CAPHCC Legislative Update by Richard Markuson, Lobbyist

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PW Contractor Registration Site On-Line

The State’s website for online registration before bidding on public works contracts in California is live. The application also provides agencies that administer public works programs with a searchable database of qualified contractors.

Legislation

Apprenticeship
The Senate Labor Committee approved PHCC opposed AB 1870 by Assembly Member Alejo (D-Salinas) that recasts the allocation of J-man contributions sent to the CAC. The vote was a party line 4-1.

Design/Build
The Assembly Transportation Committee approved SB 1433 by Senator Hill (D-San Mateo) that extends D/B authority for transit projects. Both PHCC and the State Building Trades oppose the bill – PHCC because of union-preference language and the SBCTC because the bill does not (yet) contain workforce language like SB 54.

 

Labor Law
The Senate Judiciary Committee approved PHCC opposed AB 1522 by San Diego’s Lorena Gonzales that would mandate paid sick pay for virtually ever California employer. It now goes to the Appropriations Committee where the costs to the state (but not private employers) will be tallied.

The Senate Labor Committee passed AB 1723 by Assembly Member Nazarain (D-Sherman Oaks) that authorizes the Labor Commissioner to include “waiting time” penalties in wage citations. PHCC opposes because this expansion of the authority of investigators employed by the Labor Commission places employers at a disadvantage because the establishment of underpayments should remain under the purview of an administrative hearing.

The same committee passed PHCC opposed AB 2416 by Assembly Member Stone (D-Scotts Valley) that allows virtually any employee to file a property lien on the employers real property or property on which the employee furnished labor.

The Assembly Labor Committee refused to pass SB 935 by Senator Leno (D-San Francisco) that would – for the second year in a row – raise California’s minimum wage – this time to $13. Even Democrats thought it was too much – coming on the heels of last years increase.

Public Works
Awaiting final passage is PHCC supported AB 1939 by Assembly Member Tom Daly (D-Anaheim) that would allow a contractor to recover its higher costs if a private job is determined to be a public works job.

Also waiting is PHCC supported AB 1705 by Assembly Member Williams (D-Santa Barbara) that narrows the ability of public agencies to retain progress payments.

Taxes
Good news! With 1-3 vote (with 5 abstentions) PHCC opposed SB 1021 by Senator Wolk (D-Davis), a de facto split-roll parcel tax bill, failed passage in the Assembly Revenue and Taxation Committee.

Tort Reform
Civil Justice Association of California-sponsored AB 2494 by Assembly Member Cooley(D-Rancho Cordova) passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee and now moves to the Senate Appropriations Committee. This bill would allow judges to sanction lawyers for costly and unnecessary legal tactics aimed to harass or delay. California is ranked as having one of the worst legal climates in the nation, and this bill would be a small step in improving our reputation.

Also, this week a large coalition was able to defeat SB 1188 By Senator Jackson(D-Santa Barbara). This bill would have subsumed existing warranty law by significantly expanding tort liability against manufacturers and retailers. It would have encouraged class action lawsuits by allowing plaintiffs to sue long after a product’s warranty expires for any latent defect by claiming they would not have bought the product “if they had known” about whatever the claimed problem was. This bill would have encouraged lawsuits on every product imaginable including, food, clothing, or any product years later. It was a priority bill for the Consumer Attorneys of California (CAOC) this year.

Labor Law Update
The US Supreme Court unanimously held in NLRB v. Noel Canning that President Obama’s January 2012 recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) during a pro-forma session of the U.S. Senate were unconstitutional.  As a result of the President’s unlawful actions, hundreds of reported and unreported NLRB decisions issued between January 2012 and August 2013 are potentially invalid.

The Coalition for a Democratic Workplace (CDW) was engaged in this issue from the beginning and shortly after the President made the unlawful recess appointments, it began working with Jones Day to identify possible cases where it could intervene and support a challenge to the appointments. CDW supported Noel Canning and its counsel, including the US Chamber’s Litigation Center and Jones Day, as they litigated the case before the Supreme Court and filed amicus brief on behalf of CDW and its over 600 association, business and other members.

In the wake of the decision, NLRB Chair Mark Gaston Pearce issued the following statement:

“The Supreme Court has today decided the Noel Canning case. We are analyzing the impact that the Court’s decision has on Board cases in which the January 2012 recess appointees participated. Today, the National Labor Relations Board has a full contingent of five Senate-confirmed members who are prepared to fulfill our responsibility to enforce the National Labor Relations Act. The Agency is committed to resolving any cases affected by today’s decision as expeditiously as possible.”

In other words – the full NLRB will take up all the cases affected by the Court’s ruling and pass them again.

 

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