement with the secretary of state in August 2019. In his statement, Newsom said that the "…recall effort will cost California taxpayers $81 million dollars! It is being pushed by political extremists supporting President Trump’s hateful attacks on California." California became a Democratic trifecta in 2011. A state government trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers. Democrats control the California state House by a 61-18 margin with one vacancy and the state Senate by a 29-10 margin with one vacancy. Newsom succeeded Jerry Brown (D) as governor in 2019. He won the 2018 election with 61.9% of the vote. Three gubernatorial recall efforts are currently underway in 2020. From 2003 to 2019, Ballotpedia tracked 22 gubernatorial recall efforts. During that time, two recalls made the ballot, and one governor was successfully recalled. Former California Gov. Gray Davis (D) was recalled in 2003 and replaced by Arnold Schwarzenegger (R). In 2012, former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) was retained in a recall election. The only other governor to ever be successfully recalled was former North Dakota Gov. Lynn Frazier (R) in 1921. [Ballotpedia]

Employment Law Risks for Family Businesses One of the benefits of operating a family business is the opportunity to work closely with other family members on a daily basis. However, it is important to remember that a family member is just like any other employee in the eyes of the law and should be treated as such. Story

OSHA Issues Guidance on the Usage of Headphones on Construction Sites In late 2019, OSHA released a letter of interpretation in response to employers’ questions regarding the rapidly increasing use of headphones on construction sites. The convenience, simplicity, and decrease in price of wireless headphones have made them wildly popular. Manufacturers and advertisers have taken advantage of that popularity to advertise wireless headphones as having features appealing to workers, such as volume-limiting capabilities and noise-canceling capabilities, and even promoted them as ear protection devices. These products, however, also have the ability to play music, podcasts, videos – anything that can be watched or listened to via a Bluetooth device. To better appeal to workers, some manufacturers have gone as far as to advertise their products as “OSHA approved”. Employers subsequently sought clarification and guidance on whether use of headphones on job sites is prohibited by OSHA regulations. Story

CA Supreme Court Publishes "Hours Worked" Decision The California Supreme Court has concluded that employees must be compensated for time spent on the employer’s premises waiting for, and undergoing, required exit searches of packages, bags, or personal technology devices. The Court explained that this time is compensable because the employees are under the employer’s control and the searches are being performed for the employer’s benefit. The Court reached this decision applying California law, and the same result would not necessarily be reached under the FLSA. Employers should therefore review any policies or practices that require employees to perform any “off the clock” or otherwise uncompensated tasks. Key factors identified by the Court as to whether the activities are compensable are the location of the activity, the degree of the employer’s control, whether the activity primarily benefits the employee or employer, and whether the activity is enforced through disciplinary measures. The Court’s opinion, Frlekin v. Apple, Inc., Case No. S243805, can be accessed here.

Microgrids on the Rise as CPUC Seeks to Streamline Resiliency Projects The state of California is calling for more investments in microgrids for electric power resiliency. Spurred by a 2018 legislative effort that recognized the multitude of benefits microgrid technologies can offer (e.g., grid reliability, renewable integration), the reality of increasing California wildfires and power outages make microgrid deployment a necessary option. Story

Vocational ed makes a comeback Columnist Dan Walters writes “Somewhere along the way, California’s public schools became enamored with the notion that all students will — or at least should — acquire degrees from four-year colleges. Local school districts often adopted college-prep-for-all policies and in doing so denigrated and often eliminated what was once called vocational education — classes to prepare students for useful and often lucrative jobs in the real world. Story

Some States’ Economies Could Slump This Year The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia projected last month that the economies of ten states would contract in 2020, according to a report by Bloomberg Businessweek. The Philadelphia Fed’s forecast didn’t take into account the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China in December, which could hurt the economies of other states, including California and North Carolina, that trade heavily with that country. [United Press International, US News & World Report]

California State Capitol

Merit Shop Advocacy for California

Richard Markuson, WECA Lobbyist

Richard Markuson

"Merit shop electrical contractors throughout California are under pressure from a political system that limits their ability to compete for and win public works contracts. Through our coordinated efforts to further the interests of the merit shop community, we will make doing business in California fair and profitable again."

WECA Government Affairs

Political Advocacy and Government Affairs

WECA is the only organization in California that focuses exclusively on the needs of electrical contractors and their employees. We are proud to represent thousands of electricians and hundreds of contractors. Our members believe that fair and open competition is the key to a robust and growing economy. Our members embrace the idea that political action is not simply prudent, but essential to preserving and enhancing their ability to pursue business opportunities in both the public and private marketplace.

The WECA governmental affairs staff works hard to protect the rights of merit shop business owners and their employees throughout California, but our efforts cannot succeed unless those in the merit shop community get involved.

Routine activities of the GA staff includes:

  • Monitoring all State Legislative and Regulatory proposals for beneficial and detrimental changes
  • Regular interaction with other business and construction groups in California and nationwide
  • Maintenance of a regular presence in Washington DC through membership in the US Chamber of Commerce and trips to Capitol Hill to lobby on Federal initiatives
  • Maintaining close working relationships with other merit shop groups such as CFEC, ABC chapters, AGC, ASCA, and Calpasc
  • Routinely monitors more than 305 local agencies including Cities, Counties, School Districts and other Special Districts
  • Evaluates state-wide ballot measures and candidates and recommends support for those causes and candidates that support WECA’s core values
  • Encourages appointment of state and local officials who will approach their assignments without prejudice
  • This website is designed to both educate our members and to empower them to have the greatest possible impact when it comes to effecting political change on the local, state and federal levels. Check out the latest political news and action alerts, learn more about the WECA Political Action Committee (WECA-PAC), and take a moment to visit the partner organizations we work with.

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WECA Political Advocacy