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SoCalGas Donates $100,000 to Support Cal State LA Combustion Engineering Research that Advances Clean Air and Energy Efficiency Technologies

LOS ANGELES, March 14, 2018 — Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) today announced a gift of $100,000 to the College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Technology (ECST) at California State University, Los Angeles (Cal State LA) to support research and undergraduate education in combustion engineering. The funds will be used to purchase laboratory equipment for research designed to advance energy efficiency in new gas products and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. They will also support undergraduate education on natural gas combustion, senior design projects, and student research.

“Whether it’s the hot water you showered with this morning or the clean energy that powers manufacturers, hospitals, and universities like Cal State LA, Californians count on a dependable supply of natural gas to support almost every facet of modern life,” said Lisa Alexander, vice president of customer solutions at SoCalGas. “At SoCalGas, we work with hundreds of manufacturers and retailers to provide a range of products to meet customers’ needs, and the work taking place here at Cal State LA will help keep energy bills low and reduce emissions by enhancing energy efficiency.”

“SoCalGas and Sempra Energy have been long-term partners of Cal State LA’s College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Technology, helping prepare students for their futures and the future of Los Angeles,” said Emily Allen, dean of the college. “We are thrilled with this gift from SoCalGas. It will help us produce engineering graduates with experience in combustion science and technology and strengthen Southern California’s global leadership in sustainable, clean energy.”

In Southern California, natural gas is the most affordable and reliable option for home and water heating and for cooking. More than 90 percent of residents use natural gas to heat their home and hot water. In addition, more than half of the electricity generated in California is produced using clean burning natural gas. Generating electricity locally using natural gas helps California avoid importing electricity generated with less desirable fuels like coal.

SoCalGas is a leader in researching and developing new technologies that improve energy efficiency and reduce emissions. Since 1990, the utility’s energy efficiency and rebate programs have reduced emissions equal to taking almost 700,000 cars off the road. These advances have also helped save SoCalGas customers more than $670 million in utility bill costs.

The company is also committed to giving back to the communities that it serves. In 2017, it invested more than $10 million in nearly 1,000 educational, environmental, and community organizations across its service territory.

 

SOCAL GAS COMPANY – News Release

How Craft Breweries Are Helping to Revive Local Economies

MIDDLETOWN, N.Y. — As Equilibrium Brewery opened for business here on a recent Saturday morning, fans were already lined up outside for a fresh batch of its hazy-colored ales.

The travelers, who came from Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island, snapped up as many cans and bottles as they could buy, at $16 a four-pack. After a sip or two by tailgates, some headed out in search of a meal, their tourist dollars funneled into a downtown betting on a rebound.

“We are having an impact on the community, for sure,” said Ricardo Petroni, a co-owner of Equilibrium, which opened in 2016 in a former meatpacking plant that had been seized over nonpayment of taxes. “When we moved here, you could see old scars of bad times,” Mr. Petroni added, “but you can tell that now, new things are flourishing.”

Across the country, in once-bustling manufacturing centers, breweries are giving new fizz to sleepy commercial districts. If alcohol-based businesses were blamed for a breakdown of society in the Prohibition era and beyond, breweries are now being seen as a force for good.

“The economic ripple effects are definitely there,” said David Barnett, a Chicago-based senior research analyst for JLL, the commercial brokerage firm. Breweries “create a cool tourism aspect for out-of-towners, but it’s been good for residents as well.”

In 2016, there were 5,301 mom-and-pop beer makers, which are typically known as craft breweries. That figure rose from 4,548 in 2015, when the country surpassed its historic high-water mark of 4,131 breweries, set way back in 1873, according to the Brewers Association, a trade group. (Zero were recorded from 1920 to 1932, during Prohibition.)

Although they are small, those breweries pack an economic jolt. In 2016, they contributed about $68 billion to the national economy, the association said.

In recognition of their importance, craft breweries received an unexpected gift in the recent rewrite of the tax code. The Senate included a provision that lowered the tax rate on beer produced in the United States, particularly for small breweries. That special treatment comes on top of generous subsidies from local communities eager to bring business to their struggling industrial districts.

