from Damon R. Conklin, Director of Government Affairs, Sacramento Regional Builders Exchange
Last week, President Biden unveiled his $2.3 trillion proposal to invest in upgrading and expanding the nation’s crumbling and outdated infrastructure. The massive plan includes $932 billion for a wide range of infrastructure projects with most of it — $621 billion — directed towards transportation. It also includes funding for building schools, improving water systems, constructing and renovating affordable housing, building better internet and communications systems and creating more clean energy infrastructure ($174 billion for electric vehicle incentives). To pay for his plan, Biden proposed raising corporate taxes from 21% to 28% and making a number of other changes to various corporate and business tax programs. SRBX has long supported overdue federal investment in our infrastructure and we will be reviewing the Biden plan and following up with our members in the coming weeks for their input before announcing a formal position.
GREEN BUILDING STANDARD CODE – EV CHARGING
The California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) will present proposed changes, specifically related to electric vehicle charging, for the 2022 CALGreen Code, at a meeting on April 12, 2021. If you build multi-family property this code WILL AFFECT YOU and we encourage you to participate and provide feedback. The online meeting is limited to 250 people so make sure you call in early, to 916-535-0998 and use Conference ID: 886 941 744# or click here to join via Microsoft Teams. For more information, visit the Building Code Development and Adoption webpage.
CALIFORNIANS SUPPORT CITIZENSHIP PATHWAY
An overwhelming majority of Californians support a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and two-thirds say the state should provide them health care, according to a poll released late Tuesday by the Public Policy Institute of California. The figures come amid a two-decade high in border crossings to which two California Democrats — Vice President Kamala Harris and Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra — are leading the national response. The Golden State is home to about 2 million undocumented immigrants, the most in the nation.
But while a citizenship pathway is supported by 93% of Democrats, 81% of independents and 68% of Republicans, that bipartisanship ends when it comes to health care. Only 20% of Republicans support giving coverage to undocumented residents, compared to 82% of Democrats. (California already provides health care to undocumented residents up to age 25.) Still, the overall 66% support is much higher than the 54% rate in 2015, the last time PPIC polled the issue.
CONSTRUCTION ADDS 110,000 JOBS IN MARCH
The construction industry added 110,000 jobs in March, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The industry has added 931,000 jobs since April 2020, recovering 83.6% of the jobs lost during earlier stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. The construction unemployment rate fell to 8.6% in March from 9.6% in February, but it is still 1.7 percentage points higher than in March 2020. Unemployment across all industries declined from 6.2% in February to 6.0% in March. A significant percentage of the job growth was registered in nonresidential construction, which added 73,100 jobs in March.
BUSINESSES TO SHOULDER COSTS
The Golden State recovered nearly 91% of the jobs it lost in December and January, with leisure and hospitality gaining 102,200 jobs as restaurants and hotels reopened. But its unemployment rate, which is still more than double what it was in February 2020, is the third-highest in the country. And the state has borrowed a staggering 40% of the $53 billion the federal government has loaned to cash-strapped states and territories to pay jobless benefits. California’s unemployment insurance debt amounts to $21.2 billion — a deficit EDD officials expect to hit $48 billion by the end of the year.
Likely picking up the tab: California businesses, which pay taxes financing the state’s unemployment insurance fund. They’re already paying a 15% emergency surcharge due to the fund’s insolvency, and many say higher unemployment taxes will make it harder for them to recover and rehire workers.
Economists say the time is ripe to overhaul California’s unemployment insurance fund, which is the most unstable in the nation. Although paying jobless claims has been one of California’s most pervasive challenges amid the pandemic, Gov. Gavin Newsom has largely avoided mentioning the issue apart from forming and disbanding an EDD “strike team” last year. Critics noted the unemployment agency was conspicuously absent in his State of the State speech earlier this month.
But problems remain rampant. The department’s backlog has topped 1 million claims for eight straight weeks, though EDD said on Friday that 86% of the logjam is due to jobless Californians not certifying their eligibility as required. But the department’s own website has hindered certification, and EDD acknowledged in a Friday report to the state Legislature that hundreds of thousands of certified claims are still “pending Department resolution.” EDD also answered just 10.5% of the 2.5 million calls it received from March 13 to 20, according to a dashboard the agency published Friday. Those 2.5 million calls came from about 311,000 unique callers — indicating that each person called EDD about eight times in an attempt to get through.
SCHWARZENEGGER’S ADVICE FOR NEWSOM
Arnold Schwarzenegger, the only California governor to win a recall election and the last Republican to lead the state, has spoken out for the first time about the effort to recall Newsom. Here’s a breakdown of interesting nuggets from Schwarzenegger’s interview with Politico, as well as some advice he has for Newsom.
- On what helped Schwarzenegger win the recall: “The people were looking for an outsider. … I made it very clear to the people of California that I don’t see the Democrats as the enemy, and I don’t see Republicans as the enemy.”
- On Newsom depicting the campaign as a “Republican recall” led by extremists: “This is the crazy thing here, when they say it’s a ‘power grab’ of the Republicans. Let me tell you, the (California) Republicans couldn’t even get anyone elected. … These are the signatures of the ordinary folks that have signed on.”
- On who might jump into the race: “What would happen if George Clooney would run for the governorship? What if Brad Pitt would run? If Oprah Winfrey would run?”
- On what Newsom should do: “He should … really always just think about the people — and not about the unions, not about the party, not about any of that — just the people. And to solve the problems. Solve the problems.”
PROP 65 LAWSUIT GRANTED PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION
We are pleased to share the good news below regarding legal action on Proposition 65. We have been working closely with the CalChamber and a group of allied business organizations to try to address issues related with Proposition 65 implementation in the state of California. This has been ongoing for several years and impact your properties through needing signage in many areas, too expensive and time-consuming lawsuits:
Chief United States District Judge Kimberly Mueller granted CalChamber’s motion for preliminary injunction in its Proposition 65 case involving Acrylamide warnings on food and beverages. From the attached ruling:
While this action is pending and until a further order of this court, no person may file or prosecute a new lawsuit to enforce the Proposition 65 warning requirement for cancer as applied to acrylamide in food and beverage products. This injunction applies to the requirement that any “person in the course of doing business” provide a “clear and reasonable warning” for cancer before “expos[ing] any individual to” acrylamide in food and beverage products under California Health & Safety Code § 25249.6. It applies to the Attorney General and his officers, employees, or agents, and all those in privity or acting in concert with those entities or individuals, including private enforcers under section 25249.7(d) of the California Health & Safety Code.
Click here to read the full statement.
Damon R. Conklin
Director of Government Affairs
Sacramento Regional Builders Exchange
5370 Elvas Avenue ǀ Sacramento, CA 95819
Telephone: 916.442.8991 ǀ Cell: 916.290.3400
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org ǀ www.srbx.org