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Thursday, January 21, 2021   WECA Political Update January 21, 2021

Government Affairs and Merit Shop Advocacy
______________________________________
California Senate Republicans Replace Sen. Shannon Grove as Leader

Per various sources – State Sen. Shannon Grove of Bakersfield was replaced Wednesday as the leader of the California Senate Republicans after having served in the position for two years. Grove will be succeeded by state Sen. Scott Wilk of Santa Clarita. Her ouster as leader by the Senate Republican Caucus came after two of its 11 seats changed hands in the November election. “California is facing unprecedented challenges and Senate Republicans stand ready with solutions,” Wilk said in a statement. “For everyday Californians there is no greater priority than the pandemic — the health crisis it has created, its economic devastation and educational challenges for our students.” Per Politico, “In trading Grove for Wilk, Republicans are opting for a more moderate choice. Wilk periodically votes with Democrats, and he has scored rare endorsements from organized labor — the types of connections that could increase his clout in a Capitol dominated by Democrats.” (HA!) “He just won back a battleground seat, thanks in part to massive spending by the California Republican Party and interest groups, and he is termed out in 2024. Dissatisfaction with Grove’s leadership was already mounting after Senate Republicans lost two seats this election even as California Republicans picked up multiple House seats, shriveling the Senate GOP caucus to just nine members. Grove exacerbated the situation with a tweet blaming the U.S. Capitol riots on Antifa.”

CSLB Launches Online Payment for Citations

To make paying for CSLB-issued citations easier, licensees and non-licensees now have the option to either make citation payments online via CSLB’s website or submit them by mail. For those who want to pay online, visit CSLB’s website, select “Online Services,” and then click on “Citation Payment.” All you need is your citation number and a credit card (Visa or MasterCard only) and to follow the simple prompts on the screen. Please note that there is a 2.99% processing fee.

PBGC Simplifies Calculation of Liability for Withdrawal from Multiemployer Pension Plans

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) recently issued a final rule intended to simplify the calculation of withdrawal liability for multiemployer plans that have adopted benefit reductions, benefit suspensions, surcharges, and contribution increases. Story

Other News and Views

SD Congressman Who Went to Prison for Bribery Gets a Pardon

Per Voice of San Diego: “As one of his final acts in office, President Donald Trump pardoned former Rep. Duke Cunningham. He served a chunk of northern San Diego in Congress during the 1990s and early 2000s, then served eight years in prison. Cunningham pleaded guilty to conspiracy and tax evasion for taking $2.4 million in bribes in exchange for Defense Department contracts. As City News explained it, the bribes were paid not only in cash but through rugs, antiques, furniture, yacht club fees, boat repairs and more. The former prosecutor who put Cunningham behind bars told the Union-Tribune that he was “appalled” by Trump’s decision to pardon an assortment of ‘political cronies.’ Trump also pardoned former SD Rep. Duncan Hunter and his wife Margaret Hunter last month.”

How The Biden Administration’s Big Policy Shifts Will Play in California

After the ceremonies and the scaled-back parade, Mr. Biden got to work. He signed 17 executive orders, memorandums and proclamations aimed squarely at undoing a number of Trump policies. Story. You can read the 17 actions here.

California Cabinet Collection

The Biden administration will, in addition to the Vice President, include several other Californians: pending confirmation, his cabinet will include Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and Small Business Administration head Isabel Guzman. Yesterday, Biden named California Energy Commissioner Janea Scott a counselor to the Interior secretary. San Diego Unified Superintendent Cindy Marten got the nod to be number two at the U.S. Department of Education.

Peter Robb Forced Out as NLRB General Counsel Upon assuming office, President Biden immediately asked for the resignation of NLRB General Counsel Peter Robb (R). Robb refused to resign and Biden fired him later in the day. The termination is unprecedented and possibly unlawful. The role of General Counsel is now open for Biden’s own nomination, but the eventual candidate will need to be confirmed by the closely divided Senate. Per Bloomberg, “His term was slated to last until this coming November, but unions, including the Service Employees International Union and Communications Workers of America, have been urging Biden to break with precedent by forcing him out immediately, in order to begin reorienting the agency toward protecting workers.”

DOL Leadership Team Released The Department of Labor has updated its leadership team roster, which can be viewed here. The list also includes various individuals in acting roles, who will eventually be replaced by Senate-confirmed individuals. The list will be updated as new individuals assume offices.

Environmental Rule Changes Coming for Construction Sites

Per ENR, “Construction projects could be impacted by the review and possible rollback of more than 100 regulations that face scrutiny under a day 1 executive order signed by President Joe Biden. But industry officials say such reviews are par for the course and are withholding judgment on any potential changes until they actually happen.” Story
 
How to boost Instagram engagement with hashtags

Do you use Instagram to promote your projects or accomplishments? Utilizing strong hashtags in Instagram campaigns can significantly boost engagement and even make it viral, while the wrong selection can backfire and hurt a brand's response and reputation, writes Rafaella Aguiar. She offers pointers on hashtag numbers, placement and tracking and urges marketers to "avoid anything that's suspicious, spammy or just plain irrelevant." Story

Department of Energy Announces New Senior Leaders-To Include IBEW/NECA - Los Angeles Director The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced new Biden-Harris Administration senior leadership appointees. These new leaders will direct policy at DOE, coordinate across the Administration, and enact President Joe Biden’s vision for bold action on the climate crisis and on safeguarding the Americans most affected by it. These experienced professionals reflect President Biden’s pledge to equip his Administration with a team that represents America’s diversity. One of the appointees, Jennifer Jean Kropke, served as the first Director of Workforce and Environmental Engagement for IBEW Local Union 11 and the National Electrical Contractors’ Association- Los Angeles’ Labor Management Cooperation Committee. She focused on creating clean energy, port electrification, and zero emission transportation opportunities for union members. She is a graduate of the UCLA School of Law.
Ask Richard
Richard Markuson
WECA Government Affairs Advocate, Pacific Advocacy Group
Have questions or concerns?

Ask Richard!
Dear WECA supporter,

It is our pleasure to provide you with this bi-weekly political update from WECA. Please feel free to contact WECA at (877) 444-9322 or info@goweca.com for more details about any of the articles included in this political update.

Join the WECA conversation. Follow us on social media.
Facebook ‌ Twitter ‌ Instagram ‌ LinkedIn ‌
About WECA

WECA is the premier independent merit shop contractors' association in the Western United States. We provide innovative training and education programs, critical business services, and responsive customer support to surpass the needs of our members and students. We are federally and state-approved, and our top-quality electrical training has found a nationwide audience. For over 90 years, we have been training the next generation of electricians, and advocating for and protecting fair and open competition in the electrical industry.
Learn More

Association Membership
Apprenticeship
Classes for Electrician Trainees and Journeymen
Contact Us
Join our mailing list!
Read more >>


Thursday, January 14, 2021   The finish line is in sight--a look at the progress on WECA's new Fresno training facility!

 

2021 is shaping up to be a big year for WECA--we opened our new Phoenix, Arizona training facility earlier this month, and the build-out of our new Fresno training facility is proceeding apace !

WECA's new Fresno training facility will be outfitted with final touches such as fire sprinklers, HVAC systems, electrical work, painting, and new ceiling tiles in the coming weeks--with the installation of doors and final inspections following right after.

We can't wait to begin providing more conveniently-located training to our Fresno area and Central Valley contractors' apprentices in 2021!

See you soon, in Fresno!
 
Read more >>


Thursday, January 14, 2021   Behind the scenes at WECA's latest Train the Trainer meeting for its Get Wired instructor team

WECA's Get Wired! instructional and delivery teams kicked off the New Year with the first Train the Trainer meeting of the year.

The meeting, which was held virtually via Zoom, brought WECA's myriad Get Wired! instructors and delivery team together to discuss issues such as how the GetWired! program continues to reach students across California thanks to fully-online delivery in the time of COVID-19, technical updates to the Adobe Connect program that Get Wired! instructors and students utilize to deliver and access instruction, how instructors can encourage their students to apply for 2021 WECEF Scholarships during the now-open application period, and more.

"The meeting was cathartic," said Dan Bierly, the Curriculum Development and GetWired Training Manager. "Each instructor talked about how Covid-19 has personally affected them. Some of our instructors have had very personal and serious Covid-19 scares."

Galen Eckert, the Electrician Trainee and Continuing Education Online Education Manager, concurred with Dan. "It was nice to hear everyone open up, and build some camaraderie amongst the group," said Eckert.

However, the meeting also had its lighthearted moments. Bierly relayed that "hearty congratulations was given to all Get Wired! instructors for stepping up to the COVID-19 challenge with increased students and different conditions without missing a beat," and Rebecca Archer, the Curriculum Production and eLearning Specialist, was quick to note that "a delicious lunch--of the attendee's choice--was provided via GrubHub gift cards." WECA has long known that a well-fed instructor is a happy instructor.

And last--but certainly not least--Ana Lopez, the Electrician Trainee and Journeyperson Program Manager, wrapped up the meeting with the good news of the continued success and expansion of the Get Wired! program.

Overall, the first Train the Trainer meeting of the year was a success, and laid positive groundwork for the year to come. We look forward to seeing how the Get Wired! program will continue to grow and succeed this year--all thanks to this large and diverse team's relentless work and passion!
Read more >>


Thursday, January 14, 2021   WECA Industry Partner Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction to Host Educational Zoom Meeting

WECA Industry Partner
Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction
to Host Educational Zoom Meeting to Discuss the Issue of Project Labor Agreements (PLAs)
?January 22 from 1 - 2 p.m.
 
The Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction (CFEC), a WECA Industry Partner, invites you to join them on Friday, January 22nd, from 1:00pm - 2:00pm PST, as CFEC will be hosting an educational Zoom meeting to discuss the issue of Project Labor Agreements (PLAs).

On the call they will explain exactly what PLAs are, how they lead to higher construction costs, and how they impact contractors, apprentices, workers, and taxpayers alike.

