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Thursday, November 11, 2021   WECA Political Update November 11, 2021

Reapportionment Blues Preliminary visualizations for California’s new congressional districts would put Central Valley Reps. Devin Nunes and Josh Harder in more challenging elections in 2022 for their seats in the United States House of Representatives, experts say. The visualizations, released last Wednesday, are the first time viewers could see the puzzle pieces of various legislative districts put together. Drafts will change multiple times over the next couple of months before the nonpartisan commission charged with making them sends a final one to California’s secretary of state for certification. Redistricting, the process by which legislative boundaries are redrawn following population shifts revealed by the Census, can alter the makeup of voter preferences in an area. California lost one seat in the U.S. House because of sluggish population growth, dropping its legislative delegation to 52. Story

Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act The House passed the President’s Infrastructure proposal. Here is what it may mean for California.

·        Highways and Bridges Based on formula funding alone, California would expect to receive $25.3 billion for federal-aid highway apportioned programs and $4.2 billion for bridge replacement and repairs over five years.
·        Transit Based on formula funding alone, California would expect to receive $9.45 billion over five years under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to improve public transportation options across the state. 
·        Electric Charging Stations California would expect to receive $384 million over five years to support the expansion of an EV charging network in the state. California also could apply for the $2.5 billion in grant funding dedicated to electric vehicle charging.
·        Broadband California should receive a minimum allocation of $100 million to help provide broadband coverage across the state, including providing access to the at least 545,000 Californians who currently lack it.
·        Wildfires and Cyberattacks Based on historical formula funding levels, California will expect to receive $84 million over five years to protect against wildfires and $40 million to protect against cyberattacks.
·        Drinking Water Based on the traditional state revolving fund formula, California will expect to receive $3.5 billion over five years to improve water infrastructure across the state and ensure that clean, safe drinking water is available in all communities. 
·        Airports in California could receive approximately $1.5 billion for infrastructure development for airports over five years. 
 
Court Blocks Vaccine Rule: A federal court in Louisiana has blocked the Biden administration’s newly issued emergency mandate that private-sector workers at businesses with more than 100 employees get vaccinated against Covid-19 or be tested weekly according to POLITICO. More than two dozen states have filed multiple legal challenges in federal court against the Biden administration’s vaccinate-or-test mandate for private businesses, arguing that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration doesn’t have the authority to issue the requirements. The four lawsuits were filed by groups of 26 states in the 8th Circuit, 11th Circuit, 6th Circuit and 5th Circuit over the past few days. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy on Sunday defended the regulation post-ruling. Citing historical precedents dating back to George Washington during the American Revolution, Murthy said Biden had faith in both the legality of the mandate and the effectiveness of such requirements. The small business group Job Creators Network, as well as the Republican National Committee, have also said they plan to file lawsuits.

The Biden administration yesterday urged the court not to block the coronavirus vaccine mandate for large employers. The administration argued that blocking the mandate now was “premature,” given that its major deadlines are still at least a month away. But it also said that a delay in imposing the new rule “would likely cost dozens or even hundreds of lives per day.” The plaintiffs’ case: OSHA overstepped its bounds as a regulatory agency, the challengers argued. The vaccine mandate is “a quintessential legislative act — and one wholly unrelated to the purpose of OSHA itself, which is protecting workplace safety,” according to the suit. “Nowhere in OSHA’s enabling legislation does Congress confer upon it the power to end pandemics.”

The administration’s response: The federal government has the authority to pass an “emergency temporary standard” under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, provided it can show that workers are exposed to a “grave danger” and that the rule is necessary. In its submission to the court, the administration argued that the coronavirus is a “workplace hazard,” since “employees gather in one place and interact, thus risking workplace transmission of a highly contagious virus.”

The historical precedent: The last time OSHA issued an emergency standard was in 1983, to lower the permissible legal level of asbestos exposure. The Fifth Circuit knocked it down as unnecessary, but, importantly, held that judges should not question OSHA’s authority to label asbestos a “grave danger.” In doing so, “the court intimated that hazards much less dangerous than Covid-19 could be deemed a grave danger,” said Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond.

What happens next? If the Fifth Circuit grants a permanent stay, the Justice Department could appeal to the Supreme Court, which has so far acted in favor of vaccine mandates. Trade groups like the National Retail Federation have argued that the administration is moving too quickly — they are asking to push the mandate deadlines further beyond the holiday shopping season. Drawn-out legal challenges, even if unsuccessful, could achieve this. The White House, for its part, is urging companies to adopt mandates now, as they have proven effective at convincing the hesitant to get vaccinated. Both sides agree, then, that timing is crucial.

But Construction Dive urges caution here Should employers wait out OSHA's vaccine mandate? 'If you're a gambler.'
 
EEOC Updates Rules Regarding The Religious Exemption From Mandatory COVID Vaccination On October 25 and 28, 2021, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission updated its technical assistance manual to address how the federal anti-discrimination law applies when an applicant or employee requests an exception from an employer’s COVID-19 vaccination requirement because of their sincerely held religious beliefs, practices, or observances. Key updates to the EEOC’s technical assistance include that employees and applicants must inform their employers if they seek an exception to an employer’s mandatory vaccine requirement, employers must consider requests for religious accommodations, but need not consider the requestor’s social, political, economic views, or personal preferences, and employers that demonstrate “undue hardship” are not required to accommodate a request for a religious accommodation. Story 

We’re taking a break – please watch for our Political Update Bulletin to resume on December 9. Happy Thanksgiving!
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Thursday, October 14, 2021   WECA Political Update October 14, 2021

BESS Update Effective October 1, 2021, the Contractors State License Board will not enforce or implement its July 27, 2021, decision to limit BESS installations to A, B, or C-10 contractors. The Board stipulated to not implement its July 27, 2021, decision until any appeals brought by the California Solar Energy Industries Association, Inc. are resolved.

Chamber takes Aim at BBB The U.S. Chamber of Commerce launched a significant, six-figure paid advertising campaign in opposition to the multi-trillion reconciliation bill (BBB) that poses a significant threat to the American economy. The ads, which can be viewed here, target key Congressional districts and future rounds may include more districts. The first round of ads targeted districts represented by several democrats including Josh Harder (D-CA-10).They can be viewed here.

Last Call for 2021 Governor Newsom took final action on the bills from 2021:

In 2021, the Legislature sent 836 bills to Governor Newsom for consideration, nearly twice as many as last year during the state’s initial response to the COVID-19 pandemic but still fewer than have come across the governor’s desk in other past years covered in this report. As the pandemic continued into 2021, the Senate and Assembly both limited the number of bills that legislators could move to the other house, reducing the number of bills considered by the Legislature this year.

