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WECA Political Update February 15, 2024Thursday, February 15, 2024

WECA Opposes Proposition 1

In 2022, the Governor and State Legislature approved $9.5 billion in tax refunds, part of a $12 billion relief plan hatched before the Governor’s re-election campaign.

For reasons known only to a handful of officials, most refunds were in the form of debit cards that would only be redeemable in a select ATM network. As of 2023, more than 1 million cards had not been activated.

Less than one year later, this same cabal of officials decided the state should borrow $6.38 billion for mental health treatment facilities ($4.4 billion) and supportive housing for homeless veterans and homeless individuals with behavioral health challenges ($2 billion).

WECA is recommending a NO vote.

Proposition 1 is the only proposition on the March ballot – at the insistence of Governor Newsom, who desired no competition on the ballot.

Newsom has contributed some of his campaign money and brow-beat business and labor to pony up more than $12 million to convince voters the state should borrow billions (repaid over 30 years) right after issuing refunds that would have more than paid for the programs in Prop 1.

By comparison, opponents of Prop. 1 have raised only about $1,000 so far. But their underdog effort to persuade voters may ultimately be bolstered by a history lesson.

Prop. 1 is a dual measure to reroute roughly $1 billion annually from mental health funding to housing for people with behavioral health needs. It includes paying for 4,350 supportive housing units and 6,800 mental health treatment beds. For reference, California’s homeless population is estimated to be about 175,000.

But as CalMatters explains, the measure is like a 2018 ballot measure, known as No Place Like Home, that has so far fallen short of its lofty promises.

Like Prop. 1, No Place Like Home used money earmarked for mental health services to pay for a $2 billion housing bond. The campaign to support the measure promised 20,000 new supportive housing units — a number in a Legislative Analyst’s Office report that projected “half of the units would likely be completed within five years” — and it was enough to persuade 63% of voters to say yes.

Five years later, however, the state has built just 1,797 No Place Like Home units as of Feb. 2, according to the program's most recent annual report.

Why the hold up? In addition to high construction and insurance costs, it can take years for developers to line up funds. Resistance from neighborhood groups and communities also delays projects. For example, two of the 10 No Place Like Home projects proposed by real estate developer Eden Housing were hit with environmental lawsuits.

Supporters of Prop. 1, such as Democratic Sen. Susan Eggman of Stockton, who authored part of the measure, said the state has learned lessons from No Place Like Home. Prop. 1 includes exemptions to California’s environmental law to speed up development, and it requires more transparency by mandating counties to submit annual spending reports.

Besides citing the difficulties of building more affordable housing, critics of Prop. 1 are concerned that the measure will slash current services for behavioral and mental health programs. Advocates for people with disabilities have also raised flags that Prop. 1 would allow money to be spent on involuntary confinement facilities.

And, of course, the State Building and Construction Trades Council and PLAs fit into this jigsaw puzzle. The trades made a $1 million contribution to Prop. 1 at the end of December and are in the top five of supporters. Is it coincidental that State Senator Wahab has reintroduced legislation to mandate PLAs on any state, UC, or community college construction project of $35 million or more?

WECA is not insensitive to the homeless problem in California but concluded that Prop. 1 is another government program that will only touch a small fraction of the problem, will be beset with delays and cost overruns, and is a callous ploy to give the Governor and legislative leaders cover on a problem many in California call one of the biggest problems facing the state.

The state could have banked the money it gave back to taxpayers in an election year but is betting many voters will tick a yes vote to “address” homelessness. WECA disagrees and recommends a “NO.”
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No More Vacay Pics

A measure proposed by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) would allow lawmakers to move around airports protected from the attention of other travelers — and reporters, Politico reports. The move recalls the 2021 scandal in which Cruz was photographed jetting off to a tropical vacation amid the worst winter storm his state had seen in decades, triggering an avalanche of scorn and criticism. Cruz is trying to attach the amendment to the FAA reauthorization, slated to be marked up in the Senate Commerce Committee, on which Cruz serves as ranking member. The amendment would “offer lawmakers a dedicated security escort at airports, along with expedited screening outside of public view.” Federal judges, Cabinet members, and some of their families and staff would get the same privileges.