If you're interested in joining them, please email cfec.ca@gmail.com for sign-up information.
Read more >>


Thursday, January 14, 2021   The future of the solar energy industry is bright--employees skilled in solar installation in demand

The solar industry is expanding rapidly--especially in the sunny states we now serve, California and Arizona! As a WECA Member Contractor in these states, it may be worth encouraging your employees to expand their skill sets into solar for the benefit of your company.

If you have apprentices with us, you and they benefit from WECA's recent addition of a foundational level Photovoltaic (PV) System competency to our Commercial Electrical apprenticeship curriculum. Our apprentices learn how PV systems operate, installation practices, and the application of relevant code articles. They also reinforce their newfound PV knowledge by analyzing a stand-alone solar array and battery backup system onsite at our facilities.

Here's some recent solar industry research data from WECA Educational Partner Solar Energy International (SEI).

According to SEI, "In the last decade alone, solar has experienced an average annual growth rate of 49 percent." Such growth is due to many factors like strong federal policies supporting solar, the increasing affordability of solar, and more demand for clean electricity from private and public sectors alike.
This translates to increased demand for contractors specializing in solar energy. SEI notes that as of "Fall 2019, nearly 250,000 Americans work in solar - more than double the number in 2012 - at more than 10,000 companies in every U.S. state."
Although one tends to think of sunny locales when thinking of the word "solar", the solar energy industry is fair game for all 50 states. In fact, states outside of traditionally sunny climes like California made up "made up their largest share of the market in the last decade, led by rapid growth in Florida and Texas," according to SEI's data.
And this explosive growth is poised to keep going, despite economic challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic. SEI's article asserts that "most utility-scale work has continued and a record pipeline in that segment will carry the industry to a record year for deployment in 2020," and that "Impending step downs to the Investment Tax Credit help to pull demand into the 2021 – 2023 time frame, setting the stage for a series of record years."
The future's bright for solar--so join us in harnessing the power of the sun and expanding your company's solar expertise by encouraging your journeyperson or advanced Trainee employees to enroll in WECA's solar courses in partnership with educational partner SEI. Our SEI-partnered courses qualify for not only California ET/CE hours, but also NABCEP hours! Click here to access all of WECA's solar course offerings!

Want to see more of SEI's comprehensive solar industry research data? Click here!
Read more >>


Thursday, January 14, 2021   WECA's Student Referral Service has qualified Electrician Trainees ready to work in your area

Full county list included within
 


Are you looking to hire Electrician Trainees? We have qualified individuals in the Alameda, Butte, Contra Costa, Fresno, Los Angeles, Orange, Placer, Plumas, Riverside, Sacramento, San Diego, Santa Clara, Solano, Sonoma, Shasta, and Sutter county areas looking to get referred to a WECA Member Contractor through our Student Referral Service. Don't see your county listed? Let us know of your interest anyhow; new participants sign up every week.

What is this Service?

A free job referral service that introduces our current Electrician Trainee, Journeyman, and WECA-grad job seekers to Member Contractors in order to help you meet your staffing needs. It's included with your membership! (Please note: We do not currently have any journeymen looking for referrals.)

Who does this benefit?

Everyone! WECA Member Contractors are referred qualified, WECA-trained applicants to help meet their staffing needs. And in turn, WECA student and grad participants get valuable job referrals.

How does this differ from the WECA Job Board?

WECA's current Electrical and Low Voltage Industry Job Board is a self-service portal where members and electrical and low voltage employment job seekers submit and review resumes and job postings online.

This service provides additional customer service by having WECA staff supply you with hands-on referrals. In other words--we take some of the hard work off your plate!

The Student Referral Service refers employees to you, and you hire them directly.

To receive referrals from WECA's Student Referral Service, please contact Trisha Hughes, WECA Client Services Specialist, at thughes@goweca.com or at (877) 444-9322. 
Read more >>


Thursday, January 14, 2021   Use Your Member-Exclusive Job Board Benefit: Post Open Positions to WECA's Job Board Today!

WECA Member Contractors: Remember To Utilize This Valuable Member Benefit: You can post open positions on the WECA Industry Job Board

Get your open listings in front of electricians and industry workers hoping to work for a great company like yours.

WECA's Electrical and Low Voltage Industry Job Board is designed to help connect individuals seeking employment in the electrical and low voltage industry with the contractors who want to hire them. 

Our job board exists for...
  • Talented electricians, 
  • Low voltage technicians, 
  • Electrician Trainees and Journeymen,
  • Industry employees (including office personnel!),
  • And the Member Contractors who want to hire them. 


This is a free, no-obligation service open to all workers seeking employment in the electrical and low voltage industry. WECA's purpose in providing this service is to help our Member Contractors find the qualified workers they need. 

WECA Members: Post a job today
Read more >>


Thursday, January 14, 2021   WECEF announces 2021 scholarship opportunity for Apprentices, Electrician Trainees & Journeypersons


Encourage your employees to submit an application for consideration by February 15, 2021
 
wecef


For students enrolled in a WECA Apprenticeship program, Electrician Trainee program, or Journeyperson-level continuing education classes.
 
Application Deadline:
February 15, 2021

The Western Electrical Contractors Education Foundation (WECEF) is pleased to once again offer its annual scholarship opportunity for students enrolled in WECA’s Apprenticeship; Electrician Trainee program (ET); or Journey Level continuing Education programs. These scholarships help support students in continuing their education with WECA.

Scholarships will be in amounts ranging from $200 to $500 per successful candidate and are to be used for the cost of books, tools, fees and/or tuition. The availability of scholarships may vary as funds permit. Awards are at the sole discretion of the WECEF Board of Directors. Awards are contingent upon the applicant’s ability to meet the eligibility and application requirements stated below. 

Please encourage your apprentices and other employees training with WECA to visit the WECEF website scholarship page to learn more, review eligibility requirements and application submission options, and download your application.
 
Read more >>


Thursday, January 14, 2021   Invest in the next generation with the North State Building Industry Foundation

Host an intern with North State's Thousand Strong program
 
Read more >>


Thursday, January 14, 2021   IEC-Chesapeake Offers Discount to WECA Members for online , 8-week Project Management Class

To get your WECA Member Discount Code for the course below, please log in to your secured member dashboard and scroll to the discounts section.
If you're interested in this course, click here to enroll!

But--before you enroll, be sure to log in to your WECA dashboard to get your WECA Member Contractor discount code.
Read more >>


Thursday, January 14, 2021   COVID-19 Resources for WECA Member Contractors

Construction Industry COVID-19 Safety Plan (updated 12-21-20)
CA DIR Div. of Occupational Safety & Health: COVID-19 Infection Prevention in Construction
* CA Dept. of Public Health COVID-19 Industry Guidance: Construction
*  COVID-19 Employer Playbook for a Safe Reopening
COVID Situation Flow Diagram Company Template
COVID-19 Infection Prevention in Construction
WECA Special Update Helping to Clarify Executive Order N-33-20 for California Electrical Contractors
 * Cal/OSHA Guidance on Requirements to Protect Workers from Coronavirus
Supplemental Toolbox Talks COVID-19
Coronavirus Toolbox Talk
COVID-19 in Construction Workplace
COVID-19 Safety Meeting Outlines
COVID-19 Toolbox Talks for Subs
Fact Sheet for Pandemics
Marek Brother Toolbox Talk
COVID-19 Action Plan
Pandemic Preparedness - Coronavirus
Coronavirus - Workplace, School and Home Guidance
COVID-19 Tool Cleaning Protocols
COVID-19 Print Resources
COVID-19 Fact Sheet
United States Department of Labor: COVID-19
CDC COVID-19 Risk Assessment Flowchart
CALPASC HR 6201 Guidance
EDD Coronavirus Resources for WECA Community
Contractors State License Board Encourages Licensees to Donate PPE During COVID-19 Emergency
*  WECA Special Update Helping to Clarify Executive Order N-33-20 for California Electrical Contractors
* COVID-19 Federal Paid Leaves Explained
 * Get Your Editable Essential Work Permission Slips for Yourself and Your Employees Here
Show the Industry How WECA Contractors Lead in Best Practices for Jobsite Safety During COVID-19
WECA Special Update 4-1-20: New Carpooling and Facemask Recommendations; Sonoma County Joins In On New Bay Area Restrictions; New Requirements in Los Angeles for Comprehensive COVID-19 Exposure Control Plan; Two New Guides to CARES Act from the U.S. Chamber 
Coronavirus: Read the Yuba County and Sutter County Stay-at-Home Orders, issued April 7, 2020
*  OSHA's "Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19" and Other Resources; Includes Spanish Versions to Help You Reach All Employees

These, and more, plus class scheduling updates for your apprentices and students, are always available on WECA's COVID-19 Advisory Page.
Read more >>


Thursday, January 07, 2021   WECA Political Update January 7, 2021

Government Affairs and Merit Shop Advocacy
_____________________________________
Late-Breaking News:

Biden chooses Boston Mayor Marty Walsh as Labor Secretary

According to Politico, President-elect Joe Biden has picked Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, the former head of the Boston Metropolitan District Building Trades Council, to serve as his Labor secretary, ending a selection process that split the labor movement and stoked diversity concerns among Democrats. Walsh beat out a host of other names floated for the position, including Rep. Andy Levin (D-Mich.), former Deputy Labor Secretary Seth Harris, California Labor Secretary Julie Su and AFL-CIO Chief Economist Bill Spriggs. His selection suggests that Biden was willing to overlook calls for a diversity choice, since Walsh is a white man, and Asian American and Pacific Islanders had been lobbying heavily for Su. Spriggs is Black. Biden was widely expected to choose a Labor Department head who enjoyed the support of unions, given the president-elect's long-standing ties with labor leaders, his support for the right to organize and the key role the agency will play in implementing the sweeping pro-worker agenda he campaigned on. Walsh and Biden also have strong personal ties. Not only did Biden speak at the mayor’s 2017 inauguration, but the two have been spotted together in Boston at the anniversary of the marathon bombings, at a Stop & Shop workers rally, and at dinner.

