Daily Headlines

Daily Headlines for September 20, 2021

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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Today’s Top Story

The Workplace Podcast: Preparing for New COVID-19 Vaccine Rules
In this episode of The Workplace podcast, CalChamber employment law expert Matthew Roberts and CalChamber policy advocate Robert Moutrie discuss the upcoming federal COVID-19 vaccination mandate for businesses and share how employers can best prepare for the rules.


COVID-19 Cases Among California Kids Fall After First Month of School
The long-awaited start of the new school year coincided with a wave of COVID-19 cases driven by the highly contagious delta variant, creating plenty of anxiety over what would happen when millions of California kids gathered in classrooms, many for the first time since March 2020. The San Jose Mercury News

Critically Ill COVID-19 Patients Waiting Days for ICU Beds in Central California
Some hospitals in Central California are still so overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients that some critically ill people are waiting days to be transferred into the intensive care unit from the emergency room, officials said. Los Angeles Times

US to Lift Travel Ban on European Citizens
The U.S. said Monday it will lift coronavirus travel restrictions for fully vaccinated travelers, reopening its borders for the first time in more than a year. The head of the White House’s COVID-19 Response Team, Jeff Zients, said that foreign nationals will have to show proof of vaccination and proof of a negative COVID test taken three days prior to boarding an airplane. Politico

Public Affairs/ Politics

CalChamber Appoints New CEO
The California Chamber of Commerce has announced the appointment of Jennifer Barrera as the organization’s next President and CEO, effective October 1. The Business Journal

Rethinking California’s Backlogged EDD + Recall Reform at Little Hoover + Justice to Step Down
The state agency charged with investigating policy and making recommendations to lawmakers will hold a meeting later this month to discuss whether it will hold hearings on whether California’s recall system should be reformed. The Sacramento Bee

California Recall Shows the College Versus Non-College Divide Among White Voters Keeps on Expanding
The political gap between white, college-educated Californians and those without college degrees is widening fast. According to exit polls from the 2021 recall election, in the vote on whether to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom, he gained 10 percentage points of support among college-educated voters compared to his 2018 election. San Francisco Chronicle

The Central Valley Gives California a Recall Rarity: A Squeaker of a Race
Nearly everywhere you look in California, the special election to kick Gavin Newsom out of the governor’s mansion was one blowout after another….Except for one small island in the middle of this vast state, where the recall election was a nail-biter. Los Angeles Times

Human Resources / Health & Safety

The Ninth Circuit, Mandatory Arbitration Agreements, and “Clown Bop Bags”
… In its recent Chamber of Commerce v. Bonta decision, the Ninth Circuit took a significant step toward prohibiting such mandatory employment arbitration agreements. However, the combination of a 2-1 panel decision (authored by a visiting judge from the Tenth Circuit), a scathing dissenting opinion, and a holding that splits with decisions from the First and Fourth Circuits all but ensures more litigation. The National Law Review

‘Ghosting Coasting’ Is the Latest Labor Challenge For Employers, Where Underqualified Hires Disappear Before They Can Be Fired
US employers are desperate for workers, sometimes hiring employees without fully vetting them. Recently, some new hires have been showing up just long enough to get paid before disappearing. Business Insider


Unemployment Rate Stagnant: Why Many Californians Aren’t Back at Work
Although the Golden State created a whopping 44% of the nation’s new jobs last month, its unemployment rate remained the second-highest in the country at 7.5%, according to figures released Friday by the state Employment Development Department. That’s essentially unchanged from the 7.6% unemployment rate California notched in both July and June — and hardly different from the 7.7% rate in May, a month before the state ended most coronavirus restrictions and fully reopened its economy. CalMatters

California’s Job Growth Tripled the Nation’s, Even as the Delta Variant Spread
California last month added jobs at three times the rate of the nation, as teachers returned to classrooms, entertainment venues reopened, and vacationers traveled despite a surge in COVID-19 infections. Los Angeles Times

Southern California Adds 68,200 Jobs in August — Fastest Hiring in 4 Months
Southern California bosses added 68,200 jobs in August — the biggest hiring spree in four months — despite a resurgent coronavirus. My trusty spreadsheet, filled with state job figures released Friday, found bosses had 7.36 million employees last month in the four counties covered by the Southern California News Group. The Orange County Register

Manufacturers Plan to Boost Wages at Record 3.5% Rate
Manufacturers during the next 12 months said they plan to increase wages and full-time employment by 3.5% and 3.8%, respectively — record rates in quarterly surveys dating to 1997, according to the National Association of Manufacturers. They expect to push up capital spending by 3.6%, the highest increase since 2018. HRDive


Stunning Photos Show Drought’s Impact on Huge California Reservoir
The California drought has been brutal over the past few years, but to see just how devastating it has been, you need to see before-and-after pictures side by side. The San JOse Mercury News

Efforts to Replant Trees Can’t Keep Pace as Forest Fires Blast Through California
Forest land managers worry that tree canopies will be lost forever without significantly more planting. Some environmentalists call reforestation unnecessary, even destructive. The San Diego Union-Tribune

Fleet Electrification Survey
In response to CalChamber’s requests about the 2020 Advanced Clean Trucks Reporting Rule and in lieu of a regulatory requirement for mandatory reporting on these topics, the Air Resources Board, through UC Davis, is conducting a statewide survey to collect information on fleet electrification. Note that although facility address is requested, the only required field is zip code, so the survey may be taken anonymously if preferred.

Questions about reasons for completing the survey? Contact leah.silverthorn@calchamber.com


Japan Business Leaders in California Mark 20th Annual Meeting with CalChamber
The 20th annual meeting between the California Chamber of Commerce and Japan business leaders highlighted California’s continuing interdependence with one of its largest trade and investment partners. CalChamber Alert

France, Australia Agree Submarine Row Won’t Stop Trade Deal
French and Australian officials said Monday that France’s anger over a canceled submarine contract will not derail negotiations on an Australia-European Union free trade deal. The Associated Press

Infrastructure / Education

California’s New Housing Laws: Here’s What to Know
On Thursday, the state took a step toward creating higher-density neighborhoods as Gov. Gavin Newsom signed two high-profile housing bills…But the package of housing reforms passed in California over the past four years, including these two latest measures, “is probably the biggest change in housing in 50 years or more,” Conor told me. The New York Times

Ports in California Have Never Been This Busy, and it’s Adding to Shortages of Everything From Furniture to Electronics
A record-breaking number of cargo ships are off the coast of California, waiting to get into the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Over 60 ships are waiting to dock and unload, further contributing to supply chain issues and delays in the US. Business Insider

There’s Likely Going to Be a Power Shutoff Event on Monday for 13 California Counties
After a Red Flag Warning was issued for parts of the Bay Area Sunday, it was only inevitable that a PG&E Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) Outage Watch would follow suit for some areas. And that’s exactly what 13 counties can expect on Monday, according to the utility company. SFist


Biden Proposal Could Benefit High-Income Californians
California has a big stake in whether President Joe Biden’s “human infrastructure” proposal is passed because it could affect how high-income Californians are taxed. Dan Walters in CalMatters

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