Sacramento Report: The New Labor-Friendly Changes to the SANDAG Bill - Voice of San Diego

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Sacramento Report: The New Labor-Friendly Changes to the SANDAG Bill

Assemblyman Rocky Chavez crosses the aisle on cap-and-trade, how Jerry Brown outlasted the haters and more in our weekly roundup of news from Sacramento.

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher’s bill to reform the San Diego Association of Governments also now gives a boost to local labor unions.

The most recent amendments to the bill make a major change: On any contract worth over $1 million, SANDAG and its subcontractors would need to hire a “skilled and trained workforce,” requiring workers to have graduated from a construction trades apprentice program.

Sacramento Report logoBut SANDAG is exempt from the requirement if it agrees to a project labor agreement, or a contract in which a labor union guarantees a construction project has all the workers it needs and in exchange the contractors hire workers through the union and pay into union benefit systems.

That provision joins a host of others in a bill that would remake the powerful regional planning agency. Others would change the voting structure so cities representing a majority of the county’s population could overrule the rest of the board in a vote, establish a new audit committee with an independent auditor and allow the Metropolitan Transit System and North County Transit District themselves to levy taxes, rather than relying on SANDAG for regional revenues.

Gonzalez Fletcher said she added the labor-related provision to address concerns that SANDAG would have a hard time passing another ballot measure in the future after Measure A failed in November.

“We went back and looked at why Measure A failed, and one of the big problems was this hang-up on not having job quality language,” she said. “That’s why the International Brotherhood of Electric Workers and most of labor didn’t support Measure A. It became really contentious, and given how little it lost by, that was a real issue and one that doesn’t seem to be able to be worked out by the board.”

She said she lifted the specific language from last year’s AB 2551, a bill written by a Republican.

“This isn’t extreme language, and it takes away one little piece of the argument,” Gonzalez Fletcher said.

Empowering the county’s larger cities – especially the city of San Diego and Chula Vista – was seen as a way to push the board to the left in the first place, which would make it more likely to opt into project labor agreements on its own. Gonzalez Fletcher said that might be true, but she’d rather force the change immediately, rather than let the culture of the board change slowly.

Not everyone sees the change as so uncontroversial.

Eddie Sprecco, CEO of San Diego’s chapter of the Associated General Contractors, wrote a screed this week against AB 805, describing it as the latest installment of Gonzalez Fletcher carrying water for local labor.

“IBEW is using the force of government to grow their share of work, since they can’t do it on their own,” Sprecco wrote.

Gonzalez Fletcher though said the bill simply makes SANDAG more environmentally and union-friendly, addressing two of the interest groups that helped sink Measure A (anti-tax conservatives did their share, too).

Andrew Keatts

Chavez Crosses the Aisle on Cap-and-Trade

This week in the Legislature was all cap-and-trade, all the time.

Lawmakers and Gov. Jerry Brown successfully passed an extension to the state’s signature law to fight greenhouse gas emissions. Here’s a Sacramento Bee reminder of how it works:

Under California’s system, emissions are capped and polluters are required to obtain permits for the greenhouse gases they emit. Though companies can trade for more capacity through a state-run auction or on the private market, the additional cost is intended to create an incentive for them to reduce their carbon footprint.

The measure needed at least some GOP support to pass, and San Diego Assemblymen Rocky Chavez was one of a handful of Republicans who voted for it.

In a statement, Chavez said the vote “allowed us to secure long-fought Republican victories, including repealing the fire prevention fee and saving Californians over $16 billion in taxes and regulations. This legislation saves jobs and it supports industries that provide those jobs.”

You’ll notice that doesn’t include references to “climate” or “the environment” – indeed, as CALMatters notes, “even though most Republican lawmakers opposed the bill to extend cap and trade, those who voted for it argued that it was good for business.”

The other Republicans in San Diego’s legislative delegation all voted against the measure.

Golden State News

• In the late 2000s and early 2010s, a string of Republican governors took shots at Gov. Jerry Brown. He’s outlasted them all and is riding a wave of successes. (Sacramento Bee)

• As for the top contenders to replace Brown, their extramarital affairs while in office might not come up much during the campaign. (Los Angeles Times)

• California officials are still worried about the future of health care, despite the recent failure of efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. (San Francisco Chronicle)

• Because California admits non-citizens to the bar, some immigration attorneys are themselves at risk for deportation. (New York Times)

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