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in the KNOWN

In the Know Newsletter

August 26, 2014


Final Week of Legislative Activity Underway

Photo courtesy of www.sacmuseums.org

Photo courtesy of www.sacmuseums.org

The last day for the California State Legislature to pass bills is quickly approaching on August 31. With the final week of legislative activity underway in the Capitol, Ag Council is focused on several issues critical to our members.

Ag Council is actively opposing the bills listed below, and some of you may recognize a few of the measures from our Legislative Day. Also, the “gut and amend” process is alive and well in Sacramento and a couple of those bills are included below. Read on and you’ll find out which key bills remain under consideration, amidst hundreds of others, during the final days of the 2014 legislative session.

Groundwater Bills

AB 1739 by Assemblyman Dickinson (D-Sacramento) and SB 1168 by Senator Pavley (D-Agoura Hills)–Ag Council OPPOSES both bills

Ag Council continues to oppose two bills written to regulate groundwater, AB 1739 and SB 1168. With the end of the legislative session looming and the drought crisis front and center, a strong push is being made in the Capitol to pass legislation to regulate groundwater from a groundwater basin management perspective. The bills would implement the most significant changes to groundwater management in the past 100 years.

Ag Council and many other organizations are enormously concerned about the vast scope of the bills, which could alter the future of agriculture in California. Among the concerns with AB 1739 and SB 1168 are the higher costs that would be imposed upon our members, impacts on surface water rights and an increase in litigation.

AB 1739 and SB 1168 await further consideration in the Legislature this week. Ag Council stands in opposition to the measures and is advocating against passage of the bills.

In addition, Ag Council remains engaged in strategic discussions with Governor Brown’s Administration and others regarding the future of the groundwater bills. The conversations have been ongoing over the past few months. Unfortunately, improvement of the bills looks bleak as the 2014 legislative session comes to a close this week.

Please contact our office at ph. (916) 443-4887 if you are an Ag Council member and would like further information.

Labor Measures

Wage Liens

AB 2416 by Assemblyman Stone (D-Scotts Valley)
Ag Council OPPOSES
AB 2416 allows an employee or an employee’s representative to file a pre-judgment wage lien against the real and personal property of an employer and the real property of an innocent third party. AB 2416 violates due process by preventing an employer or third party from defending against the recording of a pre-judgment wage lien. So-called protections in AB 2416 only come into play after the lien is recorded. Ag Council is working, along with many other ag and business groups, to oppose AB 2416.

Expansion of Liability Against Employers Hiring Labor Contractors

AB 1897 by Assemblyman Hernandez (D-West Covina)
Ag Council OPPOSES
AB 1897 is an unprecedented expansion of liability against innocent parties. Under the bill, any entity that obtains or is provided labor from a labor contractor is liable for payment of wages to workers, workers’ compensation coverage and OSHA requirements. AB 1897 is awaiting passage in the Senate, and Ag Council is part of a large coalition opposing the bill.

Denial of Due Process

SB 25 by Senator Steinberg (D-Sacramento)
Ag Council OPPOSES
SB 25 was recently amended and the new bill raises the standard of proof for a stay of an administrative order by the Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB) to “clear and convincing evidence” of “irreparable harm” and “likelihood of success.” This denies due process to ag employers given that ALRB could enforce an administrative order before a court has undergone a review of that order. SB 25 is pending consideration in the Assembly, and Ag Council and many other ag groups are opposing the bill.

Climate Change & Transportation

Climate Change–Short-Lived Climate Pollutants

SB 605 by Senator Lara (D-Huntington Park/Long Beach)
Ag Council OPPOSES
This end of session “gut and amend” bill directs the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to develop and implement a comprehensive strategy to reduce short-lived climate pollutants by January 2016, which affects agriculture because short-lived climate pollutants include black carbon (soot) and methane. SB 605 expands the state’s climate policy and the jurisdiction of CARB. On August 25, Ag Council spoke against the bill during a hearing in the Senate Environmental Quality Committee.

Transportation

SB 1319 by Senator Jerry Hill (D-South San Francisco)
Ag Council OPPOSES
SB 1319 is a “gut and amend” measure establishing a new, undetermined fee on products and materials shipped by rail to pay for emergency response training and equipment. This measure requires a new state fee when the federal government has already imposed a hazardous materials registration fee to improve the response of transportation incidents involving hazardous materials, which includes products such as fertilizers and fuels among others used in agriculture. SB 1319 is awaiting consideration in the Assembly.

