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WECA Political Update October 27, 2022

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Elk Grove City Council Adopts City-wide PLA Last night, the Elk Grove City Council (located in Sacramento County) adopted a PLA (which they called a “Community Workforce and Training Agreement”) for all city work greater than $1.0 million on a 3-1-1 vote. Councilmember Stephanie Nguyen (who has tired of city life and is running for State Assembly against Sacramento councilmember Eric Garcia, who also loves PLAs) made the motion to adopt the boilerplate PLA, which Vice Mayor Darren Suen quickly seconded. Suen explained that he supports PLAs because he believes that every person in the United States should have a defined benefit pension, which was a step in that direction. Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen (who is the only councilmember up for re-election this year) provided the third ‘aye’ vote and read from a union-prepared statement that all of the criticisms about PLAs were fabricated and untrue – based upon her own extensive and personal examination of the PLA supporting studies from the UC Berkeley Labor Center.

Councilmember Kevin Spease was the only opponent on the council who insisted the PLA could not apply to a local contractor (“local” is defined in the PLA as the seven counties surrounding Sacramento) and that no construction worker should be forced to change health plans or contribute to union pension plans that have a vesting period. Councilmember Pat Hume said he couldn’t support the PLA with the pension language but abstained instead of joining Spease with a “no” vote. Hume is running for Sacramento Supervisor and believes he can straddle the fence – although the construction unions are all full blast in support of Hume’s opponent, the “union-owned” Jaclyn Moreno. Moreno facilitated the PLA in her current position at the Cosumnes Community Services District, which provides fire protection and parks for Elk Grove and Galt.

Some points in the five-year PLA are unresolved – but with the council telling the City Manager to get the PLA signed, sealed, and delivered, his ability to negotiate benefits for the city further seems – well, challenging.

WECA member Ian van der Linden and a number of his staff spoke in opposition, but the deals had been done in advance of the meeting, and all that was left was for the three PLA supporters to follow the script as written by the unions.

Ironically, the vote took place after a 90-minute celebration of DEI by the council and acknowledgment of Diwali – the Hindu religious festival that celebrates “victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance.” I wonder if any of those three picked up on the irony?


Where Was Gavin? President Joe Biden’s three-day October trip to Southern California featured events with a who’s who of California Democrats — but not Gov. Gavin Newsom. Many of the party’s biggest names — including U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla; Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti; U.S. Reps. Karen Bass, Katie Porter, and Ted Lieu; state senator and congressional candidate Sydney Kamlager — turned out alongside the president as he made stops in Los Angeles and Orange County to tout federal infrastructure investments and plans to lower healthcare costs. Biden also headlined a fundraiser with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in Los Angeles. Some called Newsom’s absence “strange,” given that “it certainly is the tradition that the governor of the state — particularly when the governor’s from the same party — will see the president” when he’s in town, Jessica Levinson, a Loyola Law School professor and California political commentator, told CalMatters. NBC News political director Chuck Todd described the situation to KCRA as a “head-scratcher.” 

Newsom spokesperson Alex Stack explained: “The Governor, unfortunately, had scheduling conflicts. For example, he had an event in Sacramento on Friday morning for his book, in addition to state commitments.” The White House could not explain why Newsom’s book was more important than POTUS. 

Levinson said she was skeptical of the governor’s claim: “‘Scheduling conflict’ is the equivalent of ‘I’m dropping out of this political race that I’ll never win to spend more time with my family.’ Nobody really believes it.” Levinson suggested a few possibilities for why Newsom and Biden may have avoided meeting with each other: 

“Biden has been kind of out ahead of Newsom on a couple of issues.” First, the president last month took the rare step of wading into a California legislative battle and endorsing a farmworker unionization bill that Newsom had opposed. The move infuriated the Governor, who ended up signing the bill on the condition that it be significantly amended next year. Second, Biden called on three Los Angeles City Council members to resign for making racist comments and plotting to consolidate Latino political power during last year’s redistricting process — a step Newsom hasn’t taken, though he applauded former council president Nury Martinez’s decision to step down. Third, Biden has endorsed Rep. Karen Bass for Los Angeles mayor over her opponent, billionaire businessman Rick Caruso — while Newsom thus far has kept out of the race, telling Fox 11 earlier this year that he’s known both candidates for years and has “deep respect” for both. 

