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in the KNOWN

In the Know Newsletter

April 22, 2016


Ag Overtime Wage Bill Update

Peach trees in blossomOn April 20, the bill to phase-in ag overtime wage requirements, AB 2757, by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) was moved to the suspense file in the Assembly Committee on Appropriations. The suspense file contains bills that are set aside by the majority of members present and voting due to their fiscal impact. Bills on suspense may be heard at a later hearing. Or, the bills could be held on suspense and not move forward.

We are working to build opposition to AB 2757 in the Legislature and encouraging legislators to hold the bill on suspense in the Assembly Appropriations Committee, so that it does not move out of committee. With the recent passage of the $15 minimum wage bill, and the pressure it places on the ag community, it is critical that legislators hear strong opposition from the ag community regarding AB 2757. We urge you to reach out to your legislators now by using the Learn More link below.

As background, AB 2757 repeals the current overtime wage requirement in California for agricultural workers, which pays overtime after 10 hours of work in a day and over 60 hours of work in a week, and phases in a new overtime wage law over the course of four years culminating in a requirement to pay overtime after eight hours in one day or 40 hours in a week by the year 2020.

TAKE ACTION – Click HERE to go to our Action Center and easily email an opposition letter to your legislators. Your voice at this time is critical to help stop AB 2757.

ARB Proposes Short-Lived Climate Pollutant Reduction Strategy

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) released its proposed Short-Lived Climate Pollutant (SLCP) Reduction Strategy on April 11. These pollutants trap heat at many times the level of carbon dioxide, but also tend to have a shorter lifetime in the atmosphere, ranging from a few days or weeks to about 10 years.

Ag Council has been highly engaged with ARB as it develops the strategy on SLCPs. We have attended ARB hearings, as well as meetings with regulatory staff, to discuss our members’ perspective. We also organized a dairy tour for key ARB staff and remain committed to highlighting the concerns of our members.

Click HERE to read a Ag Council’s detailed overview of the SLCP Reduction Strategy.

Food Waste Labeling Bill Stalls in Committee

A food labeling measure opposed by Ag Council and others, AB 2725 by Assemblyman David Chiu (D-SF), was pulled from reconsideration on April 19 due to the lack of support by legislators in the Assembly Committee on Health. This is a positive outcome on AB 2725. Ag Council actively worked with a coalition to boost opposition to the bill because it would create an unnecessary California-only labeling mandate to address food waste concerns when the private sector is working collaboratively to provide solutions.

In addition, as with many issues, California is already at the forefront in addressing the handling of food and organic waste. For example, a bill signed into law in 2014 requires all major generators of organic food waste to have an organic food recycling program. Further, California’s agriculture and food processing industries currently recycle food material.  One example of this is the fact that over 40 percent of dairy feed derives from food byproducts.

Given our opposition AB 2725, we are pleased the bill did not move forward, and we will remain vigilant in opposing unnecessary mandatory labeling measures.

Legislative Activity

Legislators in the State Capitol faced a deadline  this week for bills that have a fiscal impact to be heard in policy committees. Over 500 bills were considered in legislative committees this week alone.

Amidst the legislative activity, Ag Council is working on several policy fronts including climate change, energy, water, and labor, particularly the ag overtime wage bill. Ag Council is weighing-in during the committee process and is actively lobbying numerous measures.

For a comprehensive list of the bills that Ag Council has taken a position on, please click HERE. We encourage our members to contact Ag Council at ph. (916) 443-4887 with any questions.

April 8, 2016


Legislative Update

State Capitol

State Capitol

Spring at the State Capitol means committee hearings are in full swing with state legislators racing toward an April 22 deadline for policy committees to hear fiscal bills, which require an appropriation. Key bills under consideration are listed below. Ag Council is weighing-in during the committee process, and our position on each of the bills is provided. Keep in mind this overview is continuously updated as the year progresses to reflect changes, such as bills stalling or amendments being accepted. As always, please do not hesitate to contact Ag Council at ph. (916) 443-4887 with any questions.

