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WECA Political Update January 7, 2021Thursday, January 07, 2021
Government Affairs and Merit Shop Advocacy
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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.
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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.
Learn More

Association Membership
Apprenticeship
Classes for Electrician Trainees and Journeymen
Contact Us
Join our mailing list!
WECA Political Update December 10, 2020Thursday, 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.

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!
California State Capitol

Merit Shop Advocacy for California

Richard Markuson, WECA Lobbyist

Richard Markuson

"Merit shop electrical contractors throughout California are under pressure from a political system that limits their ability to compete for and win public works contracts. Through our coordinated efforts to further the interests of the merit shop community, we will make doing business in California fair and profitable again."

WECA Government Affairs

Political Advocacy and Government Affairs

WECA is the only organization in California that focuses exclusively on the needs of electrical contractors and their employees. We are proud to represent thousands of electricians and hundreds of contractors. Our members believe that fair and open competition is the key to a robust and growing economy. Our members embrace the idea that political action is not simply prudent, but essential to preserving and enhancing their ability to pursue business opportunities in both the public and private marketplace.

The WECA governmental affairs staff works hard to protect the rights of merit shop business owners and their employees throughout California, but our efforts cannot succeed unless those in the merit shop community get involved.

Routine activities of the GA staff includes:

  • Monitoring all State Legislative and Regulatory proposals for beneficial and detrimental changes
  • Regular interaction with other business and construction groups in California and nationwide
  • Maintenance of a regular presence in Washington DC through membership in the US Chamber of Commerce and trips to Capitol Hill to lobby on Federal initiatives
  • Maintaining close working relationships with other merit shop groups such as CFEC, ABC chapters, AGC, ASCA, and Calpasc
  • Routinely monitors more than 305 local agencies including Cities, Counties, School Districts and other Special Districts
  • Evaluates state-wide ballot measures and candidates and recommends support for those causes and candidates that support WECA’s core values
  • Encourages appointment of state and local officials who will approach their assignments without prejudice
  • This website is designed to both educate our members and to empower them to have the greatest possible impact when it comes to effecting political change on the local, state and federal levels. Check out the latest political news and action alerts, learn more about the WECA Political Action Committee (WECA-PAC), and take a moment to visit the partner organizations we work with.

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WECA Political Advocacy