Governor Newsom to Propose $4.5 Billion for Equitable Recovery for California’s Businesses and Jobs in 2021 Budget

He previewed his plan in advance of the release of his 2021-22 State Budget. If you have time, you can watch the Governor provide a brief overview of his plan here.

Workforce Development Among its other provisions, the Budget proposes one-time and ongoing investments totaling $353 million to support California’s workers. “These investments lift up proven workforce development strategies like apprenticeship and High-Road Training Partnerships and encourage greater collaboration and coordination among California's institutions of higher learning and local workforce partners. Demand-driven workforce programs can help California train the workforce of the future in key sectors including health care and technology.”

Other elements of the plan:

Small Business Grants - $575 million – unclear how much will go to out-of-state, or prison-based small businesses.

California Jobs Initiative - a $777.5 million proposal, focuses on job creation and retention, regional development, small businesses and climate innovation

Fee Waivers - $70.6 million for fee waivers to individuals and businesses most impacted by the pandemic

Deferred Maintenance - a $300 million one-time General Fund expenditure for the most critical statewide deferred maintenance

Housing - Through the Infill Infrastructure Grant (IIG) Program, he proposes $500 million to create jobs and long-term housing development to unlock more than 7,500 new permanently affordable homes for Californians.

But the BIG winner!

Zero-Emission Vehicles and Zero-Emission Vehicle Infrastructure – his budget proposes $1.5 billion to encourage rich Californians to buy more zero-emission vehicles and provide the charging/fueling infrastructure (using EVITP certified electricians). Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, who recently launched a gubernatorial exploratory committee, excoriated Newsom’s proposal Tuesday. “In the middle of a pandemic and deep recession, California’s highest priority should not be zero-emission vehicles. We need K-12 education at the top of the list.” But the Sierra Club was happy. “It signals the governor is serious about transitioning away from fossil fuel vehicles and the pollution they create. But we need to look at the details.”

Details to follow when he releases his budget next week.

Hunger Games (Update)

Now that Kamala Harris’s election as Vice-President has been certified and she will be leaving the US Senate, Governor Newsom has picked his replacement – Secretary of State Alex Padilla. Several capitol insiders have wondered why Harris didn’t resign her seat before now – which would have given Padilla more seniority over the newly elected Senators – but I haven’t heard any plausible explanation.

Secretary of State

Since Newson picked Padilla for the Senate (he picked San Diego Assembly Member Shirley Weber as SoS), a special election for Weber’s Assembly seat will be triggered. Two Assembly Members who had already announced plans to run in 2022 (Gonzalez and Chiu) will now have to look elsewhere.

California Attorney General

And since the US Senate will now have a Democratic majority, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s appointment as Health and Human Services Secretary.is likely to be confirmed. Governor Newsom gets to pick a new AG. Rumors are rampant about which constituency Newsom will attempt to mollify with THIS appointment.

Other News and Views

Dems Edge Closer to in Senate Control, Raising Stakes for Construction

“Our livelihoods are riding on Georgia,” said Kristen Swearington, vice president of legislative and political affairs at Associated Builders and Contractors. “No pressure down there, right?” Story Democratic control of the Senate should also ensure California Attorney General Xavier Becerra will clear confirmation for U.S. Health and Human Services secretary. The US Chamber recently released "Implications of 50-50 Senate and Closely Divided House" that highlights the Chamber’s initial take on the implications of this outcome.

California in Bottom Ranking of Merit Shop States

Alaska, California, Illinois and Washington are in the bottom tier of states, each receiving F ratings in project labor agreements, prevailing wage and right-to-work policies for the sixth year in a row. Story

New lawsuit could delay UC Davis’ $1.1 billion Aggie Square project in Sacramento

A Sacramento community group has filed a lawsuit that could delay or kill UC Davis’ $1.1 billion Aggie Square project, set to start construction next year near Sacramento’s Oak Park neighborhood. Story

Study: Construction Has the Highest COVID-19 Rate of Nearly Any Industry

A new study tracking the results of more than 730,000 COVID-19 tests found that construction workers had the highest positivity rates for asymptomatic cases of any occupation, including healthcare staff, first responders, correctional personnel, elderly care workers, grocery store workers and food service employees. Story

Los Angeles Is Paying $130,000 For An 8-Foot-By-8-Foot Shed to House the Homeless

In other cities, 64-square-foot aluminum and composite sheds are being used as quick and inexpensive emergency shelter for homeless people. Not in Los Angeles. Here, plans to employ the minimalist structures, known as “tiny homes,” have blossomed into expensive development projects with access roads, underground utilities and concrete foundations — and commensurate planning delays. At the city’s first tiny home village, scheduled to open in January, each of the 39 closet-sized homes is costing $130,000, about 10 times what some other cities are spending. Five more villages are planned to open later. Story

Projected EDD Fraud Hits $4 billion

The recent revelation that California’s unemployment department may have paid nearly $100 million in fraudulent claims to out-of-state jail and prison inmates has pushed the projected scope of fraudulent payments to $4 billion — double the amount prosecutors had previously estimated. According to an analysis reviewed by the Los Angeles Times, more than 2,000 of the high-risk claims were filed under the names of inmates in Florida prisons or jails — including that of a convicted murderer who allegedly received nearly $11,000 in payments. The news came a day after EDD suspended payment on an unspecified number of claims in an attempt to mitigate fraud — and a Sacramento man on probation was charged with nine counts of felony EDD fraud after scamming the department for $219,000. Dan Walters summed it up “’Rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic’ is an overworked cliché, but it certainly applies to California’s Employment Development Department. The name itself is a farce. There’s no evidence that EDD ever developed any jobs, other than employing thousands of bureaucrats to pay out unemployment insurance benefits — and that’s been a titanic disaster.” Story

Newsom appointed a new EDD director  last month. But “every month there’s a new E.D.D. fiasco,” State Senator Scott Wiener told The San Francisco Chronicle, adding that he had received at least 50 complaints in recent days from constituents whose accounts were frozen despite legitimate claims.

This Gift’s for You…

According to CalMatters, Gov Newsom is “considering appointing Assemblymember Ed Chau, a Monterey Park Democrat, as a judge on the Los Angeles County Superior Court… Chau, who was reelected to the state Assembly in November and wouldn’t hit term limits until 2024, said Tuesday he is seeking the judgeship because ‘I’d like to plan ahead to continue in public service,’ though ‘my commitment now is to the constituents I serve.’ It’s rare for a California governor to appoint a sitting legislator to the judicial bench. In the past 50 years, only six state legislators have resigned after being appointed as judges, according to … the California State Library. The governor’s office did not respond to a request for comment.”

Ex Union President Sentenced To 12 Years in Prison

The former president of a Colton-based labor union was sentenced Tuesday, Jan. 5, in Los Angeles to a dozen years in federal prison for stealing nearly $800,000 from the union’s health plan trust fund, which he used for personal expenses including legal bills and a sports car loan for his son. Story (email may be required)
Ask Richard
Richard Markuson
WECA Government Affairs Advocate, Pacific Advocacy Group
Have questions or concerns?

Ask Richard!
Dear WECA supporter,

It is our pleasure to provide you with this bi-weekly political update from WECA. Please feel free to contact WECA at (877) 444-9322 or info@goweca.com for more details about any of the articles included in this political update.

Join the WECA conversation. Follow us on social media.
Facebook ‌ Twitter ‌ Instagram ‌ LinkedIn ‌
About WECA

WECA is the premier independent merit shop contractors' association in the Western United States. We provide innovative training and education programs, critical business services, and responsive customer support to surpass the needs of our members and students. We are federally and state-approved, and our top-quality electrical training has found a nationwide audience. For over 90 years, we have been training the next generation of electricians, and advocating for and protecting fair and open competition in the electrical industry.
Learn More

Association Membership
Apprenticeship
Classes for Electrician Trainees and Journeymen
Contact Us
Join our mailing list!
Read more >>


Wednesday, December 30, 2020   2020 Was No Match for WECA's Member Contractors, Who Won 13 Awards from Sacramento Business Journal!



2020 was an unprecedented year in many ways. However, there was a constant worth noting--WECA's Member Contractors proved once again that they are a force to be reckoned with, dominating the Sacramento Business Journal's list of Top Electrical Contractors for another year!

We are proud to count among our WECA Member Contractors the 13 electrical contractors shown in our congratulatory ad above, which just ran in the Journal's annual "Book of Lists" issue. The full list is shown below.

Years like these prove why WECA Member Contractors are called "the premier electrical contractors in the West." Congratulations, all! These accolades are well-deserved, and WECA looks forward to seeing our members dominate this list again in 2021!
Read more >>


Wednesday, December 30, 2020   Ending 2020 with a Bang: We Thank Milwaukee Tool for Their Generous Donation!


The New Year is upon us! As we close out 2020 and welcome 2021, we would like to take a moment to reflect on one of the many things we're grateful for--namely, our extended WECA Family and the various forms of support they provide to ensure that WECA can seamlessly deliver its premier electrical industry education in California and Arizona.

Our 2020-21 WECEF Lab Donation Scoreboard is an excellent example of this generosity and support.

On November 1, Cristian Jimenez and Trevor Lewis of Milwaukee Tools kicked off the 2020-21 WECEF Lab Donation Scoreboard with a donation of $27,740 of hand tools! As soon as we received Milwaukee's donation, we were excited to distribute it amongst all five of our training facilities across California and Arizona, in anticipation of hands-on classroom use by our Apprentices when it is safe to resume in-person instruction.

"In a year like this, we're humbled--as always--by the donations we've received to help provide our Apprentices with the engaging learning experience that they deserve," said Jimmie Slemp, WECA's Lead Instructor and Lab Facilities Manager. "And, in the spirit of the holiday season, it is heartwarming to see the electrical industry--and those who help supply the electrical industry with necessary tools and equipment--come together to ensure that our industries continue to be the backbones of their communities during a time when that's more important than ever."

