Labor influence over climate policies occasionally made Democrats uncomfortable last week. One late addition to state budget legislation, Assembly Bill 134, directs regulators to develop a process for determining whether automakers are “fair and responsible” in their treatment of workers.
If lawmakers approve the process next year and companies fall short of that standard, their electric cars could become ineligible for California rebates that are crucial to making zero-emission vehicles more cost competitive. Tesla, the state’s only automaker, has resisted efforts to unionize the workforce at its Fremont factory.
The provision was supported by the California Labor Federation, a coalition that includes the United Auto Workers, as a way to ensure public money doesn’t flow to companies that mistreat employees. But these kinds of rules could end up “undermining our own goals” of fighting climate change with more electric cars, said Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco).
California’s slowing economic expansion was evident in August as the state lost 8,200 net jobs and the unemployment rate rose to 5.1%, from 4.8% a month earlier, according to data released Friday from the state’s Employment Development Department. The drop in employment follows a robust July in which the Golden State gained the most jobs in more than a year: 84,500, revised up from a previous estimate of 82,600. August’s slide back was in large part driven by employers in the leisure and hospitality sector: They cut 12,400 jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis — the largest decrease by any sector in the state. Professional and business services and the public sector also lost jobs. Manufacturing and the trade, transportation and utilities sector, meanwhile, gained jobs.
California lawmakers introduced legislation Friday to bypass a key state environmental law that would dramatically ease the construction of rail, bus and other transit projects connected to Los Angeles’ bid to host the Olympic Games in 2028. Under the bill, any public transportation effort related to the city’s Olympics bid would be exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act, the state’s primary environmental law governing development. The law, known as CEQA, requires developers to disclose and minimize a project’s impact on the environment, often a time-consuming and costly process that involves litigation. The measure, Senate Bill 789, also provides major CEQA relief to help the construction of an NBA arena for the Los Angeles Clippers in nearby Inglewood.
State lawmakers can pass all kinds of bills aimed at building more affordable housing. But they can’t repeal the fundamental law of supply and demand for desirable land. Land costs are what really drive up housing prices and make homeownership increasingly beyond the reach of so many Californians. Rentals are virtually impossible, too, in attractive regions along the coast, especially San Francisco.
During August’s auction, every emission permit offered by the state was sold, and prices reached their highest level since the program launched five years ago. The auction results, announced Tuesday, were the first since Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation continuing cap and trade until 2030, erasing some of the political and legal uncertainty that had dogged the program.