Daily Headlines

Daily Headlines for February 14, 2020

We scan major news sources* and compile selected articles to keep you up-to-date on current issues affecting California business – the economy, health care, environment, transportation and more.

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Daily Headlines will not run on February 17 in observance of the Presidents Day holiday.

Today’s Top Story

2020 Issues Guide Available on Website
The California Chamber of Commerce 2020 Business Issues and Legislative Guide is available now on the CalChamber website at www.calchamber.com/businessissues.

Public Affairs/Politics


California Voters Can Switch Party Status on Election Day
California voters will be able to change their party affiliation and update their address at polling stations on election day under a new law approved in time for the March 3 Democratic primary. The Associated Press

2020 Hopefuls Eye Super Tuesday Even as 2 Other States Loom
Nevada votes next and then South Carolina. But top Democrats vying for their party’s presidential nomination are already looking ahead to the biggest prize on the primary calendar: Super Tuesday, the slate of contests when more than a dozen states go to the polls. The Associated Press

Human Resources / Health & Safety


New California Labor Law AB 5 Is Already Changing How Businesses Treat Workers
But as critics demand exemptions and even a repeal of the statute, many California businesses, large and small, are quietly adopting strategies to comply with the law, which took effect last month. It hasn’t been easy. Los Angeles Times

Employers Must Pay Workers for Security Screening Time, California Supreme Court Rules
Today, the California Supreme Court ruled that Apple must pay employees for time they spend undergoing security screening of personal items after clocking out at the end of their shift — a question the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal asked the California Supreme Court to answer more than two years ago (Frlekin v. Apple, Inc., No. S243805 (February 13, 2020)). HRWatchdog

Economy


U.S. Core Retail Sales Flat; Industrial Production Falls
U.S. consumer spending appears to have slowed further in January, with sales at clothing stores declining by the most since 2009, which could raise concerns about the economy’s ability to continue expanding at a moderate pace. Reuters

Tax Refunds Down Almost 5% As U.S. Filing Season Gets Under Way
The number of tax refunds issued so far this tax season is down almost 5% compared to last year, an indication that many Americans didn’t withhold enough from their paychecks and could face bills from the IRS. Bloomberg

In Hot U.S. Jobs Market, Half of College Grads Are Missing Out
For the first time in decades, recent college graduates are more likely to be out of work than the population as a whole, according to the New York Federal Reserve. And for the lower-earning half of college grads, the wage premium is shrinking fast. Bloomberg

Environmental/Agriculture


California Analysts Urge Lawmakers: Reject Gov. Newsom’s $1 Billion Climate Loan Proposal
Nonpartisan policy analysts took aim Thursday at Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposal to use $1 billion in state funds to seed innovative climate change efforts, questioning the state’s ability to even identify the right projects. CALmatters

New Data Show Nearly 10% of California Is in Moderate Drought
The latest U.S. Drought Monitor map released Thursday shows that 9.5% of California is considered to be in moderate drought. The abnormally dry area, which includes the drought area, has expanded from about 34% to 46%. Los Angeles Times

International


Trump’s Tariff Threats Are Tested by Europe’s Record Trade Surplus
Europe’s trade surplus with the U.S. hit a record high in 2019, a rise that risks drawing the ire of President Trump, who recently renewed threats to place tariffs on European Union goods if the bloc didn’t agree to a new deal. The Wall Street Journal

Trump Seeks to Divert More Pentagon Money to Border Wall Construction
The Trump administration is seeking to shift $3.8 billion more from the defense budget to pay for constructing a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, the Pentagon notified Congress on Thursday, immediately provoking bipartisan objections for a second year. Los Angeles Times

Italy Lobbying U.S. to Ward Off Trump Europe Tariff Threat
Italy has reached out directly to the U.S. in a bid to avoid a new set of tariffs that could hit as soon as Friday, in a sign of the delicate economic environment facing European nations. Bloomberg

Infrastructure / Education


California Bullet Train Cost Rises by Another $1 Billion
The estimated cost to complete California’s high-speed rail line rose another $1.3 billion, to $80.3 billion, while construction is on schedule to meet a 2022 deadline to have about 20% of the track laid, according to a new business plan released Wednesday. The Associated Press

Two-Thirds of California Students Didn’t Meet Science Standards. Here’s Why
Adults who took high school biology might remember a lecture on cell structure, then a test asking to identify its parts, plus an assignment to build a cell, perhaps with papier mâché and dry macaroni. Today, California students are supposed to learn about science in a whole new way. Los Angeles Times

New High-Speed Rail Plan Keeps Pushing Toward Merced, Bakersfield for Interim Operations
With construction under way on 119 miles of its route through the central and southern San Joaquin Valley, the California High-Speed Rail Authority continued Wednesday to try to make the case for completing development of an electrified bullet-train line between Merced and Bakersfield as an interim step toward connecting the Valley to San Jose. Merced Sun-Star

Opinion/Editorial


The PAGA Gold Rush
The labor union-backed authors of a new report scoff at potential abuses of the state’s Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA), but hundreds of trial lawyers have pursued this modern-day gold rush. One of the state’s top PAGA lawyers even drives a Rolls Royce with the license plate MR. PAGA. Tom Manzo in Fox and Hounds Daily

Proposition 13 Is Important for California’s Students
The critical upgrades this measure will bring to California schools, along with local safeguards, is why Proposition 13 has the support of a bipartisan coalition of Republicans, Democrats, business, labor, firefighters, doctors, teachers, schools nurses and the California Chamber of Commerce. Tony Thurmond in Los Angeles Daily News

California Is the Place to Be — Unless You’re Middle Income and Need an Affordable Place to Live
State leaders must maintain fiscal discipline, especially in anticipation of an eventual economic downturn. They should also reject new, discriminatory state taxes based on who the taxpayer is, what the taxpayer makes, or what the taxpayer sells. Elected leaders should also resist efforts to undermine local taxpayer protections, whether by rolling back Proposition 13 or easing the ability of cities and counties to raise taxes. Loren Kaye in The Stockton Record

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