The Northeast, Midwest and West still represent much of the industry, but 36 states doubled their production of craft beer from 2011 to 2016, according to Mr. Barnett, who last year wrote “The Craft Beer Guidebook to Real Estate,” a JLL report. “It’s hard to ignore an industry that has grown this much,” he said.

In searching for places to make specialty beverages like sour beers and stouts, breweries seemed to adhere to a formula. They like early-20th-century buildings with up to 10,000 square feet and lofty ceilings, said Sandy A. Barin, a vice president with the commercial real estate firm CBRE based in Minneapolis who counts brewers among his clients.

Usually renters instead of owners, breweries in Minneapolis typically sign five-year leases and pay $4.50 a square foot annually, Mr. Barin said, although tenants are usually on the hook for renovations, even if landlords offer credits for finishes like paint and carpeting. “The setup is usually pretty expensive,” he said.

Breweries also seek up-and-coming locations that are within walking distance of houses and apartments, according to Mr. Barin, who added that the popular neighborhood in his city is North Loop, a former manufacturing district that churned out plows and threshers.

Over all, breweries, usually with tap rooms, occupy about 624,000 square feet in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro region, up from 507,000 square feet in 2016. And in 2017, 11 new breweries opened in that area, according to CBRE, with 11 more expected this year.

Offering food broadens breweries’ appeal, making a visit to them into “more of an all-inclusive night out,” Mr. Barin said.

Breweries typically open an adjoining restaurant, but in Minneapolis, they often forge partnerships with food trucks that park outside. Modist Brewing, which opened in 2016 in a former North Loop salt factory, has several food trucks to serve hungry customers.

Breweries have boomed nationally in the last few years. The industry was on track to post a growth rate of 5 percent in 2017, based on midyear calculations, said Bart Watson, the association’s chief economist. “We haven’t seen much of a slowdown,” he said.

But in many places, the industry remains highly subsidized, raising questions about whether breweries can make it on their own, and how long that might take.

The building that houses Equilibrium, for instance, was sold to the brewery for $260,000, with $225,000 of that forgivable if the brewery remained in business for at least five years, said Mr. Petroni, who along with his partner, Peter Oates, invested $1.4 million to upgrade the property. Ten people work there today.

In addition, Equilibrium benefited from a sales-tax exemption on construction materials and a short-term reduction in property taxes, among other local incentives. The nearby three-year-old Clemson Brewing Company, a tall brick former saw-blade factory also seized for back taxes before its current incarnation, received similar breaks, which Middletown officials called necessary.

“We realized in the 1980s and 1990s that industry wasn’t really coming back to any of these cities,” said Maria Bruni, the economic development director of Middletown. “Our community is very supportive because we’ve been staring at these buildings for 20 years and doing nothing.”

Financing from New York State, which under Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has become a major backer of the brewing industry, seems to also be a key. Equilibrium, for example, has so far received $204,000 in state grants.

Mr. Cuomo, who took office in 2011 and is now in his second term, has also relaxed industry laws over the years. Brewers can now sell beer by the glass at their plants if their recipes partly use locally grown products, which many credit for the explosive growth of breweries in New York.

In February, there were 390 craft breweries in New York, according to the state’s Liquor Authority, up from 97 in 2012. From densely settled Brooklyn to small towns by the Canadian border, the breweries include the Newburgh Brewing Company, which occupies an 1850s former box factory; Battle Street Brewery, in a former train station in Dansville, near the Finger Lakes; and Pressure Drop Brewing in Buffalo, in a former barrel factory. The Binghamton area has also become a hot spot.

If residents support incentives, they do not always agree that alcohol will improve a community, said Chris Andrus, a co-founder of Mitten Brewing Company in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Though breweries are plentiful, none were on the city’s west side, a blue-collar former furniture-making center, when Mr. Andrus and his partner, Max Trierweiler, sought to open one in a dormant 1891 firehouse. Neighbors who were worried that another bar would hurt the struggling area spoke out at zoning meetings, he said.