Cruz justified the measure by pointing to “serious security threats facing public officials” that require “reasonable measures to keep everyone safe.” Senate Republican Commerce Committee spokesperson Melissa Braid said: “This language was drafted in a bipartisan manner to address the growing number of serious threats to justices, judges, public officials, and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. With rising security incidents at airports, this amendment ensures that — when law enforcement determines that there is a serious threat — reasonable security measures will be taken to keep everybody safe.”

But apparently, airport police agency representatives say it could present a burden, as the amendment language requires TSA to “arrange” escorts, but it could fall to local officials to provide them.
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New Senate Leader

State leaders packed into the Capitol recently to witness the swearing-in of new President Pro Tem Mike McGuire.

McGuire takes the gavel from outgoing leader Toni Atkins, who is termed out this year and focusing her efforts on a 2026 gubernatorial run. Among the other political powerhouses in attendance were Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis, Attorney General Rob Bonta, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, and head of the California Labor Federation Lorena Gonzalez.

McGuire opened his first remarks as pro tem by praising emergency workers responding to days of fierce storms. He also touted the record number of women serving in the Senate, California’s role as a global leader on climate, and the state’s economic prowess. “No matter what you watch on cable news, we are America’s economic engine,” McGuire said.

McGuire, whom his colleagues described as an “Energizer Bunny,” is now tasked with guiding the chamber through a bleak budget year and what are sure to be tough negotiations with the governor’s administration and the Assembly. [Politico]
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Arizona Elections

Talk may be cheap. Arizona elections certainly are not. That’s the biggest takeaway from year-end campaign finance reports that became available this week for the state’s most competitive federal races. Some of Arizona’s most viral-worthy politicians are coming to a ballot near you, but these reports prove that campaigns know “clicks” alone won’t be enough this year. [Veridus LLC]

U.S. Senate It’s now or never for U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I). Arizona’s Senior Senator has $10.6 million in cash-on-hand - a significant cash-on-hand advantage over her rivals. But closing 2023 by only raising approximately $600,000 is cause for alarm. Meanwhile, the April 8 filing deadline is fast approaching, and, as an Independent, Sen. Sinema can’t count on help from the Democratic Party to help her campaign infrastructure stand up.

Rep. Ruben Gallego (D) continues to post impressive numbers, with $3.3 million raised during the period and $6.5 million in cash-on-hand. Republican Kari Lake raised $2 million, but only has $1 million in cash-on-hand. Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb (R) raised $265,000 and has just over a quarter-million dollars in cash-on-hand.

CD-1 Rep. David Schweikert (R) finished 2023 with roughly $900,000 in the bank as the battle for this race’s Democratic nomination is shaping up to be fierce with several candidates lending their campaigns six-figure sums to boost fundraising totals. Among Democrats, businessmen Conor O’Callaghan and Andrei Cherny lead the pack as both have roughly $1 million in their campaign account.

CD-3 Phoenix City Councilmember Yassamin Ansari ($312,000) outraised former legislator Raquel Terán ($200,000) during the period, and has more than twice as much cash-on-hand. Advantage: Ansari.

CD-6 Rep. Juan Ciscomani (R) and former state legislator Kirsten Engle (D) each raised over $400,000 during the period, but the GOP incumbent has a commanding edge in cash-on-hand with a campaign war chest that exceeds $2 million.

