The last actions of the 2020 California legislative session took place on August 30th, which was the deadline for Governor Newsom to sign or veto legislation. In what was a difficult year on many levels from a legislative standpoint, we did achieve success in many areas including providing notification of the skilled and trained workforce mandates, expanded prevailing wage application, and mitigating the preponderance of COVID-19 related employer requirements and proposed new taxes. In addition, SCGMA took a leading role in defeating or amending dozens of measures that would have been harmful to our contractors and the industry overall.
From a volume standpoint, due to COVID–19 related challenges that necessitated unprecedented actions and a compressed legislative session, the Legislature greatly reduced the number of bills it heard in 2020 to focus on COVID–19 policy response. In a typical year, the Legislature sends just over 2000 bills to the governor for consideration. However, in 2020, the Legislature passed just 428 bills. Of the 428 bills Governor Newsom considered this year, he signed 372 into law and vetoed 56.
The lighter legislative load didn’t translate into less work on the state advocacy level. Early into the pandemic, we were keenly aware of the uncertainty COVID-19 would bring to our industry and we began to discuss the many challenges that lay ahead and how to address them. Contractors questioned if they would be allowed to continue to operate, and should they continue to operate, how to keep workers safe and what would be the impact of the pandemic on their bottom line. There were concerns, separate from the health effects of COVID-19, regarding Cal/OSHA violations, impacts to worker compensation rates, and the ability to protect payment rights. We worked to
address these issues through regulation and the administrative process. We focused on the health and safety of workers, ensuring our industry could continue to deliver projects and protecting our contractor’s businesses. Our efforts included:
- Securing from the Newsom Administration, during the development of California’s shelter in place orders, state guidelines that defined construction services as an essential business. Ensuring our contractors could continue to operate.
- Pushing Cal/OSHA to develop and release construction industry specific COVID-19 safety guidelines.
- Working with California’s Judicial Council to toll the statute of limitations for any civil action, which includes the enforcement of mechanics’ liens and stop notices, from April 6, 2020 until 90 days after the governor “lifts” the COVID-19 state of emergency.
- Pursuing regulatory protections from the Workers Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau of California and the California Department of Insurance that would exclude from a contractor’s experience modification rate any COVID-19 related incident.
That said, we still had much to work on as it related to legislation. We have provided a summary of the key bills SCGMA took strong positions on this year and the outcome. Click here to read the full SCGMA Legislative Scorecard.