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WECA Political Update April 11, 2024Thursday, April 11, 2024

Prop 1 – Taxpayer Rip-off?

WECA opposed Proposition 1 on the March ballot, noting that the $6.38 billion general obligation bond followed $9.2 billion in relief payments—known as the Middle Class Tax Refund (MCTR)—to qualifying recipients. The MCTR was timed to coincide with Governor Gavin Newsom’s 2022 re-election campaign – even though he was running against a token Republican opponent, State Senator Brian Dahle from Bieber. Dahle received 40.8% of the November vote, considerably higher than the 24% Republican registration, suggesting many DTS and possibly registered Democrats were tired of Newsom.

Prop. 1 promises to fund behavioral health treatment, residential facilities, and supportive housing for veterans and individuals at risk of or experiencing homelessness with behavioral health challenges. These are laudable goals but also proverbial “drop in the bucket.” In early 2023, over 181,000 Californians were counted as experiencing homelessness. These funds are estimated to create only 4,350 housing units, with 2,350 set aside for veterans and 6,800 mental health and substance use treatment places for approximately 11,150 new behavioral health and supportive housing units statewide.

Prop. 1 will also shift dollars from counties to the state (from about 5% of total Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) funding to about 10%). This would result in about $140 million annually redirected to the state budget. However, this amount could be higher depending on the total revenue collected from the tax.

The MHSA restructuring will result in significantly less funding for core services, which could lead to counties:

·      Canceling contracts with community-based organizations. 

·      Closing programs that are currently serving Californians.

·      Reducing county staffing.

But back to the MCTR. Rather than have the state’s own financial system issue checks to taxpayers to facilitate these payments, the state hired Money Network Financial, LLC. This out-of-state vendor provides financial services. Under the agreement, Money Network produced and distributed debit cards and provided cardholders with customer service and fraud prevention services. Although MCTR issued payments relatively quickly, according to a recent audit, the provisions of the state’s agreement with Money Network created “certain difficulties related to the administration of the payments.”

The audit noted several critical deficiencies.

·      FTB did not ensure that Money Network consistently provided the required level of customer service to cardholders. Although Money Network received more than 29 million calls—the vast majority of which were handled by its automated system—Money Network did not answer nearly 900,000 of the roughly two million phone calls from callers seeking to speak with an agent about the MCTR program or issues with their debit cards. Weaknesses in FTB’s agreement with Money Network made holding Money Network accountable for its lack of customer service difficult.

·      Although Money Network reported a fraud rate to FTB of less than 1% of the amount distributed through debit cards, the state cannot determine the precise level of fraud in the MCTR program because Money Network did not answer a substantial portion of cardholder calls and has not specifically tracked fraud in the program.

·      Because the agreement’s payment structure bundles most services into a single per-card rate, FTB paid to Money Network nearly 90% of the agreement’s total cost in the first 15 months of the 49-month agreement period. This front-loaded payment structure does not fully safeguard the best interests of the state. In addition, the agreement with Money Network does not include provisions that would allow FTB to assess agreed-upon liquidated damages if Money Network does not comply with agreement terms—provisions found in other state agreements for similar services.

Finally, many debit card recipients have yet to activate their cards. According to information that Money Network provided to FTB, more than one million debit cards worth approximately $611 million in payments had not yet been activated by their recipients as of January 2024.

Time will tell if Prop. 1 will improve homelessness or mental health services. Still, if the history of the MCTR or Governor Newsom’s secretive $1-billion mask deal with Chinese automaker BYD is any bellwether, I am not expecting great results. 

Close Races

In CD-16 (San Mateo), former mayor Sam Licardo won the top slot for the November run-off. Assembly Member Evan Low and Supervisor (and former Assembly Member, former State Senator) Joe Simitian tied for number 2 and 3.