We encourage Ag Council members to contact us at ph. (916) 443-4887 if you have any questions about these, or any other, bills.

August 15, 2014


Governor Brown Signs New Water Bond

Photo of Governor Brown with legislators upon signing the water bond. Photo Credit: Kelly Huston, Office of the Governor.

Legislators join Governor Brown as he signs the water bond this week. Photo by Kelly Huston, Office of the Governor.

On Wednesday this week, the California State Legislature approved, and Governor Brown signed, a $7.5 billion water bond to replace the existing $11.1 billion bond on the November ballot. Demonstrating a significant bipartisan achievement, the Senate unanimously approved the new bond and the Assembly voted to support it by a vote of 77-2.

As negotiated by Governor Brown and legislative leaders, the final water bond package includes $2.7 billion in funding for water storage that is continuously allocated. The $2.7 billion storage component comprises about 36 percent of the entire funding allocation for the bond, which Ag Council believes is a strong investment. It is also a significant improvement from the governor’s originally proposed storage level of $2 billion. Prior to the vote, Ag Council expressed support to legislators in favor of the $7.5 billion bond package, including the $2.7 billion for storage.

Given the severe drought and the crucial need to make long-term storage investments, Ag Council appreciates the governor’s work on this critical issue and the commitment of many legislators whose efforts helped make this bond the best package possible, particularly given the vast array of water priorities and interests across the state.

With California decades behind in making desperately needed water storage investments, this bond measure provides the opportunity to boost both surface and groundwater storage, which are critical to provide a more stable and secure water supply for agriculture and other water users. Investments in water storage in the coming years will help keep us from repeating the dire circumstances California currently faces with the ongoing drought.

Passage of the water bond in the Legislature and its signing by the governor are just the initial steps. We must now urge voters to support the bond measure in November, which will be Proposition 1 on the ballot. We look forward to working, with Governor Brown’s support, to pass Proposition 1 in November, and we encourage Ag Council members to join us in supporting the water bond.

Click HERE to read Governor Brown’s statement on the bond and to view the Floor Alert message to the Legislature coordinated by the governor’s office and signed by Ag Council.

For a brief outline of the $7.5 billion water bond, click HERE.

Ag Council Opposes Groundwater Bills

Ag Council and other ag organizations, including many of our members, signed onto a letter opposing the recently amended groundwater bills in the Legislature, AB 1739 by Assemblyman Roger Dickinson (D-Sacramento) and SB 1168 by Senator Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills). Chief concerns with the legislation include higher costs, increased litigation, devaluation of land and impacts on existing water rights.

With the end of the legislative session looming and the drought crisis front and center, a strong push is being made in the Capitol to pass legislation to regulate groundwater from a groundwater basin management perspective.

Given the desire to move legislation on a highly complex issue that could change the future of agriculture, it is critical that legislators understand our concerns with the current groundwater bills. The opposition letter communicates those concerns and is being provided to legislators during our advocacy efforts.

Ag Council and other ag groups remain in frequent discussions with Governor Brown’s Administration about groundwater issues and the legislation. Click HERE to read the letter opposing AB 1739 and SB 1168 (scroll down to “Ag Council and Others Oppose Recently Amended Groundwater Management Bills”).

Assemblymember Garcia Tours CDI Plant in Artesia

From L-R: Rico Hinojosa with CDI, Assemblymember Cristina Garcia and Darrin Monteiro with CDI.

From L-R: Rico Hinojosa with CDI, Assemblymember Cristina Garcia and Darrin Monteiro with CDI.

Ag Council member California Dairies Inc. (CDI), hosted Assemblymember Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) for a tour of CDI’s Artesia processing plant in early August. The plant is located in Assemblymember Garcia’s district, which includes Artesia, Bellflower, Cerritos, Commerce and Downey, all in Los Angeles County.

Darrin Monteiro, Director of Member Relations at CDI, and Rico Hinojosa, CDI’s Artesia plant manager, had lunch with the Assemblymember and discussed key issues affecting CDI. They also talked about the plant’s operations before taking a tour of the facility.

