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WECA Political Update December 21, 2021

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Another Week, Another COVID-19 Rule The State just revised the application of the indoor mask mandate - it now applies to employers (previously, employment was covered by the ETS adopted by Cal-OSHA). 

CDPH updated its guidance to clarify the application of the indoor mask mandate. Previously, the ruling by the CDPH referenced “indoor public settings” without further definition. In the updated guidance, the CDPH clarifies that “the guidance applies to all workplaces, regardless of whether they serve the public, or are open to the public. Masks may be removed, “if the workplace consists of a single employee, or may be removed while an employee is alone in a closed office or room.” 

Cal/OSHA also updated its FAQ for the COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) to state that the ETS requires that employers “provide face coverings and ensure they are worn by employees when required by orders of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). (8 CCR § 3205(c)(6)(B).) The December 13, 2021 CDPH guidance is such an order.” 

California officials say the new month-long statewide indoor mask mandate is critical to preventing another surge of COVID-19. 

But it’s unclear who is responsible for enforcing that mandate. When asked about the lack of enforcement mechanism for the mandate, which went into effect Wednesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom said he “has faith” in Californians to follow it but didn’t provide specifics on what would happen if they didn’t. “I have more faith than you do in the capacity of people to do the right thing. That’s the response,” Newsom told a reporter during a press conference in Los Angeles on Wednesday.” 

More on the IBEW effort to Kill Rooftop Solar From Politico “Eight members of California's congressional delegation on Tuesday urged state regulators to reconsider draft rules that would slash rooftop solar installation incentives, warning that the policies would ‘severely damage’ the growth of customer-owned photovoltaic panels. The letter from the U.S. representatives to California Public Utilities Commission President Marybel Batjer brings high-level heft against the agency's proposed decision. Last week, the draft proposal drew backlash from environmentalists, solar installers, and local governments, among other supporters of the popular net metering program. The members of Congress told Batjer that the CPUC's draft rules, which include lower bill credits and a monthly charge on solar owners, would have the effect of ‘potentially putting rooftop solar out of reach for many Californians, undermining grid resilience, and making it harder for our nation to reach its national clean energy targets.’ They specifically lamented the proposed ‘grid participation charge’ of $40 to $48 per month for an average-sized photovoltaic system, citing solar industry-commissioned research that the fees would be the highest of any investor-owned utility in the country. Export compensation would also be lowered from retail electricity rates to the ‘avoided cost’ value of customer-owned solar power. 

The California Democrats who signed the letter were Reps. Mike Levin, Nanette Diaz Barragán, Barbara Lee, Ro Khanna, Alan Lowenthal, Katie Porter, Jared Huffman, and Mark DeSaulnier. Gov. Gavin Newsom, other members of the CPUC, and state legislative leaders were copied on the members' letter, as was Alice Reynolds, the governor's energy adviser who starts as CPUC president later this month to replace Batjer. 

Net metering was one of the most contentious California energy issues this year, drawing arguments from utilities and consumers and environmental groups that the bill credits shift grid maintenance costs to households without photovoltaic panels. The solar industry disputes that premise, contending that customer-owned energy produce grid and environmental benefits for everyone. Mayors of some of California's largest cities also oppose the monthly fee. The solar proceedings have prompted lobbying from various energy players, including Walmart and Big Wind. Public comments on the proposed net metering decision are due on Jan. 2, followed by comments five days later. The CPUC is scheduled to vote on Jan. 27 on the draft rules, although that date could be delayed if the agency needs more time to make revisions or fill a vacant seat. Last week, the commissioner who led the CPUC's net metering review left the agency for a new position as a U.S. EPA regional administrator. 

One of the BBB provisions bothers our allies. The union-made EV tax credit currently included in the BBB bill continues to pick up international opposition from Canadians. Canada’s deputy prime minister, Chrystia Freeland, and International Trade Minister Mary Ng sent a letter to eight senators on Friday, formally threatening retaliatory tariffs targeting the auto sector “and several other sectors of the U.S. economy” if the EV provision remains intact. “If there is no satisfactory resolution to this matter, Canada will defend its national interests, as we did when we were faced with unjustified tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum,” read the letter, referencing a 2018 trade dispute that Freeland was on the front lines of at the time. In addition, the European Union, Mexico, and Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) have said they oppose the $4,500 tax credit for union-made electric vehicles, on top of existing incentives. The credit would primarily benefit Detroit-based U.S. automakers whose employees are unionized. 

