Business 'As Usual' at the State Capitol as Elections Approach
You would think this year it would be all about the budget and resolving California’s woeful financial picture. Governor Jerry Brown spent all last year trying to broker a deal between legislative democrats and republicans but came up short. This year he is headed to the November ballot with a temporary tax increase that is coupled with ongoing budget cuts in an effort to stem California’s budget deficits.
Even though the legislative budget committees are holding nearly 80 hearings on various parts of the proposed Governor’s budget, the Legislature has swung back into action in regular fashion in the second year of the two year 2011-2012 Legislative Session, introducing thousands of bills covering every subject imaginable.
The AGC legislative Committee met on March 8 and reviewed dozens of bills that had been identified as impacting the construction industry. A listing of some of those bills, including legislation that AGC is sponsoring or co-sponsoring, is below.
AGC Sponsored/Co-Sponsored Bills include: AB 780 (Calderon, Charles)
– Sales Tax on Fixed Price Contracts – would provide contractors relief from having to absorb a state sales tax increase if they entered into fixed price contracts prior to enactment of an increase in the state sales tax. AB 1671 (Huffman)
– Retention on Caltrans Contracts – would provide that Caltrans would continue to not hold retention on contracts until the year 2020.
Other legislation of interest includes: SB 475(Wright)
would clarify the procedures for local agencies to enter into public private partnership projects (P3) and allow the P3 agreements to be for a term of up to 50 years. SB 441 (Monning)
would require the California Transportation Commission to include health and health equity factors when approving transportation projects. AB 1532 (John Perez)
would allocated a portion of the Greenhouse Gas Account revenues generated through cap and trade auctions to infrastructure. AB 1565 (Fuentes)
would establish mandatory prequalification of contractors on school construction projects. AB 1598 (Buchanan)
would require prevailing wage to be paid on the installation of office modular furniture. AB 2172 (Skinner)
would allow any county in the nine county San Francisco Bay region to enact a gas tax increase for local use. AB 2288 (Cedillo)
would make the general contractor liable for all liabilities of their subcontractors. AB 2498 (Gordon)
would allow Caltrans to enter into Construction Manager/General Contractor contracts. ACA 23 (Perea)
would lower the vote threshold for approval of local option transportation sales taxes to 55% from the current 2/3rds requirement. SB 829 (Rubio)
would prohibit state funding for any projects in any city where voters have voted to prohit PLAs on any projects. SB 1509 (Simitian)
would eliminate the current 2014 sunset on design-build authority for school districts. AB 1794 (Williams)
would require a contractor to notify their worker’s comp carrier within 15 days of hiring an employee. AB 2181 (Wagner)
would allow for increased retention under certain circumstances. AB 2492 (Blumenfield)
would expand the definition of a claim and increase penalties under the false claims act. AB 2570 (Hill)
would prohibit “gag orders” in settlement agreements involving any licensed profession, including contractors. AB 1450 (Allen)
would prohibit an employer from not considering an individual for employment on the basis that they are currently unemployed. AB 1523 (Perea)
would appropriate $2 million from the High Speed Rail Bond Act to fund a three year pilot apprenticeship program to train unemployed workers for high speed rail construction jobs. AB 1627 (Dickinson)
would prohibit local building departments from approving building permits unless the local department confirm the project meets state Energy Commission standards for reducing vehicle miles traveled. AB 1920 (Berryhill)
would allow a contractor to bring an action for recovery of compensation if they had been previously licensed and retroactively reinstated. AB 1959 (Brownley)
would add “familial status” as a reason for which employment cannot be denied. AB 2027 (Valadao)
would allow a court to find that a contractor is in substantial compliance with the licensing law under specific circumstances. AB 2039 (Swanson)
would increase the circumstances under which an employee can take protective leave from employment under the Family Rights Act. AB 2117 (Achadjian)
would prohibit the implementation of any new stormwater effluent standards more stringent than the Federal Water Pollution Control Act until January 1, 2017. AB 2237 (Monning)
would define a construction manager as a contractor and require such an entity to have a contractor’s license. AB 2517 (Eng)
would allow employees to record a lien on the real and personal property of their employer for failure to pay wages. SB 1230 (Runner)
would require the CalOSHA Standards Board to adopt standards for diesel emission control strategies and require certification of each strategy before the installation of the strategy. SB 1255 (Wright)
would penalize an employer for not providing a accurate and complete wage statement to the employee.
As we move further into the election year, we will hear more about the need to create more jobs. Jobs, Jobs, Jobs and more jobs will be the rallying cry.
The question for the Legislature to ask as they review the bills listed above is:
“Will these new laws make it easier and act as incentive for California business to create more jobs – or will they be seen as a burden on industry instead?”
We will know that answer by the end of August – more than two months before the election.