But opponents may have come around since the brewery opened in 2012. Mitten closes earlier than bars in the area, Mr. Andrus said, “and we attract a lot of families.” The brewery, which is profitable, seems to have also attracted investment in the neighborhood. Across the street is a gin distillery, in a former clothing store, and another corner has a barbecue joint, in a former hamburger stand. Other breweries have also arrived in the area.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, property values are also on the rise. Mitten’s 6,000-square-foot firehouse, which cost $220,000, is worth about $600,000, Mr. Andrus said, which is “largely because of us.”

Whether craft breweries are a fad or will endure may come down to drinkers’ tastes, but evidence suggests passion for the product is high.

On that January day in Middletown, Bob Helligrass and Jaime Loughridge, friends from the Albany area, sat eating lunch at Tapped, a bistro next to Equilibrium that opened around the same time.

Before buying India pale ales at Equilibrium, the pair had also hit up the two-year-old Hudson Valley Brewery in Beacon, N.Y., to buy some of its beverages, while also snagging a meal along the way. “Breweries,” Mr. Helligrass said, “have benefits all down the line.”

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Huntley Art Exhibit “Positively 4th Street” Invites Contemplation of Diverse Architectural Forms in One LA Location

Built in 1931, the 4th Street Viaduct spans the Los Angeles River, supporting railroad tracks and industry. Its Gothic Revival architecture contrasts with the unadorned flood-control channel beneath it. The exhibit “Positively 4th Street: An Encounter with Los Angeles’ Fourth Street Viaduct” is an exploration of the reactions of three artists to this multifaceted location.

As Angelenos debate river revitalization and nearby gentrification, painter Roderick Smith, writer and essayist DJ Waldie and urban planner and painter Richard Willson, who is a professor of urban and regional planning at Cal Poly Pomona, share their interpretations of this unique site offering a mashup of functionality and architectural styles.

The exhibit opens with a reception on Saturday, Jan. 27, from 3 to 6 p.m. and an artist Q&A at 4:30 p.m. The show is on view through April 12 in the Don B. Huntley Gallery (University Library, room 4435).

“The viaduct revealed its iconic symbols and meanings as we explored,” say the artists. “Our first impression was of industrial infrastructure ­– trains, trucks, power lines, planes making turns to LAX – but most importantly, the concrete channel of the river. We observed the contrasts of sun and shadow, the flow of water against hard cement and soft black tar around the tracks. Over time we noticed that this apparently hostile environment is home to people, micro-organisms and determined flora.”

“The viaduct entered into our imaginations and changed us. We began our exploration wrestling with sensory elements such as glaring reflections, heat, noise, odors and congestion. We were ready to struggle with the place as artists, but our affection grew with repeated visits. The viaduct spoke to us, softened us.”

The show’s opening was listed on KCRW’s top five design and architecture things to do the week of Jan. 22.

For more information on the exhibit or the gallery, visit www.facebook.com/thehuntleygallery.

 

Author: Cynthia Peters

PolyCentric University News Center

 

 

CEIS Tops Campus Rankings for Service-Learning Hours

State Finance Director: California Must Spend Cautiously, Fill Rainy Day Fund

 

California’s budget is experiencing a surplus, but massive uncertainties loom and fiscal prudence must be maintained, California Finance Director Michael Cohen explained yesterday during a luncheon at the California Chamber of Commerce.

On Tuesday, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. proposed the final budget of his gubernatorial career proposing to spend a record $190 billion without raising taxes and setting aside $13 billion in a rainy-day reserve.

Cohen touched on four significant areas of concern to the business community: the rainy day fund, higher education funding, court funding and long-term infrastructure planning.

Filling the Rainy Day Fund

The 2018–19 proposed budget fully fills the rainy day fund to 10% of tax revenues, Cohen explained.

CalChamber-supported Proposition 2, approved by voters in 2014, established a constitutional goal of reserving 10% of tax revenues in a rainy day fund.