But here’s where, as Politico put it, “In a race that just keeps getting weirder, a Silicon Valley voter who called for a recount in [this] tied House primary election once worked for [Licardo]. The filing says it was made on behalf of candidate Evan Low, who, until this week, was heading to a three-way race in November. But Low vehemently opposes the recount, and the request came from a former staffer for ex-San Jose Mayor Sam Licardo, who advanced to the November general election weeks ago after finishing in first place. Voter Jonathan Padilla agreed to pay more than $300,000 for the recount. He worked for Licardo’s 2014 mayoral campaign and as a policy director for the City of San Jose in 2015 and 2016 while Licardo was mayor. He also donated $1,000 to Licardo’s campaign in December. A spokesperson for Licardo’s campaign denies working with Padilla or funding the recount. Low’s campaign isn’t convinced. ‘There’s zero doubt that Sam Licardo orchestrated this recount and Padilla’s declaration that the recount is on our campaign's behalf is simply disingenuous. Clearly, Sam Licardo doesn’t think he can win a three-way race because he’s showing he will do anything to avoid one,’ spokesperson Whitney Larsen told Politico recently on behalf of Low, bemoaning the ‘expensive and time-consuming’ recount.

A poll funded by the Licardo campaign shows Licardo still has a modest lead: 26%, followed by Low, 2%, Simitian, 20%, and 24% undecided.

In CD-45 (Fountain Valley), Michelle Steel (R) is in first place and will face Derek Tran in this D+5.2 district. Steel defeated Democrat Jay Chen by under 5% in 2022, and the DCCC placed CD-45 on its 2024 target list.

In AD-2, Republican Michael Greer came out on top with 27% of the vote. But in this D+28 district consisting of the counties of Trinity, Del Norte, Humboldt, and Mendocino and portions of Sonoma, he will have a tough election against second-place finisher Santa Rosa Council Member Chris Rogers.

In AD-6 (Sacramento), Democrat Maggy Krell will face Republican Nikki Ellis in this D+30 Assembly seat.

In AD-58 (San Bernardino and Riverside Counties), Democrat Clarissa Cervantes came in second to Republican Leticia Castillo in this D+18 district, meaning this race was decided in March.

In AD-75, former Republican San Diego Council Member Carl DeMaio received 42.9% of the vote and will face another Republican, Andrew Hayes. The result caused a bit of turmoil in San Diego. Story

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ABC Chapter Sues over Biden’s PLA Rule

ABC and its Florida First Coast chapter filed suit to stop the Biden administration’s scheme to mandate PLAs on construction contracts procured by federal agencies. ABC’s complaint asserts that President Joe Biden lacks the legal and constitutional authority to impose a new federal regulation, injuring the economy and efficiency in federal contracting and illegally steering construction contracts to certain unionized contractors, which employ roughly 10% of the U.S. construction workforce. Story

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California Supreme Court Clarifies the Scope of “Hours Worked” Under California Law

On March 25, 2024, the California Supreme Court issued a highly anticipated decision in Huerta v. CSI Electrical Contractors, Inc. The court responded to the request from the Ninth Circuit to answer three questions about Wage Order No. 16 and clarify the scope of the term “hours worked.” Although the case discusses the “hours worked” standard in the context of the construction industry, the decision is likely to impact every industry, especially businesses that require employees to go through security checks at the beginning and end of the workday and businesses that confine employees to specific areas of company property during meal breaks. More

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California Isn’t Coming for Your AC (Yet)

The California Energy Commission stopped short recently of pushing homeowners to install heat pumps to replace worn-out central air conditioners. The reason? Cost. “It was a difficult case to make, in terms of both the additional costs up front and then also potentially causing real energy costs overall to increase for some customers,” Commissioner Andrew McAllister told reporters. It was a blow for heat pumps, which are supposed to proliferate to 6 million in California by 2030 with support from federal tax incentives of up to $2,000 and additional state incentives.

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New Sacramento Parking Garage at SMF

Sacramento-based Otto Construction was awarded the $229 million Design/Build contract. This will be the firm’s second parking garage project at SMF as they also constructed the Terminal A garage in 2004. Otto said at the award they were comfortable with building under a PLA—which was mandated by a 3-2 vote by the Board of Supervisors earlier this year.