“Biden may feel that Newsom is waiting in the wings … There could be a little personal bad blood because Newsom has become such a national presence and seems to be positioning himself to fill a potential void.” Newsom’s efforts to amplify his national profile — including by slamming the Democratic Party for failing to aggressively counteract the GOP on such hot-button topics as abortion and LGBTQ rights — have seemingly irked some members of the Biden administration. But Newsom, who insists he has “sub-zero” interest in a presidential run, has repeatedly praised Biden, saying that he’s delivered “a master class … on substance and policy” in his first two years in office. 

Meanwhile, the Governor’s office published a recap of events showing how “the Newsom administration was hard at work this week taking action for Californians across a variety of issues,” including breaking ground on a 10,000-mile broadband network to help expand high-speed internet access and cracking down on illegal cannabis operations. [CalMatters]


California to end Covid state of emergency early next year Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Monday that California would end its Covid-19 public health state of emergency on Feb. 28, marking the official end of the public health crisis. "The State of Emergency was an effective and necessary tool that we utilized to protect our state, and we wouldn’t have gotten to this point without it,” Newsom said. “With the operational preparedness that we’ve built up and the measures that we’ll continue to employ moving forward, California is ready to phase out this tool.”

The four-month lead time allows the state to unwind remaining pandemic provisions while giving time to respond to a potential winter surge. Administration officials stressed that the emergency order allowed the state to create the framework necessary to mount a centralized response to the pandemic and that infrastructure could be scaled up if necessary to manage an increase in Covid cases or another health crisis.

Newsom declared a state of emergency on March 4, 2020, which gave him broad powers to issue executive orders to direct how the state controlled the pandemic response. Republicans have long been clamoring for the governor to end what they've considered an overbearing and controlling approach to Covid restrictions and an abuse of executive privilege.

Many of the key provisions of the pandemic restrictions ended in 2021 and this year. These include travel restrictions, facial masking requirements, and other Covid health protocols. In September, the California Department of Public Health said visitors to healthcare facilities, including hospitals and nursing homes, will not have to provide proof of vaccination or be tested for Covid-19 to visit their loved ones.

Less than five percent of the original orders — or just 27 of the 596 provisions of the state of emergency — remain. Many of those are operational and no longer needed. Administration officials said Monday they intend to work with the Legislature on statutory fixes for two provisions: one that would allow nurses to order and dispense Covid medications and another to ensure the ability of lab workers to process Covid tests.


Employers Should Continue to Use the Current Version of Form I-9 After Oct. 31, 2022 On October 12, 2022, the USCIS announced that employers should continue to use the current Form I-9 after its expiration date of October 31, 2022, until further notice. It is anticipated that the Department of Homeland Security will publish a new one-page Form I-9 in the coming months. Thus, until the new version of the Form I-9 is published and effective, employers should continue to use the current version of the I-9 form. Learn More


IRS Releases 2023 Annual Limits for Retirement Plans The IRS just announced the 2023 annual limits that will apply to tax-qualified retirement plans. For the second year in a row, the IRS increased the annual limits, allowing participants to save even more in 2023. Employers maintaining tax-qualified retirement plans must ensure their plans’ administrative procedures are adjusted accordingly. Story


The Mega-Donors Funding the Midterm Campaigns Private groups and individuals pour a lot of money into the elections to decide which party controls Congress. The Washington Post (I can hear the groans already) compiled a list of the top 10 individuals and groups bankrolling this midterm cycle. The top 50 donors this election cycle have pumped $1.1 billion into political committees and other groups competing in the midterms. Who are these donors? Billionaire investors, shipping magnates, casino moguls, and others. Many are longtime donors, but some new faces have made their money through cryptocurrency. How do they vote? The group skews Republican, though the top donor is a Democrat.

Legislative Calendar:

  • Sept. 30 – Last day for governor to sign or veto bills passed by the Legislature before Sept. 1 and in the governor’s possession on or after Sept. 1 
  • Nov. 8 – General Election.
  • Nov. 30 – Adjournment Sine Die at midnight 
  • Dec. 5, 12 noon – Convening of the 2023-24 Regular Session and special session
  • Jan. 1, 2023 – Statutes take effect