CD-8 The end-of-year report gives the first glimpse at the Primary battle to replace retiring Congresswoman Debbie Lesko. Blake Masters is largely self-funding his effort thus far and lent his campaign $1 million during the period. Arizona House Speaker Ben Toma led the field in private fundraising, with $340,000 raised during the period. Meanwhile, Abe Hamadeh is lagging the money race with $288,000 raised and a little over $250,000 in cash-on-hand, but has already captured the coveted Trump endorsement and expects to have a well-financed Super PAC to support his effort.
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OSHA Sends Worker Walkaround Final Rule to OIRA

On February 9, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration sent its worker walkaround final rule to OIRA for review. The rule would empower OSHA inspectors to allow union organizers, community activists, or other third parties who do not officially represent the employees or the government to accompany OSHA on an inspection of a workplace, contradicting the plain language of OSHA’s governing regulations, longstanding agency guidance, and past interpretations of federal workplace safety law. It’s a thinly veiled attempt to bypass the NLRA and state property laws by allowing union organizers access to employer property to which they would otherwise not be entitled under the law.

The proposed rule was issued last August, and OSHA received nearly 12,000 comments.

WECA Political Update February 1, 2024Thursday, February 1, 2024

Wahab Tries Again

State Senator Aisha Wahab (D-Fremont) has reintroduced her statewide PLA mandate legislation after last year’s effort failed. But to make the effort more palatable to PLA supporters, this year’s version will also require the University of California and community college system to use PLAs for their Capital Improvement Programs.

Last year, WECA and the Construction Employer’s Association (CEA) opposed Wahab’s bill. CEA—comprised of union contractors—noted, “PLAs often conflict with subcontracting clauses due to jurisdictional disputes between various crafts, placing general contractors in the unenviable role of being in violation of their CBAs. For example, a PLA may mandate the use of one craft, even though more than one craft is entitled to perform that work. By mandating PLAs, the state would have to choose winners and losers. It is one thing to facilitate the use of union signatory employers, which is something CEA would support, and something entirely different for the state to dictate what craft can perform what work on any given project.”

While we don’t 100 percent agree with CEA, it’s great to have broader opposition and hope CEA will oppose again this year. And perhaps ABC and AGC, too!
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San Diego Imposes PLA on All City Construction

In a virtual love fest, the San Diego City Council voted 8-0 to impose a seven-year PLA on all city construction work. The city’s financial analyst cautioned that a PLA could reduce the pool of bidders and thus increase costs. That didn’t deter council members, who sought every opportunity to tout the benefits of PLAs and the importance of union support when running for elected office. The PLA starts with a $5 million threshold, which only lasts two years. The San Diego Tribune opposed Measure D—placed directly on the Nov. 8, 2023 ballot by the San Diego City Council—that repealed 2012’s Measure A, an initiative backed by 58 percent of San Diego voters that banned the city’s use of union-friendly project labor agreements. They covered this week’s vote, but it may be paywalled. Story
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Trader Joe’s “NLRB Unconstitutional”

Bloomberg reports that Trader Joe’s joined the growing collection of employers in the National Labor Relations Board’s crosshairs that have gone to federal court to argue that the 88-year-old agency is unconstitutional. “The structure and organization of the National Labor Relations Board and the agency’s administrative law judges is unconstitutional,” the company’s attorney Christopher Murphy said, according to a transcript of the proceeding that Bloomberg News obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

The broadside at the Jan. 16 hearing came less than two weeks after SpaceX filed a federal suit in Texas challenging the NLRB, arguing both that its use of administrative law judges and the board’s insulation from the White House violate the constitution's separation of powers doctrine, signaling a quickly spreading willingness to defang a main antagonist. Story
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Non-Compete

A National Labor Relations Board judge is set to hear arguments in a case that will serve as a big test of General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo’s ambitious push to curtail the use of non-compete agreements.

Abruzzo issued a memo last May detailing her position that non-compete agreements violate workers’ federal labor rights when they deny employees “the ability to quit or change jobs by cutting off their access to other employment opportunities that they are qualified for based on their experience, aptitudes, and preferences as to type and location of work.”

The agency has also targeted what it and some worker advocates call TRAPs—or training repayment agreement provisions—in which employers seek to recoup certain costs from employees who leave under certain conditions.

“She was pretty clear where she wanted to take the board,” said Maribeth Meluch, a partner at the Ohio-based business law firm Kohrman Jackson & Krantz. “The NLRB wants employees to be able to leave if the employment terms and conditions are not agreeable.”

