from Damon R. Conklin, Director of Government Affairs, Sacramento Regional Builders Exchange
OSHA NOW SAYS CONTRACTORS, OTHER EMPLOYERS SHOULD NOT RECORD VACCINE REACTIONS
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration reversed course on employer-mandated COVID-19 vaccinations on May 21. OSHA also changed guidance that previously said employers should record all adverse reactions to required vaccinations.
The new guidance gives employers a roughly one-year period during which COVID-19 vaccination reactions will not be required to be reported by the agency. The agency's new online frequently asked questions page now reads:
"The Department of Labor and OSHA, as well as other federal agencies, are working diligently to encourage COVID-19 vaccinations. OSHA does not wish to have any appearance of discouraging workers from receiving COVID-19 vaccination, and also does not wish to disincentivize employers’ vaccination efforts. As a result, OSHA will not enforce 29 CFR 1904’s recording requirements to require any employers to record worker side effects from COVID-19 vaccination through May 2022. We will reevaluate the agency’s position at that time to determine the best course of action moving forward."
Most national construction and labor associations registered positive reactions to OSHA’s change, but one national General Contacting company noted the guidance is welcome and will help them keep working at all its jobsites, but there is still a lot of uncertainty for contractors dealing with the issue of employee vaccination.
GOVERNOR’S SPENDING IS NOT SUSTAINABLE
On Monday, the California State Legislative Analyst’s Office released a study “The 2021-22 Budget: Multiyear Budget Outlook.” The LAO’s findings conclude “the level of ongoing spending proposed by the Governor is only supportable with a revenue forecast that is more optimistic than the administration’s current estimates.”
NEWSOM BUDGET TACKLES WEALTH INEQUITY
With the state’s tax revenue coffers bursting at the seams, Governor Newsom wants to direct some of the surplus to low- and middle-income Californians, from sending out $600 stimulus checks for those making under $75,000 to providing rent and utility assistance. Experts said his budget proposal could strengthen the social safety net for those at the very bottom.
Conservatives are questioning Newsom’s plan, calling for permanent tax cuts instead of more spending, but others on the left want Newsom to go even further, urging him to consider new taxes on the wealthy. Newsom has shot down that idea time and again, but it continues to circulate in the Legislature.
California’s tax structure is known for its reliance on the gains of the wealthy. In 2018, the top 1% paid nearly half of the state’s personal income taxes. That reliance is especially notable this year, with wealth gains among high earners propelling California to a $76 billion surplus.
VAX FOR CASH: NEWSOM OFFERS BIG BUCKS FOR CALIFORNIANS WHO GET THEIR SHOTS
For Californians who are insufficiently compelled by civic duty and self-preservation to get vaccinated, Gov. Gavin Newsom is offering another reason to get the jab: cold, hard cash.
COUNTRY'S LARGEST CONSTRUCTION FIRMS ANNOUNCE EARNINGS
Over the past several weeks, some of the largest construction firms in the country announced financial earnings. While revenue, backlog and other markers of financial health varied among these construction giants, all of them reported feeling the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many also noted their confidence in a rising tide of future work, especially in the civil sector, amid hopes of the passage of a federal infrastructure package.
LAWMAKERS PUSH 11 BILLS AIMED AT REDUCING WILDFIRE THREATS
The legislative package moving through the state Senate covers four areas: wildfire prevention, workforce training, home insurance and funding. Those areas are outlined in a policy blueprint from a subset of Senate Democrats who have been working on wildfire issues for the past two years.
Among the bills being advocated by the fire-focused senators is SB45, which would place a $5.6 billion bond before voters next year. It would fund projects to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires and help communities burned in past disasters recover while also providing money for wetland protection, making the state’s water supplies more drought-resistant and other efforts.
KEY SENATE PANEL ADVANCES $303.5B HIGHWAY BILL
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee has unanimously approved a $303.5 billion highway bill, marking a 34% increase in five-year funding from the last comparable legislation. The measure now may advance as a standalone bill or be folded into a more comprehensive infrastructure bill.
GOP NARROWS GAP IN INFRASTRUCTURE BILL NEGOTIATIONS
On Thursday this week, Senate Republicans unveiled a nearly $1 trillion infrastructure proposal in a bid to compromise with the White House. The spending would be allocated over eight years, as would the Biden administration's plan, which currently calls for $1.7 trillion.
OAKLAND A’S, MLB, PUSH FOR $1B PRIVATELY FINANCED WATERFRONT STADIUM
Major League Baseball's Oakland Athletics are likely getting a new stadium — the question is if it will be in Oakland, California, or if the team will leave the city and the aging Oakland Coliseum behind. The team has pushed for building a waterfront ballpark downtown at Howard Terminal for three years, but years of planning have failed to come to fruition. The decision to possibly relocate became public when the organization requested the city council vote on the $12 billion mixed-use development.
On April 23, A's President Dave Kaval released a development agreement term sheet — the financial offer for the Oakland City Council to review and vote on. The plans provided some details on the Howard Terminal ballpark, including:
- A $1 billion, privately financed, state-of-the-art ballpark on Oakland's waterfront.
- Fully funded on-site projects through private financing and project-generated revenues, including public parks, protection against sea level rise and environmental remediation.
- A commitment to unionized labor in the construction and operation of the ballpark.
- $450 million from project-generated revenue to be used for community benefits like affordable housing.
The Oakland City Council was quick to reply it was false that they were delaying or refusing to consider the A's proposal, stating “many people, including city staff negotiating with the A's, have been hard at work developing the work needed to bring a project proposal forward for potential approval."