The Artesia plant converts milk into milk powders and custom blended fluid products. Garcia posted details about her visit on her Twitter account explaining, in particular, that the plant processes over 4.2 million pounds of milk a day.

Ag Council thanks Assemblymember Garcia for touring CDI’s Artesia plant. We also appreciate CDI for their help in coordinating the tour and for their efforts to reach out to Assemblymember Garcia and other legislators to help elected leaders better understand the California dairy industry and other ag issues.

August 9, 2014


Legislature Returns with Full Agenda

With the end of the legislative session fast approaching, legislators returned to the State Capitol this week after a month-long recess.  August 31 is the deadline for legislators to pass bills in both the Assembly and Senate, and several issues remain that impact Ag Council members.  The legislative docket includes groundwater legislation and the water bond, among other bills.  Please read on for further details.

Ag Council and Others Oppose Groundwater Bills

Ag Council and other ag organizations, including many of our members, signed onto a letter this week opposing the recently amended groundwater bills in the Legislature, AB 1739 by Assemblyman Roger Dickinson (D-Sacramento) and SB 1168 by Senator Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills). The impact on existing water rights, higher costs, increased litigation, and devaluation of land are among the many concerns with the legislation.

With the end of the legislative session looming and the drought crisis front and center, a strong push is being made in the Capitol to pass legislation to regulate groundwater from a groundwater basin management perspective. One of the authors of groundwater legislation, Assemblyman Dickinson, told the Washington Post this week, “The old phrase ‘never let a good crisis go to waste’ applies.”

Given the desire to move legislation on a highly complex issue that could change the future of agriculture, it is critical that legislators understand our concerns with the current groundwater bills. The opposition letter communicates those concerns and is being provided to legislators during our advocacy efforts.

Click HERE to read the letter opposing AB 1739 and SB 1168.

Water Bond at the Forefront

The water bond remains a high priority on the legislative agenda in the Capitol and discussions continue among legislators on how to proceed. Water storage remains a key focus for Ag Council as elected leaders work to resolve differences. Ag Council supports efforts in the Legislature to lower the total amount of the bond while maintaining a strong commitment to water storage funding that is continuously allocated.

As background, the current water bond on the November ballot includes $11.14 billion in funding for water infrastructure, ecosystem restoration and projects to address water supply issues. Negotiated back in 2009, the $11.14 billion bond has been removed from two previous statewide ballots due to concern over the lack of public support.

Members of the Legislature have worked over the past year to develop legislation to replace the existing bond, primarily with the goal to lower its overall cost to improve public support for the measure.

Any bill to replace the water bond on the ballot must garner a 2/3 vote in both the Assembly and the Senate. This is a high bar to reach on a contentious issue like water, and it remains uncertain as to whether enough votes can be garnered to pass a new bill to replace the existing water bond.

Governor Jerry Brown recently weighed-in on the water bond discussions with a $6 billion bond proposal including $2 billion for water storage. Though his water bond proposal is under the $3 billion amount we support for water storage, the governor’s perspective is strongly influencing the discussions on a revised water bond.

The governor said in a statement this week, “I’m proposing a no-frills, no-pork water bond that invests in the most critical projects without breaking the bank.” The governor went on to say that California cannot afford the $750 million a year the current bond would add to the state’s $8 billion in annual bond debt service.

With respect to public opinion, a July survey conducted by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) on the existing $11.14 billion water bond shows stronger public support for the bond than previous polls due to the drought. According to PPIC, the current bond is polling at 51 percent among likely voters, and if the bond amount is reduced, 59 percent of likely voters said they would support it.

Given that the conversations in the Capitol remain fluid, the outcome is uncertain. It is also unclear as to whether legislators can coalesce around a bill and attain the 2/3 vote needed for passage in the Legislature. Regardless, Ag Council remains involved on behalf of our members.

Please do not hesitate to contact Ag Council at ph. (916) 443-4887 if you have any questions.

Job Announcement

Government Affairs Specialist

Ag Council is seeking a Government Affairs Specialist to join its growing team in Sacramento. This new position at Ag Council requires an understanding of the state public policy and political processes, the ability to analyze legislation and communicate effectively with a wide array of audiences, including growers, managers and policymakers. Strong analytical and interpersonal skills are required. This position reports to Ag Council’s Vice President and President.

Click HERE for further details regarding this position and for information regarding the application process.