In September, the NLRB issued a complaint along both these fronts against a national medical spa chain, Juvly Aesthetics, alleging that the company forced employees into unlawful non-compete and confidentiality requirements and demanded two employees pay $50,000 and $60,000, respectively, to recoup training costs.

Critics of such repayment conditions, which have received increased attention in recent years, argue that they unfairly restrict workers’ ability to change jobs and that the costs demanded are oftentimes exorbitant relative to an employee’s pay.

Attorneys for Juvly have argued in legal filings that the NLRB is exceeding its authority and denied wrongdoing. Following the hearing, the ALJ would likely rule later this year, though that decision can be appealed to the agency’s board—and from there, in federal court.
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Eleven Candidates Are Running In The Top-Two Primary In California's 20th Congressional District

The top-two primary for California's 20th Congressional District is March 5. Three candidates lead in media attention: Mike Boudreaux (R), Vince Fong (R), and David Giglio (R). The primary is following former Rep. Kevin McCarthy's (R) resignation in December 2023. More
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Ten Candidates Are Running in The March 5 Top-Two Primary For California's 31st Congressional District

Incumbent Grace Napolitano (D) is not running for re-election, leaving the district open for the first time since 1998. Napolitano is one of 40 U.S. House members who have announced they’re not running for re-election in November. Ten candidates are running. Five lead in endorsements, media attention, and fundraising: Bob Archuleta (D), Gil Cisneros (D), Gregory Hafif (D), Mary Ann Lutz (D), and Susan Rubio (D). Four of the five are elected officials. More
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Bill to Require Speed Limiters in California Cars Introduced in Senate

A bill to require all cars sold or made in California after 2027 to have devices limiting their top speed to only ten miles per hour above the speed limit was introduced in the State Senate.

Senate Bill 961, authored by Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), would specifically require certain vehicles, commencing with the 2027 model year, to be equipped with an intelligent speed limiter that would limit the speed of the vehicle to 10 miles per hour over the speed limit. The bill would exempt emergency vehicles from this requirement and authorize the Commissioner of the California Highway Patrol to disable the system on other vehicles. Story

This is like federal efforts to mandate speed limiters on commercial vehicles. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s new Significant Rulemaking Report, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration plans to publish a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking in May. Previously, the agency projected to unveil the speed limiter proposal in June and December last year. The rulemaking fell apart in 2016 and was resurrected by FMCSA in 2022 when the agency issued an advance notice of supplemental proposed rulemaking. The notice suggested that commercial motor vehicles with a gross vehicle weight of 26,001 pounds or more and equipped with an electric engine control unit capable of being governed would be subject to the mandate.
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UC Hits Pause

The University of California backed away today from a plan to allow people without legal immigration status to hold campus jobs.

UC President Michael V. Drake announced that the university would hold off on the proposal for at least a year as the Regents emerged from a closed session at their meeting in San Francisco. The board then ratified that decision by vote.

The decision came after months of legal scrutiny and pressure from the Biden administration, which privately let UC officials know the proposal violated federal law and would likely leave the university vulnerable to a lawsuit or administrative action.

"We concluded that the proposed legal pathway is not viable at this time, and in fact carries significant risks for the institution and for those we serve," Drake said. "For that reason, it is inadvisable for the university to initiate implementation right now."

The decision leaves around 4,000 undocumented students across the 10-campus system unable to hold campus jobs, including paid positions and residencies that some need to graduate or pursue advanced studies.
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CA-47

No longer dancing around the subject, Joanna Weiss is taking direct aim at fellow Democrat Dave Min in the second ad for her CA-47 campaign, attacking the state senator for his recent drunk driving conviction in a six-figure ad buy.

The “Trust” spot highlighted an incident in May when Min was pulled over by California Highway Patrol, not far from the state Capitol in Sacramento. He was later sentenced to three years of probation and $2,000 in fines. "Min drove drunk, lied to the police, and endangered innocent lives,” says the narrator in the ad.