Would you like to help WECA deliver a cutting-edge and immersive electrical industry education in California and Arizona if you are able to do so? Here's your chance--click on the image above to be redirected to WECEF's Lab Donation Scoreboard page and view "wish lists" for our respective educational programs. Besides the satisfaction of contributing to the bright futures of WECA Apprentices and Electrician Trainees, donors will get to see their "name in lights" on our Scoreboard!

Thank you in advance to our donors--the learning experiences of our apprentices and students are greatly enhanced with your support. We wish you all a Happy New Year, and look forward to a brighter year ahead!
Read more >>


Wednesday, December 30, 2020   California Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant Program

If Your Business Has Been I?mpacted by COVID-19, You May Be Eligible to Apply for a Grant Award

Additional information for our smaller member contractors: The State of California has a new grant opportunity available for small businesses and nonprofits. If your business has been "impacted by COVID-19 and the health and safety restrictions such as business interruptions or business closures incurred as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic," as well as meeting several other sets of criteria, you may be eligible to apply for a grant award. The amount of grant funding ranges from $5,000 to $25,000.

The application opens on Wednesday, December 30 and closes on Friday, January 8.

For more information including application guides, deadlines, eligibility and necessary documents, visit the California Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant Program website.
Read more >>


Wednesday, December 30, 2020   Employment Practice and Policy Reminders for 2021 from WECA Industry Partner Cook Brown, LLP



Content Courtesy of WECA Industry Partner Cook Brown, LLP:
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Here are some tips for ensuring compliance with some of this year’s legislative and regulatory changes:
  1. Remember to update handbooks and harassment policies to provide a link to the Department of Fair Employment and Housing’s training information. If the workforce is multilingual, comply with translation requirements.
  2. Update policies and handbooks to incorporate California’s expansion of the California Family Rights Act. It now applies to employers of five or more, and it includes new leave rights for the care of siblings, grandparents and adult children. Businesses of every size will need to revise their policies.
  3. Prepare a sample COVID-19 notice that must be sent as of January 1, 2021 in response to a notice of COVID-19 exposure at work.
  4. Determine whether the new minimum wage in California ($14 for employers of 25 or more and $13 for the remainder) affects your business. Remember that exempt employees must be paid at least twice minimum wage.
  5. Update legal posters. Much of the information in 2020 posters has been superseded.
  6. Ensure compliance with new emergency regulations requiring adoption of a written COVID-19 prevention plan.
Hiring in 2021 – Post Pandemic Planning and More
 
For those of you looking beyond the pandemic and to brighter times in the coming months, please join us for our first webinar in 2021. We have invited a recruiting expert to weigh in on hiring tips.

Topic: Revamp Hiring Practices for 2021 – Post Pandemic Planning and More

When: January 21, 2021 from noon to 1 pm

Agenda:
  • What are the hiring trends?
  • What stays the same?
  • What will change?
  • What are the major hiring pitfalls to avoid?
  • What are the economic indicators for expanding or contracting the workforce?
?Register here

Presenters: Recruiting expert Amy Gardner, CEO of WineTalent, and Cook Brown Partner Barbara Cotter
Read more >>


Wednesday, December 30, 2020   Meet George Leach, Lead Instructor at WECA's New Fresno Training Facility!

Meet George Leach, WECA’s new Lead Instructor for our Commercial Apprenticeship program at our new Fresno training facility!

Leach—a native of Hanford, California—has worked in the electrical industry for over 40 years and has filled pretty much every position possible in the industry during that time. Leach initially started out as an Apprentice and then became a Journeyman electrician before working his way up to being a foreman, general foreman, superintendent, general superintendent, labor manager, estimator, and project manager.

“I followed the work across the country, so this move into teaching seems like a natural progression to that,” Leach said. “Plus, the fact that everyone at WECA is committed to equipping students with the tools they will need to progress and to be successful in this trade [really drew me to teaching at WECA].”

Leach—who teaches at WECA’s new Fresno training facility—helps students by sharing the educational and real-world application of processes and ideas and using them to help students grow and advance their careers.

“I love that every day I can share ideas that may be new to someone, and learn something from them,” said Leach. “I approach every day as an opportunity to learn something new, and I want to use what I have learned over 40 years in the electrical field to help the next generation of electricians become the best they can be.”

When not educating the next generation of California’s Residential and Commercial electricians, Leach enjoys spending time with family.

“I have four grown children and 10 grandchildren that my wife and I spend as much time as possible with,” said Leach.

George, thank you for bringing your extensive electrical industry experience and continued zeal for learning to the WECA Family. We are excited to see how your passion, drive and positive example of lifelong improvement inspire our Apprentices to be the best electricians possible!
Read more >>


Wednesday, December 30, 2020   Behind-the-Scenes: An Update on WECA's Arizona Commercial Apprenticeship Program and Facility Launch

Here are some quick behind-the scenes pictures from this December in Phoenix, as an update for those of you following along with our Arizona launch progress!

We held our second apprentice applicant intake event during the week of December 17th, and we're rapidly building out our office and lab facilities in anticipation of greeting our first Arizona apprenticeship classes at our new Phoenix Training Facility on January 4th.

Everything is proceeding on schedule and our excitement is building!

Are you--or someone you know--interested in becoming one of the first WECA Member Contractors in the state of Arizona? Click here to learn more!
Read more >>


Wednesday, December 30, 2020   COVID-19 Resources for WECA Member Contractors

Construction Industry COVID-19 Safety Plan (updated 12-21-20)
CA DIR Div. of Occupational Safety & Health: COVID-19 Infection Prevention in Construction
* CA Dept. of Public Health COVID-19 Industry Guidance: Construction
*  COVID-19 Employer Playbook for a Safe Reopening
COVID Situation Flow Diagram Company Template
COVID-19 Infection Prevention in Construction
WECA Special Update Helping to Clarify Executive Order N-33-20 for California Electrical Contractors
 * Cal/OSHA Guidance on Requirements to Protect Workers from Coronavirus
Supplemental Toolbox Talks COVID-19
Coronavirus Toolbox Talk
COVID-19 in Construction Workplace
COVID-19 Safety Meeting Outlines
COVID-19 Toolbox Talks for Subs
Fact Sheet for Pandemics
Marek Brother Toolbox Talk
COVID-19 Action Plan
Pandemic Preparedness - Coronavirus
Coronavirus - Workplace, School and Home Guidance
COVID-19 Tool Cleaning Protocols
COVID-19 Print Resources
COVID-19 Fact Sheet
United States Department of Labor: COVID-19
CDC COVID-19 Risk Assessment Flowchart
CALPASC HR 6201 Guidance
EDD Coronavirus Resources for WECA Community
Contractors State License Board Encourages Licensees to Donate PPE During COVID-19 Emergency
*  WECA Special Update Helping to Clarify Executive Order N-33-20 for California Electrical Contractors
* COVID-19 Federal Paid Leaves Explained
 * Get Your Editable Essential Work Permission Slips for Yourself and Your Employees Here
Show the Industry How WECA Contractors Lead in Best Practices for Jobsite Safety During COVID-19
WECA Special Update 4-1-20: New Carpooling and Facemask Recommendations; Sonoma County Joins In On New Bay Area Restrictions; New Requirements in Los Angeles for Comprehensive COVID-19 Exposure Control Plan; Two New Guides to CARES Act from the U.S. Chamber 
Coronavirus: Read the Yuba County and Sutter County Stay-at-Home Orders, issued April 7, 2020
*  OSHA's "Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19" and Other Resources; Includes Spanish Versions to Help You Reach All Employees

These, and more, plus class scheduling updates for your apprentices and students, are always available on WECA's COVID-19 Advisory Page.
Read more >>


Thursday, December 17, 2020   And the Accolades Keep Coming!

Please Join Us in Congratulating These WECA Member Contractors on Making Engineering News-Record's California Top Specialty Contracting Firms List!
 
We're excited to share some news that we think is the perfect note to end the year on--WECA Member Contractors Helix ElectricRoyal Electric CompanyBarnum & Celillo Electric Inc., and Power Design Inc. were all named to Engineering News Record's California Top Specialty Contracting Firms list!

This is just the latest in the many accolades our Member Contractors received this year.

And, as always, we are exceptionally proud of the work our Member Contractors do--but especially so in a year like this.

Congratulations, all!
Read more >>


Thursday, December 17, 2020   Employee Spotlight: New WECA Workforce Development Specialist Shelly Her



WECA Workforce Development Specialist Shelly Her was interested in working with a non-profit organization and giving back to the community. So once she found out that WECA offered “students, teachers, and Member Contractors a rewarding, engaging, and collaborative experience,” it was a no-brainer to join the WECA family.
 
Shelly previously worked in sales with the Sacramento Zoo’s Membership Department and recalls the position as “a very fun job being able to interact with zoo animals and the public on a daily basis. Most of all, it was cool to see how much seeing a wild animal in such close proximity can impact a person.”
 
In her new role as Workforce Development Specialist for WECA, she assists with offering up information about WECA’s Apprenticeship programs, processing forms and applications for the Apprenticeship programs, assisting with proctoring the intake and testing processes and the dispatch of Apprentices, and more.
 
“I enjoy giving WECA’s prospective students, Apprentices, and contractors an experience to remember—whether it is giving information about the Apprenticeship program, or reaching out to Apprentices to offer dispatch opportunities through our Member Contractors. Simply put, I like knowing that I am someone that can make an impact on others by giving information that can change their lives,” says Shelly.
 
Moving forward at WECA, Shelly aspires to learn everything she can about WECA’s Apprenticeship programs, and become someone that coworkers and supervisors alike can depend on to get the work done. And with her “can-do” attitude, she will surely surpass those goals!
 
