Daily Headlines for November 20, 2019

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: What to Expect from New Independent Contractor Classification Law; Webinar, Free White Paper Available Now
Now that AB 5 has been signed into law and is set to take effect on January 1, 2020, employers may be wondering how they will be affected. In this episode of The Workplace podcast, CalChamber President and CEO Allan Zaremberg, and CalChamber Executive Vice Presidents Erika Frank and Jennifer Barrera give an overview of what employers should know about the new independent contractor classification law.

Public Affairs/Politics

Where to Watch the Democratic Presidential Debate on Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019
Ten candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination will meet tonight — Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019 — for a debate at Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta that will play out amid the U.S. House of Representatives’ impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump’s actions regarding Ukraine. The Orange County Register

Human Resources / Health & Safety


Injured California Workers Who Turn to Workers’ Comp Are Waiting Months for Medical Reviews
The California state agency responsible for making sure workers get treatment after injuries on the job is ignoring conditions that delay care and impair quality in the system, according to an audit published Tuesday. The Sacramento Bee

Addressing Workplace Romances After #MeToo
The #MeToo movement has shined a much-needed light on unwanted and unwelcome conduct in the workplace, but consensual romantic workplace relationships continue to be a murkier topic for employers. HRWatchdog

Economy


House Passes Short-Term Spending Measure as Talks Falter
The House passed a short-term spending bill Tuesday that would keep federal agencies running for another month in hopes the additional time will help negotiators wrap up more than $1.4 trillion in unfinished appropriations bills. Associated Press

U.S. Services Data Suggests Upward Revision to Third-Quarter GDP
U.S. economic growth for the third quarter is likely to be revised higher after data on Tuesday showed stronger consumer spending than initially estimated, according to JPMorgan. Reuters

Environmental / Agriculture


Newsom Blocks New California Fracking Pending Scientific Review
In a victory for critics of California’s oil drilling industry, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday stopped the approval of new hydraulic fracturing in the state until the permits for those projects can be reviewed by an independent panel of scientists. Los Angeles Times

International


Australia, U.S., to Cooperate on Critical Minerals, Rare Earths
Australia and the United States will support projects to develop critical minerals and rare earths, an Australian government minister said on Wednesday, signaling deeper cooperation in a market dominated by Chinese supplies. Reuters

What’s at Stake and at Risk in U.S.-Japan Trade Talks
Nearly three years after U.S. President Donald Trump walked away from a regional Asia-Pacific trade agreement, a bilateral pact between the U.S. and Japan — the world’s largest and third-largest economies — is close to coming into effect. Though they’ve signed limited deals on agriculture and digital trade, the threat of U.S. tariffs on Japan’s auto sector has not been definitively withdrawn. Bloomberg

China’s New $21 Billion High-Tech Manufacturing Fund Likely to Rankle U.S.
China set up a $21 billion fund to further develop its advanced manufacturing sector, demonstrating that Beijing is pursuing its ambition to lead globally in technology, despite U.S. criticism of subsidies. The Wall Street Journal

Infrastructure / Education


PG&E Outages: Cell, Internet Companies Explain System Failures
Getting backup power for all communications services is “infeasible” or “impossible” during extended power outages, according to filings providers made with California regulators. San Francisco Chronicle

Schools Keep Hiring Counselors, but Students’ Stress Levels Are Only Growing
California schools have beefed up their counseling staffs dramatically in the past few years, but the need for student mental health services — to address trauma related to fires, shootings and social media — has far outpaced counselors’ ability to keep pace with student needs. EdSource

‘The California Price’: Why It Costs So Much to Build a Home in the Golden State
Before any nails are hammered or concrete poured, developers must navigate a painstakingly slow and complex approval process. In California, this can take years, or even decades, and cost millions of dollars in fees, far more than in other states. PolitiFact

The Cost of Battery Storage Plummets at the Right Moment for California
Perhaps the best news is in the decline in the cost of battery energy storage. Based on data compiled by Climate Central in a new solutions brief, it’s $186 per megawatt-hour, a 76% drop since 2012. KQED

Opinion/Editorial

Erosion of Public Order a Chief Concern
A recent California Chamber of Commerce poll reveals that state voters are an anxious lot. Their concerns speak to the very foundation of what makes people safe and secure in their everyday lives, and should serve as a warning for people who care about the future of California. Gordon Webster, Jr. in The Business Journal

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