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October Update: State Legislative Activity

Read more about the recent developments at the state and local level that could impact SMACNA contractors.

There has been some major movement in several items of legislation and policy dealing with issues such as construction permitting, wages, and indoor air quality:

  • California – A county planning body will ask the state Supreme Court to weigh in on a mandate that Southern California cities and counties plan to construct 1.34 million new homes by the decade's end. 
  • Florida – After the state legislature overwhelmingly approved a minuscule $5 million program to establish an office to distribute $350 million in residential rebate program funds, Governor DeSantis vetoed the measure for political reasons. While infuriating the GOP legislature, no override vote was taken. Florida homeowners seeking HVAC equipment rebates lost $350 million in federal funding for energy efficiency initiatives as part of the Inflation Reduction Act, including money reserved for low-income households. 
  • Illinois - Workers in states with right-to-work laws on the books see lower earnings and slower wage growth than states without such laws, new research from the Illinois Economic Policy Institute and the Project for Middle-Class Renewal at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found. The new study sheds light on how those policies limit state economies' competitiveness in a tight labor market. 
  • Kansas - Governor Laura Kelly and the Kansas Department of Labor (KDOL) announced actions and highlighted resources to prevent worker misclassification, which occurs when an employer incorrectly classifies workers as independent contractors rather than employees. KDOL's Unemployment Insurance Tax/Employer division is hiring additional auditors to continue its work to prevent, detect, and investigate this type of fraud. The agency will also raise public awareness by sharing educational materials on social media. 
  • Missouri – ICL, a leading global specialty minerals company, celebrated the groundbreaking of its battery materials manufacturing plant in St. Louis, which is expected to be the first large-scale lithium iron phosphate (LFP) facility in the US. The $400 million facility will be operational by 2025. It will help meet growing demand from the energy storage, electric vehicle (EV), and clean-energy industries for U.S.-produced and sourced essential battery materials. ICL's investment in the plant was augmented by a $197 million grant from the US Department of Energy, initially creating over 150 jobs while jump-starting the EV technology industry in the St. Louis area. The 140,000-square-foot facility is expected to produce 30,000 metric tons of LFP. It will be the foundation for the company's global battery materials business. 
  • New York – SMACNA's New York State, New York City, and Long Island Chapters have engaged with New York City officials drafting indoor air quality regulations, legislation that has been in the works for nearly a year but found new urgency following dense smoke from Canada's fires. If adopted, two bills before the City Council would require the city to create standards to measure, monitor, report, and enforce air quality inside schools and municipal buildings. 
  • North Carolina – As referenced above, the NC Legislature overrode the Governor's veto to pass a new law banning residential building-code updates until 2031, a move that will increase energy costs and make it harder to decarbonize buildings. SMACNA will continue to monitor this situation as we consider the following steps to address this reckless new law. The new law appears to have constitutional issues due to the legislative branch attempting to usurp executive branch appointment authority. The Governor's office is contemplating a legal challenge. Stay tuned for another round of challenges. 
  • Ohio – The state legislature will likely vote to legalize marijuana/cannabis in November to improve the legislative and financial prospects for the struggling cannabis industry. If successful, Ohio would be the 24th state to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, with far more approving medical uses. 
  • Texas - A law called the "Death Star" was passed at the state level to deny cities necessary local legislative authority to cities long in charge of determining local laws and regulations. This pernicious and already challenged statute has been suspended once in the courts. The scope of the "Death Star's" impact is expansive as it would pertain to energy efficiency, prevailing and local wages and benefit standards, agriculture, business, finance, insurance, labor, occupational law, and property law. The went was declared unconstitutional in an Austin Court after Houston's legal team filed suit. It was to go into effect September 1, but most expect the Texas Attorney General will soon appeal.