CARGO THEFT

  • AB 2805 (Olsen) Cargo theft prevention program
    • With recent agricultural thefts causing millions in losses, it is vital that law enforcement agencies have the tools necessary to coordinate and respond to cargo thefts.
    • AB 2805 establishes the California Agriculture Cargo Theft Crime Prevention Program to promote coordination with the goal of catching suspects and preventing future cargo thefts.
    • Position: SUPPORT
    • Status: Scheduled for consideration in the Assembly Ag Committee on April 13.

CLIMATE CHANGE

  • SB 1383 (Lara) Short-Lived Climate Pollutants
    • Bill mandates a 40 percent reduction of methane, a 40 percent reduction of hydrofluorocarbon gases and a 50 percent reduction of black carbon (which includes diesel) below 2013 levels by 2030.
    • Ag Council opposes the bill and instead urges the Legislature to support incentives to fund research and projects that reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants.
    • Position: OPPOSED
    • Status: Approved by the Senate Committee on Environmental Quality on April 6 and will next be considered in the Senate Committee on Appropriations at a later date.

ENERGY

  • AB 2223 (Gray) Incentivizing methane reductions
    • Appropriates up to $100 million to incentivize dairy methane reduction projects, including digesters, solids separation, and conversion to scrape manure management systems.
    • Funding is needed since the Air Resources Board is seeking voluntary reductions in methane from manure by 75 percent, as well as a 25 percent reduction in emissions from enteric methane by 2030 as part of the proposed Short Lived Climate Pollutants Plan.
    • Position: SUPPORT
    • Status: AB 2223 was approved in the Assembly Committee on Natural Resources on April 4 and will be considered in the Assembly Committee on Agriculture on April 13.
  • AB 2700 (Salas) Energy procurement – biomass
    • Five biomass facilities have closed in California over the past year due to expiring contracts with utilities and costs. The closures leave farmers with scarce options for disposing of woody biomass from tree prunings and uprooted trees from orchard removals. Additional facilities face closure, as well.
    • AB 2700 promotes a Renewable Portfolio Standard policy to help ensure that the energy procurement process creates a more level playing field for biomass facilities by requiring the Public Utilities Commission to take into account the overall value that biomass provides to our energy grid.
    • Position: SUPPORT
    • Status: Bill approved by the Assembly Committee on Utilities and Commerce on April 6 and is scheduled for consideration in the Assembly Committee on Natural Resources on April 18.
  • SB 1043 (Allen) Biomethane
    • SB 1043 increases the authority of the Air Resources Board to mandate use of renewable gas and equates biomethane projects, which destroys existing methane in the environment, with technologies that create more methane.
    • Position: OPPOSED
    • Status: Approved by the Senate Committee on Energy, Utilities and Communications on April 5 and will be heard in the Senate Committee on Environmental Quality at a date to be determined.

FARMERS’ MARKETS

  • AB 2324 (Eggman) Certified farmers’ markets
    • Measure ensures that reasonable and practical record keeping of product sales and processing is a part of the normal practice of farmer vendors participating in direct marketing at certified farmers’ markets in California.
    • AB 2324 also establishes enforcement procedures in order to ensure due process during investigations of consumer misrepresentation or unfair competition.
    • Position: SUPPORT
    • Status: Approved in the Assembly Committee on Agriculture on March 30 and the bill will be heard in the Assembly Committee on Appropriations on April 13.

FOOD WASTE/FOOD LABELS

  • AB 2725 (Chiu) Food quality date – food labels
    • Among the provisions, the bill requires food manufacturers that use a quality date to use the phrase “best if used by” on the product by July 2017, which imposes a California-only standard not required by other states.
    • Measure creates an unnecessary California mandate to address food waste concerns when the private sector is already working collaboratively to provide solutions.
    • Position: OPPOSED
    • Status: AB 2725 is up for consideration in the Assembly Committee on Health on April 12.

