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Commentary: A Quicker Way to Rebuild California

Commentary: A Quicker Way to Rebuild California

By Michele Daugherty.

On behalf of the men and women who will be needed to fulfill the promise of meeting California’s construction needs, I congratulate Gov. Gavin Newsom on becoming our state’s 40th chief executive.

With over 500 large and small companies and their trade workers, who make up the Associated Builders and Contractors of Northern California, we want to offer the governor our partnership in realizing his campaign pledge to rebuild California in areas devastated by wildfires, as well as to build more affordable housing throughout the state. We agree that this should be a top priority in keeping California affordable and continuing the “California Dream.”

Governor Newsom is to be commended for tackling the housing issue early, and is quite correct in his proposed budget summary, when he says, “Local governments have a key role in ensuring the building of adequate numbers of housing units to meet local needs. They have primary control over land use and housing-related decisions and enact policies that either encourage or discourage housing construction.”

One of the discouraging things local governments do is impose Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) on construction projects under their control. Only 16 of California’s nearly 500 cities require PLAs, and 24 states prohibit them. California should do the same.

PLAs are discriminatory and rob state and local public treasuries of money that could be spent on critical infrastructure. They also create barriers for local, minority, and women-owned construction employers and their employees by containing provisions that do not allow for the complete use of their workforces. Provisions such as excluding the men, women, and veterans who have graduated from state-approved, unilateral apprenticeship training programs in pursuit of a construction career.

As a successful businessman, the governor is fundamentally aware of the handicaps that lack of choices inflicts.

We also hope he can use his influence to ask groups to stop using or abusing the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) process. CEQA was introduced in 1970 by Gov. Ronald Reagan with the intent of rehabilitating and enhancing the environmental quality of the state, but the ACT is now being used primarily by special interests, such as labor unions seeking non-environmental outcomes and exclusive rights to work, to block or postpone projects.

On the Sacramento Bee’s California Nation Podcast, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon said housing is the top concern among his members, and Senate President Toni Atkins said it’s in the top three with her members.

Within our industry, we strongly believe that the solution to our state’s housing crisis lies within the construction professionals in our communities. With California facing a workforce shortage at unprecedented levels, it is our hope that the new governor will focus his energy on finding solutions that will remove barriers and maximize opportunities for all of California’s workforce.

Michele Daugherty is President and CEO of the Associated Builders and Contractors of Northern California.

Originally posted at Fox and Hounds.

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