New Legislation Affecting Contractors, Signed by the Governor

Here is a brief recap of new laws for 2017 that have direct impact on the California construction industry.  Governor Brown signed 898 of the 1,059 bills that were sent to him (or 85%) on or before the September 30th legislative deadline. As a reminder: these are only the laws passed by the Legislature.  This does not include new Agency rule-making. 

CalBX supports necessary regulations that are reasonable, understandable and fairly enforced.  CalBX supports a level playing field for all contractors.  This is why CalBX was opposed to many bills passed by the legislature and signed by the Governor.   Our key task on many of these bills is to take part in Stakeholders meetings to assure rule-making for the bills is understandable and fairly enforced.

SB 661 (Hill):  Dig Safe Act of 2016 (subsurface installations). Signed. Establishes a new Board, new fund, new rules.  Requires a person planning to conduct an excavation to contact the appropriate regional notification center prior to commencing the excavation regardless of whether it will be conducted in an area that is known, or reasonably should be known, to contain subsurface installations. Will require a lot of training for contractors working in California.  CalBX  will engage the State Fire Marshall and PUC on this and follow the new board, fund, and requirements.

SB 465 (Hill/Jackson): Building Standards. Signed. This new law stemmed from the balcony collapse, killing 6 people and injuring 7 others in Berkeley last year. The new law requires a study and allows state agencies to more efficiently exchange information with information related to public safety.

AB 2288 (Burke): MC3 Curriculum. Signed. All entities that wish to use WIOIA federal funds for pre-apprenticeship will now be required to use the MC3 curriculum.  Apprenticeship programs are not affected.  The MC3 curriculum is only taught and available through the building trades (union) which would mean trade programs not affiliated with the Building Trades (that is, merit-shop, aka non-union) would not be able to accept WIOIA funds because they do not have access to the MC3 curriculum.  Multi-Craft Core Curriculum is the AFL-CIO union construction trade training, and can only be taught by union trainers.  Throughout California, and in merit-shop apprentice programs, they use NCCER Core Curriculum.  NCCER is open to all construction-skills training providers and is used nationally by apprentice-training programs, schools, associations and employers.

And, here are a some new laws that represent more regulations, restrictions, and fees to our industry:

SB 954 (Hertzberg): Prevailing Wage. Signed. Despite arguments made that the Legislature should not be singling out prevailing wage contributions based on the union or non-union status of the contractor, this new law eliminates non-union contractors’ ability to fund industry advancement as part of their permitted credits when calculating the prevailing wage for their workers.

AB 1926 (Cooper): Prevailing Wage—apprentices. Signed. This new law requires contractors that request apprentices to work on a public works project to pay the apprentices for time spent traveling to the worksite, filling out an application, undergoing testing, training or examinations or other pre-employment processes. Late amendments pulled out failing to pass alcohol and drug testing. This obviously is contrary to most usual interpretations of an employment relationship and opens the door to being required to pay other non-employees and liability concerns for those individuals who may get involved in an accident en-route to a project.

SB 1063 (Hall): Equal Pay—Race/Ethnicity. Signed. Expanding on Dodd’s Equal Pay to include race/ethnicity. This new law seeks to resolve the issue of CA workers who claim to suffer from chronic ethnic and racial wage gaps by requiring employers to report annually to the DIR’s Division of Labor Standards and Enforcement, who currently do not collect this data. Jackson 358 (2015) on gender is being litigated.

SB 1167 (Leyva): Employment Safety-heat regulations. Signed. This law requires the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) to propose for the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board (Standards Board) review and adoption, standards that minimize heat-related illness and injury among indoor workers by July 1, 2019. CalBX will work with DOSH and Cal OSHA on the standards and rule-making.

The following measures that passed are policies that can benefit contractors:

AB 326 (Frazier): Signed. Prevailing Wage Penalty Assessments. The DIR must now return any employer deposits made in wage & hour disputes within 30 days of final completion of the case. Specifically, if contractors appeal a contested unpaid wage claim and receive a favorable decision, this measure requires a 30-day time limit for DIR to release funds back to the contractor.

AB 2126 (Mullin): CM/GC Limits. Signed. This bill doubled (from 6 to 12) the number of projects for which Caltrans is authorized to use the CM/GC procurement method.  Further specified that of the 12 projects, at least 10 projects must have construction costs greater than $10 million and at least eight projects are required to use Caltrans employees or Caltrans consultants. Various Cities and Counties as well as the General Contractors Association are in support, no opposition.

AB 2486 (Baker): License Search. Signed. The Contractors State License Board, by January 1, 2019, must now update its website to allow consumers to search for a licensed contractor by zip code or geographic locator.  This will make it much easier for consumers to find and use licensed contractors in their community.

SB 1209 (Morrell):
 Contractors—Discipline. Signed. This bill is sponsored by the Contractors State License Board. This bill provides that citations issued against a licensed contractor follow the contractor if he or she is issued another license and authorizes the disclosure of these citations within existing disclosure time-frames.

AB 626 (Chiu):  Public Contracts; Claim Resolution.  Signed.  Establishes a claims resolution process for public entities to follow with any claim by a contractor in connection with a public works project.

AB 2316 (O’Donnell):  School facilities; leasing property.  Signed.  Requires Lease/Leaseback projects be publicly advertised for bid, and the award criteria be transparent and rational.

This one just is what it is:

SB 693 (Hueso):  Public Contracts:  Skilled and Trained Workforce.  Signed.  The bill makes a few clarifications to the “Skilled and Trained Workforce” definition.  It does not, however, address the basic flaw of the fabricated “Skilled and Trained Workforce” definition. That is: graduating from an apprentice program in 1981 makes a worker more skilled an trained than a worker who has current trade certifications, is code-compliant, is technically proficient and has a rock-solid safety record.  Among the tinkering: all STWF requirements will have the same % requirements regardless of their original legislation.  2017 = 30%, 2018=40%, 2019=50%, 2020=60%.  Percentages can be measured in hours worked or people on the job, proof must be submitted monthly and those documents are public.  Subcontractors who work less than 10 hours in a month don’t have to submit proof of worker experience or apprenticeship graduation.

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