Of the 836 bills Governor Newsom considered this year, 313 were Senate bills and 523 were Assembly bills. In total, he signed 770 into law and vetoed 66 bills. This is a veto rate of 7.89% for his third year in office.

The number of vetoes for 2021 is the ninth lowest of all the years reviewed in this report, beginning with 1967. The three years with the lowest number of vetoed bills were under Governor Jerry Brown (1982, 1981, 1978). In 1982, he vetoed just 30 of the 1,674 bills he considered, representing a veto rate of 1.79%.

Five of the six years with the highest percentage of vetoed bills (2008, 2010, 2009, 2004, 1998) were with Republican governors and Democratic majorities in both legislative houses (the exception was Governor Davis in 2000).

Governor Schwarzenegger holds the record for the highest percentage of bills vetoed in a year, 35.17% in 2008.

The Governor signed 13 bills which included PLA references. The worst was AB 680 (Burke) which requires recipients of GHGRF grants to adopt a PLA for any construction that exceeds $1.0 million. You can see a list of all WECA bills below.

Raquel Terán Assumes Office as Arizona State Senator, Creates Vacancy in State House Raquel Terán (D) assumed office as the senator for District 30 in the Arizona state Senate on Sept. 28. The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors appointed Terán (D) to the district on Sept. 15. The seat became vacant in August when former state Sen. Tony Navarrete (D) resigned after being arrested on suspicion of sexual conduct with a minor. Terán will serve the remainder of Navarrete’s term, which was set to expire in January 2023. At the time she was appointed, Terán was serving her second term in the Arizona House of Representatives. Terán ran for the District 30 seat in the state Senate in 2012 and was defeated 51% to 49% by incumbent Robert Meza in the Democratic primary. Terán’s appointment to the state Senate creates a vacancy in the state House. When a vacancy occurs in the Arizona legislature, the board of county supervisors must select a replacement. Arizona is one of seven states that fill state legislative vacancies through board of county commissioners appointment.

Guide to Federal Contractor Obligations under Recent COVID-19 Executive Orders The federal government’s complicated multi-pronged approach to implementing COVID-19 safeguards related to federal contractors has left many confused. Littler offers this brief guide to help contractors understand their obligations and the timelines for implementation. Here
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If California was made up of just these 35 counties, Gavin Newsom would have been recalled: “Without the Bay Area counties — some of which have the highest shares of ‘no recall’ votes — Newsom would no longer be in office” Story



Harris's poll numbers rise as Biden's fall, “Harris got off to a rocky start at the beginning of the administration, including a botched response on why she hadn’t traveled to the Mexican border, when she said she hadn’t been to Europe either. But her allies say Harris, whose difficult start provoked questions about her ability to be a future presidential candidate for the party, ‘has found her place’ in the White House.”

Harris Casts Ninth Tie-Breaking Vote as Vice President Vice President Kamala Harris (D) cast her ninth tie-breaking vote as the president of the Senate on Sept. 30. She voted to support a motion invoking cloture on the nomination of Rohit Chopra for director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau after a 50-50 tie. Chopra was ultimately confirmed by a 50-48 vote. Six of Harris’ tie-breaking votes have been related to advancing or confirming presidential nominees. In the past 40 years, only Vice President Mike Pence (R) has cast more tie-breaking votes: 13. John Adams cast the first tie-breaking vote on July 18, 1789. In total, there have been 277 tie-breaking votes from 37 vice presidents. Twelve vice presidents, including Joe Biden (D) and Dan Quayle (R), never cast a tie-breaking vote during their time in office. [Ballotpedia]



California COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave Expires - Now What? California’s latest supplemental paid sick leave (SPSL) law, SB 95, which requires certain employers to provide paid leave to employees for qualifying COVID-19-related reasons, expires on September 30, 2021. No legislation has been passed to extend it and there are no bills on the horizon to replace it. This has left employers wondering what, if any, obligations they have if employees are absent for reasons related to COVID-19. Story

Project Labor Agreements

AB 137 (Committee on Budget-) Provides for the implementation and administration of a new statewide program to incentivize the construction of new multifamily and single-family market-rate residential buildings as all-electric buildings or with energy storage systems. Provides for the implementation of a Solar Restitution Program, to be administered by the Contractor State License Board and using one-time resources appropriated by the Legislature. The program would provide restitution to homeowners who were defrauded by licensed or unlicensed solar installers after January 1, 2016. It would cap awards to individuals at $40,000 and would require the board to deduct the amount the consumer recovered from other sources from the amount payable upon the consumer’s claim. Authorizes the Department of General Services to use the progressive design-build procurement process for up to three public works projects (with the usual SBCTC language). WECA position: Oppose

AB 143 (Committee on Budget-) Authorizes the Judicial Council to use a design-build procurement process in contracting and procuring public works projects and would authorize the Judicial Council to award contracts using either the best value or low bid selection method for all projects (with the usual SBCTC language) WECA position: Oppose

AB 271 (Rivas, Robert -D) AB 271 permits the Santa Clara Valley Water District to award contracts on a best value basis for any work of the Anderson Dam project. The bill would require the contractor to comply with the State's STWF mandates unless the District has a PLA. WECA position: OUA

AB 680 (Burke-D) Enacts the California Jobs Plan Act of 2021 which requires the Labor and Workforce Development Agency to update, by July 1, 2025, the funding guidelines for administering agencies to ensure that all applicants to grant programs funded by the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF) meet fair and responsible employer standards and provide inclusive procurement policies. Construction projects over one million dollars ($1,000,000) must be built with a project labor agreement (PLA). WECA position: Oppose

AB 846 (Low-D) Authorizes job order contracting (JOC) for community college districts in a manner similar to that authorized for school districts. Committee staff notes that language in AB 846 requiring the use of a skilled and trained workforce is redundant, given the requirement that a PLA is required on all work before a community college or school districts can use JOC. WECA position: OUA

AB 1174 (Grayson-D) Makes changes to the streamlined, ministerial process created by SB 35 (Wiener, Chapter 366, Statutes of 2017). WECA position: SIA

SB 7 (Atkins-D) This bill reenacts the Jobs and Economic Improvement Through Environmental Leadership Act of 2011 (Act), and expands the Act’s eligibility to include smaller housing projects, until January 1, 2026. The bill would exempt PLA projects from skilled and trained workforce mandates, the requirement to submit certified payroll records, and prohibit the State Labor Commissioner from enforcing the labor code. Requires prevailing wages and apprentices on private projects authorized by the bill. WECA position: Oppose