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California Legislature Sends Gavin Newsom Budget Deal to Slash Deficit 

Legislation that will reduce California’s budget deficit by $17.3 billion through spending cuts, deferrals, and other measures is headed for Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk. The state Assembly and Senate approved Assembly Bill 106 along party lines today, advancing part of a deal negotiated by Newsom and Democratic legislative leaders over the past few weeks. The governor is expected to sign the legislation. Assembly Budget Chair Jesse Gabriel said the package was a first step and that the Legislature has the right to revisit the cuts and delays depending on future revenue figures.

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Celebrating 13 Years of Serving Military-Connected Job Seekers 

March officially marked 13 years of Hiring Our Heroes! They have been dedicated to driving positive change for transitioning service members, veterans, military spouses, and caregivers for over a decade. Here's to another 13 years of empowering the nation’s heroes and making a lasting difference together! Information

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Solar to Supreme Court

Politico writes the dispute over the value of rooftop solar is going to the California Supreme Court, which agreed Wednesday to hear a challenge from environmental groups to a 2022 California Public Utilities Commission decision.

The court agreed to hear the Center for Biological Diversity and two other groups' appeal of a lower appellate court's December ruling that upheld the CPUC's decision to slash rooftop solar reimbursements in its net energy metering program by about 75%. The development is a victory for the solar industry, and some environmental groups are pushing on multiple fronts for California to make small-scale solar power a central part of its transition to clean energy and utility-scale renewables. CBD senior attorney Roger Lin called it a "ray of hope" for the rooftop solar industry, which layoffs and bankruptcies have buffeted.

When the CPUC reduced the reimbursements, commissioners said the higher payments of the past had served their purpose of growing a mature rooftop market in the state. Since the programs are subsidized by people without panels (to the tune of $6.5 billion per year, according to a recent analysis), it was time to reduce them, commissioners said.

In their lawsuit, the CBD, Environmental Working Group, and the Protect Our Communities Foundation said that the CPUC had failed to fully account for rooftop solar’s social benefits, hadn't sufficiently promoted renewable energy, and had overlooked disadvantaged communities.

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Biden: ‘Union labor and American steel’ will rebuild Key Bridge

Standing in front of the crumbled wreckage of the Francis Scott Key Bridge, President Joe Biden re-upped his commitment to the federal government funding the span’s replacement, saying he would “move heaven and earth” to rebuild it quickly. During a windswept afternoon on the banks of the Patapsco River, the president said the top priority remains opening the channel for port traffic and emphasized the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ goal to clear a path for commercial vessels by the end of May. Biden said the new bridge would be built “with union labor and American steel,” as he stood on the grounds of the Maryland Transportation Authority Police headquarters, about a half mile east of the span. Story

WECA Political Update March 28, 2024Thursday, March 28, 2024

 

Election Analysis Based on Unofficial Results. Results will be certified by April 12, 2024

Prop 1 Won by a Thread

It is passing by just 27,218 votes out of over 7.3 million cast. But the fallout is interesting. While Gavin Newsom called the win “huge,” two Orange County cities – Newport Beach and Huntington Beach – have severed ties with the California League of Cities over the League's support of Prop 1. Proposition 1 allows for a by right, streamlined approval process for developments funded by the bond. Developments that fall under the category of behavioral health treatment residential settings and drug addiction treatment facilities are included. If projects meet criteria and receive funding through the bond, cities can apply objective design standards to these projects. Still, they will otherwise be limited in slowing down or stopping a project from being constructed.

You can see the Secretary of State election reporting here.

Close Races

In CD-16 (San Mateo), former mayor Sam Licardo holds the top slot for the November run-off. Assembly Member Evan Low and Supervisor (and former Assembly Member, former State Senator) Joe Simitian are dueling for number two. As of March 26, only two votes separate the two in what will be a D-on-D race later this year. Both sides have said they’d expect a re-count. This is a D+37 district, so Licardo is probably disappointed that two Republicans were on the March ballot, splitting the R vote.

In CD-45 (Fountain Valley), Michelle Steel (R) is in first place, and two Democrats are fighting to run against her in November. About 200 votes separate Kim Bernice Nguyen-Penaloza and Derek Tran in this D+5.2 district. Steel defeated Democrat Jay Chen by under 5% in 2022, and the DCCC placed CD45 on its 2024 target list.