By the end of the current (2017–18) fiscal year, the state’s rainy day fund will have a total balance of $8.4 billion, or 65% of the constitutional target. The budget proposes a $3.5 billion supplemental payment in addition to the constitutionally required transfer to the rainy day fund for 2018–19. The two payments would bring the total rainy day fund to $13.5 billion.

Cohen reminded the group that as the state entered the great recession under Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, the state had only $1.5 billion in a rainy day fund that was pulled out just before the markets collapsed.

“Basically we tried to handle that recession without any money in the bank,” Cohen said. “We are trying to change that so when the next recession does come, we’ll have a chance to either avoid cuts entirely or, more likely, just mitigate the severity of them and maintain as many programs and core services as we can.”

Education Funding

Education funding for K–14 education took a sizable hit during the recession, but school funding has increase by 66% since 2011, Cohen stated.

For grades K–12, the budget proposes to fully fund the Local Control Funding Formula. With $3 billion in new proposed funding for the formula in 2018–19, the budget will achieve full implementation of the formula two years ahead of schedule.

The last few years the budget has been funding career technical education on a limited term basis, but the budget proposes $200 million on a permanent basis and tying it to the community college program created a few years ago, the strong workforce program.

“We think this program has been really successful and this is a much more regional approach to tying industry to the community colleges and we think the K–12 system can successfully link into that,” Cohen said.

 

Community College Funding

The Governor’s budget also proposes the creation of the first wholly online community college in California. The goal is to target a new group of students that, right now, aren’t well served by community colleges or the rest of the public higher education system. Cohen described these 2.5 million individuals as people in the workforce between 25 and 34 years old, who have their high school diploma but yet don’t have a higher education degree.

According to Cohen, these workers are most vulnerable during a recession, and they are the ones who aren’t getting their income back to the same level it was before the last recession.

The online university will target these students who are already in the workforce who don’t have the same amount of time to dedicate to traditional classrooms. The goal is to develop an entire online system to allow students to get certificates and degrees. Cohen pledged to work with industries to ensure a system is created that reflects their needs so that when students finish their certificates and degrees they have skills that are actually needed in the workforce.

“We want workers who have a pathway to improve economically,” Cohen said.

In addition, the 2018–19 budget proposal allocates a 4% increase for community colleges, a total increase of $570 million that includes a new funding formula which encourages colleges to enroll underrepresented students and rewards colleges for incorporating students’ success in completing degrees and certificates. 

Strengthening Transportation Infrastructure

The 2018–19 budget is the first full year of funding under the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017 (SB 1), which provides stable, long-term funding for both state and local transportation infrastructure. Cohen said that this act provides $55 billion in new funding over the next decade, split evenly between state and local projects.

There are additional infrastructure proposals; Governor Brown signed two bonds that will appear on the June 2018 ballot. These CalChamber-supported bonds propose $1.3 billion for natural resources and housing projects.

The state has already appropriated the monies, so that—assuming voters approve these bonds—the state is ready to go and get the money on the street as quickly as possible, Cohen said.

Court System Funding

Finally, there is $150 million of ongoing money for the courts. In addition, the budget proposal allocates monies to restart the court construction programs for 10 courthouses statewide. The state’s judicial branch will be provided additional funding to support efforts by the Judicial Council to improve and modernize trial court operations. 

Next Recession

In closing, Cohen reminded attendees that balanced budgets had been quickly followed by huge deficits, but the last five years have been a change in practice from a budgeting standpoint.

“We are really doing more multi-year planning, looking ahead and knowing what our future costs will be,” Cohen said. “Above all, to maintain our fiscal prudence, California must be cautious in spending and put money into our rainy day fund.”

The full summary of the Governor’s budget proposal can be found at www.ebudget.ca.gov

 

 

 

 

Advocacy – California Chamber of Commerce

Californians Can Legally Buy Weed But Employers Can Still Keep a Drug-Free Workplace

 

Last week, California businesses began to legally sell recreational marijuana in California. More than 400 state licenses have been issued so far, but the rollout may be slow. Cities or counties must first approve commercial marijuana sales, and localities can choose to ban or restrict recreational marijuana shops.