SB 44 (Allen-D) Establishes expedited administrative and judicial review of environmental review and approvals granted for “environmental leadership transit projects” that meet specified requirements. The bill would exempt PLA projects from skilled and trained workforce mandates, the requirement to submit certified payroll records, and prohibit the State Labor Commissioner from enforcing the labor code. Requires prevailing wages and apprentices on private projects authorized by the bill. WECA position: Oppose

SB 51 (Durazo-D) Makes changes to the Roberti Act (the Act) to encourage the sale of homes owned by Caltrans, located within the State Route (SR) 710 corridor in the El Sereno neighborhood of the City of Los Angeles (Los Angeles), for low- and moderate-income rental housing. Exempts PLA projects from CPRs and STWF. Requires prevailing wages and apprentices on private projects authorized by the bill. WECA position: Oppose

SB 144 (Portantino-D) Makes changes to the Film and TV Tax Credit administered by the California Film Commission (CFC), housed within the Governor’s Office of Business and Development (GO-Biz). Requires that the operation and maintenance of the soundstage must be performed by a workforce paid at least the prevailing rate that is either directly or through a payroll company employed by the soundstage owner or lessee; or a skilled and trained workforce, as defined in the Public Contract Code Chapter 2.9 (beginning with section 2600), if services are provided by a third-party vendor. WECA position: Oppose

SB 162 (Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review-) Establishes the Community Economic Resilience Fund (CERF) Program, to be administered by the Workforce Services Branch at the Employment Development Department. The program shall be overseen by the Labor and Workforce Development Agency, Office of Planning and Research and the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development, referred to as the Inter-Agency Leadership Team. Requires the program to provide financial support to establish highroad transition collaboratives to design region and industry specific economic recovery and transition strategies. The Inter-Agency Leadership Team shall award planning grants on a competitive basis to each region. The plans must address economic diversification, industry planning, workforce development and safety net programs. The plans must prioritize high-quality jobs and equitable access to them and emphasize the development of sustainable industries. Provides that the Inter-Agency Leadership Team shall award competitive grants to implement the plans. Grant recipients must align with regional workforce needs by linking with high road training partnerships or high road construction career training programs. The implementation grants shall meet all of the following requirements:

(A) Support work prioritized through the high road transition collaborative planning process with the high road intent of this program.

(B) Demonstrate support of the regional intermediary and alignment with the high road transition collaborative plan.

(C) Support labor standards where applicable, such as prevailing wage, project labor agreements, or community workforce agreements.

SB 381 (Portantino-D) This bill makes changes to the Roberti Act to encourage the sale of homes owned by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) for low- and moderate-income housing in the State Route 710 corridor in South Pasadena. Provides that, as a condition of sale of the property to a housing-related entity, the entity shall provide a commitment that if the entirety of the project is not a public work for which prevailing wages must be paid, all construction workers, except apprentices, employed on the project will be paid at least the general prevailing rate of per diem wages for the type of work and geographic area. For those portions of a project that are not a public work, the housing-related entity shall ensure that the prevailing wage requirement is included in all contracts for the performance of all construction work. Bars the DLSE from labor code enforcement on PLA jobs and relieves contractors from CPRs. WECA position: Oppose

SB 626 (Dodd-D) This bill would authorize DWR to use the design-build and CM/GC processes for project delivery for facilities of the State Water Project, excluding through Delta conveyance. The bill would exempt PLA projects from skilled and trained workforce mandates. WECA position: Oppose

APM/DB/CMaR

AB 36 (Gallagher-R) Authorizes the Paradise Irrigation District and the Town of Paradise to use the design-build contracting process. WECA position: Watch

Apprenticeship

AB 340 (Ward-D) This measure conforms state law to federal law; thereby allowing taxpayers the ability to benefit for expenses related to eligible apprenticeship programs and payments on principal or interest of a qualified education loan.

AB 565 (Lackey-R) This bill would add the director of the State Department of Social Services as a member of IACA. It would require IACA to create a subcommittee to study and report on issues related to the participation of homeless youth and foster youth, as defined, in apprenticeships and pre-apprenticeships.

AB 643 (Ramos-D) This bill would require a school district or school to notify each apprenticeship program in the same county as the school district or school of a career or college fair it is planning to hold. WECA position: Watch

SB 779 (Becker-D) SB 779 amends the definition of “earn and learn” programs, and specifically, the definition of “transitional and subsidized jobs” under the California Workforce and Innovation Opportunity Act. This bill further adds to the California Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act a definition of “employment social enterprise” and clarifies that for purposes of the Act the definition of “worker cooperative” has the same meaning as it does in Section 12253.5 of the Corporations Code. WECA position: Watch

Business Issues

SB 255 (Portantino-D) Would authorize a specific association of employers to offer a large group health care service plan contract or large group health insurance policy consistent with ERISA if certain requirements are met WECA position: Watch

SB 718 (Bates-R) Would authorize a specific association of employers to offer a large group health care service plan contract or large group health insurance policy consistent with ERISA if certain requirements are met WECA position: Watch

SB 727 (Leyva-D) Extends the joint liability of a direct contractor on a private construction project to include civil penalties and liquidated damages associated with unpaid wages, fringe benefits, or contributions to labor trust funds. Under existing law, that joint liability is limited to unpaid amounts only. The bill also establishes a mechanism for direct contractors to avoid liability for penalties and liquidated damages by showing that the underlying violation has been fully abated. Requires any lower-tier subcontractors to provide the direct contractor award information that includes the project name, name, and address of the subcontractor, the contractor with whom the subcontractor is under contract, anticipated start date, duration, and estimated journeymen and apprentice hours.

SB 791 (Cortese-D) This bill creates the Surplus Land Unit within the state Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD), to facilitate the development of housing on local surplus property. WECA position: Watch

Construction Practices

AB 930 (Levine-D) Awards reasonable attorney’s fees and costs to an excavator that is found not liable for damaging a subsurface installation because of errors or omissions by the operator of the installation.

SB 297 (Durazo-D) enacts the Wade Kilpatrick Gas Safety and Workforce Adequacy Act of 2021. The bill would prescribe a civil penalty of up to $100,000 to be imposed on an operator or excavator, as specified, who knowingly and willfully violates provisions relating to excavations and subsurface installations and damages a gas or hazardous liquid pipeline subsurface installation in a way that results in the escape of any flammable, toxic, or corrosive gas or liquid. WECA position: Watch

EVC

AB 970 (McCarty-D) Establishes specific time frames in which local agencies must approve permits for electric vehicle (EV) charging stations.

SB 68 (Becker-D) require the Energy Commission to gather or develop, and publish on its internet website, guidance and best practices to help building owners, the construction industry, and local governments overcome barriers to electrification of buildings and installation of electric vehicle charging equipment.

Housing

SB 10 (Wiener-D) Authorizes a city or county to pass an ordinance that is not subject to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to zone any parcel for up to ten units of residential density if the parcel is located in a transit-rich area or an urban infill site.