Reapportionment/Resignation Update With California’s topsy-turvy redistricting process reaching its peak, Central Valley Democrats are beginning to jockey for positions to run for new seats and jobs in 2022. The first report, via David Taub at GV Wire, finds that two Fresno Democrats are already attempting to stake claims for a to-be-drawn Congressional seat covering southern Fresno County amid Rep. Devin's abrupt retirement Nunes (R–Tulare). Fresno Assemblyman Joaquin Arambula (D-is considering a congressional run, multiple sources tell GV Wire. The Democrat is eyeing the seat — in the latest iteration — that would cover parts of Fresno, eastern Fresno County, and parts of Tulare and Kings counties. GV Wire has also learned that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the official campaign arm of the House of Representative Democrats, has met with Andrew Janz. Janz, a Fresno County prosecutor, ran against Devin Nunes in 2018, falling by five points. However, that was the closest showing of a Democrat ever during Nunes’ 10 terms. Recently, Fresno City Council President Luis Chavez told KSEE 24 that he wasn’t yet considering pulling the trigger on a Congressional bid. “Not right now,” he clarified to host Alexan Balekian, adding that he was strongly considering a run following finalized district boundaries from the state’s independent commission. “I’ve had a lot of folks ask me to consider running, but I enjoy serving the community of southeast Fresno,” Chavez said. “Obviously, we’ve got to wait until the maps are final, then once the maps are final, I think you’ll see a lot of folks throw their hat into the ring.” A Congressional run by Arambula or Chavez in 2022 would open up their respective seats in the California State Assembly and Fresno City Council during the 2022 election. In the same GV Wire report, it appears that at least one name is floating to run should Arambula forego running for his fourth of six possible terms in the Legislature: Fresno City Council member Nelson Esparza. Esparza, who represents central Fresno on the Fresno City Council, announced a candidacy to succeed Chavez as Council President in January is also up for reelection in 2022, opening another seat on the City Council. The digital pub reports are one prospective candidate to fill the Council seat if Esparza leaps Legislature, Fresno County Board of Education trustee James Martinez. 

12 Democrats who could replace Joe Biden in 2024 Combine President Joe Biden's age (he'll be 82 shortly after the 2024 election) and his ongoing political struggles (he's mired in the low 40s in job approval), and you get this: a series of stories examining whether Biden runs again and, if not, who might take his place. The New York Times recently published a big takeout on the potential Biden replacements within the Democratic Party over the weekend. The White House, aware of the whispers, made clear Biden is planning to go for a second term. "The President has every intention of running for reelection," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said when asked. But what if Biden's plans change? Below, a look at the most mentioned names for 2024 contenders and a single line on their viability. 

Kamala Harris: She's undoubtedly struggled as vice president, but she's still the most likely Democrat not named Biden to wind up as the Democratic nominee in 2024. 

Pete Buttigieg: The most naturally talented candidate in the 2024 field, "Mayor Pete" has also been front and center selling Biden's infrastructure bill. 

Elizabeth Warren: The Massachusetts senator is still popular among liberals -- and wouldn't be splitting the vote with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders this time around as she did in 2020. 

Amy Klobuchar: Other than Buttigieg, the Minnesota senator was probably the best regarded of the losing candidates in 2020 -- and her Midwest roots are always a plus given the electoral map. 

Roy Cooper: Term-limited out of office in 2024, the North Carolina governor has ample time to consider his next step -- starting with his service as the vice-chairman of the Democratic Governors Association. 

Mitch Landrieu: Being tasked with implementing the infrastructure bill is a big (and high-profile) job that the former New Orleans mayor has taken to with relish. 

Gina Raimondo: She made the leap from Rhode Island governor to Biden administration commerce secretary, but doubts remain as to whether she is too moderate to win a Democratic primary at this moment. 

Gretchen Whitmer: The Michigan governor needs to win what could be a tough reelection race next year before she can turn to consider a national run in earnest.  

Phil Murphy: The record of New Jersey governors running for president isn't great of late (sorry, Chris Christie!), but Murphy could use the next few years of his governorship as a testing ground for some national policies for the party. 