On November 8, 2016, Californians voted to pass Proposition 64, also known as the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, which legalized the recreational use of marijuana for adults 21 years old and older. Although marijuana became legal to smoke on November 9, 2016 (the day after the election), licensed recreational marijuana sales were not allowed until January 1, 2018.

But what about smoking weed at work? When it comes to the workplace, California employers can take a deep breath of fresh air, because the recreational use of marijuana stops at the workplace. Employer policies related to drug possession, use and impairment, as well as testing, are not compromised with the legalization of marijuana use under Proposition 64.

Proposition 64 explicitly states that it is intended to “allow public and private employers to enact and enforce workplace policies pertaining to marijuana.” The initiative also provides that it will not be construed or interpreted to amend, repeal, affect, restrict or pre-empt:

The rights and obligations of public and private employers to maintain a drug and alcohol free workplace or require an employer to permit or accommodate the use, consumption, possession, transfer, display, transportation, sale, or growth of marijuana in the workplace, or affect the ability of employers to have policies prohibiting the use of marijuana by employees and prospective employees, or prevent employers from complying with state or federal law (Section 11362.45 (f)).

These provisions distinguish Proposition 64 from the failed 2010 initiative, which did not protect employer policies concerning the use of marijuana in the workplace. Therefore, even with the passage of Proposition 64, employers may continue to prohibit use, possession and impairment at work and may continue to test for use when appropriate. Proposition 64 is not intended to interfere with these workplace policies or practices.

Pre-employment drug testing in California usually should be done only after a conditional job offer has been made.

Otherwise workplace drug testing is usually subject to a “reasonable suspicion” test —allowing an employee to be drug tested only when specific objective facts indicate abuse. Random drug testing in California is rarely allowed; although certain industries or professions, such as transportation, have stricter drug testing requirements.

Employers with concerns about recreational marijuana use will want to review existing policies and remind employees not only about the company’s drug-free workplace policy and practices but also to specify that marijuana is prohibited.

Still unsure about legalized marijuana and drug-free workplace policies? CalChamber offers a free white paper on Marijuana and Workplace Policies (CalChamber members can download the white paper). CalChamber members can also view How To: Oversee Pre-Employment Drug Testing. Not a member? See how HRCalifornia can help you.

Staff Contact: Gail Cecchettini Whaley

 

 

Advocacy – California Chamber of Commerce

GO-Biz Accepting Applications for California Competes Tax Credit

The Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) has announced the first quarter application period is open for businesses interested in applying for the California Competes Tax Credit (CCTC).  Applications must be submitted by January 22.

The California Competes Tax Credit is an income tax credit available to businesses who want to come, stay, or grow in California. Tax credit agreements are negotiated by GO-Biz and approved by a statutorily created “California Competes Tax Credit Committee,” consisting of the State Treasurer, the Director of the Department of Finance, the Director of GO-Biz, and one appointee each by the Speaker of the Assembly and Senate Committee on Rules.

In December, 12 CalChamber members were selected as recipients of the tax credit.

Governor Brown created the California Competes Tax Credit in 2013 to focus on helping businesses grow and stay in California. Since 2014, GO-Biz has allocated $622.8 million to 865 companies projected to create 83,414 new jobs and make $15.7 billion in new investments.

California Competes Tax Credit Webinar Information

Before each application period, GO-Biz hosts online webinars about the CCTC program. Each webinar consists of a 45-minute presentation, followed by a question and answer session. Each presentation includes the following:

  • Overview of the program.
  • Program goals and evaluation criteria.
  • Step-by-step instructions through the application process.

All businesses are encouraged to participate in our webinars to receive instructions on how to apply. Below is a list of the upcoming webinars:

January 12, 2018
Details and Registration

January 16, 2018
Details and Registration

 

 

Advocacy – California Chamber of Commerce

Remember: W-2s Due January 31 to IRS

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) reminds employers and other businesses of the January 31 filing deadline that now applies to filing Form W-2 wage statements and independent contractor forms.

