With the 2019 California Legislative Session concluded, here is a comparison to the last Session, and an overview of how many bills Governor Newsom signed and vetoed compared with the last two-year session under Governor Brown.
Bills introduced in the 2019 Session: 2,625. Of these, 870 bills were signed into law and 172 bills (16.5 percent) were vetoed.
Bills introduced in the 2017-18 Session: 4,775. Of these, 1,875 were signed into law and 319 bills (14.5 percent) were vetoed.
Thus, in Newsom's first year in office, his veto rate was slightly above Brown's veto rate in his last two years in office (but close to his 16-year average).
But the big question is - does California need 870 statutory changes every year? I'll let you be the judge.
Now let's look at a few bills Governor Newson signed - and vetoed.
He vetoed the one CEQA bill that wasn't part of a union-approved sports arena deal. AB 394
- R) that would have exempted from CEQA "an egress route project specifically recommended by the State Board of Forestry and Fire Protection that improves fire safety of an existing residential subdivision if specified conditions are met." It had no opposition and only one "no" vote in the Assembly, but Newsom said "the CEQA exemption provided in this bill is premature and may result in unintended consequences." Yeah - like people trying to get out of a fire zone when the only road is blocked! Does the fact that Obernolte, in addition to being a Republican, is also a candidate for Congress in 2020 have anything to do with the veto?
But he also vetoed AB 520
- D) that would have set the threshold of public support for public works application at $500,000. This was a BIG defeat for the State Building and Construction Trades Council. Newsom - who is in a bit of a tiff with the trades - said "While I steadfastly support prevailing wage law, I am concerned that the restrictive nature of this law may have unintended consequences. Further, there is nothing to suggest that the longstanding administrative practice of considering the public subsidy in the context of the project and using two percent as a general threshold is insufficient."
In reply, Robbie Hunter said (in part), "National politics provides us a cautionary tale of what happens when the working class is forgotten by candidates who are steeped in the ambitions of unrequited presidential aspirations. California could, and should, do better for workers and their families." The trades have also been running a social media campaign that blames Newsom for recent worker deaths because of a delay in appointments to the OSHA standards board.
Several measures that would have changed or expanded Skilled and Trained Workforce died or were delayed in the Legislature.
(Aguiar-Curry - D) would have amended SB 35
of last year that authorizes a development proponent to submit an application for a multifamily housing development that is subject to a streamlined, ministerial approval process, to include a requirement that the development not be located on a site that is a tribal cultural resource. Existing law requires payment of prevailing wages and apprentice wages even if the project is not a public works and prohibits the DLSE from enforcing the Labor Code if the Project is covered by a PLA. AB 35 also waives CPRs on projects covered by a PLA. (2-year bill)
(Frazier - D) would have repealed the Skilled and Trained Workforce provisions in SB 35 from last year - from a Democrat. (2-year bill)
(Quirk - D) would have created specified financial incentives for development proponents of residential housing development in the nine-county San Francisco Bay area region. The bill requires payment of prevailing wages and apprentice wages even if the project is not a public works and prohibits the DLSE from enforcing the Labor Code if the Project is covered by a PLA. AB 1706 also waives CPRs on projects covered by a PLA. (2-year bill)
(McGuire and Beall - D) would have created a streamlined approval process for eligible projects within a half-mile of fixed rail or ferry terminals in cities of 50,000 residents or more in smaller counties and in all urban areas in counties with over a million residents. It also creates a streamlined approval process for duplexes and fourplexes, as specified, in residential areas on vacant, infill parcels. Requires SATWF unless covered by a PLA; exempts contractors under a PLA from completing CPRs. (2-year bill)
(Caballero and Glazer - D) would grant accelerated CEQA appeals for certain housing projects. Requires SATWF unless covered by a PLA, exempts contractors under a PLA from completing CPRs. (2-year bill)
(Stern) is sponsored by California State Association of Electrical Workers, California State Pipe Trades Council, Western States Council Sheet Metal Workers, and would require the CPUC to direct energy efficiency program administrators to ensure that work is performed by a skilled and trained workforce for projects receiving at least $50,000 in ratepayer-funded initiatives within a single facility. (2-year bill)
But there was a big bill - AB 48
- that will be on the March 2020 ballot. It is a $15 billion school bond that has some developer concessions - so of course the trades got something. School construction projects with PLAs get priority over other projects without PLAs.
Next time we'll cover the major bills Newsom signed that will affect employers next year.