SB 330 (Durazo-D) requires the governing board of the Los Angeles Community College District to develop and implement a pilot program to provide affordable housing to students or employees of the Los Angeles Community College District.

Labor Law

AB 1003 (Gonzalez, Lorena-D) Makes the intentional theft of wages, gratuities, or other compensation in an amount greater than $950 from any one employee or independent contractor, or $2,350, in aggregate, from more than two or more employees or independent contractors, in any 12 consecutive month period, punishable as grand theft, an alternate felony/misdemeanor.

AB 1023 (Flora-R) Makes a contractor or subcontractor who fails to furnish payroll records relating to its employees in the manner specified liable for a penalty of $100 per day, as specified, not to exceed $5,000 per project, to be deposited into the State Public Works Enforcement Fund. Prohibits the Labor Commissioner from levying penalties until 14 days after the deadline for furnishing records and requires that these penalties accrue to the actual contractor or subcontractor that failed to furnish those records. WECA position: Oppose

SB 331 (Leyva-D) prohibits the use of non-disclosure agreements to settle employment and housing-related legal claims involving unlawful harassment, discrimination, or related retaliation of any kind, with limited exceptions when requested by the complainant. The bill also prohibits the inclusion, in an employment severance agreement, of terms that restrict the separated employee’s ability to discuss unlawful conduct at their former workplace, unless the separated employee agrees to those terms under specified conditions designed to safeguard the separated employee’s rights.

SB 606 (Gonzalez-D) This bill expands the authority of Cal/OSHA to issue citations, require abatement, and seek court orders to address violations of workplace safety laws. The bill also establishes a presumption of unlawful retaliation if an employer takes adverse action against an employee within 90 days of when that employee tries to address unsafe working conditions. WECA position: Oppose

SB 657 (Ochoa Bogh-R) This bill allows employers, in any instance the employer is required to physically post information, to additionally distribute that information to employees by email with the document or documents attached. Additionally, this bill clarifies that email distribution or relevant documents pursuant to the proposed statute does not alter the employer’s obligation to physically display the required posting. WECA position: Support

Licensure

AB 246 (Quirk-D) This bill would add illegal dumping to the list of violations that constitute a cause for disciplinary action against a contractor by the CSLB. WECA position: Support

AB 569 (Grayson-D) Increases the maximum civil penalty amounts that can be assessed against licensed contractors for violations of the Contractors State License Law consistent with changes in the Consumer Price Index. Authorizes the Contractors State License Board to issue a Letter of Admonishment in lieu of a citation for multiple violations at a time. WECA position: Watch

AB 830 (Flora-R) Makes minor changes to CSLB law related to qualifyer WECA position: Watch

SB 607 (Min-D) Increases, beginning January 1, 2023, the amount required for a contractor’s bond for licensure from $15,000 to $25,000

PAGA

SB 646 (Hertzberg-D) Prohibits janitorial employees working under a collective bargaining agreement, containing specified provisions, from the right to bring an action under the labor code’s private attorneys general act (PAGA). WECA position: Watch

SES

AB 1124 (Friedman-D) Revises the definition of "solar energy system" to clarify that it must be designed to serve one utility retail customer on the same property, more than one utility retail customer on the same property, one utility retail customer on the same, adjacent, or contiguous properties, or more than one utility retail customer on the same, adjacent or contiguous properties, and not be designed for procurement of electricity by an electric utility.

Clarifies that:

a structural design feature of a solar energy system includes elevated solar support structures, including the aboveground superstructure and associated foundation elements that support the solar collectors or other solar energy devices, as specified.

that a residential permit fee applies to an application for a solar energy system that is installed on the property of a single- or two-family dwelling.

that a commercial permit fee applies to an application for a commercial solar energy system that includes, but is not limited to, a solar energy system that is installed on the property of multifamily housing that has more than two family dwellings.

that nothing in this bill or existing law governing permit fees for solar energy systems precludes a city, county, city and county, or charter city from conducting a plan check to confirm the safety of a solar energy system pursuant to specified existing law and the California Building Standards Code

WECA position: Watch

STWF

AB 525 (Chiu-D) Requires the California Energy Commission (CEC) to develop a strategic plan by December 31, 2022, for offshore wind development off the California Coast. The development of the strategic plan regarding workforce development shall include consultation with representatives of key labor organizations and apprenticeship programs that would be involved in dispatching and training the construction workforce. The plan must include an analysis of the workforce development needs of the California offshore wind energy industry, including occupational safety requirements, and the need to require the use of a skilled and trained workforce to perform all work. The assessment shall also analyze work, and the need for the Division of Apprenticeship Standards to develop a curriculum for in-person classroom and laboratory advanced safety training for workers. It will include recommendations for workforce standards for offshore wind energy facilities and associated infrastructure, including, but not limited to, prevailing wage, skilled and trained workforce, apprenticeship, local hiring, and targeted hiring standards, that ensure sustained and equitable economic development benefits. WECA position: Watch

AB 692 (Waldron-R) Extends the deadline to liquidate grant funds by five years for the Lake Wohlford Dam project from June 30, 2023, to June 30, 2028. Conditions the extension for liquidation of funds on the City of Escondido using a skilled and trained workforce for the Lake Wohlford Dam project. 
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Thursday, September 30, 2021   WECA Political Update September 30, 2021

Vaccine Mandate--What We Know:

On September 9th, President Biden announced a 6-prong plan to fight COVID-19 (available here: https://www.whitehouse.gov/covidplan/). Most important to California’s contractor community is the plan’s first prong (“Vaccinating the Unvaccinated”), which pushes COVID-19 vaccines via two mechanisms:

1.     Federal Emergency Regulation: The Occupational Safety and Health Agency (OSHA) will publish an emergency regulation compelling a “soft” vaccination mandate for all employers with over 100 employees. Experts expect the rule to require employees to get vaccinated or produce a negative test before working every week.

Procedurally, California employers can expect a slight delay before this one becomes applicable. After OSHA passes the federal emergency regulation (the draft text isn’t even public yet), federal law compels Cal/OSHA to enact an equivalent or more stringent standard within 30 days. And even after Cal/OSHA passes that standard, it will likely allow employers 60 days or so to get their workforce into compliance.

2.     Vaccine Mandate for Federal Contractors: All we know at this point is that the federal government will begin adding language to contracts signed or extended after October 15th to compel vaccination (without a testing option) for federal contractors. The specific language to be added is supposed to be drafted by October 8th and is not yet public. The language, when released, is expected to allow federal contractors until December 8th to come into compliance – but, again, that draft contract provision is not yet public.