J.B. Pritzker: Pritzker has two things going for him -- 1) He's the governor of a major Midwestern state (Illinois), and 2) he's very, very rich. 

Stacey Abrams: Abrams talked openly about running in 2020 before passing on the race, but she needs to win the Georgia governor's mansion in 2022 before overthinking about 2024. 

Andy Beshear: The first-term Kentucky Governor replaced an unpopular Republican in a very Red state (and home of Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul). His primary focus will be on the rebuilding effort in Western Kentucky – but if he continues to be able to work with the Republican Legislature – he could be perceived as someone who could work with a possibly Republican Congress in 2025 and beyond. 
The Point: If Biden decides not to run, chances are we would be looking at a very crowded field of Democrats seeking to replace him. 

Democratic Leaders Unveil Budget Outlines, Suggest Changes to Spending Limit Democratic leaders in the state Senate and Assembly released outlines of their priorities for the 2022-23 state budget this week, with no specific references to tax increases but many proposals for increased state spending – described in the documents as “investments.” The Legislature is scheduled to reconvene on January 3, and Governor Gavin Newsom has a January 10 constitutional deadline for presenting his budget proposal to the Legislature. Neither the Senate budget plan, titled “Putting California’s Wealth to Work for a More Equitable Future,” nor the Assembly plan, titled “Delivering Prosperity and Strengthening the Future,” includes detailed proposals. Instead, they highlight values the majority caucuses intend to pursue when negotiating the budget. The Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) released its 2022-23 budget outlook in November and found that state revenue is increasing at historical rates, potentially creating a $31 billion surplus. The LAO also estimated that the state would need to allocate roughly $14 billion – “for example by spending more on capital outlay or making taxpayer rebates and school and community college payments” – to stay under the state appropriations limit (the Gann limit) for 2020-21 and 2021-22. The Senate plan outlines priorities including paying down state debt, improving public health access and affordability, expanding broadband infrastructure, and assisting older Californians. The Assembly priorities are increased school funding to aid students facing learning disabilities and mental health issues, Employment Development Department improvements to ensure that unemployed Californians can access benefits, creating a “living wage” through “state investment,” and spending an influx of federal funds on new infrastructure projects. 

The Gann limit, approved by voters as Proposition 4 of 1979 and modified by a subsequent initiative, places a limit on appropriations made by state and most local governments. If the state has revenue that cannot be appropriated because of the limit – meaning the state has “excess revenue” – the excess must be returned to taxpayers or spent on certain expenditures outside the limit (such as transportation projects or other capital outlay expenses). Both budget plans acknowledge that the Gann Limit will likely become a significant factor in the 2022-23 budget. The Senate plan states that the Legislature should “consider future reforms to modernize [the] Gann Limit while respecting [its] original intent.” The Assembly outline says simply that the Assembly Democrats’ budget proposal will “address” the Gann limit. With the spending limit in play and the Department of Finance reporting record revenue collections in 2021 (personal income tax 27.3 percent above budget expectations, corporate taxes 47.8 percent above budget expectations, and sales and use taxes 13.2 percent above budget expectations), it is unclear whether lawmakers will propose new taxes in 2022. This year, similar conditions existed when lawmakers proposed a cumulative $236.4 billion in higher annual taxes and fees

From CSLB – New Laws for 2021 As we make our way into the new year, CSLB would like to highlight some construction-related laws that will go into effect on January 1, 2022. 
AB 569 (Grayson) This bill increases from $5,000 to $8,000, the maximum administrative civil penalty CSLB can assess against a licensed contractor for most violations, and from $15,000 to $30,000 for the most serious violations relating to unlicensed practice and workers compensation insurance violations. This bill also authorizes CSLB to issue a Letter of Admonishment for more than one violation at a time. The bill amends Business and Professions Code (BPC) sections 7099.2 and 7099.9. (Chapter 94, Statutes of 2021)  