In AD-2, Republican Michael Greer came out on top with 27% of the vote. But in this D+28 district consisting of Trinity, Del Norte, Humboldt, and Mendocino counties and portions of Sonoma County, he doesn’t stand a chance against likely second-place finisher, Santa Rosa Councilmember Chris Rogers.

In AD-6 (Sacramento), Maggy Krell will defeat the likely second-place finisher in this D+30 Assembly seat being vacated by Kevin McCarty, who, for some reason, wants to return to the Sacramento City Council he left to run for Assembly in 2014. McCarty came in second in his race for mayor and will face novice politician Dr. Flojaune Cofer. Flo promises to “solve our homelessness and housing crisis, make our streets safer, and create thousands of quality jobs while protecting our climate.” That may be tough in a city facing a $60 million deficit in a strong economy.

In AD-8 (Fresno), two Republicans, former Representative George Radanovich and David Tangipa, will face off in November. The big question is where the Democrats who supported Caleb Helsel will go. Will they stay home?

In AD-58 (San Bernardino and Riverside Counties), which Democrat will face Republican Leticia Castillo in November? About 200 votes separate Ronaldo Fierro and Clarissa Cervantes in this D+18 district. Cervantes is the Riverside Council sister of incumbent Sabrina Cervantes, who decided to move up to the “bigs,” thus giving her sister a shot at moving to Sacramento. Sis may have hurt her chance with two DUIs, but maybe voters in the district are willing to forgive and forget – kind of like Dave Min in CD-47. Ok, Dave only has one DUI.

In AD-75, former Republican San Diego Councilmember (there were Republicans on the San Diego City Council?) Carl DeMaio ended up with 43% of the vote and will face either Republican Andrew Hayes or Democrat Kevin Juza. Only 600 votes separate those two in the R+11 district. Hayes had a lock on the seat until DeMaio entered the race.

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2024 OFCCP Certification Cycle Announced

In 2022, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) began requiring that federal contractors and subcontractors subject to the affirmative action requirements of Executive Order 11246 annually certify that they are meeting their requirement to develop and maintain annual affirmative plans (AAPs). On March 25, 2024, OFCCP announced its third annual certification cycle. Beginning on April 1, 2024, OFCCP will accept certifications by federal contractors and subcontractors that they have developed and maintained compliant affirmative action programs for each establishment. Learn more

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California Releases Workplace Violence Prevention Guidance

California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) recently published guidance to assist employers in complying with Senate Bill 553 ahead of the law’s employer compliance date of July 1, 2024. SB 553 requires virtually all employers to develop, implement, and maintain an “effective” written workplace violence prevention plan (WVPP), train employees, and create and maintain extensive records regarding workplace violence.

The guidance includes a model WVPP for general industry (non-healthcare settings), and fact sheets for employers and employees. Employers must customize the model WVPP for their specific workforce. Under the law, only certain healthcare facilities, employees teleworking from locations of their choice and not under the control of their employers, and places of employment with fewer than ten employees and not accessible to the public are exempt from the law’s requirements. Although Cal/OSHA is not required to adopt workplace violence standards until December 31, 2026, it may begin enforcing the law on July 1, 2024. Thus, employers must now take steps to draft, implement, and train employees on their WVPPs. Story

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National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction scheduled for May

  • OSHA is gearing up for its 11th annual National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction, scheduled for May 6-10, 2024.
  • OSHA describes its Safety Stand-Down as a voluntary event for employers to talk directly to employees about safety.
  • The National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction focuses on fall hazards and was created to reinforce the importance of fall prevention.
  • To help employers prepare for this year’s event, OSHA has developed a page that answers frequently asked questions about how to conduct a Safety Stand-Down, who can participate, how to receive a certificate of participation, and other information.