“My personal philosophy is this: do your best and have compassion. Tomorrow isn’t promised, so do what you love and help others as much as you can,” she says.
 
In her personal time, Shelly does charcoal and water paintings of animals—especially pets—and enjoys reading fiction in genres such as Sci-Fi, thrillers, and romance.
 
Thank you, Shelly, for being part of the WECA Family, and for striving to always give WECA’s students, Apprentices, and Member Contractors the best WECA experience possible!
?
Read more >>


Thursday, December 17, 2020   Governor Newsom Announces COVID-19 Tax Relief, Grants, and Loans for Business Owners

Content Courtesy of: Contractors State License Board
 
December 16, 2020 CSLB #20-26
California Governor Gavin Newsom has authorized new tax relief and grants to businesses impacted by COVID-19 restrictions. The Contractors State License Board (CSLB) is encouraging licensees to determine their eligibility for relief, which includes the following:
 Tax Relief for Businesses Impacted by COVID-19
  • Automatic three-month extension for taxpayers filing less than $1 million in sales tax on the return
  • Extending the availability of existing interest and penalty free payment agreements to companies with up to $5 million in taxable sales
  • Expands interest-free payment options for larger businesses particularly affected by significant restrictions on operations based on COVID-19 transmissions.
$500 Million for New COVID Relief Grant for Small Business
Creation of a $500 million COVID Relief Grant for small businesses impacted by COVID-19. Funds will be awarded to selected intermediaries with established networks of Community Development Financial Institutions for distribution to micro and small businesses, as well as non-profits. Grants of up to $25,000 will be available by early 2021. The California Office of the Small Business Advocate (CalOSBA) will administer the program and make it available as soon as possible – click here for updates.
 California Rebuilding Fund
The California Rebuilding Fund offers loans to help small businesses affected by COVID-19.Interested small business owners can apply for a loan at www.CALoanFund.org, which will collect standard information about their business and match them with a community lender. If matched, the lender will assist the business owners with the application and provide free advisory support alongside a network of business support organizations organized by the California Association of Micro Enterprise Opportunity (CAMEO), Small Business Majority, California’s Small Business Development Centers, and Women’s Business Centers.
 For more information, read Governor Newsom’s news release or visit the Business and Employers section of the state’s COVID19.ca.gov website. For updates on the impact of COVID-19 on CSLB services, visit cslb.ca.gov.
Read more >>


Thursday, December 17, 2020   CA Health Dept. & Governor Issue Guidance & Executive Order Shortening Quarantine Requirements

Content Courtesy of: Littler Mendelson P.C.

On December 14, 2020, the California Department of Health (CDPH) issued guidance shortening the quarantine period from 14 days to 10 days for asymptomatic “close contacts” of an infected individual (those who were within six feet of an infected individual for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period), with or without testing. On the same day of the newly issued CDPH Guidance, Governor Newsom’s Office released an executive order that, among other things, incorporates the shortened quarantine periods set forth in the CDPH’s Guidance to the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health’s (Cal/OSHA)’s Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS). To learn more, click here.
Read more >>


Thursday, December 17, 2020   Construction Industry COVID-19 Exposure Response & Prevention Plan Updated

An updated version of the COVID-19 Exposure Response & Prevention Plan, (now 2.7), on which WECA has collaborated with AGC-San Diego and other construction trade organizations, has been modified to reflect changes related to the November 30th changes to the Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Regulation, as well as to make the document more user-friendly. To learn more, please read the information below.

The following content is courtesy of AGC - San Diego:
 
We strongly recommend you review this reformatted document, and pay particular attention to these three sections on pages 20-22:
 
·     Exclusion of COVID-19 Cases
·     Return to Work Criteria After Exclusion
·     Testing Criteria After Potential COVID-19 Exposure. 
 
Companies may exclude employees with potential COVID-19 exposure from the workplace for 14 days after the last known COVID-19 exposure to a COVID-19 case. The company may also follow a testing strategy to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.
  
It should be noted that although the CDC has now suggested that the 14-day quarantine can end after 10 days if the person has not developed any symptoms and after just seven days if the asymptomatic person also tests negative for the virus, contractors are strongly encouraged to follow the CalOSHA guidelines.
 
Construction continues to operate during this crisis as an essential industry, and contractors have been effective in implementing safety measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 while continuing to build critical infrastructure in the region. While each job site is different, and contractors will adapt to each situation, this plan provides some uniformity for contractors, workers, and owners all working to protect construction personnel, and the general public. With greater consistency in approach, these safety measures will become more universal and effective.
 
The rules can change daily, but some form of enhanced safety measures will be in place for the long-haul of the COVID-19 crisis. The Construction Industry COVID-19 Safety Plan will be regularly updated to comply with the latest mandates from Cal/OSHA.
Upcoming CalOSHA Meeting to Discuss Key Provisions of Emergency Regulation
 
On Friday, December 18, 12:00 Noon to 5 PM, CalOSHA will be holding a virtual public meeting to explain key provisions of the regulations. There will be an open discussion on key provisions and proposals for specific clarifications. Click here for a link to the agenda.
 
The meeting will be held via Zoom. Below is the access information:
 
https://zoom.us/j/96493446100?pwd=OUFJS3E1SDVMVGU0MzB0NG9mcnRhUT09  
Meeting ID: 964 9344 6100 
Passcode: 033178 
One tap mobile 
+16699006833,,96493446100# US (San Jose) 
+12532158782,,96493446100# US (Tacoma)
Read more >>


Thursday, December 17, 2020   Behind-the-Scenes: An Update on WECA's Arizona Commercial Apprenticeship Program and Facility Launch

Here are some quick behind-the scenes pictures from this week in Phoenix, as an update for those of you following along with our Arizona launch progress! We held our second apprentice applicant intake event this week, and we're rapidly building out our office and lab facilities in anticipation of greeting our first Arizona apprenticeship classes at our new Phoenix Training Facility in January. Everything is proceeding on schedule and our excitement is building!
Read more >>


Thursday, December 17, 2020   COVID-19 Resources for WECA Member Contractors

Construction Industry COVID-19 Safety Plan (updated 11-2-20)
CA DIR Div. of Occupational Safety & Health: COVID-19 Infection Prevention in Construction
* CA Dept. of Public Health COVID-19 Industry Guidance: Construction
*  COVID-19 Employer Playbook for a Safe Reopening
COVID Situation Flow Diagram Company Template
COVID-19 Infection Prevention in Construction
WECA Special Update Helping to Clarify Executive Order N-33-20 for California Electrical Contractors
 * Cal/OSHA Guidance on Requirements to Protect Workers from Coronavirus
Supplemental Toolbox Talks COVID-19
Coronavirus Toolbox Talk
COVID-19 in Construction Workplace
COVID-19 Safety Meeting Outlines
COVID-19 Toolbox Talks for Subs
Fact Sheet for Pandemics
Marek Brother Toolbox Talk
COVID-19 Action Plan
Pandemic Preparedness - Coronavirus
Coronavirus - Workplace, School and Home Guidance
COVID-19 Tool Cleaning Protocols
COVID-19 Print Resources
COVID-19 Fact Sheet
United States Department of Labor: COVID-19
CDC COVID-19 Risk Assessment Flowchart
CALPASC HR 6201 Guidance
EDD Coronavirus Resources for WECA Community
Contractors State License Board Encourages Licensees to Donate PPE During COVID-19 Emergency
*  WECA Special Update Helping to Clarify Executive Order N-33-20 for California Electrical Contractors
* COVID-19 Federal Paid Leaves Explained
 * Get Your Editable Essential Work Permission Slips for Yourself and Your Employees Here
Show the Industry How WECA Contractors Lead in Best Practices for Jobsite Safety During COVID-19
WECA Special Update 4-1-20: New Carpooling and Facemask Recommendations; Sonoma County Joins In On New Bay Area Restrictions; New Requirements in Los Angeles for Comprehensive COVID-19 Exposure Control Plan; Two New Guides to CARES Act from the U.S. Chamber 
Coronavirus: Read the Yuba County and Sutter County Stay-at-Home Orders, issued April 7, 2020
*  OSHA's "Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19" and Other Resources; Includes Spanish Versions to Help You Reach All Employees

These, and more, plus class scheduling updates for your apprentices and students, are always available on WECA's COVID-19 Advisory Page.
Read more >>


Thursday, December 10, 2020   WECA Political Update December 10, 2020

Government Affairs and Merit Shop Advocacy
2021-22 Legislative Session

The California Legislature launched its 2021-22 session Monday with most of the State Assembly’s 80 members taking their oaths of office at individual tables spaced six feet apart in Sacramento’s Golden 1 Center, while most of the 40 State Senators took theirs in the Capitol building. Eight legislators were sworn in remotely.

Composition of the Legislature

There are 60 Democrats, 19 Republicans and 1 New Patriotic Party member in the Assembly. In the Senate, there are 30 Democrats, 9 Republicans and 1 vacant seat.
There are 24 women and 56 men in the Assembly, compared to 14 women and 25 men in the Senate. At the start of the last session, California tied Georgia for 20th place nationwide in terms of legislative female representation.
The Assembly is composed of 39 white, 20 Latino, 12 Asian/Pacific Islander, 8 Black and 1 Native American members.
The Senate is composed of 26 white, 10 Latino, 2 Asian/Pacific Islander, and 1 Black member/s.