For both of these mechanisms, employers should keep a few caveats in mind. First – medical and religious exemptions will need to be made for individual employees, meaning that legal and HR will need to be ready to process those issues as the mandates go into effect. Second – legal challenges may delay their effect – particularly for the federal emergency regulation, which one state (Arizona) has already filed suit to challenge. Though some legal experts believe that the vaccine mandate is within OSHA’s authority, that doesn’t mean that a legal challenge may not delay its application considerably – depending on if a district court judge grants an injunction.
 
California’s COVID-19 Workplace Regulation?

Experts expect California’s present COVID-19 emergency regulation to be re-adopted in December for the final time (in roughly its current form – available here: https://www.dir.ca.gov/oshsb/documents/Jun172021-COVID-19-Prevention-Emergency-txtbrdconsider-Readoption.pdf). Then, in spring of 2022, it will either expire or be turned into a permanent regulation.
 
On September 23rd, 2021, Cal/OSHA hosted an advisory committee comprised of business leaders, including CalChamber, labor leaders, public health officials, and other stakeholders, to discuss what a permanent regulation might look like. Notably, this discussion was intended only to help shape a draft of what the Cal/OSHA Standards Board might vote to approve next year and did not represent a commitment from the participants to support a permanent regulation. The draft text for discussion is available here (https://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/DoshReg/covid-19-emergency-standards/), but this is was only a draft and both labor and business leaders expressed disagreement with various provisions, so we can expect some changes from Cal/OSHA in whatever eventually goes to the Standards Board next year.

But where will the vaccine mandate fit in California’s regulation? Though we don’t have the text yet, it appears likely that Cal/OSHA will adopt a second emergency regulation re: COVID-19 (focused on vaccines) to comply with the federal requirement to adopt an equivalent standard to President Biden’s vaccine mandate within 30 days.

What About Boosters? How Will They Fit into the Federal Regulation or California’s Next Regulatory Text?

At this point, it isn’t clear. President Biden announced booster shots as part of his six-prong plan, but uncertainty about who should get them and when appears to be prevalent. Notably, an advisory body to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended boosters only for limited population segments (elderly or vulnerable). Still, the CDC director recently overruled the panel and supported boosters for workers in high-risk workplaces as well. That means boosters will be available soon – but it isn’t clear exactly when the federal regulation will mandate they be taken to qualify as fully vaccinated.
 
In short – California employers have a lot to watch in the coming months. Keep one eye on federal OSHA and Cal/OSHA to ensure you stay ahead of workplace changes.
 
 
5 Tips to Choose the Right PLA Ha, made you look! The National Maintenance Agreements Policy Committee, Inc. (NMAPC) negotiates and administers a series of collective bargaining agreements known as the National Maintenance Agreements (NMAs). 1,800+ contractor companies that employ members of 14 building trades international unions use NMAs. They believe “implementing a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) … can make big strides in safety and efficiency, leading to successful project completion and increased owner satisfaction.” You can read their explanation here. (I’m sending you the PowerPoint).

Some Takeaways from September

·   Biden’s Approval Rating Takes a Big Dip: The President’s overall approval rating dipped below the 50% mark this month. The latest leaves him at 43% approval and 53% disapproval in a recent Gallup poll.

·   Retirement Watch: Two-term Congressman Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH-16) announced he would not seek reelection. Rep. Gonzalez was one of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach President Trump and is the first of the 10 to announce his retirement.

·   Endorsement Corner: Former President Trump made a series of noteworthy endorsements this month, including:
o   Republican Candidate Harriet Hageman, the primary challenger to incumbent Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY-AL)

o   Joe Kent, the primary challenger to incumbent Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA-03)

o   Georgia Senate Candidate Herschel Walker (R)

o   Sean Parnell, Republican candidate for the open Pennsylvania Senate seat

o   Michigan state Rep. Steve Carra (R), who is challenging incumbent Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI-06)

o   Anna Paulina Luna, Republican candidate for the open FL-13 seat and the Republican nominee for the same seat in 2020

·   Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) announced he is running for reelection. This effectively moves Iowa into a safer position.

·   California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) survived a recall election earlier this month. 

·   Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA-37) is leaving Congress to run for mayor of Los Angeles.

·   California made universal mail-in voting permanent. As a result, all registered, active voters will receive a mailed ballot for elections going forward.

·   Gail Huff Brown (R), the wife of former Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA), filed to run against incumbent Democrat Chris Pappas in NH-01.

·   Former Sen. Dean Heller (D-NV) launched a bid for the state’s governorship. 

·   Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D) plans to enter the Texas governor’s race. Pundits expect him to announce later this year formally.

Musical Chairs – San Francisco The media has reported that San Francisco Mayor London Breed nominated Assemblymember David Chiu to be San Francisco’s new city attorney, setting off a scramble for Chiu’s seat. Politico reports, “the long-anticipated announcement opens one of San Francisco’s two Assembly seats. Candidates had begun positioning for the post in the months since Breed nominated former City Attorney Dennis Herrera to lead the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. In profoundly liberal San Francisco, a Democrat will claim Chiu’s seat; the only question is which one. Former San Francisco Supervisor David Campos declared he would run should Chiu step aside, as did Supervisor Matt Haney.

One factor to consider: if Haney wins, Breed will appoint his supervisor replacement, which could mean the relatively centrist mayor picking a moderate rather than a farther-left supervisor. Chiu’s departure also means the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee, which Chiu currently leads, will get a new chair — an influential position with housing affordability sitting atop Sacramento’s agenda.”

Homelessness Solution? You Decide Governor Newsom signed a package of bills to address homelessness and housing affordability, issues the governor described as “the two biggest pre-existing conditions” the state was experiencing before the Covid-19 pandemic, Politico reports.
“Nothing like the homelessness crisis exists anywhere in the United States like it exists and persists here in the state of California,” Newsom said at a board-and-care facility run by Los Angeles County on the Wednesday bill-signing event.

     AB 1220 by Assemblymember Luz Rivas (D-North Hollywood) creates the new California Interagency Council on Homelessness, which is charged with reviewing and approving homelessness plans submitted by cities and counties to take advantage of state funding.

·        AB 27, also by Rivas, would help identify K-12 students experiencing homelessness and connect them to services.

·        AB 977 by Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel (D-Encino) requires entities that receive funding from state homeless programs to report specified data to the state, allowing policymakers to track better and evaluate the effectiveness of the spending.

·        AB 362 by Assemblymember Sharon Quirk-Silva (D-Fullerton) requires cities and counties to establish a homeless shelter inspection program

·        AB 816 by Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco) directs National Housing Trust Fund monies to specified homeless uses

·        AB 1443 by Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) permits counties to develop training and procedures for taking people into custody for involuntary mental health detention;

·        SB 400 by Sen. Brian Jones (R-Santee) requires local educational agencies to identify youths experiencing homelessness.