A spokesperson for Min’s campaign said the ad is an attempt by Weiss to distract from her record, pointing to a recent Daily Beast story that highlighted her husband’s history of defending the Catholic Church in sexual abuse cases. (I'm not sure why her husband’s clients are attributed to “her record,” but in politics…)

“Dave Min is endorsed by The California Democratic Party, Katie Porter, and the Los Angeles Times,” Orrin Evans said in a statement. “Who are you going to trust?”

The district is one of the state’s most hotly-contested races this cycle, with Republicans eager to flip the seat Porter has held onto since 2018. Weiss, an attorney and former nonprofit exec, has managed to mount a serious intraparty challenge to Min by scooping up support from some local Democrats and going on the attack. Republican Scott Baugh will face Min or Weiss in November—assuming he finishes first or second in March.
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2024 California Contractors License Law & Reference Book Now Available

The 2024 edition of the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) California Contractors License Law & Reference Book (Law Book) is now available. CSLB introduced a streamlined law book that includes essential information for the California construction industry.

The Law Book can be purchased directly from the publisher, or the online PDF version can be viewed or downloaded at no cost on the CSLB website.

The Law Book can only be purchased directly from publisher LexisNexis online or by calling (877) 394-8826. The price is $54.00 plus tax, shipping, and handling. The Law Book is available as a PDF on the CSLB website and can be downloaded for free.
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2022 Energy Code Fact Sheets Now Available

The California Energy Commission has developed new solar photovoltaic (PV), battery storage, and electric ready online fact sheets to support the 2022 Energy Code. The fact sheets are available via the Online Resource Center:

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The Los Angeles County Business Federation (BizFed) is an alliance of over 240 business organizations that represent 420,000 employers with 5 million employees in Los Angeles County. As a united federation, BizFed advocates for policies and projects strengthening the regional economy.

To best understand our members, WECA has partnered with BizFed to find out the top areas of concern for the business community and the business outlook for the upcoming year.

Results from the poll will guide advocacy and help key policymakers in our region understand the needs of the business community. Your voice is imperative!

Take the poll here. (It should only take 10 minutes!)
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U.S. Chamber White Paper on "Whole of Government" Union Support

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce released a White Paper detailing the various elements of the Biden/Harris administration's advocacy for unions. The report examines how President Biden's "whole of government" approach to using the federal government to promote unionization harms workers, employers, and the economy. Read the report here

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

Rex Hime, WECA Lobbyist

Rex Hime

“A fair, competitive, and open construction market is imperative to creating jobs and achieving critical infrastructure and electrification upgrades in a fiscally responsible and timely manner. WECA’s Government Relations works with all levels of government to level the competitive playing field so merit shop electrical contractors can focus more on their bottom line.”

Government Relations Director

Political Advocacy and Government Affairs

WECA focuses on the needs of electrical, low voltage, and solar contractors; apprentices, trainees, and journey workers in the Western United States. We are proud to represent thousands of electricians and technicians and hundreds of contractors. Our members believe 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 the public and private marketplace.

WECA’s governmental affairs staff works hard to protect the rights of merit shop business owners and their employees throughout the West. Still, our efforts can only succeed if those in the merit shop community are involved.

Concerns about climate change are rapidly changing the electrical marketplace with new state and Federal emphasis and funding for EV charging, battery energy storage systems, and rapid replacement of carbon-based fuels with electric alternatives. WECA monitors these areas and more to ensure that WECA members are ready to prosper in the growing arena.

Routine activities of the GA staff include:

· Monitoring all Federal and State Legislative and regulatory proposals for beneficial and detrimental changes

· Regular interaction with other business and construction groups in California, Arizona, Utah, 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 construction and business groups such as state and local chambers of commerce, NFIB, CBIA, California Business Roundtable, CFEC, ABC, AGC, and ASCA

· Routinely monitors more than 305 local agencies, including Cities, Counties, School Districts, and other special districts.

· Evaluates state-wide ballot measures and candidates and recommend 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 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

 

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WECA Political Advocacy