Legislation

Following the swearing-in and organizational sessions of both houses, legislators began introducing bills for the 2021-22 Legislative Session. There were 68 bills introduced in the State Senate and 96 in the State Assembly. In the Senate, there were three legislative constitutional amendments introduced, while in the Assembly there were two.
The legislative session begins in earnest on January 4 and will be defined by its response to a pandemic that has left many Californians clinging to the edges of a rapidly fraying safety net. Here’s a look at some key proposals lawmakers introduced Monday:

·        A bill forbidding landlords from evicting pandemic-affected renters through Dec. 31, 2021.
·        A bill requiring public schools to reopen under most circumstances when infection rates drop.
·        A bill providing a tax credit for businesses complying with COVID regulations.
·        A bill allowing local jurisdictions to enable more outdoor dining.
·        A bill requiring the unemployment department to cross check claims against state prison rosters.
·        A bill requiring a direct deposit option for unemployment benefits.
·        A $1 billion “broadband for all” bill to bridge California’s digital divide.
·        A bill to expand Medi-Cal coverage to all income-eligible Californians, including undocumented immigrants.
·        A bill requiring the state to address racism as a public health crisis.
·        A bill requiring every active registered voter be mailed a ballot for all future elections.
·        A bill that would implement a “cradle to grave” database that would integrate data from state entities responsible for elementary and secondary education data, entities responsible for early learning data, segments of public higher education, private colleges and universities, state entities responsible for student financial aid, childcare providers, state labor and workforce development agencies, and state departments administering health and human services programs. This database would be used to evaluate the outcomes of California’s educational systems. I can’t foresee any problems with implementing this system or entrusting the State with this data!

Hunger Games (Sacramento edition)

With Kamala Harris leaving the US Senate to become Vice President, Governor Newsom gets to pick a replacement. That replacement is required to run in the next state-wide election in 2022. Three top contenders are:

·        Rep. Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles)
·        Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland)
·        Secretary of State Alex Padilla

Newsom is under pressure from various interest groups to pick one person or another – mostly upon racial grounds. But the Democrats’ slim majority in the House could doom the chances of Bass or Lee. As Politico has reported, “now that Joe Biden has tapped two House members to join his administration, concern is growing among congressional Democrats about their slim majority growing even thinner next year before special elections occur to fill those seats. Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters he is ‘certainly concerned’ and has warned Biden’s team to be ‘very careful in terms of the members that they appointed from Congress.’ And Majority Whip Jim Clyburn said point blank: ‘I think we better bring that to a halt.’ That doesn’t bode well for any House Dems, such as Rep. Deb Haaland, who are still vying to serve in Biden’s Cabinet. And it could also destroy the hopes of any California House lawmakers who are hoping Gov. Gavin Newsom appoints them to the Senate seat being vacated by Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.”

Secretary of State

If Newsom picks Padilla for the Senate – he then gets to appoint Padilla’s replacement as Secretary of State. Leading contenders are:

·        State Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins (D-San Diego)
·        Assembly Member Marc Berman (D-Palo Alto)
·        Assembly Member Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) - declared 2022 candidate
·        Assembly Member Evan Low (D-Campbell) - declared 2022 candidate
·        Assembly Speaker Pro Tem Kevin Mullin (D-South San Francisco)
·        State Senator Tom Umberg

California Attorney General

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has been “picked” by the Biden team as Health and Human Services Secretary. If he is confirmed – Governor Newsom gets to pick a new AG (as Becerra was tabbed by Jerry Brown after VP-Elect Harris became a Senator, before she ran for President, then Vice-President). Top contenders are:

·        Contra Costa DA (and former superior court judge) Diana Becton
·        Assembly Member Rob Bonta (D-Alameda)
·        State Senator Anna Caballero (D-Salinas)
·        Former State Treasurer John Chiang
·        Assembly Member David Chiu (D-San Francisco)
·        SF City Attorney Dennis Herrera
·        State Senator Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys)
·        Former insurance commissioner Dave Jones
·        Former supervising deputy AG Maggy Krell (currently, chief counsel of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of CA)
·        Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg
·        State Senator Tom Umberg (D-Villa Park)
·        Rick Zbur, executive director, Equality California

Other News and Views

Lawyers say, contractors can require COVID-19 vaccinations for jobsite workers Attorneys from a prominent workforce law firm told contractors that it is within their legal rights to compel workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19, during a webinar hosted Wednesday by the Associated General Contractors of America. WECA has asked their corporate counsel if they agree with this interpretation. Story

Public Works Bid Protests – Who Is Responsible? Who Is Responsive? The process for awarding public works projects in California is controlled by the Public Contract Code. Generally, regardless of whether the public agency is the State, a county, a city or a local district, the project is awarded to the contractor who is "responsible" and submits the least expensive "responsive" bid. This is generally known as a "low bid" contract. In the context of public works, the terms responsible and responsive have very important meanings. As a result, State and local governments have gotten into very expensive trouble for not following the law. So, to understand how to best present a bid protest on a low bid solicitation, you, as a contractor should have a good understanding of the meaning of these terms.... Story

Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Webinar DOSH will be conducting a ZOOM webinar on Friday, December 18, 2020 from noon to 5:00. You can participate via Zoom Meeting. Click here for the meeting agenda. And, please see the information below on how to participate in the Zoom meeting:

https://zoom.us/j/96493446100?pwd=OUFJS3E1SDVMVGU0MzB0NG9mcnRhUT09

Meeting ID: 964 9344 6100

Passcode: 033178

One tap mobile

+16699006833,,96493446100# US (San Jose)
+12532158782,,96493446100# US (Tacoma)

Happy Holidays! Who would have thought, in their wildest imagination, a year ago at this time what a year 2020 would be? Much of the State has just entered a three-week shutdown because of reduced ICU capacity. Here’s hoping the positive results from the vaccines that are now being distributed that 2021 will be a return to more normalcy. I’ll be taking a break for my political reporting for the rest of December – and see you back here on January 7, 2021. Thanks for reading and your continued support of WECA, journey workers and particularly apprenticeship! 
Ask Richard
Richard Markuson
WECA Government Affairs Advocate, Pacific Advocacy Group
Have questions or concerns?

Ask Richard!
Dear WECA supporter,

It is our pleasure to provide you with this bi-weekly political update from WECA. Please feel free to contact WECA at (877) 444-9322 or info@goweca.com for more details about any of the articles included in this political update.

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About WECA

WECA is the premier independent merit shop contractors' association in the Western United States. We provide innovative training and education programs, critical business services, and responsive customer support to surpass the needs of our members and students. We are federally and state-approved, and our top-quality electrical training has found a nationwide audience. For over 90 years, we have been training the next generation of electricians, and advocating for and protecting fair and open competition in the electrical industry.
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Thursday, December 03, 2020   Cal/OSHA Emergency Regulations to Protect Workers from COVID-19 Now in Effect

A News Release from the State of California DIR

NEWS RELEASE
Release Number: 2020-99
?December 1, 2020

Sacramento—Cal/OSHA’s emergency regulations requiring employers to protect workers from hazards related to COVID-19 are now in effect, following their approval yesterday by the Office of Administrative Law.

“These are strong but achievable standards to protect workers. They also clarify what employers have to do to prevent workplace exposure to COVID-19 and stop outbreaks,” said Cal/OSHA Chief Doug Parker.

The emergency standards apply to most workers in California not covered by Cal/OSHA’s Aerosol Transmissible Diseases standard. The regulations require that employers implement a site-specific written COVID-19 prevention program to address COVID-19 health hazards, correct unsafe or unhealthy conditions and provide face coverings. When there are multiple COVID-19 infections or outbreaks at the worksite, employers must provide COVID-19 testing and notify public health departments. The regulations also require accurate recordkeeping and reporting of COVID-19 cases.

As emergency standards, these regulations become effective immediately.

“We understand the need to educate and assist employers as they implement the new provisions of the emergency standards,” Parker noted. “For employers who need time to fully implement the regulations, enforcement investigators will take their good faith efforts to implement the emergency standards into consideration. However, aspects such as eliminating hazards and implementing testing requirements during an outbreak are essential.”

Cal/OSHA has posted FAQs and a one-page fact sheet on the regulation, as well as a model COVID-19 prevention program. Employers are invited to participate in training webinars held by Cal/OSHA’s Consultation Services branch.

Cal/OSHA will convene a stakeholder meeting in December that will include industry and labor representatives to review the requirements of the emergency regulation and solicit feedback and recommend updates.

Cal/OSHA helps protect workers from health and safety hazards on the job in almost every workplace in California. Employers and workers who have questions or need assistance with workplace health and safety programs can call Cal/OSHA’s Consultation Services Branch at 800-963-9424.

Complaints about workplace safety and health hazards can be filed confidentially with Cal/OSHA district offices.

Members of the press may contact Erika Monterroza or Frank Polizzi at (510) 286-1161, and are encouraged to subscribe to get email alerts on DIR’s press releases or other departmental updates.
Read more >>


Thursday, December 03, 2020   Application Period Opens for $100 Million Hiring Tax Credit for Small Businesses

(SACRAMENTO) – The California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA) has begun accepting applications for the Main Street Hiring Tax Credit, also referred to as the Small Business Hiring Tax Credit, which was established through the approval of SB 1447 (Bradford, Caballero, and Cervantes). This tax credit serves to provide financial relief to California small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
“California’s 4.1 million small businesses and their workers continue to be among the hardest hit during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Assemblymember Cervantes (D-Corona), Chair of the Assembly Committee on Jobs, Economic Development, and the Economy. “Research shows that between March and April of this year, private employment in the US fell by 15.2%. Small firms, however, experienced a 21.5% loss of jobs, while businesses with over 1,000 employees experienced the fewest job losses (13.3%). Addressing employment losses among small businesses is crucial to the state’s economic recovery. As Chair of the Assembly Jobs Committee, I am proud to have worked with my legislative colleagues to provide support to our small businesses as they fight to reopen and recover from the economic challenges as a result of the pandemic.”
 
Specifically, under the Main Street Hiring Tax Credit, eligible small business can receive $1,000 in credit for each net new hire that occurred during the second half of 2020, up to $100,000 per business. This tax credit can be used against personal and corporate income tax liabilities or sales and use tax liabilities from the 2020 tax year. This is an important point, as other tax credits are not as flexible.
           
A small business seeking this credit must first apply starting Tuesday, December 1, 2020, through an online portal administered by the California Department of Tax & Fee Administration (CDTFA). These applications will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis, so it is important to reserve credits early. If applications are high, CDTFA may close the application window earlier than January 15, 2021. Information on eligibility, frequently asked questions, and application can be found here.
 