AB 830 (Flora) As it relates to CSLB, this bill defines the responsibilities of the qualifying personnel members on a contractor’s license regarding their duty to supervise the construction operations of the licensed entity. The bill provides definitions of “bona fide employee” and “actively engaged” for a responsible managing employee’s duty on a contractor’s license. The bill defines the qualifier’s duty of “supervision and control” to mean “direct supervision or control or monitoring and being available to assist others to whom direct supervision and control have been delegated.” The bill authorizes CSLB to require an applicant for a contractor’s license to provide the qualifier’s current employment duty statement describing their responsibilities under the license and allows CSLB to take disciplinary action for failing to do so. As it relates to the Contractors State License Law, this bill amends BPC sections 7068 and 7068.1. (Chapter 376, Statutes of 2021)  

SB 607 (Min) As it relates to CSLB, this bill increases existing and adds new licensing and application maintenance and service fees for support of CSLB effective January 1, 2022. The bill additionally reorganizes CSLB’s fee statute by fee type, including different renewal fee amounts dependent on the license entity type (the current sole owner renewal fee of $450 is not being increased). Here is a link to a CSLB bulletin about the fee increases. In addition, effective July 1, 2022, this bill requires Department boards and bureaus to waive application and license fees for military family members. Also, effective January 1, 2023, this bill increases the CSLB qualifier, license, and disciplinary bonds from $12,500 and $15,000, respectively, to $25,000 for all three bonds. (Chapter 367, Statutes of 2021) 

AB 107 (Salas) Effective July 1, 2023, this bill requires boards within the Department of Consumer Affairs (Department) to, after appropriate investigation, issue a temporary license to an applicant married to or otherwise in union or partnership with an active-duty military member when the applicant has a current similar license in another state. The bill identifies specified requirements to be met as a condition of issuing the temporary license. It requires a board to issue the temporary license within 30 days of confirming the applicant has met those requirements. The bill provides that the temporary license is not renewable and expires 12 months after issuance or when an original license is issued. The bill additionally requires boards within the Department to publish information about the licensing options available to military spouses on their internet website. (Chapter 693, Statutes of 2021) 

AB 137 (Committee on Budget) The provisions of this bill that affect CSLB add Article 6.5 (commencing with Section 7086) of Chapter 9 of Division 3 of the Business and Professions Code. These provisions create the Solar Energy System Restitution Program within the Contractors State License Law. Together with the 2021 Budget Act, the bill makes a $5 million General Fund appropriation for CSLB expenditure until June 30, 2024, for the program. The bill makes restitution under specified criteria available for any consumer who used a contractor after January 1, 2016, to install a solar energy system on a single-family residence. Qualifying criteria include demonstrating a financial loss resulting from fraud, misrepresentation, or another unlawful act committed by a residential solar energy system contractor that has not been and will not be fully reimbursed from any other source. The bill provides procedures and criteria for the implementation of the program. (Chapter 77, Statutes of 2021) 

AB 246 (Quirk) This bill makes a licensed contractor’s unlawful dumping of debris a cause for disciplinary action against the contractor. The bill also reorganizes BPC Section 7110 from paragraph form to an enumerated form to provide clarity and improve readability. (Chapter 46, Statutes of 2021) 

SB 757 (Limón) This bill clarifies that a contract for a residential solar energy system is considered home improvement when installed on a residential building or property for the home improvement contract requirements under the Contractors State License Law. The bill further ensures home improvement salespersons must be registered to the contractor they solicited, negotiated, or executed contracts for. They must inform the homeowner on whose behalf they are soliciting. Where existing law prohibits a contractor from accepting payment for work not performed or materials not delivered, this bill extends that prohibition to any such payments from lenders or financiers. Finally, the bill requires any representations made to a consumer about a solar energy product or performance to be included in the home improvement contract. The bill amends BPC sections 7151, 7152, 7156, 7159.5, 7162, and 7170. (Chapter 249, Statutes of 2021)  

SB 826 (Committee on Business, Professions and Economic Development) This bill makes technical, non-substantive changes to the Contractors State License Law. The bill clarifies that CSLB employs investigators and special investigators, not enforcement representatives. The bill also clarifies that the C-22 Asbestos Abatement Contractor License is an appropriate license classification to engage in asbestos-related work. The bill also replaces an incorrect reference to the law in the Business and Professions Code section regulating letters of admonishment with the correct section of law. Finally, the bill clarifies that the consumer’s right to cancel a home improvement contract referenced in the solar disclosure document (required by Business and Professions Code section 7169) is three days for most contracts and five days for contracts with a senior citizen. (Chapter 188, Statutes of 2021)