Read more

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NorCal Lost its Only BOI Investigator

Cal/OSHA's Bureau of Investigations (BOI) will have no personnel in Northern California following the resignation of Julio Alfaro, a senior investigator who was the lone BOI representative in the north state. Alfaro accepted a position outside of state government effective immediately. BOI, mandated by the California Labor Code, is responsible for criminal investigations involving workplace fatalities and serious injuries. It also refers cases to local prosecuting authorities. Alfaro's resignation follows last year’s resignation of Chris Kuhns, a 14-year veteran who left, he says, after being denied an opportunity to become a compliance safety and health officer at the Division of Occupational Safety and Health.

The BOI's vacancy rate is now 85%, with one investigator left for the entire State of California. The Bureau has no investigators in Northern California, one in Southern California, and a supervisor based in the South. The resignation adds to the Department of Industrial Relations staff shortage. DIR is actively recruiting and interviewing to fill its open positions. [Cal-OSHA Reporter]

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The Fletcher Lawsuit Mess

Grecia Figueroa’s lawsuit against former San Diego supervisor Nathan Fletcher keeps hitting snags. Figueroa is now parting ways with a second attorney in the case. She also failed to appear at a hearing Wednesday “where Fletcher’s lawyers were set to demand access to Figueroa’s phone and the phone of a witness, a friend of Figueroa’s,” as Voice of San Diego’s Scott Lewis reports. Figueroa is suing Fletcher and the Metropolitan Transit System, her former employer, for what she alleges were sexual harassment and assault by Fletcher. Fletcher, as part of his role as supervisor, was serving as chair of the MTS board at that time. Fletcher has reportedly reunited with his wife, Labor Fed CEO Lorena Gonzalez. More

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Despite Opposition, Phoenix Passes New Heat Regulations

Several construction firms say they already meet the new heat requirements established by the city of Phoenix, while others say the new requirements raise questions that could negatively impact schedules and budgets.

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Dave Everett (left), WECA's new Southern California Government Relations Representative, is shown giving a tour of WECA's Riverside Electrical Apprenticeship and Training Center to San Bernardino City Councilman Damon Alexander (center) last Fall.

New Face at WECA

WECA is happy to announce an official addition to our Government Relations team! Dave Everett was hired earlier this month to serve as our Southern California Government Relations Representative. Dave has been working closely with our Government Relations team in a related capacity for the past few years, and will now focus on our San Diego and Riverside facilities while advocating for the merit shop philosophy and your ability as a WECA member to work in the greater area.

Dave’s hiring aligns directly with the Board’s Government Relations plan. By entrenching ourselves in the regions surrounding our campuses, we can more effectively impact grassroots and grass tops activities.

Dave’s background includes serving as a Political Consultant for Southern California Congress, Assembly, and County Supervisor candidates, the Government Affairs Director for the Associated Builders and Contractors Southern California Chapter (ABC SoCal), Executive Director for the Republican Party of Orange County, and District Director for former California State Assemblyman Van Tran. In each position, Dave worked closely with many top elected officials, organizations, and media outlets throughout Southern California.

Starting his political career by getting his political science degree from the University of California, Riverside, Dave then worked for Congressman Ken Calvert on Capitol Hill as a Congressional Liaison. The time in D.C. allowed him to learn a lot about the legislative process and even the opportunity to help pass several bills on the House floor. After returning to Southern California, Everett worked for Assemblyman Todd Spitzer, O’Reilly Public Relations, and served as Executive Director of the Riverside County GOP before taking the position with Assemblyman Tran in early 2006.

Dave’s passions are free enterprise, investing in infrastructure, reducing overburdensome regulations on California’s job creators, and anything involving the Los Angeles Angels baseball team or Los Angeles Lakers. He is happily married to his high school sweetheart Nicole and resides in Costa Mesa, California, with their two daughters, Hailey and Summer.

Welcome, Dave!

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Baskin-Robbins Opening New Fresno Location

Thirty-one people can win free ice cream for a year if they win a Baskin-Robbins contest at their new Fresno location. It’s all happening at the Saturday grand opening of the newest Baskin-Robbins at 8959 N. Cedar Ave., near Shepherd Avenue in the same shopping center as Vons. The event runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. I think we know where Rex Hime will be on Saturday morning. Read more 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