The Small Business Hiring Credit builds on existing relief programs, including a program created in April that allowed a small business to establish a 12-month, interest-free payment plan to temporarily defer up to $50,000 in sales and use tax liabilities. A full list of the state’s recovery and support programs available to small businesses can be found here.
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Thursday, December 03, 2020   Register for Dec. 9th webinar: "What CA C-10 Contractors Need to Know About EV Charging

Don't Miss Out! Register for Important Dec. 9th webinar: "What California C-10 Contractors Need to Know About the Impact of Recent Legislation on Electric Vehicle Charging."

?Learn the impact on contractors and general electricians. Free Registration for WECA Members.
 
Join Richard Markuson of WECA Government Affairs and other industry experts for an informative webinar detailing the impact of recent electric vehicle charging legislation on California's C-10 contractors and general electricians.

The Legislature passed, and Governor Newsom signed, Assembly Bill (AB) 841, which creates new training and certification requirements for journey-level electricians who perform certain electrical work associated with Electric Vehicle (EV) charging. Sponsored by the IBEW, and opposed by WECA, ABC and some EV industry groups, the bill will require certification by an IBEW-sponsored entity, EVITP.

At this webinar you will learn more about AB 841 and the EVITP certification from industry experts and analysts to help prepare your firm and journeyperson electricians for this new mandate. Topics to include:
  • What is AB 841?
  • When does it take effect?
  • What projects are covered?
  • How does an electrician become certified?
  • What are the prerequisites?
  • What are the penalties for non-compliance?
Free for WECA Members, all others $75.

Click here to register today!
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Thursday, December 03, 2020   Would Your Company Like to Get into the Spirit of Giving This Holiday Season?

One idea with WECA Industry Partner Krogh & Decker, plus more options in each community served by a WECA training facility

We're getting into the spirit of the holiday season here at WECA, and we're excited to share that our Industry Partner Krogh & Decker, LLP is too! They're co-sponsoring the 25th Annual Contractors Caring for Kids toy drive along with the Sacramento Regional Builders Exchange (SRBX).

If you're a WECA Member Contractor in the Sacramento area, click here to learn more about how you can contribute to the toy drive. SRBX has the following stipulations for donations:
  • Gifts must be new and unwrapped.
  • The charities that SRBX has partnered with has specific donation requests for teens of all genders for the following gift cards: Walmart, Target, Amazon, Big 5 Sporting Goods, Michael's, Jo-Ann's Fabrics, In-N-Out, Popeyes, Pizza Hut, Chipotle, and Pinkberry.
  • Requests for all genders from the ages of 0-18 include: games, books, crafts/craft projects, bikes, art kits/art supplies, sports equipment (specifically soccer and basketball), outdoor equipment, supplies for STEM projects, NERF toys, Disney toys, Legos, Barbie toys, and LOL dolls.
However, if you're a WECA Member Contractor from outside the Sacramento area, you can still contribute! Alyssa Pedrizzetti, Events and Programs Coordinator at the SRBX Foundation, says that WECA Member Contractors from outside of the Sacramento area can contribute to the toy drive by making virtual donations through the SRBX website, and the SRBX Foundation will purchase toys for donation in the donating contractors' name. If you have any further questions, please contact Alyssa Pedrizzetti at apedrizzetti@srbx.org or at (916) 465-8350.

But that's not at all. There are so many ways to give back this holiday season--including virtually or in your local community!

Organize your own virtual food drive with Feeding America

According to Feeding America, "A virtual food drive is a great option if you cannot collect donations in person or are unable to deliver donations to your local food bank. Instead of collecting food, a virtual food drive allows you to collect funds online for your local food bank or the Feeding America network."

Additionally, Feeding America states that "Many food banks prefer virtual food drives over traditional food drives. Food banks can often purchase food for much lower than what you would pay at a grocery store. Also, sorting and inspecting donating food items can take a lot of time and resources, so a virtual food drive helps food banks put those resources to other uses."

To learn more and set up your own online fundraiser/virtual food drive today, click here!

Donate to charities in your local community

Member Contractors in the Fresno area: Member Contractors in the Riverside area:
  • Food, toys, and household items: the Inland Empire Food Bank is partnering with Alianza de Futbol to host a drive-thru, low-contact food, toys, and household items distribution drive on Saturday, Dec. 5 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the San Bernardino Soccer Complex in Highland. For more information, click here.
Member Contractors in the San Diego area:
  • Food: The San Diego Food Bank is hosting a Holiday Food Drive, and there's numerous options to get involved. Donors can choose from: donating a $5 "Hunger Bag" at their local Albertsons or Vons supermarket through Dec. 25, donate online via a $1 donation (each $1 donation provides five meals to families in need), or hosting their own virtual or in-person food drive. For more information, click here.
  • Toys: the San Diego County Toys for Tots offers numerous options to get involved. Donors can coordinate their own toy drives in their communities, volunteer their time in the warehouse, or provide a monetary donation. For more information, click here.
Member Contractors in the Phoenix, AZ area:
  • Food: St. Mary's Food Bank in Phoenix has numerous ways to get involved, like donating food directly, starting a food or fund drive, or swiping your VIP card at Fry's Foods to make a donation. For more information, click here.
  • Food: Desert Mission Food Bank in Phoenix also has numerous ways to get involved. Among them are donating emergency food boxes, senior food boxes, infant emergency food boxes, the bargain basket program, and more. Or, you can earn money for Desert Mission while you shop at retailers like Fry's Food Stores, Safeway, and Target. For more information, click here.
  • Toys: AZ TV 7 is hosting its fifth annual Holiday for Hometown Heroes Toy Drive virtually this year. Donate here on Amazon or donate here on PayPal to provide toys for children of fallen, wounded, or deployed service members. For more information, click here.
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Thursday, December 03, 2020   WECA's Student Referral Service Has Qualified Electrician Trainees Ready to Work In Your Area

See the Full County List Below
 
Are you looking to hire Electrician Trainees? We have qualified individuals in the Alameda, Butte, Contra Costa, Fresno, Kern, Los Angeles, Marin, Monterey, Napa, Orange, Placer, Plumas, Riverside, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Shasta, Solano, Sonoma, Stanislaus, Sutter, Ventura, and Yolo county areas looking to get referred to a WECA Member Contractor through our Student Referral Service. Don't see your county listed? Let us know of your interest anyhow; new participants sign up every week.

What is this Service?

A free job referral service that introduces our current Electrician Trainee, Journeyman, and WECA-grad job seekers to Member Contractors in order to help you meet your staffing needs. It's included with your membership! (Please note: We do not currently have any journeymen looking for referrals.)

Who does this benefit?

Everyone! WECA Member Contractors are referred qualified, WECA-trained applicants to help meet their staffing needs. And in turn, WECA student and grad participants get valuable job referrals.

How does this differ from the WECA Job Board?

WECA's current Electrical and Low Voltage Industry Job Board is a self-service portal where members and electrical and low voltage employment job seekers submit and review resumes and job postings online.

This service provides additional customer service by having WECA staff supply you with hands-on referrals. In other words--we take some of the hard work off your plate!

The Student Referral Service refers employees to you, and you hire them directly.

To receive referrals from WECA's Student Referral Service, please contact Trisha Hughes, WECA Client Services Specialist, at thughes@goweca.com or at (877) 444-9322. 
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Thursday, December 03, 2020   New Apprenticeship Instructor Spotlight: David Schoettler

WECA Apprentice Electrician Instructor David Schoettler is a jack of all trades. Prior to teaching at WECA, Schoettler studied power generator service and repair training at the United States Army Engineer School in Fort Belvoir, Virginia and served as a Power Generator Equipment Repairman in the United States Army. Schoettler also attended William Rainey Harper College in Palatine, Illinois, where he studied real estate, welding, HVAC, and general studies before becoming a residential HVAC repairman and a licensed C10 and C20 contractor.

After a car accident where Schoettler sustained injuries and required surgeries, he decided to try out teaching to “take it a little easier on my body physically.”

However, Schoettler said that “I ended up liking teaching a lot more than I thought, and I plan to continue instructing as a profession.”

In his current position at WECA, Schoettler provides training and knowledge to Apprentices, and teaches them the technical know-how and hands-on skills they’ll need to put into practice as employees and Apprentice electricians.

“I love teaching because it affords me the opportunity to help students gain knowledge for their careers, and the opportunity to pass knowledge and skills on to future generations,” Schoettler said.

Schoettler also lauded WECA for “having an established curriculum and outstanding track record in electrical education.”

And although Schoettler is new to the WECA Team, he’s ready to hit the ground running.

“Getting the new San Diego facility up and running smoothly is on my short-term goal list,” said Schoettler. “Eventually I’d like to get into facilities and operations management to provide the classes and instructors with the resources to supply a top-notch educational experience to all students that enroll in our program.”

When not teaching at WECA, Schoettler likes to barbecue, play doubles and mixed doubles tennis, and to dine and relax at San Diego’s beaches and restaurants. 