LABOR

  • AB 2757 (Gonzalez) Overtime wage for agricultural workers
    • Phases in a new overtime wage law for agricultural workers over the course of four years culminating in a requirement to pay overtime in California after eight hours in one day or 40 hours in a week by the year 2020.
    • Position: OPPOSED
    • Status: Approved by the Assembly Committee on Labor and Employment on April 6 and will be considered in the Assembly Committee on Appropriations at a date to be determined.
    • Take action – Go HERE where you will find a link to easily communicate your opposition to AB 2757 to your legislators.
  • SB 1166 (Jackson) Unlawful employment practice – parental leave
    • Employee can receive 12 weeks of protected parental leave with the possibility of 24 weeks of leave for those who work for large employers.
    • Applies to businesses with five employees or more.
    • Brown vetoed a similar bill last year.
    • Position: OPPOSED
    • Status: SB 1166 will be considered in the Senate Committee on Labor and Industrial Relations on April 13.
  • SB 1167 (Leyva) Indoor heat illness
    • Requires CalOSHA to propose heat illness standards for indoor workers by July 1, 2017 that are of equal or greater protection as the standards for outdoor workers.
    • Position: OPPOSED
    • Status: Approved in the Senate Committee on Labor and Industrial Relations on April 6 and will be considered in the Senate Committee on Appropriations on April 18.
  • SB 878 (Leyva) Work hours – scheduling
    • Mandates a 28-day notice of an employee’s schedule.
    • If the schedule is changed, SB 878 subjects employers to investigations, penalties and litigation.
    • Position: OPPOSED
    • Status: SB 878 is scheduled for a hearing on April 13 in the Senate Committee on Labor and Industrial Relations.
  • AB 1676 (Campos) Salary information
    • Bars an employer from asking job applicants about prior compensation.
    • Brown vetoed a nearly identical measure in 2015 stating there is “little evidence that this would assure more equitable wages.”
    • Position: OPPOSED
    • Status: Hearing scheduled in the Assembly Committee on Labor and Employment on April 20.

NATURAL RESOURCES

  • AB 2162 (Chu) Oak Woodlands Protection Act
    • Mandates that a Fish and Game permit be obtained for the removal an oak tree. The permit is subject to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
    • An oak removal plan approved by a licensed forester would also be required.
    • Position: OPPOSED
    • Status: Bill recently removed from committee consideration, and we are hopeful that due to significant opposition the bill will not move this year.

PESTICIDES

  • AB 2596 (Bloom) Pesticides – use of anticoagulants
    • AB 2596 bans the use of rodenticides, with limited exceptions, leaving many agricultural facilities and warehouses vulnerable to rodents, which can transmit diseases.
    • Position: OPPOSED
    • Status: Bill removed from hearing consideration by the author, and we are hopeful it has stalled for the year due to opposition.
  • SB 1282 (Leno) Pesticides: neonicotinoids: labeling
    • Requires the Department of Pesticide Regulation to label seeds and plants for retail sale that have been treated with a neonicotinoid pesticide.
    • The measure is not based in science and threatens agriculture given that neonicotinoids are used to fight pests that transmit serious diseases threatening agricultural commodities.
    • Position: OPPOSED
    • Status: SB 1282 is scheduled for a hearing on April 20 in the Senate Committee on Environmental Quality.

WATER

  • SB 1317 (Wolk) Conditional use permits: groundwater
    • Requires local entities to create a process to issue conditional use permits for the development of groundwater extraction in high or medium priority basins.
    • SB 1317 mandates additional requirements to the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) and undermines the local control element critical to the implementation of SGMA.
    • Position: OPPOSED
    • Status: Set for a hearing in the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water on April 12.

Committee Approves Ag Overtime Wage Measure – Take Action to Oppose the Bill

On April 6, the Assembly Committee on Labor and Employment approved the bill to phase-in ag overtime wage requirements, AB 2757, by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego).

It is more important than ever that you reach out to your legislators via the Learn More link below to help us oppose the bill, which will soon be up for consideration in the Assembly Committee on Appropriations.

With the recent passage of the $15 minimum wage bill, and the pressure it places on the ag community, it is critical that legislators hear strong opposition from the ag community regarding AB 2757. We urge you to reach out to your legislators now by using the link below.