I can sense the collective sigh of relief already from the homeless.

New Faces at CSLB The Governor has made the following appointments to the Contractors’ State License Board:
 
·        Cynthia Rich, of Gold River – Public Seat. Rich has been Sole Proprietor of Cynthia L. Rich, Psy.D. since 2015. Rich was Assistant Dean for the Graduate School of Management at the University of California, Davis, from 1989 to 1998. She was Vice President of Marketing at the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce from 1986 to 1989. Rich was Advertising Manager at the Sacramento Municipal Utility District from 1977 to 1986. She earned a Master of Arts degree in English from California State University, Sacramento, a Master of Arts degree in Psychology from Alliant International University, and a Doctor of Clinical Psychology degree from Alliant International University. She is a member of the California Psychological Association and the Redwood Psychological Association. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $100 per diem. Rich is a Democrat.

·        Steve Panelli, of San Mateo – Building Official. Panelli has been a Chief Plumbing Inspector at the San Francisco Department of Building Inspection since 2009. He was Senior Plumbing Inspector at the San Francisco Department of Building Inspection from 2005 to 2009, where he was District Plumbing Inspector from 2000 to 2005. Panelli is a member of the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials Board of Directors and Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 38. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $100 per diem. Panelli is registered without party preference.
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Thursday, September 16, 2021   WECA Political Update September 16, 2021

Newsom Survives Recall Governor Newsom rather convincingly beat back the recall attempt. I don’t have much to add to what has been in the media, but I would point out it is only 265 days until the June primary! Nearly 64 percent of voters have rejected the recall, based on results from 9.1 million ballots counted statewide so far. That's a slight drop from initial tallies that were closer to a 2-to-1 ratio, but still a massive gap. Of course, all the numbers will change as more ballots get counted.
 
The biggest shocker here was fourth-place finisher Brandon Ross, a Democrat listed as "Physician/Attorney" on the ballot. Ross had 5.6 percent, outpacing Republicans John Cox (4.4 percent) and Kevin Kiley (3.2 percent). And Ross didn't even have a live bear or $7 million in TV ads.
 
Mayor Dyer Vetoes 5-Year Union Labor Deal for Fresno City Construction Projects The San Joaquin Valley Sun reports, “In his second-ever veto, Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer rejected a measure adopted by six members of the Fresno City Council to institute union-prioritization for the City’s seven-figure construction projects. In a statement on Monday afternoon, Dyer rejected the five-year citywide Project Labor Agreement (PLA), a pre-construction agreement mandating union labor for most public works projects exceeding $1 million, as being “not inclusive,” failing to boost local hiring or “broaden the City’s labor pool. As a dues-paying member of public sector unions for the past 41 years, I do recognize that a Project Labor Agreement, if done correctly, can be beneficial,” Mayor Dyer said. “I would support the PLA if it could be modified to prioritize local hiring and local businesses.” The Dyer administration pushed back heavily on the proposed citywide Project Labor Agreement during debate before the Fresno City Council recently. Dyer doubled down in a statement on Monday, noting that union membership in the construction sits at 13 percent nationally. “This two-tiered system is discriminatory toward a large majority of Fresno’s construction workers and does not fit Mayor Dyer’s One Fresno vision of inclusivity,” his administration said in a statement. While the agreement would allow non-union contractors to bid on city work, it would subject them to paying union-mandated benefits that its workers on the project may not realize. “[T]he result being non-union contractors paying double for health and retirement benefits,” the Dyer administration said. Dyer administration officials also disputed the benefits touted by union representatives regarding better wages and benefits. Fresno’s history has only undertaken two project-specific PLAs with unions: the current City Hall building, completed in 1992, and Fresno-Yosemite International Airport’s parking garage, currently under construction. The city banned PLAs from 2000 to 2014. “(This PLA) lacks any measurement tools to see if it has met its goals,” city administration noted. Six members of the Fresno City Council backed the five-year citywide PLA measure. Fresno City Council member Garry Bredefeld was the lone dissenting vote on the agreement. In his veto statement, Dyer said he wanted exemptions for local contractors who are headquartered in Fresno’s city limits, have all employees on City of Fresno jobs reside within Fresno, provide health care coverage and 401(k) or other retirement benefits to those on the project, and dedicate 20 percent of workers assigned to the project be trade apprentices living within the City of Fresno. Dyer’s veto was overridden by a 6-1 vote of the City Council members.

Legislative Session Ends The first year of the 2021-2022 legislative session has concluded. However, Governor Newsom has already approved several bills.

AB 137 (Budget) Authorizes the Department of General Services to use the progressive design-build procurement process for up to three public works projects (with the usual SBCTC language) CHAPTERED

AB 143 (Budget) Authorizes the Judicial Council to use a design-build procurement process in contracting and procuring public works projects and would authorize the Judicial Council to award contracts using either the best value or low bid selection method for all projects (with the usual SBCTC language) CHAPTERED

AB 246 (Quirk) Adds illegal dumping to the list of violations that constitute a cause for disciplinary action against a contractor by the CSLB. CHAPTERED

AB 271 (Rivas) Permits the Santa Clara Valley Water District to award contracts on a best value basis for any work of the Anderson Dam project. The bill would require the contractor to comply with the State's STWF mandates unless the district has a PLA. CHAPTERED

AB 569 (Grayson) Increases the maximum civil penalty amounts that can be assessed against licensed contractors for violations of the Contractors State License Law consistent with changes in the Consumer Price Index. Authorizes the Contractors State License Board to issue a Letter of Admonishment instead of a citation for multiple violations at a time. CHAPTERED

SB 7 (Atkins) Reenacts the Jobs and Economic Improvement Through Environmental Leadership Act of 2011 and expands the Act’s eligibility to include smaller housing projects until January 1, 2026. The bill would exempt PLA projects from skilled and trained workforce mandates, the requirement to submit certified payroll records and prohibit the State Labor Commissioner from enforcing the labor code. Requires prevailing wages and apprentices on private projects authorized by the bill. CHAPTERED

SB 51 (Durazo) Makes changes to the Roberti Act (the Act) to encourage the sale of homes owned by Caltrans, located within the State Route (SR) 710 corridor in the El Sereno neighborhood of the City of Los Angeles (Los Angeles), for low- and moderate-income rental housing. Exempts PLA projects from CPRs and STWF. Requires prevailing wages and apprentices on private projects authorized by the bill. CHAPTERED

SB 144 (Portantino) Makes changes to the Film and TV Tax Credit administered by the California Film Commission (CFC), housed within the Governor’s Office of Business and Development (GO-Biz). Requires that the operation and maintenance of the soundstage must be performed by a workforce paid at least the prevailing rate that is either directly or through a payroll company employed by the soundstage owner or lessee; or a skilled and trained workforce, as defined in the Public Contract Code Chapter 2.9 (beginning with section 2600), if a third-party vendor provides services. CHAPTERED

SB 657 (Ochoa Bogh) Allows employers, in any instance the employer is required to physically post information, to additionally distribute that information to employees by email with the document or documents attached. Further, this bill clarifies that email distribution or relevant documents under the proposed statute does not alter the employer’s physical obligation to display the required posting. CHAPTERED

Two Of Arizona’s Native Fish Are Being Considered for Downlisting from endangered to threatened under the Endangered Species Act. But here's why they may always need human help.

