Capitol Update - December 17, 2021

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from Mark Smith, Advocate, California Builders Alliance

 REPEATNew 2022 California Employment Laws White Paper Available to Download

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to be a primary focus in 2021, the California Legislature crafted and sent several hundred bills to Governor Gavin Newsom’s desk. As 2021 winds to a close, what better way to prepare for 2022 than by familiarizing yourself with employment law changes happening when January hits?

For instance, a new law builds on 2020’s changes to the California Family Rights Act (CFRA), clarifying that employees can take CFRA leave to care for parents-in-law with serious health conditions and expanding the provisions of the CFRA small employer mediation program.

Then there’s the expansion of the enforcement authority of the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) through two new violation categories for which Cal/OSHA can issue citations.

Another one to keep in mind is SB 331, which further restricts the use of nondisclosure provisions in settlement agreements.

Prompted by the “Me Too” movement, in 2019, California passed laws that restricted the use of such provisions for claims involving allegations of sexual harassment, sexual assault or discrimination based on sex — but SB 331 significantly expands those restrictions. Beginning January 1, 2022, nondisclosure provisions are prohibited in cases of alleged workplace harassment or discrimination based on any characteristic protected under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, not just those based on sex.

This white paper also discusses how SB 331 limits the use of nondisclosure provisions in employment severance agreements, as well as:

• Small adjustments to the state’s worker classification laws;

• COVID-19-related legislation that went into effect immediately upon being signed; and

• Much more.

The New 2022 California Employment Laws white paper is now available for nonmembers to download. CalChamber members can access the white paper by logging onto HRCalifornia

PPI for final demand advances 0.8% in November; services rise 0.7%, goods increase 1.2% 

The Producer Price Index for final demand increased 0.8 percent in November, as the index for final demand services rose 0.7 percent and prices for final demand goods moved up 1.2 percent. The final demand index advanced 9.6 percent for the 12 months ended in November. 

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CPI for all items rises 0.8% in November; gas, food, shelter, vehicle indexes all rise 

In November, the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers rose 0.8 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis; rising 6.8 percent over the last 12 months, not seasonally adjusted. The index for all items less food and energy increased 0.5 percent in November (SA); up 4.9 percent over the year (NSA). 

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Study: 75% of unvaccinated workers say mandates might make them quit

A majority of employees are in favor of vaccine mandates at their jobs to stave off the spread of COVID-19, but differing views between inoculated and unvaccinated workers are causing tension in the workplace, according to a new report.  Research by Seattle-based Qualtrics, a provider of management software, found that a majority of American employees support vaccine mandates, whether from their own firm or the government, and 59% of employees supported their current employer implementing vaccine mandates, regardless of the size of the company.  Seventy-five percent of unvaccinated workers say they are considering leaving their job when mandates go into effect, but at the same time, given the current labor shortage, the majority of them aren't worried about getting fired if they refuse the shot. Meanwhile, 64% of vaccinated workers and 49% of unvaccinated employees said vaccine requirements, or the discussion of them, have caused contention at their job.  

AGC contests vaccine mandate in court

The Associated General Contractors of America and two of its chapters in Texas have filed suit to block a federal coronavirus vaccine mandate for workers. AGC has advocated for the vaccines but cites a severe shortage of skilled workers that could endanger federal projects, partly due to the reluctance of some to take the shots. Full Story: Global Construction Review (UK) 

Buh Bye: Tesla moves headquarters to $1B Texas 'Gigafactory'

Tesla has relocated its corporate headquarters to Austin, Texas, per a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission obtained by Construction Dive. The new headquarters is on the site of the company's "Gigafactory," which is still under construction. Co-founder and CEO Elon Musk indicated that Tesla would move from Palo Alto, California, to Texas during a shareholder meeting Oct. 7 presented at the facility. Tesla began the megaproject in summer 2020, and hopes to finish it by the end of this 2021, Business Insider reported. The company plans to spend more than $1.06 billion on the project by the time it is finished. 

Federal highway funding up 22% in current fiscal year

The Federal Highway Administration has outlined how $52.5 billion in new federal infrastructure spending will be allocated to individual states in fiscal 2022. The total is up 22% from the previous year, with Texas slated for the largest share. Full Story: Engineering News-Record (tiered subscription model) 

How firms are preparing for an influx of civil spending

Contractors are already taking steps to make sure they're ready for the $1.2 trillion infrastructure package to hit the streets. According to industry sources, construction pros are both reaching out to local design engineers and municipalities to gauge upcoming projects, while implementing their own technical solutions to be able to hit the ground running when dollars finally materialize. At the same time, they are bracing for an increased strain on construction's existing labor shortage. "We want to get a sense of where these projects are, how far out they may be from actually being truly shovel ready," said Chad Goodfellow, CEO of Goodfellow Bros., a century old Hawaii-based contractor with experience in heavy civil construction projects. "Then we'll be able to start to position our resources, our people, to create availability to potentially go after a hopeful increase of new construction projects that may be available." Goodfellow said his team is reaching out to local design engineers and municipalities to get a sense of how their state transportation and infrastructure program may change in regards to the additional funding that will be available through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. 

Is It This? Construction starts minus residential edge up in Nov.

November construction starts minus the residential category rose 1.7% from the preceding month to $30.4 billion, avoiding the usual seasonal downturn, according to ConstructConnect. However, the latest figure was down 8% from November 2020. Full Story: Daily Commercial News (Ontario) (12/15)  

Or Is It That? Dodge: Construction starts down after exceptional Oct.

Seasonally adjusted construction starts in November fell 14% after an unusually active October marked by three major projects, according to Dodge Construction Network. Without those exceptional starts in October, starts would have been up 5%, aided by a 3% gain in residential. Full Story: Dodge Data & Analytics 

One Federal Decision will save time, money in infrastructure permitting

The recently passed Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) re-establishes One Federal Decision, which aims to streamline and expedite the federal environmental review processes required for infrastructure projects of a certain size under the National Environmental Protection Act. One Federal Decision, originally part of a Trump administration executive order that was revoked by President Joe Biden earlier this year, requires cooperation between agencies, concurrent review processes and the creation of a "permitting timetable" with a fixed deadline. This process is managed through a lead federal agency for both federal and non-federal projects. Some experts estimate that One Federal Decision could shorten permit review processes from as much as 10 years down to two years. Additionally, analysts predict that its reintroduction may save more than the cost of the entire infrastructure bill — $1.2 trillion — in costs associated with permitting delays, according to an opinion piece for The Hill

Economists: Build Back Better would help tame inflation

A group of 56 economists holds that the spending in President Joe Biden's Build Back Better Act will produce results that may tamp down inflation instead of contributing to it. They argue the legislation would lower the cost of essential items such as health care and education at a time when there's considerable upward pressure on prices. Full Story: Axios 

Redefining WOTUS a priority for Biden

President Joe Biden on Friday released a nearly 2,700-item regulatory agenda that includes redefining what are considered waters of the US. The Environmental Protection Agency last month introduced a proposed rule to jettison the WOTUS definition adopted under the Trump administration, and it is expected to advance a new definition in February, the regulatory agenda says. Full Story: Bloomberg Law



Mark Smith


California Builders Alliance

5370 Elvas Avenue ǀ Sacramento, CA 95819
Cell: 916.335.5072


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