As a reminder, AB 2757 repeals the current overtime wage requirement in California for agricultural workers, which pays overtime after 10 hours of work in a day, and phases in a new overtime wage law over the course of four years culminating in a requirement to pay overtime after eight hours in one day or 40 hours in a week by the year 2020.

Click HERE to go to our Action Center and easily email an opposition letter to your legislators. Your voice at this time is critical to help stop AB 2757.

Pesticide Workshops for Field Fumigation Notification

The Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) is holding two workshops to solicit input from stakeholders to assist DPR in determining appropriate notification when field fumigation takes place. The input will help DPR develop a new regulation.

As background, Ag Council staff spoke at a DPR workshop in 2015 to provide our perspective on the field fumigation notification requirements. Ag Council expressed concern that farmers may eventually be required to both notify and monitor for all field fumigations. At this time, Ag Council is preparing formal comments that will be submitted as a letter to DPR prior to the May 20 comment deadline.

We encourage interested members to attend one of the upcoming DPR workshops on April 12 in Salinas and April 14 in Fresno. Click HERE for details about the workshops and please contact Ag Council at ph. (916) 443-4887 if you would like more information about the field fumigation issue.

 

 

 

April 1, 2016


Legislature Approves $15 Minimum Wage Bill

Governor Brown to Sign the Bill on April 4

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Gov. Brown speaks during a press conference announcing a minimum wage agreement on March 28. AP Photo: Rich Pedroncelli

On March 31, both the Assembly and the State Senate voted to approve SB 3 by Senator Mark Leno (D-SF) to raise minimum wage in California to $15 by 2022 for businesses with 26 employees or more and 2023 for businesses with 25 or fewer employees.

SB 3 passed the Assembly by a vote of 48-26 with 5 legislators not voting. Ag Council thanks the following Democrat members who either opposed or did not vote for SB 3: Assemblyman Adam Gray (D-Merced), Assemblyman Tom Daly (D-Anaheim) and Assemblyman Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield). We also thank the Republican Caucus of legislators for opposing SB 3.

The Senate approved SB 3 on a partisan vote of 26-12 with Democrats voting in favor and Republicans opposing the bill.

By approving SB 3, California is the first state in the nation to raise minimum wage to $15 an hour. Governor Jerry Brown plans to sign SB 3 into law on Monday, April 4 in Los Angeles.

Ag Council, in addition to a coalition of ag and business groups, opposed SB 3. Read the coalition letter HERE.

As background, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) recently qualified a measure for the November ballot to mandate a $15 minimum wage in California. Shortly thereafter, union representatives and Governor Brown held discussions and then announced a $15 minimum wage agreement on March 28. That agreement led to the passage of SB 3 by the Legislature on March 31. As part of the agreement, the SEIU is expected to withdraw their measure from the November ballot once SB 3 is signed into law.

Click HERE to read a fact sheet on the governor’s website about the scheduled minimum wage increases, as well as other provisions in the bill. To read the governor’s statement regarding the measure, click HERE.

Take Action – Oppose the Ag Overtime Wage Measure

With passage of the minimum wage bill, we urge you to reach out to your legislators NOW by using the link below to oppose the bill to phase-in new ag overtime wage requirements. The measure, opposed by Ag Council and others, is scheduled for consideration in the Assembly Committee on Labor and Employment on April 6.

The bill, AB 2757 by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), repeals the current overtime wage requirement in California for agricultural workers, which pays overtime after 10 hours of work in a day, and phases in a new overtime wage law for agricultural workers over the course of four years culminating in a requirement to pay overtime after eight hours in one day or 40 hours in a week by the year 2020.

TAKE ACTION — Join Ag Council in opposing AB 2757 by emailing a letter to your legislator. Click HERE to easily send a letter.

Ag Council Provides Comments on Draft Groundwater Regulations

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Photo courtesy of the Water Education Foundation

On April 1, Ag Council provided written comments to the Department of Water Resources regarding the Draft Groundwater Sustainability Plan Emergency Regulations.  In particular, Ag Council is concerned about some areas where additional obligations are placed upon local areas that could increase costs and impact the timelines of the regulation.

To read the detailed letter, click HERE.