Under the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act, employers are now required to file their copies of Form W-2 and Form W-3 with the Social Security Administration by January 31. The January 31 filing deadline also applies to certain Forms 1099-MISCreporting non-employee compensation such as payments to independent contractors.

In the past, employers typically had until the end of February, if filing on paper, or the end of March, if filing electronically, to submit their copies of these forms. The accelerated filing date started last year and is aimed at making it easier for the IRS to spot errors on taxpayer returns, verify legitimate returns, and prevent fraud.

Note that an extension of time to file Forms W-2 is no longer automatic. The IRS only grants extensions for very specific reasons, and only one 30-day extension to file Form W-2 is available. If an extension is necessary, a Form 8809 must be completed as soon as you know an extension is necessary but no later than January 31.

Failure to file these forms correctly and timely may result in penalties.

As always, employers are also required to distribute copies of the Form W-2 to their employees on January 31.

Act now to get ready for the filing season by making sure that:

  • Your company’s account information is current and active with the Social Security Administration.
  • You have correct employee information.
  • You have enough copies of the forms you will need, if you use paper forms. Consider the advantages of filing your forms electronically (accuracy, speed, convenience).

 

 

 

Staff contact: Gail Cecchettini Whaley

Advocacy – California Chamber of Commerce

RELEASE: Assemblymember Rodriguez’s Legislative Package Crosses Significant Milestone

Assemblymember Rodriguez’s Legislative Package Crosses Significant Milestone

(SACRAMENTO)- Assemblymember Freddie Rodriguez (D-Pomona) achieved several legislative victories this week, moving the majority of his legislative package through the State Assembly. Tackling difficult issues, including veteran homelessness, worker rights, college affordability, DMV wait times, and autonomous vehicle safety, Assemblymember Rodriguez has received large support from constituents and Californians alike.

“I am proud to bring my 30 years of experience as an Emergency Medical Technician and public safety advocacy to the State Capitol. This has helped guide me in putting forward a common sense legislative package that works to level the playing field for everyone, improve public safety, and provide relief to the middle class. None of this is possible without the involvement, feedback, and support of my constituents,” said Rodriguez on Thursday.

Bills moving to the State Senate include:
· AB-85 General assistance: employable veterans. Would extend General Assistance benefits provided by counties to honorable discharged veterans who meet specified requirements for up to 12 months in a calendar year.
· AB-263 Emergency medical services workers. “The EMS Workers Bill of Rights” seeks to improve working conditions of private sector EMS workers by seeking adequate rest and meal breaks, and violence in the workplace that these people face on a daily basis.
· AB-301 Driver’s license: examination requirements: certificate of driving skill. This bill will reduce the backlog of commercial Drivers Licenses tests at the DMV.
· AB-623 Autonomous vehicle testing: accident reporting. Will require accidents involving self-driving vehicles resulting in injury or death to be reported within 24 hours and allowed for the testing permit to be revoked if the technology is deemed unsafe.
· AB-990 CSU and UC: estimates of off-campus housing costs. It’s time that students and parents have accurate and reliable information for the cost of off-campus housing at UCs and CSUs.
· AB-1102 Health facilities: whistleblower protections. This critical measure would protect patient safety and nurses by increasing penalties on persons who willfully violate the patient and health worker whistleblower protection law.

Additional information on legislation can be found at www.a52.asmdc.org.

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Assemblymember Rodriguez (Twitter) represents the 52nd Assembly District which includes the cities of Chino, Montclair, Ontario, Pomona and portions of unincorporated Fontana. He is Chair of The Assembly Committee on Public Employees, Retirement, and Social Security.

 

2017 Legislative Luncheon Panel Announcement

Please join us on April 21 to participate in this special event featuring legislators and policy makers representing your business and the community!

Participating Panelists
Congresswoman Norma Torres
California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones
Senator Connie Leyva
Assemblyman Freddie Rodriguez
City of Pomona Mayor Tim Sandoval
* With special guest LA County Supervisor Hilda Solis