Welcome aboard, David! We can't wait to see what you will continue to bring to the WECA Team!
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Thursday, December 03, 2020   COVID-19 Resources for WECA Member Contractors

Construction Industry COVID-19 Safety Plan (updated 11-2-20)
CA DIR Div. of Occupational Safety & Health: COVID-19 Infection Prevention in Construction
* CA Dept. of Public Health COVID-19 Industry Guidance: Construction
*  COVID-19 Employer Playbook for a Safe Reopening
COVID Situation Flow Diagram Company Template
COVID-19 Infection Prevention in Construction
WECA Special Update Helping to Clarify Executive Order N-33-20 for California Electrical Contractors
 * Cal/OSHA Guidance on Requirements to Protect Workers from Coronavirus
Supplemental Toolbox Talks COVID-19
Coronavirus Toolbox Talk
COVID-19 in Construction Workplace
COVID-19 Safety Meeting Outlines
COVID-19 Toolbox Talks for Subs
Fact Sheet for Pandemics
Marek Brother Toolbox Talk
COVID-19 Action Plan
Pandemic Preparedness - Coronavirus
Coronavirus - Workplace, School and Home Guidance
COVID-19 Tool Cleaning Protocols
COVID-19 Print Resources
COVID-19 Fact Sheet
United States Department of Labor: COVID-19
CDC COVID-19 Risk Assessment Flowchart
CALPASC HR 6201 Guidance
EDD Coronavirus Resources for WECA Community
Contractors State License Board Encourages Licensees to Donate PPE During COVID-19 Emergency
*  WECA Special Update Helping to Clarify Executive Order N-33-20 for California Electrical Contractors
* COVID-19 Federal Paid Leaves Explained
 * Get Your Editable Essential Work Permission Slips for Yourself and Your Employees Here
Show the Industry How WECA Contractors Lead in Best Practices for Jobsite Safety During COVID-19
WECA Special Update 4-1-20: New Carpooling and Facemask Recommendations; Sonoma County Joins In On New Bay Area Restrictions; New Requirements in Los Angeles for Comprehensive COVID-19 Exposure Control Plan; Two New Guides to CARES Act from the U.S. Chamber 
Coronavirus: Read the Yuba County and Sutter County Stay-at-Home Orders, issued April 7, 2020
*  OSHA's "Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19" and Other Resources; Includes Spanish Versions to Help You Reach All Employees

These, and more, plus class scheduling updates for your apprentices and students, are always available on WECA's COVID-19 Advisory Page.
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Monday, November 23, 2020   WECA Political Update 11-23-20

Government Affairs and Merit Shop Advocacy
____________________________________
What contractors need to know about PLAs in light of Biden Presidency The president-elect campaigned on providing good union jobs as part of a massive infrastructure plan, so discussion around project labor agreements could get ratcheted up a notch next year. Story
 
Possible CSLB Change Kevin Albanese, CEO, and Chairman of Northern California construction company Joseph J. Albanese Inc., one of the largest private companies in Silicon Valley, is leaving both positions to pursue other interests and spend more time with family. He's been CEO since 2014. His younger brother, Phillip Albanese, currently President and COO, will become CEO. Albanese is also on the CSLB – and will likely be replaced. Story
 
A Look at Partisan Balance in State Legislatures Partisan control changed in two state legislative chambers due to the 2020 elections—Republicans gained majorities in the New Hampshire House of Representatives and the New Hampshire State Senate. This is the fourth time this decade that the New Hampshire Legislature has changed party hands. Story

Biden Transition – Continued Biden said at his event Monday that "union leaders are going to have increased power" in his administration. But it's going to be tougher to maintain their leverage if labor leaders, themselves, aren't on the same page, as is the case in discussions over Labor secretary Eleanor Mueller and Megan Cassella report. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and some of his organization's largest affiliate unions are voicing support for Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, a former head of the city's Building and Construction Trades Council who could appeal to construction workers that backed Trump in the election. But other member unions are publicly pushing for Rep. Andy Levin, a Michigan Democrat and former union organizer who also ran his state's job training program. The divide was laid bare at an AFL-CIO meeting on Friday. Union presidents who sit on the federation's political committee were expected to discuss a potential endorsement for the job. That didn't happen, and another meeting hasn't been scheduled, four people familiar with the discussions said. Still in the mix: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has been lobbying for the position. And California Labor Secretary Julie Su is considered a leading contender, as well.

Property Owners Covering $1.7 Billion in Delayed Rent Payments During Pandemic Rob Lapsley, president of the California Business Roundtable, issued the following statement in response to a recent study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia that shows an estimated 24,000 renters statewide are behind on their rent, totaling nearly $1.7 billion in missed rent payments since the pandemic began: "The Federal Reserve study is clearly defining the economic sacrifices made by private property owners that have allowed renters to stay in their homes, helping to prevent homelessness—all with little to no support from the state or federal government. This new report magnifies the urgent need to assist property owners and tenants affected by COVID-related economic hardships. At the same time, the Legislature's short-term eviction protections are expiring early next year. We cannot afford to prolong the crisis for property owners and tenants, especially as the governor toggles counties between COVID-mitigation tiers and its related impacts on the workforce. We look forward to working with the governor and Legislature to jointly address financial support for housing and small business recovery immediately." The California Business Roundtable was one of the leading proponents of AB 1482 (Chiu-Grayson), which enacted a balanced approach to modernizing the state's rental housing laws to increase protections for tenants while also encouraging the construction of new affordable housing. The Roundtable also took a neutral position on AB 3088, the current rental housing eviction freeze set to expire on February 1, 2021.

Will 'Amtrak Joe' Biden bail out California's troubled bullet train? Don't bet on it. President-elect Joe Biden is a self-professed train fanatic who estimates that he has ridden more than 2 million miles on 16,000 trains. This fall, he rode the rails to campaign across Ohio and Pennsylvania, part of the "Build Back Better" train tour. For months, some supporters of California's troubled high-speed rail project have pined for a Biden presidency, hoping his administration would throw its support behind the planned system between Los Angeles and the Bay Area, with trains running at 220 mph. Story

State Offices Shape Local Real Estate Market The Sacramento Business Journal notes, "Telework is altering the real estate landscape in cities across the country. As companies make decisions about how much office space, if any, they need in a post-pandemic world, brokers could find properties newly available. In Sacramento, California, no entity may end up effecting more change than the biggest lessor of space: the state of California, which leases more than 9 million square feet in Sacramento County. 'If they dump 3, 4, 5 million square feet in the market, they're going to crush the market,' Barry Broome, CEO of the Greater Sacramento Economic Council, told the Sacramento Business Journal. But done strategically, Broome said, the state could leave space that companies would gladly snap up — and that could help create more dynamic business environments in certain areas, including downtown Sacramento. How the state will approach its lease obligations is evolving. Jason Kenney, deputy director of the real estate services division with the state's Department of General Services, said officials continue to adjust to the work-from-home situation as the pandemic continues."

Aloha Jordan and Blanca. Politico reports that two California assembly members said spending campaign funds on airline tickets to Hawaii for a conference last week, an event that has come under fire because of California's coronavirus surge and official warnings not to travel out of state, was appropriate. Assembly members Jordan Cunningham (R-Templeton) and Blanca Rubio (D-Baldwin Park) reported buying plane tickets on their late October campaign finance filings. Neither has responded to phone inquiries about attending the 100-person, four-day legislative conference at the Fairmont Kea Lani in Maui. The event, run by the Independent Voter Project has brought together lobbyists and lawmakers from California, Texas, and Washington, according to organizers. California lawmakers and lobbyists have been venturing to Hawaii each November to soak up the sun, socialize and attend panels, but never before during a worldwide pandemic. Rubio's campaign committee disclosed spending a total of $1,644 for three Hawaiian Airlines tickets for a conference in Hawaii this week. Cunningham's campaign committee reported spending $306 on a Southwest Airlines ticket for "11/15-Conference Travel, 1, CA/HI, RT." Legislators are required to file a campaign finance statement that details spending and contributions through Oct. 17. It is possible that other attendees purchased flights after that date or through means other than their campaign accounts. POLITICO contacted offices for 15 state lawmakers who reported having attended the same conference in recent years. The event typically draws moderate Democrats and Republicans and bills itself to bridge the political divide, all while being sponsored by major Capitol players. Of the 15 offices, eight said their lawmakers did not attend the trip, while seven have not returned calls, including spokespeople for Rubio and Cunningham. Rubio recently became head of California's moderate Democratic caucus — a role that presumes the kinds of connections with business groups that the Maui conference prizes. Cunningham recently fended off a well-funded Democratic challenger, keeping a battleground seat in the Republican column. The Independent Voter Project's Dan Howle has stressed the safety precautions in place, including Hawaii's requirement that visitors show proof of a negative test within 72 hours of arrival to avoid a lengthy quarantine. But the event launched the same day Gov. Gavin Newsom announced new shutdowns in nearly the entire state as coronavirus spreads at an unprecedented pace. The event also began three days after Newsom issued a travel advisory asking residents not to travel out of state and to quarantine upon return voluntarily. The governor also has implored people to cancel their Thanksgiving plans. It also follows the San Francisco Chronicle's revelations that Gov. Gavin Newsom attended a 12-person birthday party at the exclusive Napa Valley Restaurant, the French Laundry. "Fair to say that the timing isn't great," said Jack Pitney, a politics professor at Claremont McKenna College. "Anybody organizing an in-person event should think carefully about the optics, particularly in California, where the governor has just sent most of the state into purple. There's a chance this will not be received well by the general public."

The best way to get a job in the Biden White House is to have once worked for President-elect Joe Biden. That much has become clear this past week, with 13 of the first 14 White House appointments going to former Biden staffers. Several were high-ranking officials on the 2020 campaign or were in the vice president's office, but many also go back decades — to his Senate office or even his 1988 presidential run. Biden's transition team is also full of Biden veterans, suggesting many more are likely to pop up in his administration. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who also served with Biden in Congress, described Biden's approach to politics as "street smarts" versus "Harvard smart."

New COVID OSHA Regs - After a lengthy hearing, the Cal OSHA Standards Board unanimously voted (6-0) to adopt the emergency regulation on COVID-19 workplace prevention standards. Thank you to all who answered our ongoing survey and responded with comments. Opponents were concerned that regulation timing did not afford adequate stakeholder engagement, which would have identified and possibly corrected inconsistencies and implementation challenges for manufacturers. The regulation now heads to the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) for approval. They have ten calendar days to act. While OAL could find that the rule exceeds Cal OSHA's authority and reject it (sending it back to the Division for additional editing), that outcome is highly unlikely as their involvement is usually pro forma. If approved, the regulation would go into effect on November 29, 2020, and remain in effect for 180 days with the possibility of two 90-day extensions. Draft Regulations
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