Reconciliation and the PROAct In addition to the tax increases in the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package, on Sept. 10, the House Education and Labor Committee marked up and approved its $761 billion portions of the bill on a party-line vote. It contains provisions like policies included in the Protecting the Right to Organize Act (PROAct):

·        $5 million for the implementation of electronic voting in union elections.
·        Financial penalties on employers for unfair labor practices.
·        Personal liability for company directors and officers for unfair labor practices.
·        Prohibitions against employers from permanently replacing strikers, locking out workers, captive audience meetings, and arbitration agreements.

ABC has a website that allows contractors to contact their members of Congress here.

The Peter G. Peterson Foundation has produced an analysis of the reconciliation process and the plan to pay for the “infrastructure” package.

Time for Reconciliation All House Dem committee chairs have successfully met Speaker Pelosi's deadline to finish their sections by Sept. 15, clearing the way for leadership-level negotiations on the most challenging aspects of the bill: Medicare expansion, Medicaid spending, SALT, and drug pricing.

Arbitration Agreements A federal appeals court Wednesday simultaneously revived and gutted a 2019 California law banning employers from requiring arbitration agreements in job contracts, ruling that its enforcement mechanisms run afoul of federal law. The court allowed the ban to take effect but limited the state's power to enforce it, rendering the law largely symbolic. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in a split decision that federal law does not prevent California officials from banning forced arbitration under AB 51. But the panel struck down a provision of AB 51 that would have penalized employers that retaliate against workers who decline to sign such agreements. The court ruled that civil penalties subjecting employers to up to six months of jail time or a $1,000 fine, as outlined in the measure, are prohibited under federal law. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Retail Federation, and other business groups filed a lawsuit in 2019 arguing that the bill was in direct conflict with the Federal Arbitration Act, allowing employers and workers to settle disputes outside of court.

NLRB Chief Counsel Seeks New Penalties for Labor Law Violations With a newly minted Democratic majority on the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the General Counsel of the NLRB, who directs the enforcement of federal labor law, has ordered her staff to seek broad remedies—many of which would be unprecedented—for workers subjected to unfair practices, including reimbursement for “consequential damages” such as health care expenses, credit card late fees, or loss of a home or car as a result of being unlawfully terminated. Story

The Popularity of our POTUS: President Joe Biden’s average approval rating (46 percent) is in Ford territory and could be headed into Trump territory if he doesn’t turn it around. Here’s where every modern president rated at this point, according to FiveThirtyEight.

G.W. Bush: 82.6%
Kennedy: 76.1%
Truman: 75%
Eisenhower: 74.4%
Johnson: 74%
G.H.W. Bush: 69.5%
Nixon: 62.3%
Reagan: 60.1%
Carter: 54.3%
Obama: 53.4%
Clinton: 48.3%
Biden: 46%
Ford: 46%
Trump: 38.8%

Air Resources Board Invites CSLB Licensees to Attend Workgroup on Proposed Amendment for Off-Road Diesel Vehicles The California Air Resources Board (CARB) will host a public workgroup to discuss possible amendments to the In-Use Off-Road Diesel-Fueled Fleets Regulation (Off-Road Regulation) to include additional requirements for contractors and public works projects that use, hire, or own off-road diesel vehicles that are subject to the Off-Road Regulation.

The purpose of these potential amendments is:

1) To achieve long-term vehicle emissions reductions needed to meet federal and State air quality goals and requirements, and
2) To promote more effective compliance with the existing Off-Road Regulation.
During CARB’s public workgroup, the concept will be discussed, and CSLB licensees who may be affected by the proposed amendments can provide input.

Virtual Public Workgroup

Tuesday, September 21, 2021
2:30 – 4:30 p.m.

Register here.

More information about the workgroup is available here.

Accessible Parking the California Commission on Disability Access (CCDA) wants to change accessible parking in California. They have developed a survey for contractors and construction managers to “help” access the changes.
 
It should only take 5-10 minutes to complete but is due COB 9/21/21.
 
On the topic of accessible parking in private works construction, buildings open to the public, the survey asks which areas of Chapter 11B of the CA Building Code (public accessibility) would be most helpful for CCDA to focus on in developing toolkits/resources for business owners/operators, ADA local government, and building industry professionals. The survey expects A-Gen Eng., B-Gen Building, C-8 Concrete, C-10 Electrical [EV charging in parking lots], C-12 Earth/Pave, C-23 Orn. Metal, C-27 Landscaping, C-32-Parking and Highway, C-45 Signs, or any other contractor license classification who may be able to weigh in.
 
Access the full link here.
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Thursday, September 02, 2021   WECA Political Update September 2, 2021



AFL-CIO Picks IBEW Lobbyist as President And no—it is not Scott Wetch. Politico reports “The AFL-CIO’s executive council voted to appoint Liz Shuler as the federation’s president following the unexpected death of Richard Trumka. Shuler is the organization’s first female president, a historic moment for organized labor in the U.S. She will serve as the nation’s top union official until summer 2022, when the AFL-CIO’s 50-plus affiliates can gather for their annual convention to vote on a permanent successor. Shuler’s first job in labor was as an organizer for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in 1993. She eventually worked her way up to become a lobbyist for IBEW and, later, executive assistant to its president, before Trumka named her his running mate in 2009.” Her top priorities: “I'm going to continue to carry the mantle on this sprint to the end on infrastructure and getting that across the finish line,” she said. “In particular I'm thinking of the investments in care,” as well as “making sure those are good jobs. We want labor standards attached to make all of these investments with our tax dollars work for working people. Of course the PRO Act continues to be a major focus. And you've seen all of the organizing efforts that have been happening on the ground, the strikes that are happening, workers are in motion right now. We need to capitalize on that momentum and get these important pieces of legislation passed but also continue to invest in organizing and mobilizing on the ground.”

Recall A couple readers asked if WECA had a recommended candidate or a position on the recall of Governor Gavin Newsom (we don’t). David Crane, who worked for Arnold Schwarzenegger and now runs Govern for California wrote an interesting analysis about the recall election. You can read it here. In related news: the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California in a recent poll found that 58 percent of likely voters surveyed in California oppose removing Newsom from office compared to 39 percent who support recalling the governor, a gap rooted in the sharp partisan divide between Democratic and Republican voters in the state.

Vice President Harris has cast eight tie-breaking votes so far in the Senate Vice President Kamala Harris (D) has so far cast eight tie-breaking votes in the Senate. Her two most recent tie-breaking votes were to invoke cloture and then confirm Jennifer Abruzzo on July 20 and 21 as general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board. In unrelated news, a new Rasmussen Reports survey found that 55 percent of likely voters in the U.S. say that Harris is not qualified to assume the duties of the presidency. Story

EEO-1 Reporting Deadline Extended Until October 25, 2021 The EEOC has announced on its EEO-1 Data Collection website that it has, again, extended the deadline for filing EEO-1 Reports this year—this time to October 25. Employers still rushing to finalize and upload their 2019 and 2020 EEO-1 reports by the prior August 23 deadline will certainly welcome this extra breathing room. More

Related to that… OFCCP Reverses Course, Will Use EEO-1 Pay Data for Investigation, Enforcement (You saw that coming, didn’t you?) On September 1, 2021, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), the Department of Labor sub-agency charged with enforcing affirmative action and non-discrimination requirements imposed on federal contractors by way of Executive Order 11246, announced that it was reversing its prior position regarding the use of EEO-1 compensation data collected by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for calendar years 2018 and 2019 (the so-called “Component 2”). Story

Headline Risk — Apparently, Republicans’ faith in Big Business has plummeted, a dramatic change in sentiment that coincides with the rise of corporate social responsibility and voter populism. Since 2019, the share of rank-and-file Republicans who say large corporations have a positive impact on the U.S. has fallen by almost half, to 30 percent from 54 percent, according to a Pew Research Center survey of U.S. adults. The upshot: Republicans used to be the party of business. These days, there’s not much light between them and Democrats, Pew found. “It’s striking, there’s no question about it,” said Carroll Doherty, Pew’s director of political research. “For large corporations specifically, members of both parties are saying they have a negative impact on the country.” Businesses are feeling it. Lobbyists reportedly say that while they still have friends in Washington, it has become much harder to get even bipartisan legislation passed. GOP attitudes toward big banks and tech companies took a dive, too, Pew found, and regulation is a growing threat. “Republican leaders obviously listen to their voters,” Doherty said. “The ground is shifting.” We saw this under Trump, who famously went to war with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other industry groups over his trade policies. In the Biden era, companies that wade into policy debates over voting rights and diversity are drawing fire from conservative groups.

Corporate Shaming Consumers’ Research, a Washington-based nonprofit, has launched a multimillion-dollar campaign to agitate against Coca-Cola, American Airlines and other companies with political-style naming-and-shaming ads. Executive Director Will Hild said companies are using hot-button social issues to distract consumers from bad service, forced labor practices and other failings.

Long-Term Energy Storage The Newsom administration is proposing language in the state budget to promote new energy sources—including storage—wind and solar power and fuel cells. Budget trailer bill language that came from Newsom's office would steer roughly $800 million in spending over two years on new energy projects that Newsom and lawmakers agreed to in the June budget. At that time, however, they didn’t specify how the funding would be distributed. Besides setting investment guidelines for grants for hydrogen plants and other projects to reduce greenhouse gases at industrial facilities and food processors, the language would also streamline permitting for wind, solar or energy storage facilities above 50 megawatts. It would extend customer incentives to install fuel cells, which convert natural gas, biomethane or hydrogen into electricity. Environmental groups are worried about the storage language, which they say would benefit a controversial proposal in Southern California to tap an aquifer near Joshua Tree National Park. But they're also objecting to the hydrogen language, which they say is too vague, and the general idea of enacting a raft of policy changes in the last days of the legislative session with no public process. 

But as you can anticipate, the State Building and Construction Trades Council has included a requirement that the project developer (of the long-term energy storage) "use or require its contractors to use multicraft project labor agreements, as defined paragraph (1) of subdivision (b) of Section 2500 of the Public Contract Code, for the construction and the contracted out maintenance of the project. Those project labor agreements shall conform to the industry standard agreements recently used for private large thermal power plant projects, including separate agreements for high voltage transmission and related work.”

Delta Variant 'Significantly' Slowing Construction Recovery National nonresidential construction spending expanded 0.1 percent in July, a decrease of 4.2 percent from last year at this time, according to an Associated Builders and Contractors analysis of data published Sept. 1 by the U.S. Census Bureau. While the data suggests that commercial construction spending was effectively flat in July, the numbers are "meaningfully worse than they appear," said ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu in a press release. When adjusting for inflation, the volume of construction services delivered by the U.S. commercial contractors actually declined in July, he said. Story

COVID Shutdown Lawsuits Cost California More Than $4M For Settlements The San Francisco Chronicle reports "The state of California has settled at least 10 lawsuits this year related to public health orders during the coronavirus pandemic, agreeing to pay more than $4 million to cover the costs of lawyers who sued over restrictions on religious services, schools, strip clubs and tattoo parlors. The 10 settlements, which total nearly $4.36 million for attorneys’ fees and costs, all name Gov. Gavin Newsom as a defendant and were obtained through a public records request to his office by the First Amendment Coalition, a nonprofit organization that promotes free speech and government transparency. As the number of coronavirus cases began to rise in California last year, Newsom established the country’s first statewide shelter-in-place order in March 2020 that shut most activities but provided exceptions for some retailers and other essential services to keep operating. That order paved the way for months of legal battles over which businesses were forced to close, how to reopen schools and whether the governor had the authority to take these steps at all."

Mia Bonta Leads in Special Election East Bay Assembly Race The San Francisco Chronicle reports "Mia Bonta was leading in a special election Tuesday for an East Bay Assembly seat vacated by her husband, California Attorney General Rob Bonta, according to early returns. Bonta, president of the Alameda Unified School District board and CEO of the nonprofit Oakland Promise, received 55 percent of the early vote totals. Her opponent, social justice attorney Janani Ramachandran, received 45 percent and was trailing by roughly 4,500 votes. Every registered voter in the district received a mail-in ballot. Officials from the Alameda County Registrar of Voters said they will next update the vote totals Thursday afternoon. The two candidates were vying to represent the heavily Democratic district that includes San Leandro, Alameda and 80 percent of Oakland. Regardless of who wins, they will help set an all-time record in Sacramento this year: 32.5 percent of the members of the Legislature are women, according to Close the Gap California, which recruits and trains women to run for state office."
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